Nicolas Cage

Grindstone Entertainment Group

With Taxi Driver, American Gigolo, The Last Temptation of Christ and more, screenwriter Paul Schrader is responsible for a handful of classics. As a director though, he hasn’t made a great film since 2002’s Auto Focus. His last directorial effort, The Canyons, wasn’t half as interesting as the gossip surrounding the project. The same can almost be said for his latest picture, Dying of the Light, a movie that was taken away from Schrader — scored, mixed, and re-cut without him. The troubled production is apparent in the final product. Written by Schrader, Dying of the Light is centered around a veteran CIA agent, Evan Lake (Nicolas Cage), who’s displeased with his current position. The former field operative wasn’t meant to be stuck in an office, but his superiors are wary of his obsession that began 22 years prior with Lake being tortured by a terrorist, Muhammad Banir (Alexander Karim). The terrorist is presumed dead, but the aging agent believes Banir escaped. Cutting to present day, Lake, with the help of a young colleague, Milton Schultz (Anton Yelchin), goes after Banir. To up the ante, there’s a ticking clock for both Lake and Banir: they’re sick. Lake suffers from frontotemporal dementia, making him prone to outbursts, shaky hands and more.

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D02_0186.NEF

Beyond the title’s reference (intentional or otherwise) to the Dylan Thomas poem, it’s hard to say that I was personally very aware of the new Nicolas Cage-led thriller Dying of the Light. In fact, it hasn’t been mentioned on the pages of this site since Cage joined the project in July 2013. But here it is now, a fully realized movie that’s hitting theaters on December 5. And look at that hat. To pass up an opportunity to show you that hat would be a disservice to Cage fans, disrespect to Dylan Thomas and an affront to humanity itself. But wait, there’s more.

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Neo in The Matrix

Let’s call this pitch Filmography Expendables. Take an actor or actress, list his or her best characters and throw them in a movie together as a team of awesomeness. Or, since I’m still certain we’re heading into a “Vs.” movie trend — and the “Civil War” idea for Captain America 3, where Cap fights Iron Man, is further evidence — take a star’s best two characters and pit them against each other. We’re talking gold right there. The necessary effects are there and have been long enough that I’m surprised we haven’t seen more action sequences where an actor is fighting himself as clones or lookalikes or something like that. Oblivion gave us Tom Cruise versus Tom Cruise, but now the next step is to see Ethan Hunt go up against Jack Reacher (it could easily happen since both are from Paramount properties), and then of course they finish in a draw and unite, alongside Maverick, Lestat and Frank T.J. Mackey. I was inspired to think about this idea from two places. One is this week’s episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., in which Ming-Na Wen got to fight herself in the role of Agent May and a S.H.I.E.L.D.-turned-Hydra spy wearing an impossibly perfect Agent May mask. It was one of the best things ever seen on the show. The second thing is a tweet from my buddy Justin Robinson, who wrote: “I want a shared universe of Keanu Reeves characters. That way Neo, Ted, Johnny Utah, Jack Traven and John […]

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eOne Entertainment

I’m no expert in the Book of Revelations, but I’m pretty confident in my knowledge of the end times and the dispensationalist concept of the Rapture. Basically, everyone’s favorite deity strips all of Earth’s children naked and sucks them (along with some adults for chaperon duty apparently) up into the sky leaving the rest of humanity to face years of struggle, darkness and demonic antics. That sounds bad enough, but according to the new film Left Behind it actually gets worse. It seems god also sucks up all of the fun, entertainment, sense of pacing and quality screenwriters. Rayford Steele (Nicolas Cage) is an airline pilot excited for his imminent flight to London where he’ll get to attend a U2 concert with a sexy flight attendant (Nicky Whelan), and he has no intention of letting his wife and daughter ruin the occasion. Chloe (Cassi Thomson) has returned home from college for his birthday, but when Ray chooses Hattie the stewardess over his recently born-again wife Chloe realizes this is “the saddest day of her life” even though she did get to chat with a famed TV journalist named Buck Williams (Chad Michael Murray). And then the Rapture hits! [Sad trombone.] To be clear, Left Behind is not a bad movie because of its Christian plot lines and concepts. It’s a bad movie simply because no one involved in its production cared to make a good one.

