Saturday, January 30, 2010

A Nicolas Cage Shame Fest

Say what you will about Nicolas Cage's acting ability. I'm not here to deny the guy sucks. For some reason, however, I find Nic Cage has the innate ability to be involved with projects that are kinda cool. I mean, how the hell did he end up as the voice of Dr. Tenma?

Regardless, for whatever reason he ends up in films that I actually don't mind. This is a list of films that I am rather ashamed to admit that Nic Cage was in, and I actually kind of enjoyed. Some are crappy regardless of Cage's presence, but it probably didn't hurt that he was their male lead.

Oh, and I make no excuse for enjoying films like Face/Off or The Rock, because regardless of what you think, they're awesome.

5. The Weather Man (2005)

I have no rightly clue why I watched this movie. This is not my kind of film, and the fact that Nicolas Cage was in it should have screamed, "DON'T DO IT!" Why I watched it, I cannot recall, but I did and... I was pleasantly surprised.

The story of the film follows Nic Cage as David Spritz, a weather man in Chicago who is hated by the people of Chicago for being the bearer of bad news. His father, an esteemed author played by Michael Caine, is dying, his relationship with his kids is non-existent and and his wife pretty much despises him. Essentially, his life sucks.

The film follows David as he works toward changing it all in a weird, dark humour, quirky fashion. Like I said before, this isn't my kind of movie at all, but Nic Cage actually pulled this character off just fine, and I actually liked it.

I'll most definitely never watch it again, but I certainly didn't hate it.

4. Lord of War (2005)

This was a weird film. I expected it to be a balls out action movie, something inspired by John Woo (who directed Face/Off, I might add), but it ended up being this odd morality tale.

Cage plays an arms dealer, Yuri Orlov, an immigrant of Soviet Ukraine. The film follows his life moving to America, working in his parent's restaurant, and then getting into gun-running (... yeah). As the film goes on he considers the morality of his work (seems like a no-brainer to me) while being chased down by an Interpol Agent, played by Ethan Hawke. The film also stars Jared Leto, Ian Holm and Bridget Moynahan.

The film, for whatever reason, was put out there like some weird, almost comedic, cat and mouse chase film, except the guy being chased sells guns to war-criminals and militant armies. It doesn't seem like it would work, but it did. I definitely think if there had been somebody more competent in Cage's role it would have done better, and I remember Cage being exceptionally bland in this one, but he played Orlov, and I didn't mind him or the film.

3. National Treasure (2004)

I watched this one on a rental whim, something I don't do as much as I used to because I don't tend to rent movies as often these days. This is a weird Indiana Jones-esque, conspiracy film that starred Cage, as well as Sean Bean, Jon Voight and Christopher Plummer, of all people.

The film follows Ben Gates (Cage) a treasure hunter who is hunting the lost wreckage of a ship, the Charlotte. The story takes all kinds of weird twists and turns, but ends up with Gates protecting the Declaration of Independence, uncovering some age-old conspiracy surrounding the forefathers of the United States of America, and saving the day.

I thought the film was a decent action-adventure piece. There I said it! It's altogether way too American and draws the line way too close to Indiana Jones, but in the end I was entertained and I liked it. I thought Justin Bartha, who played Cage's comedic sidekick in the film, was decent as well. I've even tried on several occasions to watch its sequel, National Treasure: Book of Secrets, but have continually been thwarted by The Powers That Be. It's probably their way of protecting me, but one day I shall watch!

2. Knowing (2009)

Ever since I realized that, for whatever reason, Nic Cage gets involved with films I'm interested in, I decided to just go with it on occasion and decided to give this one a watch.

When I first saw the trailer for Knowing earlier last year I thought, "This looks pretty cool!" Then I saw that Cage was the lead actor and I thought, "Shit..." Like I said though, I was interested and I gave it a try.

The movie is the story of an astrophysicist named John Koestler, played by Cage (yeah, that's believable). His son appears to be some kind of savant that happens upon a piece of paper, covered in random numbers. The slip of paper was put into a time capsule 50 years earlier by a young girl that appeared to hear voices.

Cage goes on to realize that the numbers have a pattern and actually foretell massive, tragic events. He becomes obsessed with his quest for answers and, fueled by alcohol, fights to save what family he has left.

I'd go into more detail, but you probably wouldn't try the film out. Actually, you probably shouldn't. Especially if you didn't like the new Indiana Jones film (hint, hint - why do I keep bringing up Indy?). I can't really recommend it, but I actually liked it. I thought it had a nice story, and an atypical ending, whether it was really out there or not.

