Sunday, June 28, 2020

Junesploitation 2020 Day 28: Nic Cage!

The best just got better!

42 comments:

  1. 21st CENTURY CAGE!

    LORD OF WAR (2005, 4K UHD Blu-ray)

    Nic Cage movie producer gives himself a plum role as a Russian-American arms dealer that spends three decades supplying weapons to any dictator/strongman that meets his price. Writer/producer Andrew Niccol ("Gattaca") fashions what looks/feels like a rags-to-riches-before-the-fall biopic, complete with stoic lawmen (Ethan Hawke), familial conflicts (Jared Leto, druggie young brother), trophy wife with a conscience (Bridget Moynahan) and business rival that plays dirty (Ian Holm). Since it's a fictitious story inspired by real-life sources (U.S. Colonel Oliver SOUTHERN... really?) Cage gives his Yuri Orlov role plenty of meaty moments, plus a constant voice-over narration to make his scoundrel somewhat likable. It's fine, but after the 'follow the bullet' opening credits everything feels like a slight variation of the scene that came before it repeated ad nauseam. 3.5 FRENCH FLAGS FLOWN SIDEWAYS (out of 5)

    KNOWING (2009, A.Prime, Gil: 6/28/2016)
    Am I the only one who thinks overreliance on CG effects ruined Alex Proyas' movies after/including "I, Robot"? Worse than "Knowing's" principal set-pieces (a minutes-long airplane crash, NYC subway accident, forest with animals on fire, etc.) being dated is that the ultimate reveal of the what's happening renders these early set-pieces irrelevant. I like that the more paranoid John Koestler gets Marco Beltrami's score picks up the pace. "Knowing" is dripping with potential (the first act before the crash is riveting), but not even Cage standing with his legs apart all weird can compensate for how less interesting this one ends than it starts. 3 PICK-UP TRUCKS DRIVEN BY MIT PROFESSORS (out of 5)

    SEASON OF THE WITCH (2011, HBO GO, Jack C: 6/14/2020)
    I randomly picked this Nic Cage flick trying to escape COVID-19 reality for two hours, and when does it take place? The freakin' Bubonic Plague right after The Crusades (face palm)! But it's only a backdrop to the tale of two Crusades Knights (Cage's Behmen and Ron Perlman's Felson) recruited by the Catholic Church they've deserted (you can't say no to dying-on-his-deathbed Cardinal Christopher Lee) to help transport a witch ("The Crown's" Claire Foy) back to a remote convent to be read a special incantation that will restore the world back to normal. Cage is in dour wig-wearing mode throughout, but his interactions with Pearlman are fun. Despite behind-the-scenes troubles (Brett Ratner-helmed reshoots) things get more entertaining toward the end despite the watered-down, CG-heavy fighting spectacle. It's fine. 3 EVIL GROOT-LOOKALIKE FINAL DEMONS (out of 5)

    MOM AND DAD (2018, Hulu, Lindsay: 6/15/2018)
    Brian Taylor, in his first solo gig after splitting from long time partner Mark Neveldine ("Gamer," "Crank," etc.), creates a dark comedic fantasy in which adult parents suddenly decide to murder their children. The first act setting up our main family and zombie-like rules works like gangbusters (lil'-to-no Cage) before settling into a less-frantic siege for the last two thirds (Cage a'plenty). Selma Blair gets top acting honors for conveying with her eyes the horror of what she's become, not to mention keeping with Nic's manic energy when the troubled couple patch their differences over homicidal impulses. Neither a classic or a bust, but having Lance Henriksen onboard really helps. 3.5 SHAMELESS SAWZALL PLUGS (out of 5)

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  2. Raising Arizona (1987, dir. Joel Coen & Ethan Coen)

    Nic Cage’s doe-eyed expressions really do a number on me. They get me from the early scenes where he is wooing Ed, to those final dream sequences that leave me all warm inside. Plenty of Nic Cage hamming about too.

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    1. This might be one of my favourite Cage performances. I love it so much.

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  3. Moonstruck (1987, Norman Jewison)

    For a good chunk of my life I travelled through thinking I didn't like Moonstruck. Which feels like a little like a waste becuase I could have been spending that time watching Moonstruck. It's a truely wonderous, magical and glorious movie.