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Left Behind Movie

It’s the end of the world, and Nicolas Cage‘s wife knew it. Unfortunately, he didn’t believe her, so he’s stuck taking the place of a pilot who has suddenly vanished alongside a sizable amount of plane passengers. It’s a pretty inconvenient time for the rapture to happen, but Cage’s character is a pilot so things aren’t all that bad. Left Behind is the story of a bunch of non-Christians who have to endure the worst era in world history because God has closed the lid on his creation experiment with a final harumph. The movie is based on the book series from Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins that plays What If with the Book of Revelation, attempting to theorize how we might handle the rise of the Antichrist and the devastation that follows the great exodus of believers. It’s also technically a remake in the wake of a trinity of films starring Kirk Cameron that Jenkins described as “church basement movies.” Unfortunately, the trailer for the new incarnation shows off what still looks like made-for-TV quality:

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Tim Burton in Death of Superman Lives

I’m not going to rehash the story of when I met Kevin Smith while working a movie theater box office in the mid ’90s and how he told me about the experience of writing a Superman movie (those days filmmakers didn’t have to be guarded about things being easily spread on the Internet after chatting with fans). You can read what he said then in a piece I wrote early last year on the Kickstarter campaign for The Death of “Superman Lives”: What Happened? Now it’s time to see what Smith says now, in the first trailer for the documentary, which is about the failed project. Also in this trailer are a lot of other prominent people who worked on Superman Lives, including director Tim Burton (who is nearly driven to suicide talking about the sad fate of the film on camera), Lorenzo di Bonaventura (then the Warner Bros. exec who greenlit the movie; now producer of the Transformers and G.I. Joe film franchises), production designer Rick Heinrichs (Oscar winner for Burton’s Sleepy Hollow), Wesley Strick (screenwriter who took over from Smith), special effects artist Steve Johnson (who went on to do Spider-Man 2) and costume designer Colleen Atwood (a three-time Oscar winner, including one for Burton’s Alice in Wonderland). There’s no interview with Nicolas Cage, unfortunately, but there is footage of him being fit for his costume, and some test footage of his version of Superman flying. Check out the trailer below.

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RLJ Entertainment

Do you have access to locations in one of our nation’s great Southern states? And connections with a catering company capable of feeding a cast and crew for two maybe three weeks of shooting? And a few thousand dollars (estimated) to pay for it all? If so, then you too can make a Nicolas Cage™ movie starring Academy Award winner Nicolas Cage™! I kid because I care, and anyway, it’s not as if he’s John Cusack. Yet. Paul Maguire (Nicolas Cage) is a respectable, successful developer raising a daughter with his new wife Vanessa (Rachel Nichols), but his seemingly perfect life is thrown into chaos when a night out ends with a visit from the police and the discovery that his daughter Caitlin (Aubrey Peeples) has been abducted. Suspicion immediately falls on men from Paul’s past — a past where he was anything but respectable. With the help of two old friends Paul goes searching for his daughter, and eventually for justice, but once he opens the door to his old life and the violent secrets it contains he realizes too late that doors work both ways. Meaning just as he can visit the people from his past, the people from his past can visit him. See, it’s a metaphor of sorts. Maybe I should have gone with when Paul closes a door, the past opens a window? Whatever. Paul’s past comes back to haunt him.

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Left Behind Teaser Trailer

The original Left Behind was not a quality film. This isn’t coming from me, as I haven’t seen it; I’m going by the word of Jerry B. Jenkins, one of the authors of the original sixteen “Left Behind” novels. According to Jenkins, he and his writing partner Tim LaHaye sold away their movie rights to the first available outlet, and ended up with three “church basement movies.” I’ve never seen a movie in a church basement, but I’m guessing they’re not of the highest quality. And that’s why Jenkins and LaHaye sued Cloud Ten Pictures Inc., on the grounds that Left Behind: The Movie, Left Behind II: Tribulation Force and Left Behind: World at War were bad movies. Apparently, that’s a thing you can do now. It’s also a thing you can win, because in 2008, Jenkins and LaHaye emerged the victors after almost a decade of legal squabbling. They had what they set out to obtain: the right to remake their Rapture-based thriller novels as the blockbuster film series they’d always imagined. Back in January, we were treated to our first clip of their new Left Behind. Not only did it have Nicolas Cage, but it had Nicolas Cage saying “But hey, if she’s gonna run off with another man, why not Jesus?” with a wistful sigh. Jesus, it seems, has given up the whole “dying for our sins” thing, and is now running off with our women like a common Lothario.

