Is Nicolas Cage a good or a bad actor? I’m pretty sure I have no idea. He won an Oscar, but then so did John Wayne, who couldn’t act to save his life and always played himself. Cage’s uniquely rumbling, uneven style has garnered as many critics as fans and has established him as something of a cult figure destined to exist outside of the Hollywood mainstream. And in his latest film, he cheerfully contributes to the general confusion.
released here yesterday The unbearable weight of massive talent is a parody action comedy in which Cage plays, well, Nicolas Cage. Or rather, a washed-out, theatrical version of himself about to quit acting when he accepts an invitation to travel to Mallorca for a superfan’s birthday. He’ll get $1 million for his troubles, but there’ll be plenty of that because the superfan is a supervillain connected to a ruthless crime lord.
In The unbearable weight of massive talent, Cage reveals what we already knew: he has a sense of humor. Throughout the film’s frantic progression, he constantly refers to himself in the third person, discussing his “nouveau shamanic” acting style, and generally taking ascension out of his public persona. Sometime while watching the 1994 film guard Tess, he watches as he interacts with Shirley MacLaine and visibly winces when his character suddenly starts screaming. Cage rocked Cage.
It’s all fun, and the film confirms an undeniable truth about Cage: he’s a fearless actor who’s always ready to take risks. His free form and almost jazzy approach to his craft hasn’t always won the admiration of his peers. In 1999, Sean Penn said, “He’s not an actor, he’s a performer”. That’s rich and coming from a man who never hit a scene he didn’t want to chew, and in a way Penn misses the point as well.
Naturalism can be a cover-up, something Cage has the courage to avoid, as Ethan Hawke acknowledged in 2013. Cage, he said, was “the only actor since Marlon Brando to actually do something new with art” after moving from “an obsession with naturalism into a sort of presentational style of acting.”
Bravery of this kind risks degenerating into the absurd, and Cage’s resume is littered with howlers. Funny thing: No matter how bad the movie is, it’s always interesting and just seeing it on a screen is enough to cheer you up. Cage is never boring because neither you nor he are ever quite sure what he’s going to do next.
When the cage is in Unbearable weight is a construct, so to a certain extent the real. Because Cage was born Nicolas Kim Coppola and is a member of a large and influential film dynasty. Francis Coppola is his uncle, Talia Shire is his aunt, Sofia Coppola, Roman Coppola and Jason Schwartzman are his first cousins. His father was August Coppola, the respected professor of literature; his mother Joy Vogelsang, dancer and choreographer.
As Nicholas grew up, culture, show business and especially cinema were all around him: he later recalled seeing macabre Weimar silent film classics as shown Nosferatu and The cabinet of Dr. Caligari from his father when he was just five. “We would watch,” he said recently, “and I had nightmares. But then I fell in love with it.” He was heavily influenced by the flamboyant acting of Max Schreck and Conrad Veidt.
He appeared in a few school plays at Beverly Hills High, but has often defined the exact moment he realized acting was for him. “I got into acting because I wanted to be James Dean,” he said, notably recalling a first sighting of East of Eden. “I was 14, I was at the New Beverly Cinema and I was like, ‘Oh no, that’s how I feel. Oh my god I have to do this.
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Given his background, he had some natural advantages but was determined not to take advantage of them. After his film debut at 17 with a small role in Fast times at Ridgemont High, he decided to change his name to Cage. “I had to change my name just to break free and find out I could do it without going to a Hollywood casting office with the Coppola name,” he later said.
Still, being a Coppola helped. In the early 1980s, Uncle Francis cast him in three films: rumble fish, The Cotton Club and the comic imagination Peggy Sue got married, in which he starred alongside Kathleen Turner. Although Cage and Turner didn’t get along well, the film was a cult hit and led to bigger things.
