movies, Nic Cage, television

Nic Cage In The Cage

Regular readers of this blog know that we have a bit of a Nic Cage fixation. “But he does so many bad movies,” our friends say. We readily acknowledge that yes, he does in fact make a lot of bad movies. (Ghost Rider 2 opens this Friday.) But he also makes lots of good movies. He also — and this is what sets him apart in our minds — has the rare ability to make some really good bad movies. (He also makes some really bad bad movies. Like Knowing. And Season of the Witch. And The Wicker Man. But we digress.) The National Treasure movies, just to name two, are terrible, but we will gladly sit down and watch them whenever TNT happens to air them, which seems to be every other weekend.

What we find so compelling about Nic Cage is this tension of opposites. Is he a good actor who chooses bad movies? A bad actor who occasionally makes good ones? A bad actor making bad movies that, like double negatives, somehow turn out good?

We tried to articulate this several years ago in a Nic Cage Cage Match post. Then, last night, “Saturday Night Live” provided this inspired bit of comedy which pretty much summarizes everything we tried to say then:

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These four and a half minutes are a testament to everything we find endearing about Nicolas Cage. May he one day fulfill his dream to appear in every movie ever released and restore honor to his dojo. Clone Nic Cage!

movies, Nic Cage

Today In Bizarre Nic Cage Behavior

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Ummmmmmmm…:

Nicolas Cage is currently at the Toronto Film Festival to promote his new film Trespass. The film, directed by Joel Schumacher, is about the horrors of home invasion and (as any good actor would) Cage went to a real place to find his character’s inspiration.

“It was two in the morning…[I] was asleep with my wife. I opened my eyes and there was a naked man wearing my leather jacket eating a Fudgesicle in front of my bed,” recalled Cage.

The incident occurred some years ago but Cage remembered talking the man out of the house before the police arrived. Cage did not press charges as the man apparently had mental problems; however, Cage grew wary of the house and has since relocated.

There’s really nothing else for us to say. Oh, except that this is AWESOME.

This is yet one more reason why we love Nic Cage. Do you think, say, Kevin Costner has had naked men wearing leather jackets appear at the foot of his bed at two in the morning eating a Fudgesicle? No. Definitely not. Kevin Costner is boring.

Also, is there any doubt Trespass will be a terrible movie? It is directed by Joel Schumacher, who previously teamed up with Cage in 8MM. In the past decade Schumacher has also inflicted upon audiences The Number 23, Phone Booth and Bad Company, not to mention the Old Navy commercial equivalent of film, Batman & Robin, a thoroughly soulless piece of cinematic diarrhea.

And yet … Joel Schumacher also directed this, meaning he is capable of creating a transcendent film moment that can endure through the ages:

In conclusion, the world is a better, far more interesting place because of Nic Cage and the fudgesicle-eating naked people who stalk him, and while Trespass will likely suck, you just never know.

Thank you.

Friday Recommends, movies, Nic Cage

Friday Recommends, With Precaution: Bad Lieutenant, Port of Call – New Orleans

“I’ll kill all of you. To the break of dawn, baby.”

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Our friends who know we love Nic Cage were flabbergasted whenever we told them we had not seen Bad Lieutenant yet. Typical exchange:

FRIEND: You guys like Nic Cage? Really? Well, Bad Lieutenant was actually a decent movie.

US: We haven’t seen it.

FRIEND: What?? My flabber is gasted.

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Werner Herzog’s film is a mess, but a thoroughly entertaining one. Cage plays Terence McDonagh, a New Orleans detective with a drug and gambling problem. The film does not give his middle name, but it is almost certainly “Rogue.” McDonagh’s character is a freaky synthesis of Jimmy McNulty, Vic Mackey and Jack Bauer. (While he refrains from outright torture, McDonagh does pull out a shut-in’s breathing tube and point a gun at her to extract valuable information from her caretaker. Bauer would’ve been impressed.) Those are all TV characters, so if you want some film analogues let’s go with Alonzo Harris (Denzel Washington in Training Day), Eldon Perry (Kurt Russell in Dark Blue), and Ray Liotta’s character from Unlawful Entry. What none of these other characters had, however, was Cage’s capacity for unhinged glee. McDonagh may be on the road to hell, but at least he’s still having fun.

Andrew O’Hehir, who interviewed Herzog for Salon when the movie was released in 2009, commented, “Nicolas Cage’s performance in this movie is amazing. The character is both irresistible and thoroughly despicable. I wasn’t sure whether I loved him or hated him, which may be exactly what you guys were going for.” Herzog responded,

You can see the film the way you want to see it, I do not want to dictate that. But one thing is obvious: He is absolutely formidable. … There’s something which was guiding us. I told Nicolas that there’s such a thing as, like, the bliss of evil. Let’s go for it! Enjoy yourself! The more vile and the more debased you get, the more you have to enjoy it. That creates this very strange and very subversive humor.

