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keep his top half movies, he would blow everyone else out of the water
April 16, 2014 10:25 AM   Subscribe

Irrational Treasure: Making (some) sense of Nicolas Cage’s strangest decade (so far)
posted by the man of twists and turns (48 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite

 
There are moments in which Cage seems to be gunning for some as-yet-nonexistent Academy Award presented to “Most Actor.”

I like this guy.
posted by straight at 10:40 AM on April 16 [32 favorites]


If you stare into the Cage too long, it stares back into you, and who knows what will happen.
posted by BungaDunga at 10:41 AM on April 16 [1 favorite]


Idea channel sees much of this as having a philosophical underpinnings.
posted by poe at 10:42 AM on April 16 [1 favorite]


A 9 hour loop of Cage screaming "I'm a vampire!"

For, I dunno, context?
posted by Panjandrum at 10:47 AM on April 16 [1 favorite]


He won me forever with his Sankyo pachinko ads.

SANKYO I'M COMIN'!
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 10:48 AM on April 16 [20 favorites]


He won me forever with his Sankyo pachinko ads.

Oh my god those are amazing.

"Everyone's having really bad luck . . .

But I'm not. SORRY!"
posted by Think_Long at 10:57 AM on April 16


After Dan Harmon got to produce his Nicolas Cage–themed episode of Community after all, he elaborated on his genuine appreciation for his talent: "He's not good or bad. He's Nicolas Cage. There are lots of actors with whom we get bored and discard, if there wasn't something for sale with Cage he would have been gone long ago. He's a riveting performer, you can't ignore him. {...} If I'm at a party at your house and I put Grown Ups 2 in the DVD player, nothing against that movie, but it's a party, people are going to eventually go into the kitchen so they can keep partying. If I put Ghost Rider 2 in, at some point, there's going to be a circle of people sitting cross legged around the TV. The party's going to become a Ghost Rider 2 party.

"The man has a spiritual power."
posted by Doktor Zed at 11:01 AM on April 16 [9 favorites]


What if Cage is a kind of actor whose output can’t be properly valued without some serious recalibration of our entire value system?

I don't think I can recalibrate my value system to accept only two facial expressions.
posted by Behemoth at 11:06 AM on April 16 [3 favorites]


This really just feeds the internet-cringe-machine, but I enjoyed it.

So is Knowing better than Next? Because Next was weak.
posted by anotherpanacea at 11:09 AM on April 16


Knowing is mostly forgettable, but has one great scene where...well, not great. Cagey? Cagey scene that certainly should rank high in anyone's list of Cagiest scenes, involving a crash victim running past our hero, on fire and screaming accordingly. Cage looks back on this burning screaming person and says, more irritated than anything else, "Hey!" with a subtext of "how dare you be on fire?!"

I had to pause the movie for awhile for the giggles to pass.
posted by Drastic at 11:12 AM on April 16 [6 favorites]


Yeah, even when his movies are bad, his performances are interesting, if completely bonkers. My appreciation is non-ironic.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 11:18 AM on April 16 [7 favorites]


Without wanting to get hipstery about it, I think that the Nic Cage bonkers-appreciation wave is the only one I caught long before it crested, or even swelled. I've been non-ironically behind his bizarre performances since the weird shit really took off in the early 2000s.

And Drive Angry really is one of the most entertaining movies I've seen in a long time. There is absolutely no pretense about it being anything but ridiculous and poorly put-together. I watched it on TV and had to rely on the description to fill in the back story; I thought I'd missed the beginning, but it turns out that it's just not explained. And yet... I loved it. If this can't sell you on it, nothing can:
“Initially what I was attracted to was the idea that I was gonna get my eye shot out. On Season of the Witch, I wanted to get my eye shot by a bow and arrow and the producers didn’t really go for it. When Patrick Lussier handed this to me on a silver platter, I don’t know why, but I immediately said ‘Yes, I’m in!’ It’s as simple as that.”
posted by uncleozzy at 11:31 AM on April 16 [4 favorites]


I just really hope that "Joe" isn't an abomination because (the late) Larry Brown deserves better than that.

I also hope it gets more people to read his books.