    Drive Angry (2011, Patrick Lussier)

    Drive Angry fits in that perfect exploitation mode of 2011 when people seemed to be still trying to figure out how to make 3D work.
    It's really fun. Nic Cage escapes from Hell to get some Vengence organised. Amber Heard keeps beating entertainingly the shit out of people. And William Fichtner as Hell's accountant looks like he's having a blast. The Southern accents are large, there's a death cult and some good looking cars, as Dan pointed out. I mean what more could you want.

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    1. It makes me so happy you have realized how great Moonstruck is!

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  4. Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call: New Orleans (2009)

    What a title! I appreciated some of the more subtle camera work as well as the flourishes Herzog was doing. The colour grading was weird, everything being orange or teal, but maybe it's actually like that in New Orleans? ;) The other great thing is Val Kilmer; this movie could have used more than a minute of Val Kilmer.

    Lastly, the elephant in the room, Nicolas Cage. I haven't been a fan of his, and I tried. I really tried. But it was either a weird emotionless flat performance, or crazy faces and yelling.

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  5. The Trust (2016) Dir. Alex Brewer & Benjamin Brewer

    The first 2 acts are really fun, but it gets a little self-serious and bogged down in the 3rd. But Cage and Wood are having a lot of fun here. Cage in particular gets to split his time between being corny and psychotic. If this wasn't written with Cage in mind, I'd be shocked.

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  6. A Score to Settle (2019, dir. Shawn Ku)

    Frank was a mob enforcer who was made a fall guy and sent to prison. 19 years later he's out, looks like Nic Cage, tries to reconnect with his now-adult son, falls in love with a hooker, and aims to take vengeance on the guys who put him inside. And he's dying from insomnia.

    A solid performance from Cage, only occasionally slipping into that "unhinged Cage" territory. The script flits between good drama and silly hokiness, but generally manages to keep it together. Mohamed Karim as "The Dragon", one of Frank's marks, tries to go for the unhinged thing and is the worst thing in the movie.

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  7. Fire Birds (1990, dir. David Green)

    Paid for by Your American Tax Dollars™, Nic Cage stars as Jake Preston, hotshot Apache pilot tasked with taking down the drug cartels and their too ace Stoller, trained by Tommy Lee Jones' Capt Little (in a mid-life crisis). It's Top Gun with Choppers, but with fewer valley ball games.

    Cage bounces between straight-laced, model soldier and raging sociopath who never takes no for an answer. I didn't find that Cage's mugging and goofery translated well to how by the numbers There's a laughable training simulator sequence where he keeps screaming "I'm the greatest!" whilst blowing up low-poly video game tanks. I laughed, but I don't think THAT was what the director was intending.

    Tommy Lee Jones plays the prototype of the flavor of confident authority figure he would later perfect in The Fugitive. His character arc is how desperately he wants to go on this mission to prove he's still "got it" and leave how wife and 3 children fatherless. Also, I hate to say it, but I love Sean Young but she feels way out of place here. Even in the sex scene (Set to a Phil Collins tune) she doesn't seem to be in the movie.

    Still the movie offers high speed helicopter action, which it delivers. Unfortunately the editing is so erratic, you rarely get the sense of who is where and what they're doing. It's a kind of proto-Michael Bay that doesn't succeed dramatically.

    Worth the price of admission for any time Nic Cage is jogging.

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  8. BETWEEN WORLDS (2018)

    I kinda really loved this. It’s a movie with another worthy Nice Cage performance that people need to see just as much as Mandy or any other thing that’s Cage-hott. But it’s not just Cage that’s welcome here. His two co-stars Franka Potente from Run Lola Run and the Bourne Identity and Penelope Mitchell keep this thing moving. It’s a more grounded movie with a more grounded Cage at the beginning until things start going haywire with the plot, which kind of feels like one of those early to mid 90s body swap killer accident movies (BODY PARTS or SHATTERED). This thing gets crazy. Like Cage banging everyone in about four different scenes that’s cut with more banging whilst yell-reading from a book...and all of it actually matters to the plot! It’s definitely melodramatic but oh yeah did I mention Cage plays a bad ass trucker? This thing moves around a lot but it’s always focused, surprisingly. What throws you off in the beginning to let you know that it’s indeed going to get weirder is the Twin Peaks bass heavy score that’s thrown in at random. It RULES

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    1. Please note that he is yell-reading from a book that if you look closely is written by one Nicolas Cage!