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Nic Cage in The Trouble in Louisiana Trilogy

Every few years, Nicolas Cage reminds us what a compelling screen performer he is and can be. While such reminders seem fewer and further between, the utter expendability of much of his recent filmography make strong performances like his brooding lead in David Gordon Green’s Joe all the more powerful – not because we forgot about Cage’s talents, but because we’re afraid that he might have. Joe has been deemed (by this site and others) to be a “return to form” for Cage. It’s easy to declare with a handful of titles what form Cage is returning to. In celebrated roles like Adaptation, Leaving Las Vegas, and Bringing Out the Dead Cage has displayed an uncanny ability to balance pathological self-destruction with varying undertones of dark comedy. He is the actor of choice for men who struggle outside the norms of society, yet wouldn’t feel comfortable anywhere else. But outside of The Wicker Man, mesmerizing mash-ups, and whatever he was doing in Face-Off, it’s perhaps harder to concisely define the form that Cage is returning from when making films like Joe, despite the fact that it’s Cage’s more forgettable (and sometimes more batshit) work that creates the rule which highlights welcome exceptions. A recent, unofficial trilogy of particularly Cagean works speaks volumes to the one-of-a-kind spot that Cage’s stardom finds itself in now. While these films do not share a producer, a studio, or any other factor that justifies their making beyond their existence as Nicolas Cage vehicles, Trespass, Stolen, and […]

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Leaving Las Vegas

The best movie culture writing from around the internet-o-sphere. There will be a quiz later. Just leave a tab open for us, will ya?

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Varsity Blues Billy Bob

The best movie culture writing from around the internet-o-sphere. There will be a quiz later. Just leave a tab open for us, will ya?

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Nicolas Cage in JOE

Editor’s note: Our review of Joe originally ran during last year’s TIFF, but we’re re-posting it now as the film opens theatrically. Our long national nightmare is finally over – director David Gordon Green has returned to making the types of films that put the indie filmmaker on the map in the early aughts with his Joe. Combined with this year’s earlier effort, the drily amusing Prince Avalanche, Green has successfully managed to put the memory of his broad comedy busts like The Sitter and Your Highness behind him, and fans of vintage Green should be quite satisfied with his latest Southern gothic. Starring Nicolas Cage as the eponymous Joe, an ex-con who makes his living by poisoning whole forests so that they can be deemed sick and subsequently be cleared for the replanting of heartier, more sellable trees. Joe employs a large crew of locals, all of whom seem to like him very much, and he’s a fair, reasonable boss. Off the clock, however, Joe struggles with restraining a powerful, almost insatiable anger, and he tries to keep it at bay through alcohol and simply staying home. The arrival of a young drifter who comes begging for a job up-ends Joe’s tenuous personal peace, and their sweetly parental relationship threatens to change things for both of them. Sounds sentimental? It’s not. Not even a little bit.

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cage

Quiz any random person on the street about Nicolas Cage‘s impressive body of work and they’ll be able to give you their favorite Cageist moment from his repertoire. Is it Wicker Man Cage, his head enveloped in a metal cage, screaming about the bees, oh god the bees? Or National Treasure Cage, plotting to steal the Declaration of Independence just because it makes so much sense? Or perhaps it’s Ghost Rider Cage, the one who is literally on fire for most of the movie? Whatever the preferred flavor of Cage Rage, there’s a guaranteed new addition to be added to the list of stellar  performances. Enter Left Behind, the adaptation of the Christian apocalypse-themed books by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. If you haven’t heard of these books, then it’s already too late for you; the enormously popular series boasts over 19 books detailing the End of Days for those wicked booze-swillin,’ sex-havin,’ not church-attendin’ sons of guns who dare not take God seriously. The real Christians and the pure and innocent are ascended into Heaven while the heathens are — wait for it — left behind on Earth to suffer as much as possible. The books follow the survivors of the rapture as they battle environmental catastrophe, political and economic crisis and worldwide epidemics the likes of which have never been seen. Ours is a vengeful and unforgiving God.

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Moonstruck Nic Cage

Few names conjure up as vivid an image of wildly over-the-top, scenery chewing acting than that of Nicolas Cage. In fact, YouTube hosts multiple compilations with worn titles like “Nicolas Cage Losing His Shit” featuring dozens of clips from a slew of different movies, spanning his whole thirty-year career. While it’s certainly true that watching Cage do flamboyantly odd things is quality entertainment, it’s also true—if all-too-oft forgot—that the man is a talented, legitimate actor. It’s nice to have a reminder. Here, then, are six performances where Nicolas Cage displayed subtlety and nuance:

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Joe

David Gordon Green is one of those writers/director/producers who are just all over the place thematically, and not in a bad way. He’s gone from dramas like 2003’s All the Real Girls and 2000’s George Washington, last year’s indie comedy Prince Avalanche, to straight up silliness like Pineapple Express and Your Highness. It takes a unique mind to work between Emile Hirsch and Paul Rudd learning life lessons on the side of rural highways to Danny McBride wearing a Minotaur dick around his neck. Green is returning to darker stomping grounds with his latest project however, with Joe, a Toronto International Film Festival standout from last year that was snatched up by Roadside Attractions. Based on the novel by Larry Brown, Joe tells the story of ex-con Joe Ransom (Nicolas Cage), and his unlikely mentorship of an abused and abandoned fifteen year-old named Gary (Tye Sheridan) in rural Mississippi. You can check out the international trailer below.

