After Werner Herzog was told that Abel Ferrara, the director of 1992’s “Bad Lieutenant,” was miffed that Herzog was remaking his film (released in 2009 as “The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call — New Orleans”), the irrepressible German director sniffed, “I have no idea who Abel Ferrara is.”
Always with the jokes, Werner. But on the off chance he was telling the truth, Herzog should have watched the scene in “Ms. 45” when Thana (Zoë Lund), dressed as a nun, with rouged, pillow lips, points a gun at her reflection in a mirror and does not repeat the famous Travis Bickle line (she’s mute). Not only does he parody the iconic “Taxi Driver” scene by changing the gender of the protagonist and adding the sexual and religious iconography that is common to both Ferrara and Martin Scorsese’s Catholic roots, he eliminates the detail everyone remembers from that scene, a detail which is a key to Thana’s character. In short, there’s a lot going on in this seemingly toss-away allusion. Had Herzog seen that and some of the film’s other outré, inspired moments, he might have recognized Ferrara as a fellow genius, and one as weird as himself.