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August 7, 2019 11:23 PM   Subscribe

Nicolas Cage on his legacy, his philosophy of acting and his metaphorical — and literal — search for the Holy Grail. (NYT)
I would hope there are ways of teaching nouveau shamanic acting that don’t involve acquiring ancient artifacts.
The cat — a friend of mine gave me this bag of mushrooms, and my cat would go in my refrigerator and grab it, almost like he knew what it was. He loved it.
I don’t know if I’m going to say that’s why I bought the Rhode Island property. But I will say that is why I went to Rhode Island, and I happened to find the place beautiful. [...] What I ultimately found is: What is the Grail but Earth itself?
posted by CrystalDave (42 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
 


Does everyone on this site have a NYT subscription or something?
posted by Chaffinch at 2:53 AM on August 8, 2019 [23 favorites]


Incognito tab, my friend.

Incidentally, the click is worth it for the picture alone.
posted by Literaryhero at 3:10 AM on August 8, 2019 [4 favorites]


NYT tip: When incognito doesn't work, I use reader view in Safari mobile.
posted by Glomar response at 4:17 AM on August 8, 2019 [4 favorites]


Glomar response, you are my hero!
posted by TedW at 4:25 AM on August 8, 2019 [1 favorite]


Have you ever done therapy? I haven’t been in any kind of analysis for at least 20 years. The times that I’ve done it, there were some benefits. It’s kind of like writing in a diary. You get things out. However, inevitably, there was a point where I’d look at the person and I’d start to go: “Why am I talking to you? I’m more interesting than you.” Then I’d get up and walk out. So I stopped going.

What a swell guy.
posted by jeremias at 4:31 AM on August 8, 2019 [3 favorites]


I believe he bought a plot in St. Louis Cemetery No 1. I don't think the people of New Orleans are thrilled about it.
posted by DJZouke at 5:53 AM on August 8, 2019


He's what my grandma used to call "a character". This was not a compliment.
posted by Optamystic at 6:53 AM on August 8, 2019 [2 favorites]


I’ve been a Nic Cage skeptic a long time, but I think he’s turned me with the apt Stockhausen references. Dammit, one less thing to be curmudgeonly about.
posted by threecheesetrees at 7:30 AM on August 8, 2019


Here's my favorite part:

At this point in your career, do you still have something like a dream role? Captain Nemo. My first love, even before my parents, was the ocean. When I read Jules Verne’s “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea,” the depiction of Nemo was that he was also in love with the ocean. He had freedom, and he lived in a palace that was also a submarine, playing the organ. To me, that was a beautiful life.


OK that could be a weird but awesome movie. I have to admit I kind of enjoy Cage's complete disregard for popular adulation, and carrying that to such a point where it looks utterly contrived. He wears this persona like a gigantic fake mustache, defying you to determine if he's brilliant or just a self-indulgent brat who used family connections to avoid ever growing up. There's never a wink, just this mustache. Bizarre.
posted by Cris E at 7:39 AM on August 8, 2019 [7 favorites]


In these difficult times, it's helpful to me to read about an artist who is driven by primal forces to try something different, or attempts that feed on archetype, or that span the gap between a reasonable life and transcendent success, exclusively due to a deep striving to do something better.

While over the years I've had a variety of reactions to Cage's performances, at no point over this interview did I have a moment to doubt his motivations, which seem to be a combination of striving, nostalgia and hard work, even when his comments elicit a curious sort of arrogance.

Regarding therapy, who can possibly relate? Wilhelm Reich and Konstantin Stanislavski have been dead for decades upon decades. This man has his aim on epochal aspirations, and yet who is truly equipped in this generation to support those?
posted by eschatfische at 7:49 AM on August 8, 2019 [11 favorites]


If you have not RTFA: this interview is impossible to summarize and worth your time.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 8:12 AM on August 8, 2019 [11 favorites]


If Nicolas Cage did not exist, Nicolas Cage would have had to invent him.
posted by kyrademon at 8:22 AM on August 8, 2019 [15 favorites]


NYT tip: When incognito doesn't work, I use reader view in Safari mobile.

In Chrome, you can also read NYT by disabling Javascript on the nytimes.com domain. Settings>Advanced>Site Settings>Javascript, then add nytimes.come to Blocked. This seems to work for most paywalls, even the ones that have figured out Incognito Mode.
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:09 AM on August 8, 2019 [5 favorites]


On topic - I've really come to appreciate Nicholas Cage's work by listening to The Flop House, which has covered like a dozen of his movies by this point.

In one non-Cage-related episode, they talked about a well-known actor who was working on a clearly shitty movie and told another actor, "Listen, this here is what we call a cash grab. We're gonna make this movie and then forget it ever happened." And I think the essence of Nickolas Cage is that he would NEVER, EVER say that. He will take pretty much any role in any movie and fully commit to it and look for ways to make it distinctive.

