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Bad Lieutenant

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Few visits by other directors to Scorsese country have had as much power as this one by Abel Ferrara. Keitel is nothing short of phenomenal as a New York City cop gone way down the tubes and proud of it; a seriously lapsed Catholic, he drinks, drugs, whores, and gambles as if daring God to show His face. Then he meets a raped nun who forgives her attackers — an inexplicable act of Christian kindness that short-circuits his fried brain. For all its scenes of degradation (five minutes of which have been shorn for an R-rated cut; we recommend the original NC-17 version), Bad Lieutenant is a deeply moral movie. It’s not pretty — it’s not even very realistic — but it does matter. B+

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