Talk about harrowing, add Rescue Dawn to the list. Werner Herzog, one of my all time favorite filmmakers, is in top form. Back to back with Thin, the eating disorder documentary I saw the other night, this new film is almost unbearable to watch. Actors Jeremy Davies and the previously comic Steve Zahn, are wasted and emaciated. For real. Not actors wearing make-up or assisted with CGI. We're talking actors who appear starving and must have damaged their bodies. Yes, it's compelling work. Yes, it was so painful I could barely watch.
If you missed it, check out the excellent article by Daniel Zalewski on Herzog making this film in The New Yorker. April 24, 2006.
Not related to Rescue Dawn, but I have a special place in my heart for Herzog. I believe he's the patron saint of my marriage. Yes, the same Herzog who used to proclaim his imperative to widely spread his seed. I fell in love with his films en masse, in NYC, at Film Forum 2, in Fall 1981. New Yorker Films, the groundbreaking fine distribution company, was presenting a retrospective of both his work and Fassbinders, the two great prongs of the New German Cinema. I lived a block away. I'd just started working intensely in the administration of the Film Forum, and frankly, had nothing else going on. Every night I went back to the movies, and fell deeply in love with the majestic and soulful Herzog canon. During that time I also fell in love with the cinema's house manager.
When the series was over, we took home the 39" x 33" cardboard theatrical display. It's in my living room still, along with the guy. Werner's grandly ambitious and incomparable work figuring in again and again over the long years together.