I get the impression that his, shall we say, sleepier performances are under directors who don't give him enough free rein to be weird and experimental. Which, on the one hand, makes him sound like potentially a huge pain to work with, but on the other hand - why hire Nicholas Cage if you don't want him to make Big Choices?
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:16 AM on August 8, 2019 [4 favorites]


I think the Flop House "cash grab" story was attributed to Christian Slater, which if so, yeah I believe that. And I totally agree with you about Nickolas Cage.
posted by cyclopticgaze at 9:23 AM on August 8, 2019 [1 favorite]


I'm curious what y'all think are the best of Cage's little-seen flicks. For me, it'd be The Weather Man and Vampire's Kiss.
posted by dobbs at 9:46 AM on August 8, 2019 [2 favorites]


best under the radar cage movie is bad lieutenant: port of call new orleans (dir. werner herzog). he's also great in his dual roles in adaptation (dir. spike jonze)
posted by JimBennett at 10:18 AM on August 8, 2019 [6 favorites]


It is always amazing to me how much thought Cage puts into what seem to be insane and nonsensical choices. Sometimes it doesn't work. That's okay. I much prefer an ambitious failure to a mediocre success.
posted by lumpenprole at 11:07 AM on August 8, 2019 [3 favorites]


This is what I get for writing a comment halfway through reading the article. He mentions THE BEST HAMMER MOVIE EVER MADE. Quatermass And The Pit. I just got bluray copy!

It's very bittersweet because it was a favorite of my mom and I and she's not doing well right now. I really wanted to share this with her, and it would be great if I could tell her NC loved it too. Probably not, though.
posted by lumpenprole at 11:12 AM on August 8, 2019 [2 favorites]


I did not realize that people considered Nicolas Cage to be an impressive or particularly interesting actor.
posted by entropone at 11:17 AM on August 8, 2019 [2 favorites]


+1 for Bad Lieutenant / Adaptation as a perfect example of Nic Cage doing some amazing acting.
posted by grumpybear69 at 11:22 AM on August 8, 2019 [2 favorites]


I'm curious what y'all think are the best of Cage's little-seen flicks. For me, it'd be The Weather Man and Vampire's Kiss.

Stolen is a fun little heist/chase movie.

I did not realize that people considered Nicolas Cage to be an impressive or particularly interesting actor.

Personally I think he's more interesting than impressive. That's the draw for me - he makes choices that are both thoughtful and totally bizarre, which makes him fun to watch.
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:26 AM on August 8, 2019 [2 favorites]


I did not realize that people considered Nicolas Cage to be an impressive or particularly interesting actor.

He was nominated for Best Actor twice and won once. Even if you don't particularly value the merit of the Academy Awards, that's still pretty impressive.
posted by jeremias at 11:30 AM on August 8, 2019 [3 favorites]


The best part is hearing Cage's comments in his voice. “I can’t pretend to know what people think or want to think about me,” he said. “I’m not Stravinsky, I’m not Van Gogh, I’m not Monk, but these people were not understood, and my favorite artists were misunderstood.”

It's like he was sitting right here.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 11:31 AM on August 8, 2019 [3 favorites]


Could you teach nouveau shamanic acting? I put this line in “Mandy”: “The psychotic drowns where the mystic swims.” Which was a paraphrase of a line by Joseph Campbell, known for his studies of comparative religion and mythology: “The psychotic drowns in the same waters in which the mystic swims with delight.” Which was a paraphrase of a line by Joseph Campbell, known for his studies of comparative religion and mythology: “The psychotic drowns in the same waters in which the mystic swims with delight.” You either have the proclivity to open up your imagination or you don’t. If you have that propensity and are on camera about to do a scene, what would make you believe in what you’re about to do? Say you’re playing a demon biker with an ancient spirit. What power objects could you find that might trick your imagination? Would you find an antique from an ancient pyramid? Maybe a little sarcophagus that’s a greenish color and looks like King Tut? Would you sew that into your jacket and know that it’s right next to you when the director says “action”? Could you open yourself to that power?

Those aren’t rhetorical questions, are they? Right. I did that.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 11:35 AM on August 8, 2019 [12 favorites]


I really liked Mandy (definitely heard if from Flop House). Had also seen Beyond the black rainbow (no NC but same director) also good
posted by PistachioRoux at 11:38 AM on August 8, 2019 [1 favorite]


Which, on the one hand, makes him sound like potentially a huge pain to work with,

He says in the interview that if a director doesn't like a choice he's made, that he drops it, fwiw.

In these difficult times, it's helpful to me to read about an artist who is driven by primal forces to try something different, or attempts that feed on archetype, or that span the gap between a reasonable life and transcendent success, exclusively due to a deep striving to do something better.

Exactly. He may be odd, he may be crazy, he may even give a bad performance, but I don't think Cage is ever half-assing it.
posted by Saxon Kane at 11:42 AM on August 8, 2019 [4 favorites]


I did not realize that people considered Nicolas Cage to be an impressive or particularly interesting actor.