1. Next (2007)

This is most definitely the cream of the crop in my Shame Fest. Just one look at Nic Cage in this film and you'd think, "No fuckin' way!" For whatever reason, I just had to know how this one would play out, and boy was I in for a surprise.

If you've seen the trailer, you get the gist of the movie. Nic Cage plays Cris Johnson, a man that has the innate ability to see all possibilities of a future event, before it occurs. He starts off the film using his ability as a small-time magician/hustler. Cris has a recurring vision, however, that he obsesses over. He can generally only see a few moments into the future, and has to act on the fly. For whatever reason, he can see one event that hasn't happened yet, and appears to be in the distant future. When the event finally comes to fruition it takes him on a crazy adventure with the woman his dreams, Jessica Biel.

The idea behind this film is pretty cool. How'd the production team come up with it? Well, easy. You ever hear of the story, "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" Well, it's the award-winning tale that became the sci-fi masterpiece, Blade Runner.

Since then, its author, Philip K. Dick has become the focus of Hollywood productions. They see easy money when his name is involved. Most recently his story, A Scanner Darkly was adapted to the blip-on-the-radar film starring Keanu Reeves and Robert Downey, Jr.

This film was based on Dick's story, "The Golden Man". The term loosely doesn't even begin to describe how thin the line is here between "based on" and "complete name cash-in". In "The Golden Man", written in 1954, powerful mutants exist in a post-apocalyptic future. As they are of course feared (as all good mutants are) they are hunted down to be destroyed by the rest of the normies. One mutant that is captured escapes his execution, and it is found that this golden-skinned being, named Cris, can see into the future. The story then follows as the humans hunt Cris down and the ending implies that Cris mates, and that human beings will someday be replaced by a new golden race.

See what I'm getting at? There is BARELY a connection here. We have a man named Cris that can "sort of" see the future, and he is indeed being hunted. In the film it's by the US government but instead of trying to kill him, they of course want to use his powers to their advantage.

In the end, however, I actually found the film somewhat, blindly entertaining. It was stupid, hell yes, but its brainlessness is what made it something to watch. It has a major cop-out ending, which I won't ruin, but if you're ever up late on a Saturday night, and this pops up on TV, give it a watch.


Cole D'Arc said...

Yeah, Cage is all over the place with his movies but like you, I can't help but like him despite his limited acting range. Check him out in Peggy Sue Got Married (he's virtually unrecognizable) and Wild At Heart (a David Lynch film so I'll say no more).

Man i HATED Next. Just...everything.

I recall that Shane and I saw National Treasure in the theatre because we just happened to be near there with some time to kill and out of all the movies playing there at the time, it was the longest. But it did its job in holding our attention. Yeah, all that American msyticism and fascination with the founding fathers is really lame. They'd like to believe their country was formed by dashing adventurers involved in amazing plots.

Always wanted to give the Weather Man a watch. Knowing just sounds way too close to Next in terms of plot.

So, uh, Shame on you!

Sam said...

I will forever enjoy him in Raising Arizona and Wild at Heart.

Search on Youtube for the bizarre Japanese Pachinko commercials that he did, or the scene in Wicker Man where he punches an woman in the face while dressed like a bear.

No shame in either of those activities.

Sam said...

Is there a theme for this month?

Cole D'Arc said...

not so far. but if you have an idea for one, let's have it.

i think Shane felt maybe we should give the themes a rest since we've been having trouble actually doing them so far. but i'm still all for them.

Shane Patenaude said...

Interesting list, no doubt. I really like Nicholas Cage even though he is in some god awful movies (i'm looking at you, Ghost Rider, Snake Eyes, and Bangkok Dangerous). I really liked him in movies like Raising Arizona and Adaptation.

I've seen all of these movies except for weatherman and would agree that they are guilty pleasures with the exception of Next. I'm sorry, that movie pissed me off so much by the end that all hints of 'entertainment' I may have previously experienced were obliterated. For me, my biggest guilty pleasure are the National Treasure movies, they are actually more adventurous and fun to me than Indiana Jones 4.

Cole, you should totally give Knowing a shot anyway. It's leaps and bounds over Next.

As for upcoming themes, I figured we'll take a break for February unless anyone has a good idea now. I'm still ashamed for not writing a list during shame month (though that seems somehow fitting). We don't need to do themes every single month, but we should absolutely plan some via email for the months to come.

Sam said...

Suck is a good theme for February, but yeah, hard to swing.

Cole D'Arc said...

shane> hey, i have more reason to dislike Indy 4 than anyone else here but even i wouldn't commit the sacrilege of saying that a Nation Treasure movie was more enjoyable. ouch.