Cher saw it and insisted he be cast alongside her in Norman Jewison’s 1987 romantic comedy moonstruck. He played Ronny, a one-handed baker, and the excited younger brother of Johnny Cammareri, fiancé to the beautiful widow Loretta Castorini (Cher). During filming, director Jewison criticized Cage for his acting excesses, but the actor knew exactly what he was doing: his Ronny shines perfectly with the film’s inherent good-hearted melodrama. It was a brilliant performance and earned him a Golden Globe.
That same year he co-starred with Holly Hunter in the Coen brothers’ light-hearted satire Raise Arizona, plays a convict who falls in love with a cop. The Coens are known for their tightly structured, tightly scripted films, an approach that would always get the free-roaming Cage in trouble. He constantly made suggestions about his character that fell on deaf ears, and Joel Coen later described Cage as “less an actor than a force of nature.”
In Wild at heart (1990), Cage found a kindred spirit in David Lynch, who gave him and co-star Laura Dern free rein to develop and interpret their characters Sailor and Lula, lovers drifting in a landscape of crime and misery.
What these three films showed was a natural gift for comedy, but in the 1990s Cage rarely resorted to it as he veered toward action heroes instead. However, one could argue that in his work on films such as B. There was an unintentional comedy Red Rock West, The stone and with air, One-note thrillers that seemed a poor fit for this endearingly eccentric performer. An action film needed wit, a touch of subversion, for Cage to feel at home in, and John Woo’s film was the perfect example Face/Off.
In 1995, Cage found a suitable vehicle for his talents leave Las Vegas, Mike Figgis’ dark drama about a drunken Hollywood screenwriter who comes to the desert town to commit suicide. Ben tries to break the habit with alcohol, but in the meantime he falls in love with a Las Vegas sex worker (Elisabeth Shue). Their relationship formed the touching heart of a film that ultimately refused to give in to cheap sentiment, and Cage deserved the accolades – including an Oscar – that were bestowed on him.
Winning an Oscar can transport actors to Hollywood’s sun-drenched highlands, where they can pick their best roles and avoid the slightest hint of B-movie smut. But that doesn’t sound much like Cage, who instead responded to the Academy’s approval by throwing himself into film after film with no apparent interest in their quality.
Of course there were a few good ones too, like Martin Scorsese’s Bring the dead to life, but by the mid-2000s Cage was putting out four films a year, each more memorable than the last. Why all this frantic productivity? “I definitely have a work ethic,” he said The guard‘s Hadley Freeman in 2018. “I’m the first to arrive and the last to leave. But I also think I have my children to thank for that.” Cage has two sons and one other child with his fifth wife, Riko Shibata, who is around 30 years his junior.
And as Cage pointed out, just because a film is usually all-out, that’s no reason to call out your performance,” he said recently. “They didn’t work, everyone…but I never called them. So if there was a misunderstanding, it was that. That I just did it and didn’t care. I was caring.”
I believe him, and I think Cage has a kind of greatness, but a greatness so specific that it can sometimes oscillate between glamor and absurdity in the same performance. But when he finds the right script, the right director, something special happens.
As in Bad Lieutenant: Port of call New OrleansWerner Herzog’s inspired crime thriller in which Cage played Terence McDonagh, a New Orleans police officer who injures his back while rescuing someone during Storm Katrina and becomes a drug addict.
Cage’s method techniques are well known: on leave Las Vegas, he hired alcoholic poet Tony Dingman as his “drinking consultant.” And for Bad lieutenant, he compulsively snorted saccharine to put himself in the mindset of a drug addict. “I think I really freaked Werner out a bit,” he said afterwards, “which then freaked me out, because you really have to have come a long way to freak Werner out.”
Leave it to Cage, a free spirit in an age of corporate creativity, boring conformity, and an actor worth watching no matter what slag he’s in.
The Unbearable Weight Of Massive Talent is in theaters now
https://www.independent.ie/entertainment/movies/nicolas-cage-shamanic-genius-or-shameless-ham-41574745.html Nicolas Cage: Shamanic Genius or Shameless Ham?