What separates Bad Lieutenant from any other crooked cop movie is Herzog’s sublime, hallucinatory flourishes, which blur the line between reality and how McDonagh perceives it. Our favorites include a trippy sequence where McDonagh is the only one who sees two iguanas on his desk, and the moment immediately after some drug dealers shoot a bounty hunter and his two enforcers. McDonagh says, “Shoot him again.” The dealers ask why. McDonagh responds, “His soul is still dancing,” then laughs maniacally while one of the dead dealers is now breakdancing on the spot where he was just shot. This is, simply put, one of the greatest scenes we have ever seen on film.

There is also, for good measure, the standard, profanity-laced Cage flip-out moment, which (like Matchstick Mentakes place in a pharmacy. Cage’s shoulders are hunched over because he has chronic back pain, and the Quasimodo effect only enhances the strangeness of his performance. McDonagh is a genuinely dangerous character, but he lurches around New Orleans like a grotesque misfit. (Cage’s recent run-in with the law in New Orleans may have been the result of him forgetting to step out of character.)

After finishing Bad Lieutenant, we were immediately possessed of the simultaneous desires to watch it again, as if to verify that what we had just seen was, like those iguanas, really there, and to have certain parts of it wiped from our memory. It is a bizarre, grimy, morally ambiguous fever dream. If you’ll recall The Nicolas Cage Matrix, Bad Lieutenant occupies the top right corner, the quintessence of a truly mental, truly brilliant Cage character. Doesn’t it say something about Nic Cage that so few actors would even attempt to pull off a role like this one?

Nic Cage

A Defense Of Nic Cage’s Behavior Last Weekend.

When life imitates art.

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We’re back from our spring break blogging hiatus, and we clearly need to address what happened to Nic Cage last weekend in New Orleans. No less than five of our friends texted/e-mailed us as the news broke. (Typical text: “NIC CAGE ARRESTED!!!!”) We find it strangely flattering that everyone thinks of us whenever Nic flies off the handle.

The first thing that struck us, reading the accounts of what happened, is how much it sounds like the best scene from a bad Nic Cage movie. Let’s pick one account at random — this one’s from a UK site called Film News (hence the funky spelling of “behaviour” and the thoroughly British “drunken row”):

Nicolas Cage was “screaming” in the street before being arrested in the early hours of Saturday morning.

The 47-year-old actor – who was taken into police custody over the weekend after allegedly pushing wife Alice Kim during a drunken row – stunned onlookers with his behaviour in New Orleans as the pair argued over which house they were renting in the French Quarter of the city.

Barman and local street performer Peter Bennett – who lives near the properties the couple were arguing over – told People: “Apparently he had mistaken the house of my neighbours for the other house up the block that he is actually renting. His wife was trying to persuade him from disturbing the elderly couple who do in fact live in that house.

“He was running around and screaming in the street.”

According to Bennett, Cage – who is filming a movie in the area – is actually renting the house three doors down and when police officers arrived, the ‘National Treasure’ star started to get into the back passenger-side door of the car.

He added: “But the cop got out, walked around, and Cage ran a block south toward the river, where he tried to get into a cab. There was a woman outside with a baby in her arms shouting, ‘Please don’t hurt us.’ ”

The Oscar-winning actor was then arrested after an officer ordered him out of the cab, and according to an inmate at a nearby jail, was “intoxicated” while in the prison’s holding area.

The inmate added: “He was drunk. He wasn’t in a cell. He was behind the counter with all the other officers.”

After being bailed by Dog the Bounty Hunter, Cage is due in court to face charges on May 31.

Let’s count the ways this has all the elements of a great Nic Cage breakdown/wigout scene:

1. “He was running around and screaming in the street.” Oh, you mean sort of like in Matchstick Men?

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2. He was scaring the bejeezus out of women and children. Sort of like every scene in The Wicker Man!

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3. “He was drunk.” Because he was reprising his Oscar-winning role as Ben Sanderson from Leaving Las Vegas!

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Cage is in New Orleans to shoot a film called Medallion. For all we know, last weekend’s scene may have been just that — a scene from the upcoming film, with secret cameras capturing Cage going full Method. If this turns out to be the case, the joke will be on all of us, people — not Nic. As always, he will have the last laugh.

What Nic Cage haters will never get is that he can’t just turn this thing off. Everything he does is a performance. All the world is his stage. If he’s going to commit himself to a role — whether it’s high brow art like Leaving Las Vegas or Bad Lieutenant, or cinematic dreck like Drive Angry 3D or Snake Eyes — Nic Cage goes all in. That’s why we love watching him.