And a pony while I'm at it.
posted by Ufez Jones at 11:34 AM on April 16


I like the rest of that Ethan Hawke quote even better:

“He’s the only actor since Marlon Brando that’s actually done anything new with the art of acting; he’s successfully taken us away from an obsession with naturalism into a kind of presentation style of acting that I imagine was popular with the old troubadours. If I could erase his bottom half bad movies, and only keep his top half movies, he would blow everyone else out of the water.”
posted by box at 11:37 AM on April 16 [7 favorites]


I would simply like to note that "Face/Off" is a really good movie, pure entertainment, ridiculousness taken very seriously. And that Cage & Travolta are absolutely fantastic in it.
posted by chavenet at 11:42 AM on April 16 [9 favorites]


Apparently Nick Cage is cyclical, every 5 years or so in fact.
posted by Carillon at 11:43 AM on April 16


Snake Eyes is one of Brian DiPalma's greatest films, but without Cage it would have been one of his worst.
posted by Cookiebastard at 11:45 AM on April 16 [2 favorites]


I appreciate that the imbedded YouTube is titled 'Nicolas Cage eats roach', so I didn't click on it.
posted by MtDewd at 11:51 AM on April 16 [1 favorite]


He name drops Dr. Tongue. Canadians, our work here is done.
posted by clvrmnky at 11:54 AM on April 16 [1 favorite]


I quite like his new movie "Joe" but I'm a huge sucker for David Gordon Green films. The biggest complaint Cage-wise was probably that he didn't get Cagey enough, but I could take another pass at it for sure.
posted by dogwalker at 12:03 PM on April 16


chavenet: "I would simply like to note that "Face/Off" is a really good movie, pure entertainment, ridiculousness taken very seriously. And that Cage & Travolta are absolutely fantastic in it."

JUST HOW THE FUCK DID HE GET OFF OF THAT OIL PLATFORM PRISON?!?!
posted by Chrysostom at 12:13 PM on April 16 [1 favorite]


"So is Knowing better than Next? Because Next was weak."

Knowing is more entertaining than Next. It's one of the films where Cage plays a (relatively) sane character, but the entire movie around him is barking mad.
posted by Kevin Street at 12:14 PM on April 16


I read an October 2013 Hollywood Reporter story about Cage, in a press conference with Chinese state television, bemoaning Hollywood’s refusal to cast Asian male actors in things. Cage says he’d like to someday work with Tony Leung, star of seven Kar Wai Wong movies. Cage says, “One of my goals is to have a base near mainland China.” Noted: Cage’s oddly Cobra Commander–ish use of “base,” rather than a word like “home,” and his oddly specific use of “near,” as if a base on mainland China would be unsuitable for his purposes. Do they not have hollow-outable volcanoes there?

OK, I'm laughing hysterically at work.
posted by stoneandstar at 12:35 PM on April 16 [10 favorites]


Nicolas Cage is awesome. When he's good, he's excellent, and when he's bad, he's remarkable. His zany "taste" in movies is no worse than that of, say, Klaus Kinski, or even certain long stretches of Michael Caine's career.

Like, even just with the remake of The Wicker Man, that movie would have just been a forgettable piece of garbage but for Cage's nuttiness. He gave that movie many times more than the performance it deserved.
posted by Sticherbeast at 12:39 PM on April 16 [6 favorites]


I am surprised at the lack of love for Next, which may not have plumbed the causal depths of Primer but did stick to its premises with a faithfulness not seen in many SF time-paradox themed movies. I thought Cage was great as a guy who had been all but destroyed by his talent, as weird a combination of the petty and the divine as I could imagine, and who is left with nothing to live for but the one image it's shown him that he doesn't understand. If the movie doesn't seem as "entertaining" as Knowing it's probably because Cage spends two thirds of it reprising his role from Leaving Las Vegas, one foot in the grave, making us absolutely believe that he has been ground into this state of nothingness by the banality of something most of us would kill to have.
posted by localroger at 12:43 PM on April 16 [1 favorite]


Without wanting to get hipstery about it, I think that the Nic Cage bonkers-appreciation wave is the only one I caught long before it crested, or even swelled.

