‘Werner Herzog has a movie out.’
Compelling enough words, right?
Whether an affecting documentary featuring a depressed, existentially-challenged penguin, or a gloriously gonzo showcase for one of the greatest actors of a generation, a new movie by one of the finest filmmakers of all time is always a special occasion.
Especially when you add words like ‘Michael Shannon’ and ‘Gael García Bernal’ into the mix.
But then you might see the words coming out of advanced festival reviews; words like ‘silly’, ‘self-indulgent’, ‘waffle’, ‘misleading’, and ‘frustrating’.
Here is where the Herzog fan can react in only one way:
Because, far more often than not, a Herzogian failure is still cinema’s gain.
In his review of Herzog’s earlier (2009) collaboration with Michael Shannon, My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done?, Roger Ebert described the effect thus:
For me it hardly matters if a Herzog film provides conventional movie pleasures. Many of them do. “Bad Lieutenant,” for example. “My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done,” on the other hand, confounds all convention and denies all expected pleasures, providing instead the delight of watching Herzog feed the police hostage formula into the Mixmaster of his imagination.
Judging by the early buzz, Salt And Fire will be of the latter variety, with both the trailer and synopsis being entirely unrepresentative of the left-field, aberrant, Herzogian flavour of it all.
This is the trailer:
And this is the synopsis:
The United Nations has sent a scientific delegation, led by researchers Laura (Veronica Ferres) and Fabio (Gael García Bernal), to investigate rare South American geological formations. But as soon as they land, the crew is kidnapped by minions of rogue businessman Matt Riley (Michael Shannon), who has his own agenda when it comes to environmental protection. Deep inside his compound, Laura becomes separated from her fellow explorers and drawn deeper into Riley’s world, but try as she might, she can’t predict his final plan.
I don’t know about you, but I can’t fucking wait.
Salt And Fire premiered on 12th June at the Shanghai Film Festival. It has had a few other international festival dates since then, but the only theatrical releases announced thus far are for Germany (17th November) and France (7th December).