Oooh, forgot all about this. But reminded last night, so an update is in order
1. Gone in Sixty Seconds (2000) July 2017
2. The Sorcerer's Apprentice
(2010) September 2017
It says something about the Cagemaster's career at this point that this piece of dreck might not even rank among his worst 5 films. It starts out...OK; I had mild hopes up to about the half hour point; liked the rather baroque, overstuffed sets, it had some color to it (albeit that highly processed digital-sheen look), and I'm not unattracted to the sorcerer-training-apprentice idea, but it degenerates pretty quickly once the humor starts to get more prominent, and Jay Baruchel is just unwatchable in this, his particular blend of geeky smartassery just makes me want to see him get clobbered every time he opens his mouth. And the CGI is really variable - the first sequence looked just terrible, other scenes look pretty good - this and some other factors lead me to wonder if they just ran out of money in the post-production. Typically horrible thudding monotonous Trevor Rabin score; I've now decided that Rabin belongs in the spot as my least-favorite current composer; sorry Hans, you're in the also-ran department now.
3. Valley Girl
(1983) March 2018
I like how it opens up, with vast panoramic shots of the Los Angeles area, reminding us of the varied topography and cityscapes - an ideal location for a motion picture industry of course, and also a space where physical obstructions (mostly mountains) separate subdivisions of the community from each other in uncommon ways. Thus, Valley-speak and Valley girls and Beverly Hills boys. Nic Cage in his first starring role is the bad "punk" (not really, but in the world of this film, pretty much) guy from Beverly, Deborah Foreman is the good little girl from the Valley whose friends all hate the losers from the wrong side of the tracks...you get the picture. What's kind of fun about this is that Foreman's not a rich-bitch stereotype, rather she's the daughter of a couple of hippie natural food store owners, so in a sense she doesn't fit in to the Valley BMW and 18-room house lifestyle herself - although unfortunately not much is done with this element. It's all pretty predictable, but the 80s neon and big hair works for this viewer who is just a year younger than Cage, and of course there's the soundtrack, most notable for Modern English's biggest (only?) hit "Melt With You".
4. National Treasure
(2003) August 2018 - 4th viewing
Satan help me but I love this flick. OK, it's not really a good movie - not as horrible as Dungeons & Dragons
which I also re-watched (!) shortly before it, and I think not even necessarily as well made as the Mission Impossible
or some of the other dumb franchises of the last couple of decades. But it's NICOLAS FUCKING CAGE as a guy whose first two names are Benjamin Franklin, and he has to steal the Declaration of Independence, and go around to all these famous sites in American history, and there's a conspiracy involving ancient Egyptians, Knights Templar, and the Masons. What's not to love? Seriously, this is just right up my alley, and if I could wish for anybody but the awful Trevor Rabin doing the music, and find Justin Bartha as Cage's sidekick more than a little annoying, and Turteltaub's direction blunt and generally uninteresting, I just have such a soft spot for this kind of historical adventure that I can't help but enjoy it. I also have to say that I really appreciate that people generally don't act like idiots here - I mean, sure, there's action-movie cliches that are dumb, but the characters are supposed to be scientists, historians, etc, and they actually use knowledge and figure things out, rather than everything happening randomly. The film actually seems to respect knowledge, at least a little, which is more than can be said for most action flicks. I've only seen the sequel once and remember it being cut from the same cloth but a bit stupider and less entertaining. One series I wouldn't mind seeing continue, actually.
(2018) January 2019
I saw Cosmatos' first film a couple of years ago, and while there was a fair bit to admire there in terms of visuals, sounds, the overall feel of the film, that was where it started and ended for me. I can take opaque plots or meaningless plots or non-plots, but if you are making a narrative film, it has to have *something* there - for all the rants people have made against Lynch or Maddin or Ruiz, their films are on some level about something - there's some kind of content there that you can dig for. Maybe there is in Cosmatos' films too, but I'm just not getting it beyond "self-consciously weird and cultish". This film, even more than the first, seems to me an attempt to sell itself purely on the basis of cool - oooh, Nic Cage goin' crazy, Nic Cage bein' profane, Nic Cage with a chainsaw! All the visuals in the world aren't going to be enough for me to get excited by those little bits over an excruciating 2 hours of monotonous pseudo-experimentation coming mostly out of the 60s-80s and yes, Lynch. And the visuals - sorry, lots and lots of red and other colored filters do not alone make something beautiful and memorable. Scraps of obsessions, cults and revenge films, much better when they weren't being done so self-consciously by an "artist".
6. Con Air
(1997) March 2019 - 3rd viewing
This is one of those films that I ought to hate - it''s a big, dumb, often sloppily edited (not quite to the point of incomprehension, but almost) action flick with lots of stock characters and a plot that sounds like you've heard it all before, many times - but somehow I love it and in fact it remains my favorite Cage film, heck maybe my favorite of his performances and also maybe my favorite American action film of the decade. I saw it when it came out in the cinema and thought it was cheesy and stupid but kind of fun, but a re-watch maybe 10 years ago bumped it up considerably, and last night I watched the BD I just got - which looks good but seems a little muted in the audio, and has little in the way of extras. Somebody else wrote somewhere that it seemed a deliberate parody of 80s-90s action tropes - mix Die Hard
and Under Siege
, put it on a plane, have multiple alpha bad guys instead of just one leader, throw in Steve Buscemi's weird, creepy performance which doesn't actually have anything to do with the rest of the film, etc, etc. Cage does a bad accent, not for the first or last time, but somehow it's awesome because he seems just slightly stoned most of the time, and he reads his dialogue like he's struggling to put conviction into lines like "put the bunny back in the box". John Cusack and Colm Meaney are feuding federal agents and their relationship is more fun than the similar dynamics in Die Hard
, and John Malkovich plays the lead villain with gusto, and without going so over-the-top that he outdoes the Cageanator. And the ending of course takes it up to 11. Rather surprised no sequel was made, though perhaps the box office was just a hare short of what it needed to be.
Looks like I'm averaging 3 Cages a year or so, not bad but could amp that up a little, couldn't I.