Monday, April 4, 2011

Peggy Sue Got Married

  Directed by Nicolas Cage's uncle, Francis Ford Coppola, the movie revolves around Peggy Sue played by Kathleen Turner. When the movie begins we meet Peggy Sue as a forty-something housewife facing a divorce from her estranged husband Charlie played by Nic Cage. At her 25th high school reunion, Peggy Sue faints on stage and awakes to find herself transported back to her teenage body with the knowledge that her high school sweetheart Charlie turns out to be a lying, cheating scumbag who just never amounts to much.

  In what I can loosely describe as a female version of Back to the Future, Peggy Sue Got Married explores the concept of what you would do if faced with the opportunity to relive your life, in a lighthearted but also slightly dramatic way. Once Peggy Sue gets over the initial shock of finding herself a teenager again, she begins railing against her teenage boyfriend Charlie for sins he has not yet committed. As the story unravels, things become more complicated and it becomes clear that there are reasons why Charlie lost his way.


  Notable appearances include Catherine Hicks (the mom from 7th Heaven) and Joan Allen (the mom from Pleasantville). A young Jim Carrey and Sophia Coppola make an appearances as well.


  Kathleen Turner was nominated for a best Actress Oscar for her performance while Nic Cage's performance was ridiculously bad. Cage performs as Charlie with a nasal voice reminiscent of PeeWee Herman but he can't seem to keep the act up. The voice is constantly fading in and out and it's pretty distracting. Thus far in his career, Nicolas Cage doesn't really seem to have found himself as an actor and it shows.

Here's a look at what Kathleen Turner has been up to lately on one of my favorite shows right now, Californication:

On a related note, I recently lost my voice and someone remarked that I sounded a lot like Kathleen Turner.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Boy in Blue

So bad, it's bad...

  Set in Philadelphia during the late 19th century, The Boy in Blue is Nicolas Cage's portrayal of real-life championship sculler Ned Hanlan. If only rowing were really that exciting. If you want to get an idea of what this movie is like, take the movie Rocky... replace Sylvester Stallone with Nic Cage... give him a pair of oars and send him down the Schuylkill River with a trainer old enough to have known William Penn... throw in a few training montages couple with some way out of place synthesizer music you get... a total piece of crap.

"Before baseball, football, or soccer, one sport alone captured the imagination of both rich and poor -- sculling.
The masses turned out by the thousands to cheer their heroes as they battled on the water, while gamblers won and lost fortunes on the outcome.
This is the true story of a young oarsman --
NED HANLAN."
And so begins our not-so-epic journey into the world of 19th century sculling. In the film version of the story Cage plays Ned Hanlan, a Canadian bootlegger turned sculler. After a run-in with the law, Hanlan is convinced by Bill (David Naughton) to go down to Philadelphia to compete in the International Centennial Regatta, which he won easily, thanks in part to a new type of sliding seat that no other rower was willing to try. Hanlan is approached by Colonel Knox (Christopher Plummer), the head of the local gambling scene to train and row for his interests. Knox uses his niece Margaret (Cynthia Dale) to sweeten the deal but ultimately Hanlan refuses the deal, getting the cold shoulder from Margaret and back-stabbed by his former partner Bill. After refusing to throw a race against his rival, the Australian oarsman Edward Trickett, Hanlan intentionally rams him and as a result is banned from rowing in the U.S. Hanlan then sets out to challenge Trickett for both bragging rights and the world champion title, bypassing his U.S. ban by racing in the Thames river. I'm pretty sure you can figure out who wins... If you're in the mood to watch a really bad movie, rent Drive Angry but whatever you do, don't watch this movie. It's a total waste of time... unless of course you're Canadian or something...

Friday, April 1, 2011

Nic Cage to play Captain Jean Luc Picard in upcoming Star Trek Sequel

Paramount has confirmed that the projected release date for the "Star Trek" sequel is indeed June 29, 2012.

Director J.J. Abrams will return to helm the sequel and plans include a Next Generation Twist. Nicolas Cage is in talks to play Captain Kirk's latter day counterpart, Captain Jean Luc Picard. Production is set to begin hot off the heels of Ghost Rider 2 and according to Nic Cage "The role of Picard will be a Nic Cage classic".

The news comes from a variety of sources, including Ain't It Cool News and Entertainment Weekly, but there's no Paramount-issued press release as of yet. The information ran through some trustworthy sources, but we've yet to receive comment from the studio directly.

Regardless, there really hasn't ever been any doubt that we'd be seeing more "Star Trek." Abrams' take on the series made it friendly to an entirely new, much wider audience than its ever known before.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Birdy

Nicolas Cage and Matthew Modine (Full Metal Jacket) play Al Columbato and the movie's namesake Birdy, two unlikely high school friends brought together by lost baseballs. Al is the outgoing social type while Birdy is quiet and introverted. Both of them are drafted into the Vietnam war after highschool and the movie flips back and forth between their pre and post Vietnam relationship. Birdy seems trapped by his psychological wounds and is threatened with the possibility of being institutionalized for life. Al, physically wounded in a explosion, is trying to save Birdy by revisiting their past.

