Saturday, May 7, 2011

Nicolas Cage: What Is Going On In There?

A couple of months ago, a friend of mine hosted what he termed "Bad Movie Night." It was to be, he hoped, the first of many. The inaugural feature: Nicolas Cage's 1989 film Vampire's Kiss. He was inspired to rent it after viewing the following clip:

Needless to say, Vampire's Kiss was everything he hoped it would be and more. In this film, Nicolas Cage manages to chew on people's necks with a set of false plastic teeth, eat a real live cockroach, occasionally speak in an English accent for no apparent reason, smash an entire bathroom to pieces, and spend at least twenty minutes engaging in a conversation with the side of a brick building. Vampire's Kiss was like American Psycho, except instead of being a retro-nostalgic take on the late '80s, was actually made in the late '80s.

Apparently satisfied by our selection, we realized there was a commentary track featuring the one and only Cage, and we decided to listen to it, in the hopes that he might explain what the hell he was thinking when he opted to make this movie. But alas, the commentary track only deepened the mystery. Cage seemed to be aware that the movie was funny, but he did not seem to be aware that the movie was bad. In other words, yes, it was funny, but not for the reasons he intended. It just made me ponder one of the essential questions of our age, namely: Nicolas Cage and his brain - what the hell is going on in there?

Nicolas Cage appears to lack any sense of quality control. I imagine a conversation between him and his agent must go something like this:

Agent: Hey Nic...
Cage: Yo!
Agent: I've got another part for you, it's called Leaving Las Vegas-
Cage: I'll do it!
Agent: How 'bout, here's another one, it's called Wicker Man-
Cage: I'll do it!
Agent: OK, here's another one, it's called Adaptation-
Cage: I'll do it!
Agent: Here's one, it's called Gone In 60 Seconds-
Cage: I'll do it!
Agent: How about, this one looks good, it's called Moonstruck-
Cage: I'll do it!
Agent: Hmm, what do you think about Ghost Rider-
Cage: I'll do it!

One thing you've got to say about Nicolas Cage: no matter what the role, he brings his A game. Whether it's Matchstick Men or The Wicker Man, the dude is into it. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your point of view), he is not able to distinguish between a role that benefits from an intense approach, and one that doesn't. The man is a master at, shall we shall, "losing his shit." Hence the infamous YouTube video, "Nicolas Cage Losing His Shit":

So why is he smearing paint all over himself? I doubt even he could answer that question. One blogger has dared to go where others fear to tread. Witness 30 Days of Nic Cage. The description: "Nicolas Cage is in some pretty good films. He is in some OK films. He is also in some astonishingly bad films. I am going to watch 30 of them in 30 days." I hope this man has good medical coverage.

Finally, the Cage Matrix: a handy guide to Nicolas Cage's filmography, plotted on two axes. One axis plots his roles from "Brilliant" to "Rubbish," while the other axis plots his roles from "Serious" to "Mental." I think you may find their system surprisingly useful.