I think Adaptation and Raising Arizona are two films it would be nearly impossible to argue don't feature excellent acting from Cage.

The actor from his generation I cannot stand and am always baffled by the appeal of is Johnny Depp.
posted by dobbs at 11:44 AM on August 8, 2019 [11 favorites]


I'm curious what y'all think are the best of Cage's little-seen flicks. For me, it'd be The Weather Man and Vampire's Kiss.

I think there are Cage movies where he's a definitively good actor (Lord Of War, Bad Lieutenant, Raising Arizona) and there are movies that are fun because he's over the top (Wicker Man, Vampire's Kiss, Drive Angry).

Rarely there are both. Like Wild At Heart.

He's a really interesting actor. Every once in a while I'm not sure I like it. I loved Mandy, but thought he kind of took me out of it in the second half. I'm not sure, I think I need to watch it again.
posted by lumpenprole at 11:51 AM on August 8, 2019


Anyone happen to see what one of his next project is? An adaptation of Lovecraft's Color Out of Space directed by Richard Stanley. Which sounds like it might be in the same zone as Mandy, but I've disappointed before (looking at you Mom and Dad).
posted by Ashwagandha at 3:49 PM on August 8, 2019 [1 favorite]


Strewth, what a banana.
posted by Jody Tresidder at 3:49 PM on August 8, 2019


I have nothing to say other than that this was a great interview and I have aaaall the time in the world for Nicolas Cage. Interesting is better than good, every time.
posted by inire at 3:58 PM on August 8, 2019 [1 favorite]


My top three NC movies are Raising Arizona, Adaptation and Mandy.

I should point out that three of these things are not like the other. Which is pretty great.
posted by chromecow at 4:41 PM on August 8, 2019 [1 favorite]


I'm curious what y'all think are the best of Cage's little-seen flicks.

I think Bringing Out The Dead and Rumble Fish are both pretty great.
posted by Phobos the Space Potato at 6:03 PM on August 8, 2019 [2 favorites]


I'm a giant fan of Face/Off, which takes two oddly admirable but often difficult actors and puts them in rather despicable roles and then demands that they switch roles at one point. So you have John Travolta Playing Nicholas Cage Playing John Travolta at one point, and vice versa. There is no reason this movie should even begin to work. But Travolta and Cage both created such specific characters to begin with that when they trade, they obviously worked with each other on that, and it is so specific and excellent....

I am by no means a blanket Cage fan, but he definitely has created one of the most diverse and widely entertaining (or not) body of work of anyone living or dead.
posted by hippybear at 6:37 PM on August 8, 2019 [3 favorites]


I always loved Red Rock West. Wyoming Noir with Nic Cage, Dennis Hopper and Lara Flynn Boyle.
posted by chuke at 8:13 PM on August 8, 2019 [2 favorites]


I love that he's turned out to be a weirdo. Successful kids from entertainment families aren't usually interesting, and interesting kids from entertainment families aren't usually successful.

Tiny Elvis
Baby Names

Valley Girl was a formative movie for me, huge. I'm sure it is on par with any number of Freddie Prinze Jr. flicks, but that's the one that hit me at the right age. Between that and Peggy Sue Got Married he basically set himself up with a pass from me for whatever crap he decides to do, and he has indeed done some crap. I think a lot of people could have done Adaptation, but I think his depressive delivery suited the characters really well.

I thought The Weather Man was GREAT. Red Rock West was very good and a jewel at a white-hot moment of the (a?) Golden Age of Indie Film. There's just too much to mention! Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, amazing movie.

I forget which, but the last time I watched Face/Off, either Travolta does a better Cage, or Cage does a better Travolta. I have a production theory about that movie where Cage and Travolta imitate each other at the beginning. Then, when the faces start flying, it's easier for them to flip character and the voices and mannerisms are more believable ("believable").

He may be odd, he may be crazy, he may even give a bad performance, but I don't think Cage is ever half-assing it.

That's what you get when you don't have a deus ex machina.
posted by rhizome at 1:02 AM on August 9, 2019


Reading this thread made me realize he's played some of my favorite roles of all time, especially Raising Arizona and Leaving Las Vegas.
posted by xammerboy at 7:09 AM on August 9, 2019 [1 favorite]


And I totally agree with you about Nickolas Cage.

Damn it!!
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:28 AM on August 9, 2019


I'm surprised no one's mentioned his absolutely insane performance in Deadfall. Much like his work in The Wicker Man, Cage is the best thing in an otherwise garbage film.
posted by Saxon Kane at 6:00 PM on August 13, 2019


It would be hecka fun to do one of those Best Movie bracket things where you seed all of his movies randomly, then vote each round until the One True Nicolas Cage Movie emerges. He must have 64 starring roles by now?
posted by rhizome at 6:31 PM on August 13, 2019


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