Once while interviewing the now-sober, not-then-sober Abel Ferrara, we reminisced on a particular moment in the “Bad Lieutenant” when Harvey Keitel’s so-bad cop displayed himself to a couple of young girls he’d pulled over in a traffic stop. “Heh-heh,” Ferrara said, “The L-T was rockin’ it!” Whenever Ferrara finds moments to pull from the fire, especially in his erratic recent work, I just think of that heh-heh. With “Welcome to New York,” Ferrara is indeed again rockin’ it, with a theme-and-variation on the facts of the alleged sex crimes committed by banker and former International Monetary Fund head and once-potential French president Dominique Strauss-Kahn. It’s a deeply disturbing, calibrated unhinged, compulsively careering portrait of entitlement. The American distributor and filmmaker Abel Ferrara differ on his right to final cut, with exchanges of high vitriol. Reportedly, the politics are diminished, as well as multiple structural changes being made, yet this unauthorized version of Ferrara’s portrait of debauched capital, especially in the bison-like corpus of Gerard Depardieu on orgiastic display, libidinous, unrestrained, unvanquished, remains a vital fright. The AF is rockin’ it. Original version 124m; this version 108m. (Ray Pride)
“Welcome To New York” opens Friday, April 24 at Siskel.
Ray Pride is Newcity’s film critic and a contributing editor to Filmmaker magazine.
His history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” in words and images will be published in Spring 2022.