He is our greatest over-actor, and yet for years I thumbed my nose at Nicolas Cage, damning him for his inability to re-create the brilliance that he has exhibited a handful of times thanks to superior material, divine intervention, or Faustian barter/trading.
Thankfully, I have evolved and realized that Cage is a vapor that cannot be contained by convention or weighed down by the expectations of others. He is not for us, but for future generations that will be choked numb by an avalanche of technology and distance. For them, Nicolas Cage films will be a road map back to the abundant emotions that only the ghosts whisper about.
For them, he will be a truth, not an oddity. So, with that in mind, I have embraced the embrace of the Cage and his electric howl.
Do you doubt my song and my near-religious conversion?
Do you not realize that Nic Cage has rumbled with fish, raced and then struck the moon, had a honeymoon and then died in Las Vegas before breaking into Alcatraz? Do you not recognize that he cut his fucking face off, brought out the dead, talked to the wind, saved the Declaration of Independence, fought off bees, lit his skull on fire, got dangerous in Bangkok, and then drove angry while seeking justice?
Cage is a dinosaur skull owning vampire and a thunder God who lives in a German castle, plays the mandolin, and fucked Elvis’ daughter after he fucked the woman who would one day become The Punisher’s psychic wife. How about you?
Cage was too much man to be Krypton’s last son and as the adage goes, his hair has more range than most other actors. Can you telekinetically make your hairline dance? Didn’t think so.
His madness is method, his eyes are wide, wild, and white and his warrior cry can castrate a bear from three miles out.
In an age when Liam Neeson is the accepted definition of cinematic toughness because he trained Batman and punched a wolf, Nic Cage merely laughs inappropriately, trains a pint sized vigilante and then eye-fucks a unicorn while riding a dragon bareback and some of these things are exaggerations!
Hell yeah, he owned an octopus once! He also worked with both Sean Connery (James Bond) and Jon Lovitz (the exact opposite of James Bond) over the course of two years. Moby took one look at Red Rock West and wrote a song about Nic Cage because Nic Cage is made of stars, and so to commemorate that, we bring you a look at two of Cage’s films in what may become a regular thing here if the mood strikes
Without further ado, film reviews and slightly less peculiar word choices.
The first of four Cage movies that I watched last night in an unhealthy binge of whisper/scream acting, Seeking Justice stars Cage as a high school teacher whose wife (played by Mad Men’s January Jones) gets sexually assaulted on the streets of New Orleans. Beset by grief and sitting in the waiting room in the hours after the attack, Cage’s character is approached by Guy Pearce, who plays a shady stranger that offers Cage a chance at revenge through his group of vigilante do-gooders, provided Cage promises to return the favor one day.
All in all, the premise sounds like the basis for an interesting and grimy examination into the sadistic parts of an emotionally destroyed brain and the dark places that can get visited in moments of deep duress. It’s easy to empathize with Cage’s character in that moment when he agrees to this deal with Pearce, and it’s interesting to see the reality of what he has done settle around his shoulders and bleed into his heart. He is a defacto murderer, but he tries to move on. Sadly, Pearce and others in the organization keep coming for him.
I would have loved this movie had it accepted this simple premise and not tried to weave a somewhat complex and mostly implausible conspiracy that taints the police, mild-mannered friends, and many others. This could have been a bare thriller, casting Cage as a man who has to run from a sin that many of us might entertain if put in the same set of horrific circumstances.
The end is painfully predictable, but Cage is solid and so is Jones, who I usually can’t stand. Guy Pearce should have written “Pass” on his forehead so he remembered to run away from this thoroughly cartoonish black hat role, rather than report to set everyday. That was a Memento reference in case you weren’t picking up what I was throwing down.
Directed by Joel Schumacher, Tresspass makes the same mistake as Seeking Justice in that it takes a simple premise — a home invasion that unites a divided family against masked theives — and corrupts it with ambition and a need to give every single character busy work.
The film stars Cage, Nicole Kidman and Liana Liberato as a diamond broker, his desperate housewife, and his rebellious daughter, and Cam Gigandet, Ben Mendelsohn (who is quite good in this), Dash Mihok, and Jordana Spiro as the masked thieves who invade Cage’s posh house looking for a quick score.
Cage is fantastic in this one, employing some kind of high pitched, dweeb tone to oversell his flaccidity and architectural over-compensation. He also refuses to give the thieves the money that they desire and gets the living crap beaten out of him for his trouble making ways, so if anyone is still pissed off about Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, this is an Ikea bed built for you to sleep and dream on.
The real trouble — with the story — begins when we go behind the mask and start learning about the thieves’ backstory. Mihok is a sadistic heavy, Mendelsohn is small time dope peddler looking to payoff a debt that he owes to Mihok’s employer while keeping both his little brother (Gigandet) and his psycho stripper girlfriend in line. By the way, it’s Gigandet’s character that hatched this whole plan and he’s actually in love with/stalking Kidman’s character without cause and with tremendous, negative effect.
I weep for what this could have been had they kept the thieves faceless and kept the domestic squabbles in the forefront instead of efforting to make a more Better Home and Gardens friendly version of Panic Room on crack. But hey, it’s Schumacher, so it’s just gotta be busy and wrought with an abundance of layers that suck all the air out of the metaphorical room and clog the story with needless knick knacks that we have to climb over to get to the point.
With that said, it’s a good film that could have been better. Overall…
So, two Nicolas Cage reviews and a testimonial to the man’s genius. Clearly you, dear reader, won at life Plinko. Stay tuned, maybe next time we’ll talk about Knowing and Amos and Andrew.