Dammit, I am going to get hipstery about it, because I am NEVER cool:

Peggy Sue Got Married was 1986, I was a card carrying NCBA member by the end of that very strange, Gumby-inspired, performance.
posted by Cosine at 12:45 PM on April 16 [4 favorites]


I loved him in that, Cosine, and in Moonstruck. The sinister brother with the wooden hand, sweating and shouting and wielding large knives in the Italian bakery. He does Weird Romantic Lead like no-one else.
posted by emjaybee at 12:52 PM on April 16 [1 favorite]


Snake Eyes is one of Brian DiPalma's greatest films, but without Cage it would have been one of his worst.

I thought Snake Eyes was really bad, but Nick Cage had nothing to do with why.

If I'm at a party at your house and I put Grown Ups 2 in the DVD player, nothing against that movie, but it's a party, people are going to eventually go into the kitchen so they can keep partying. If I put Ghost Rider 2 in, at some point, there's going to be a circle of people sitting cross legged around the TV.

I've seen the second half of Ghost Rider 2 twice as a result of pretty much this exact scenario. Still never seen the beginning.
posted by mstokes650 at 12:59 PM on April 16


r/onetruegod
posted by Hoopo at 1:04 PM on April 16


“Well, you tell me where the top is, and I’ll tell you if I’m over it.”
posted by T.D. Strange at 1:19 PM on April 16 [1 favorite]


But his character arc in Next is pretty clear from the beginning. I'd class it in the Nicolas Cage as superhero group of his movies, which tends to be the second least interesting.

There's a lot of overlap, but I think the categories of Cageness are:



  • Crazy movies with crazy Cage in them. (Vampire's Kiss, Face/Off, Wicker Man, etc.)


  • Serious movies with crazy Cage. (By which I mean movies that are meant to be art, even if they're comedies.) Like Raising Arizona, Wild At Heart, Bringing Out The Dead, Bad Lieutenant and so on.


  • Serious movies with serious Cage, wherein Cage plays a multidimensional character and doesn't dip into the crazy that we all love. (Leaving Las Vegas, Adaptation, Lord of War, The Weather Man, etc.)


  • Cage the superhero. A big category that begins with movies like Con Air and National Treasure, hits the x-axis with Ghost Rider and then descends into Spirit of Vengeance and Drive Angry territory before finally bottoming out with Windtalkers.


  • And finally, the Cage needs money movies, that fill the bargain bins in Wal-Marts everywhere. Amos & Andrew, The Sorcerer's Apprentice, Bangkok Dangerous, Stolen, and so on.

  • posted by Kevin Street at 1:25 PM on April 16 [5 favorites]


    Cage's bargain bin movies are like when a star is rehabbing in minor league baseball so he's cranking out dingers on 18 year olds that can't even throw a breaking pitch yet and you wind up laughing because he's taking it so seriously but it's so absurd.
    posted by Ghostride The Whip at 1:38 PM on April 16 [4 favorites]


    There was that awful Limitless movie awhile back about a guy who takes a drug to become extra-human, Cage would have been wonderful in that.

    The worst crime of bad movies is not the effects, the acting, or the plot, it's just that most bad movies are incredibly boring. Cage makes a bad movie that would be boring and turns it into, well, whatever it is that he is.
    posted by Think_Long at 1:49 PM on April 16 [5 favorites]


    I must be really tired today, because it took me waaay to long to realize that Kar Wai Wong is the director I usually hear referred to as Wong Kar Wai. Kar Wai Wong just sounds...um...incorrect.
    posted by Pater Aletheias at 1:58 PM on April 16 [1 favorite]


    I am just popping in to say that when Johnny Blaze showed up in the 'Thunderbolts' comic book recently, he got teased about his last 2 movies.
    posted by bq at 2:17 PM on April 16 [1 favorite]


    He's forever good in my books just for Raising Arizona.
    posted by Songdog at 2:17 PM on April 16 [1 favorite]


    I would simply like to note that "Face/Off" is a really good movie

    That's an objectively good movie. Which is to say...if you dislike Die Hard 5 or Transformers 3, then okay, whatever. We can't draw any conclusions from that. But if you dislike Die Hard or Transformers, then you just dislike the genre. Totally different. If you can't get into Face/Off, then there are a bunch of other movies you're guaranteed to dislike also, because that film accomplished the genre goals as well as any.
    posted by cribcage at 2:26 PM on April 16 [4 favorites]