As we watch the two teens grow up in South Philadelphia, it becomes apparent the strength of their friendship lies in shared trauma: Birdy falls off the roof while collecting pigeons, both have run-ins with Al's abusive father as well as Birdy's antagonizing mother. Present-day Al refuses to give up on Birdy, insisting his friend is still there, even when threatened with being taken away himself.

I remember seeing this when I was younger and enjoying it. This was the first movie I was really looking forward to rewatching as part of the 365 Days of Cage experiment. This is also the first movie where I thought Nic Cage wasn't half bad but that could be because of the fact I was mesmerized by Matthew Modine's performance. The movie won the Grand Prix at the 1985 Cannes Film Festival and Roger Ebert gave it 4/4 stars. The film's soundtrack was written and performed by Peter Gabriel. Definitely worth watching.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Rich’s Late Analysis of The Cotton Club

Just because this blog hasn’t been updated in a month doesn’t imply that Alex and I have given up on this project. It just signifies that we have underestimated the amount of effort that we would need to exert to properly analyze Nicolas Cage’s film catalog. I know some of you may be looking at this blog and say, “Hey, didn’t you put up a calendar on the side that would show a weekly list of what movies you are doing?” And my official response would be “Let’s pretend that the calendar is more like a guideline than an actual set schedule…”  The past is the past and what’s done is done. But, baby, I’ll do better. So don’t worry about that other woman and let’s just talk about the Cotton Club.

Robert Evans is an eccentric and sometimes polarizing Hollywood producer (The movie The Kid Stays in the Picture is based on his autobiography) and was the studio head behind the Godfather. Sometime in 1984, he gets the brilliant idea that if he hires the writer from the Godfather (Mario Puzo), he will be able recapture lightning in a bottle and create a mob movie masterpiece that is even better than the Godfather. He wants to recreate the Godfather – WITH MUSICALS. Well, besides these massive delusions of grandeur, Mr. Evans also had a slight cocaine addiction and may not have known the meaning of the word restraint. But, DAMN IT, he had a plan and he wasn’t going to let a little thing like reality get in his way. So, he borrowed money from the studio. And then he borrowed some more money from Las Vegas casino owners. And then he borrowed even more money from drug traffickers and an alleged arms dealer. And then one day, he woke up and he realized that the script he had sucked. So, while most normal people would realize they are way in over there head and ask for mercy, Robert Evans is no ordinary man and came up with a brilliant idea to save his movie. He’ll just hire the director of the original The Godfather (Francis Ford Coppola) and give him complete control. What could possibly go wrong?

The answer to that question is everything. One of the financiers (and alleged drug traffickers) was murdered by his partner. Chris Evans was fired as producer and eventually arrested for buying large quantities of cocaine. And his replacement, Joey Cusomano, was an alleged “made” mafia member that used the film production to launder mob money. And this movie became one of the most expensive Hollywood productions ever made. I guess making movies can sometimes be difficult.

During this time, our plucky hero Nicolas Cage was coming off the disappointment that was Racing with the Moon. He was attempting to emulate his film heroes of James Dean and Marlon Brando and create a bit of a mythology around himself but felt that he was unable to find the proper roles. So, when Francis Ford Coppola offered him the meaty role of Vincent Dwyer, Nic jumped at the chance. But what was supposed to be a quick three week shoot turned into a six month nightmare. And Nic’s frustration with this production led to bouts of rage with various pieces of furniture. One popular anecdote during this period of time talks about how Nic went up to a street vendor, grabbed all of the remote control cars from his kiosk and then smashed them underfoot while laughing manically.

Ok, so some of you may actually came here for a movie review. And, well, I’m getting there in my own round about way. As Alex mentioned earlier, the movie starts simple enough. Richard Gere plays a musician that saves a mobster’s life. In gratitude, the mobster puts the musician to work for him. The musician falls in love with the mobster’s girl. The girl doesn’t want to return that love in fear of what her mobster boyfriend will do to them. And then the musician talks to another mobster and moves to Hollywood to become an actor for the next four years.  WAIT, WHAT? Reread that last sentence again. The movie starts out real strong and straight forward but by the beginning of the second act, the story just starts to wander aimlessly. Example: the beginning of the second act has the protagonist leaving for California for four years. And what does he do while in California, he becomes an actor that specializes in playing Mob Bosses. And then he doesn’t show back up until there is like 20 minutes left in the movie. WHAT THE FUCK?