Of course, we also love not being married to him. For the record, this blog takes a firm anti-domestic violence stance. In case that needed to be clarified.

Now, there are still a lot of unanswered questions from that account above. Like,

  • Was Nic Cage so drunk he didn’t know which house he was renting?
  • Exactly how many drinks does it take to reach this state?
  • Was Nic really trying to hide from the cops when he got into the “back passenger-side door of the car”?
  • Has Nic never played Hide-and-Seek before? That’s a terrible hiding spot.
  • If you were a cabbie, would you give a screaming, drunken Nic Cage a ride?
  • Were the woman and her baby waiting for that cab too?
  • Why was this baby awake? It’s gotta be way past its bedtime.
  • What was Nic doing “behind the counter with all the other officers” at the jail? Signing autographs?
  • Maybe the biggest question of all: How does Nic know Dog the Bounty Hunter?

We promise to report further on this situation should answers present themselves.

We also promise a more consistent blogging schedule over the coming weeks after our time off. Tomorrow: an NBA Playoffs preview! (Collective groan from the entire female readership of this blog!) Friday: a Friday Recommends of a new book by a certain “30 Rock” cast member. (Hint: Not Dr. Leo Spaceman!)

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movies, Nic Cage

Here Come The Oscars

Someone who won’t be getting a thumbs up from the Oscars tonight.

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We saw half of this year’s Best Picture nominees — Toy Story 3, Winter’s Bone, True Grit, The Fighter and The Social Network. We also saw MacGruber, which was unfairly maligned as a terrible movie when it was in fact simply a not-good movie but the kind of Not-Good That’s Somewhat Enjoyable If Not Exactly Edifying. (That’s decades away from being an Oscar category, but maybe, just maybe, the Golden Globes will jump on that pretty soon.)

We did not see Sex & The City 2, although we enjoyed reading reviews about it.

We did not see Black Swan because twenty bucks is still too steep a price to willingly submit ourselves to any movie that fits the term “psycho-sexual thriller.”

We did not see any Nic Cage movies in the theater this year because those movies were, in chronological order, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Season of the Witch and Drive Angry 3D. (We did see Kick-Ass on DVD, one of his finer efforts in some time.)

We also did not see the movie that will almost certainly win Best Picture: The King’s Speech. In fact, we can’t recall the last time there has seemingly been so little suspense about how the picks will turn out. Or the last time we didn’t have some kind of strong opinion about which film should — or more often should not — win. (Christian Bale as Best Supporting Actor aside, of course.)

Regardless, we’ll be live-blogging it tonight. Start time could be delayed until nine o’clock, depending on Erin’s enthusiasm for going solo until Ben gets off work.

Our picks on the biggies:

Best Supporting Actor: Bale

Best Supporting Actress: Melissa Leo, The Fighter (we would be quite content seeing Hailee Steinfeld steal this)

Best Animated Feature: Duh

Best Original Screenplay: Not MacGruber

Best Adapted Screenplay: Anything Aaron Sorkin has ever set to paper, even his grocery list, so long as he continues to draw breath upon this earth

Best Makeup: If not The Wolfman, then shame, shame! on us all

Best Actress: Natalie Portman, who should and will give a shout-out to her grandmother in Cincinnati

Best Actor: Colin Firth, but only because Vin Diesel was not nominated this year

Best Director: David Fincher, but only because he gazed upon Aaron Sorkin’s face and still lived

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Join us tonight!

movies, Nic Cage

The Mathematical Certainty of Nic Cage’s Greatness.

The Oscars are on Sunday! Our picks are coming shortly.

In the meantime, hat tip to Mark Hoobler for this:

And it is what good actors bring to movies, even bad ones: discipline, conviction, the ability to help us suspend our disbelief by persuading us that they believe in what they are doing. The more preposterous the situation, the more impressive the feat of seeming to take it utterly seriously. There are other measures of excellence of course — emotional subtlety, psychological acuity, wit — but this kind of unwavering, fanatical commitment is surely a sign of greatness. You might almost say that greatness shows itself precisely in the discrepancy between the performance and the material. If that is true, then it is something like a mathematical certainty that the greatest actor in the world today is Nicolas Cage.

I think A.O. Scott clearly had this scene from Matchstick Men in mind when he wrote that.

Or maybe it was this clip of Nic Cage blinking:

Hard to say.

Of course, by this reasoning, Knowing would be Cage’s finest hour. But we all know that’s a steaming pile.

[Warning: Those of you with sensitive dispositions — those of you who, say, find the sight of a moose on fire disturbing — should not watch the following clip.]