    The Family Man was the very last straw for me. If Cage is in the movie, I am not seeing it. I still love Trapped in Paradise and lots of his earlier movies, though. Yesterday I read that he was the first choice for Aragorn in LOTR but declined for family reasons. Fellowship only came out a year after Family Man. I would have been so conflicted.
    posted by soelo at 2:36 PM on April 16


    Nic Cage as Aragorn would indeed be the darkest of all timelines.
    posted by Chrysostom at 2:44 PM on April 16 [8 favorites]


    But his character arc in Next is pretty clear from the beginning

    Well, only because when you start from rock bottom you only have one direction to move. As for being a superhero movie Next only qualifies in the way that Bruce Willis' Unbreakable does, as a journey of discovery which ends with the full realization of the character's potential.
    posted by localroger at 3:04 PM on April 16


    Is Cage's acting new and revolutionary or just bad and unself-aware? To me, Cage is like every bad acting student I've ever seen trying to be different by being bigger and having no relationship at all to the other actors or the situations they're playing in, but he's always given a pass because he's done so much acting and because he brings in money. If he did this many movies that nobody came to see, he'd be this generation's Ed Wood.

    Which isn't a bad thing, really. Both are very enthusiastic about their work.
    posted by xingcat at 3:36 PM on April 16


    I think Cage's ways of picking movies to star in is basically "Don't tell me anything about the movie, just say how many millions I will be paid and I'll give a yes or no."
    posted by ymgve at 4:20 PM on April 16


    Aren't we all just spinning our wheels trying to analyze 21st century Cage until the remake of Left Behind?

    (I'm obsessed.)
    posted by MCMikeNamara at 4:30 PM on April 16


    He's the most interesting mammal in front of a camera. And I've watched most everything he's acted in.

    Wild at Heart indeed.
    posted by aychedee at 4:51 PM on April 16


    Crazy movies with crazy Cage in them. (Vampire's Kiss, Face/Off, Wicker Man, etc.)

    Serious movies with crazy Cage. (By which I mean movies that are meant to be art, even if they're comedies.)


    Yeah, actually I'd put Face/Off in the second category. Sure, the set-up is totally bonkers, and Travolta & Cage gnaw on the scenery with abandon, but the film really is the apex of John Woo's exploration of the complex relationships between two men who are supposedly mutual antagonists, a theme Woo has been working with for most of his career. Of course, it helps to have seen enough Hong Kong action movies to understand that in context something can be totally over-the-top and simultaneously completely serious.
    posted by soundguy99 at 6:14 PM on April 16 [1 favorite]


    Flip side of the Cage-exposed-in-bad-movies thing, though: His work is still fascinating to observe even when it looks like work. Some actors make their acting invisible; Cage makes you think about what acting is and how weird it must be to do it for a living.
    I get similar feelings when i'm at a show watching a band that used to be good and now sucks, or they look soulless or whatever; and from then on i'll just be slightly embarrassed when listening the old records that i think were good.
    posted by palbo at 6:57 PM on April 16


    Regarding the Hawke:
    He’s the only actor since Marlon Brando that’s actually done anything new with the art of acting; he’s successfully taken us away from an obsession with naturalism into a kind of presentation style of acting that I imagine was popular with the old troubadours.

    The Dissolve had a piece on Brando this week:

    Maybe there’s somebody out there who can find fault with Marlon Brando’s legendary performance in On The Waterfront, but I don’t have the wherewithal. There were certainly scores of brilliant actors prior to this historical moment—indeed, one school of thought considers the advent of the Method a largely destructive force, and pines for the days when a certain degree of artifice was commonplace. But there’s no denying that Brando’s commitment to the truth, even when that involved performing actions or expressing emotions not called for in the script, changed the craft and the audience’s expectations.

    I think we're getting the message here that Cage is one of the few actors working today who taps into that pre-Brando artifice. I mean, say what you will about how well he could bellow "Stella!", but clearly the idea that his acting is channelling the truth about his being an actor inverts wholly the idea of the Method.
    posted by dhartung at 11:27 PM on April 16 [2 favorites]


    Thank you someone for finally mentioning the massively under-rated "Bringing Out the Dead".
    posted by rollbiz at 3:14 PM on April 17


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