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    2. OMG, "Adaptation." was for real! 😳🤧🥳

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    3. Haha nice. Definitely did not know that!

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  9. Snake Eyes (1998, dir. Brian De Palma)

    In 1998, my favorite director was making a movie with my favorite actor. It was a big deal. It was flawed but I loved it. In 2020, my favorite actor stars in a movie from one of my favorite directors and it's still flawed and I still love it. Wish we could see the deleted third act some day.

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    1. This was the first movie my wife and I saw in the theater together (we met in film school). The one thing she remembers is that we held hands through the entire film. I don't know if my recollection serves, but Snake Eyes is not a date movie m

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    2. I mean, it's not NOT a date movie...

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    3. It would be nice to see the tidal wave ending but I kinda like the low keyness of ensing they went with. That awkward look on Gary Sinise's face deserves to be a meme.

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  10. Color Out of Space (2019)

    Apparently The Blob (#blub) taught us nothing. Nic Cage and his family have a meteor land on their farm and they don’t immediately get the holy fuck out of town, so you know there’s gonna be consequences. Of course the meteor brings with it an otherworldly menace that seeps into their water supply, leading to all sorts of cosmic horror befalling the innocent family.

    I’m a little bit torn on this one. One one hand it’s an extremely effective and beautifully made horror movie (the “color” itself is astoundingly vivid), and a welcome return to filmmaking from Richard Stanley after a 20+ year absence. On the other hand it’s so upsetting that I legitimately don’t think I can ever watch it again. There’s one bit in particular (I won’t spoil anything) involving a mother and son where the sound work is so profoundly unsettling I almost had to shut the whole thing off. The performances are great across the board, but what they go through is harrowing and heartbreaking. I’m not the squeamish sort (at least not when it comes to movies) but this is joining We Need to Talk About Kevin on my list of very good movies that I never, ever need to see again.

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    1. It's one of the most nightmarish things in any movie ever.

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    2. I am not looking forward to sleeping tonight, as it is still in my head. ‘80s comedy day can’t get here soon enough!

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  11. Rage (2014, dir. Paco Cabezas)

    Aside from Cage's excellent performance (goes without saying) this was a pretty generic and bland revenge movie. I will admit I did not see the twist at the end coming, so I'll give it credit there as well. For Cage completionists only.

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  12. Its not Exploitation and its barely Cage but I need something light so Im sticking to my list and watching one of Dreamworks better movies "The Croods"(2013) I may watch Drive Angry 3D later as it may be the closest to legit exploitation movie Cage has starred in.

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    1. "Teen Titans GO! to the Movies!" has Cage playing Superman (get it?), and is a legit fun and entertaining movie. Just sayin'. :-)

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    2. Thanks for the recommendation. I liked Teen Titans and thought he was good in Spider Verse. Today just feels like a Crood kind of day.

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  13. National Treasure (2004)

    "I'm gonna steal the Declaration of Independence"

    What a fun movie. A good time on a Sunday afternoon.

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    1. It might be one of the great line readings.

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  14. Outcast (2014) Vudu Free w/ads

    From the cover I was expecting a buddy movie with Cage and Hayden Christensen in the Crusades. Instead Cage is absent for a good chunk of the movie and it's more about Hayden white savioring China. When Cage does show up again in the movie he inexplicably has snakes wrapped around his wrists so that's something at least.

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  15. Face/Off

    1997, dir. John Woo

    Damn. This was somehow both much better AND way worse than I remember. This is without doubt, one of the all time greatest WTF bad idea movies. I’m not even sure how much I should bother discussing this insanity before just recommending everyone rewatch it. The stunts and effects are unbridled and hubristic. Cage playing Travolta and Travolta playing Cage is one of the greatest casting coups in cinema history. Handwavy science, sideways dual-gun blasting, face waterfalls, one-liners that sound even more ludicrous out loud, and way more character actors than I remembered. Fuck, I might unironically like this movie.

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    1. "Face/Off" crosses into ironic, but then keeps pushing so far its own crazy path it turns around to become unironic by sheer force of will.

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  16. Vampire's Kiss (1998, dir. Robert Bierman)

    Cage is so incredibly captivating here, no shade to Dennis Quaid but I don't think this movie works with anyone else in the lead.

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    1. If I had to pick, this is my favorite Cage performance. He said in the commentary the reason his character makes weird yelping noises when crying is that he gave himself the acting challenge of actually saying "boo-hoo" during a crying scene. What a treasure he is.