There are other problems with this story as well.  Charles “Lucky” Luciano shows up in the last 20 minutes of the movie and becomes the most important character in the story as all the other characters in the movie are trying to gain his allegiance. The only problem is that the movie never explains WHY he is so important and I’m not even sure if he was even given any dialog that was in English. Another weird storyline out of nowhere has Laurence Fishburne’s character, Bumpy Rhodes expressing his love for Gregory Hines’ sister. Bumpy Rhodes’ love for her is so great that it results in him almost drowning another mobster in a toilet. And then that entire love story is never brought up again. And finally, the ending is a complete disaster. I have never seen a mafia movie that attempted to be a drama, fantasy and a comedy all at the same time. And it fails at all of them.

Most of the movie’s failings could be directed at the film’s scatterbrain script. Francis Ford Coppola supposedly wrote the script while filming the movie. And it shows. It doesn’t matter how good the cinematography is or how talented the cast are, if there isn't a story, the movie will most likely suck.

But there are a lot of bright spots in this film. Fred Gwynne, playing the gentle giant mob enforcer, Frenchie Demange, steals absolutely every scene he is in. He is at times hilarious and other times absolutely terrifying and he communicates both of these emotions mostly with facial expression and physical gestures. Another highlight is everything that involved Gregory and Maurice Hines. Besides the musical and dance numbers being absolutely fantastic, I kind of wish that Francis Ford Coppola had cut out the whole mob/musician love story and concentrated on the Hines brothers. I found their story to be much more engrossing and believable than Richard Gere playing a cornet player. Also, Laurence Fishburne once again shows why is he is a complete and utter bad ass. And finally Nicolas Cage plays up the deranged thug that terrorizes Harlem absolutely beautifully. This is the first time that we see Nic’s crazed, bug nuts gaze that will become the hallmark of a lot of his later works.

And finally, I must express my appreciation for Diane Lane. Between this film, her role in Rumble Fish, and masterful performance in Streets of Fire, I think I’m starting to develop a bit of a crush on her. Not only is she sexy, but she is talented and she totally did not deserve a Razzie for her performance for this role.

In conclusion, this movie is a train wreck. Stay for the musical dance numbers and watching the Hines brother work. Run every time Richard Gere is on screen.



Fun fact: Sylvester Stallone was originally cast to play the part of Dixie Dwyer, but he dropped out because he thought the script sucked. I think this movie would have been exponentially better with Sylvester Stallone in the lead.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Drive Angry 3D

This movie was so bad it was awesome... Cage plays Milton, a dead man who has escaped from hell for the sole purpose of rescuing his granddaughter from the cult leader that killed her parents. The best scene in the entire movie occurs about 30 minutes into the film where a fully clothed Nicolas Cage is killing people in a crazy gun battle all while he is in the middle of banging away at a middle-aged blonde waitress he picked up in the previous scene. All in all it's a pretty horrible movie but there are plenty of car chases, violence and nudity to make up for it. It's a little long for what it is but if you don't have anything else to do watch it for the sheer spectacle. This movie was in 3D, which I'm not a huge fan of but I won't go into the details because Roger Ebert already did a great job with his article on "Why 3D doesn't work and never will. Case Closed.". The article is worth reading more than this movie is worth watching.

Notable appearances by David Morse ( 12 Monkeys ) and William Fichtner ( Entourage, Prison Break ) and well as East Bound & Down's curvy Katy Mixon.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Cotton Club

Nominated for 2 Academy awards and inspired by true events, The Cotton Club centers around a prohibition era Harlem jazz club of the same name. Richard Gere plays Dixie Dwyer, a cornet playing jazz musician with unwanted ties to the mob. Nicolas Cage plays Dixie's brother, Vincent Dwyer whose character is based on Vincent "Mad Dog" Coll. Vincent uses Dixie's mob contacts to secure himself a job as a small town lackey, collecting money and terrorizing the residents of Harlem.

I'm not a huge fan of Richard Gere and I didn't think I would really enjoy the movie but Gere was remarkably bearable and the all-star supporting cast was nothing short of amazing. The story revolves around Dixie and his love interest Vera Cicero played by Diane Lane. After Dixie witnesses a murder by local mob hothead Dutch Schultz ( James Remar ), he is tasked with entertaining Dutch's girl Vera. Vera is more attracted to Dixie but both agree to keep things under wraps for fear that Dutch would find out and possibly kill one or both of them. In a parallel story arc, real-life brothers Gregory and Maurice Hines play the tap dancing Williams brothers, trying to make it big at The Cotton Club. Meanwhile Vince is working his way up the mob ladder by any means necessary. The underlying theme throughout all the story arcs seems to be about the price we pay for the things we think we want. Laurence Fishburne ( Rumble Fish ), Bob Hoskins ( Who Framed Roger Rabbit) and Fred Gwyne ( aka Herman Munster ) round out the cast with supporting roles and Tom Waits also makes another appearance in Nic Cage's 5th movie.