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    2. Wrong decade there, chief (1988, not '98). :-P

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    3. Thanks! Obviously just a typo

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  17. BANGKOK DANGEROUS (2008)
    Cage plays a cold, emotionless hitman. He starts making some real relationships/friendships for the first time, only for it to go wrong. This feels like two movies mashed together, with the dramatic parts being dreary and somber, while the action is over-stylized and cartoony. A boat chase at the halfway point is especially goofy. Overall, it’s… fine?

    30 days of HELLO MARY LOU, PROM NIGHT II, day 28
    What to make of the prom queen crown that pops up throughout the movie? It first emerges from the trunk in the basement, and it’s there when Jess gets killed, so we know it’s evil. But then it shows up in the school trophy case, and later in the principal’s office. The principal finds it again after he falls on the gym floor. (Did he drop it, or did it just appear?) He tries to use the crown to stop Mary Lou, but this is upended in the final twist. Therefore, the crown is another element of this supernatural evil just messing with everyone.

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  18. They Nest (2000)

    Decent made for TV creature feature, cockroach, gross out-fest. Enjoyed it. Two degrees of Nic Cage - Dean Stockwell was in Blue Velvet, Nic Cage was in Wild at Heart.

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  19. Moonstruck (1987)

    This movie is so delightful. It's so funny and sweet and everyone should watch it.

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  20. Drive Angry (2011, dir. Patrick Lussier)

    A better Ghost Rider than Ghost Rider!

    This is absolutely ridiclous "old man fantasy". My top example is that every waitress to come in contact with Cage stright up BEGS him to fuck them. It's nonsense. I had an entertaining enough time, but I'm sure I would have had much more fun in a theater in 3D.

    As much as I love Cage, this didn't seem to be one he tried very hard at. This was more than Amber Heard and William Fichtner show. They were really great!

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  21. Wild at Heart (1990, David Lynch)

    I sometimes tend to find Lunch a little too impenetrable. I know I'm looking at great Americania Pop Art, I just don't always know which side to approach it from. Which, is how I feel about Wild at Heart - it's first watch for me. Cage is great in this, he wears the movie as naturally as his Snak Skin Jacket, a second skin. And Wild at Heart is an incrediably mannered movie - like a lot of Lynch.

    Wild at heart is still a brilliant movie littered with some of my favourite actors. Dern, Stanton, Defoe oh my.

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  22. Day 28

    Red Rock West (1993)
    Awesome twisty thriller. Cage, Hopper, and Walsh are three of the most legendary scene chewers and they do not disappoint. The movie's score gets highpoints too. I did not know where this movie was going to go, and I can't wait to watch it again and enjoy the dark humor. Fanfuckintastic!!

    Valley Girl (1983)
    Offbeat, odd, sweet love story. This movie took a bit to get into once I was keyed into what it was saying, I loved it. Frederic Forrest and Colleen Camp steal the movie in every scene they are as Julie's parents. Michael Bowen always plays a great dickhead. Seeing Buck from Kill Bill Vol 1 get the voice of Tommy Pickles naked will haunt my dreams now. Great soundtrack to this movie as well. I miss seeing Nicolas Cage being funny in great comedies.

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  23. Vampire's Kiss (1988)

    A weird-ass movie with one of the most weird-ass leading performances of all time. Once Cage gets fully unleashed here he instantly dials it up to 11 and never looks back. He's in turn smarmy, clownish, grotesque, violent, tragic and pathetic. Yet, despite operating at top volume all the time, he somehow never stops being relatable as the pov character, carrying every single scene on his hunched, twitching shoulders. Then there's the movie itself, every bit as herky jerky as its central character - it starts out as a black comedy, gets some campy fun in with the vampire stuff, turns into a full-fledged horror for a while, and then, without warning, becomes something a lot sadder and more serious. It also doesn't hesitate to go into some pretty uncomfortable, actual dark (not just horror-dark) places. In the end, it's a fascinating, almost physically exhausting experience and I wouldn't blame you if you felt like taking a shower afterward.

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  24. Con Air (1997)

    Hahahahah so incredible. Couldn't possible pick a standout performance my oh my how did they fit so much movie into less than two hours.

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  25. Well, I watched Con Air, which would work as an exploitation movie for so many well known actors (I totally forgot about that). It's a lot of fun, duh...

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