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IMG_3052.CR2

Director Scott Walker‘s The Frozen Ground is the kind of thriller your conservative grandmother loves. It’s all around safe and plain, simple and to the point, and all very, very by-the-numbers. It’s like an episode of Law & Order expanded to two hours with an occasional polish or two. That idea may entice some older viewers, but after two hours of a “been there done that” on television, it’s not exactly attention grabbing. And this is a movie that conceptually should work. Alaskan State Trooper Jack Halcombe, played by a determined Nicolas Cage, attempting to bring killer Robert Hansen, played by a finicky John Cusack, should be a joy to watch. Not because of its violent content, but because we’re seeing two notable actors facing off. It’s a cat and mouse game approached with smarts, not guns. There’s no scene of Halcombe confronting Hansen at his job or physically accosting him, but instead he’s simply trying to catch him with good old fashioned police work.

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cage

After trying and failing to shock us by working with tabloid train wreck Lindsay Lohan and porn star bad boy James Deen on his experimental indie project, The Canyons, director Paul Schrader seems to be taking a more traditional, more guaranteed approach to making something weird with his next film—he’s going to be working with infamous beat-of-his-own-drummer marcher Nicolas Cage. The story comes from an interview he did with The Playlist, who confirm that he does indeed have Cage lined up to star in his next film, and who theorize that said next film is going to be The Dying of the Light, which is a project that was once going to star Harrison Ford and be directed by Nicolas Winding Refn.

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mnad_varietygaga

On this first night of April, we look back at all the wildly appropriate pranks that were actually pranks and not just a bunch of lies about who is going to star in the upcoming Star Wars movies (we’re looking at you, George Takei. For shame.) This includes Variety getting duped bad, Monsters University getting taken over by a rival, an Iron Man suit you can buy and the best possible Taken sequel idea we’ve ever seen. That and more in Movie News After Dark: April Foolpocalypse!

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Nicolas Cage

What is Casting Couch? It’s your daily dose of casting news. Today we find out what Helena Bonham Carter is up to with McNulty. It’s that time of the month again. What time? When Nic Cage takes another job, of course. You’ve got to feed the monkey. This time around he’s agreed to star in an upcoming thriller from Spanish director Paco Cabezas called Tokarev. According to Deadline, it’s about a former criminal whose daughter gets kidnapped, which forces him to go looking for her kidnappers, and threatens to make him slip back into his devilish old ways. None of the particulars really matter as long as Cage is going to have some sort of ridiculous hairdo and act all weird and intense and stuff though. All we needed to know was new Nic Cage movie. High five!

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Over Under - Large

Cameron Crowe is one of those directors who people just love. He’s made some stinkers along with with his good movies though, so when people talk to you about how much they love Cameron Crowe, generally what they mean is that they loved Jerry Maguire and Almost Famous. Or maybe even Say Anything, if they’re old school. Generally speaking, however, Jerry Maguire is Crowe’s big hit. This Tom Cruise-starring tale of a sports agent who experiences a moral epiphany got great reviews, became part of the pop culture lexicon of the late ’90s, and made about five times as much as Crowe’s next best loved film…give or take a bunch of millions or so. To call it a success would be putting things lightly. Gore Verbinski is another director who’s amassed a pretty loyal following, despite having made a couple of stinkers. When people say that they like his movies, generally they mean that they’re into the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie or Rango, or maybe they might even mean Mouse Hunt, if they’re the hip sort who likes to go back to the deep cuts. Certainly they very rarely mean that they like his strange followup to his runaway Pirates success, 2005’s Nicolas Cage-starring The Weather Man. It got mixed-to-scathing reviews, didn’t make a blip on the pop culture radar, and brought in pretty much zero money. Which is weird because—oh, my God—it’s basically the best movie ever.

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published: 12.19.2014
A-
published: 12.18.2014
C-
published: 12.17.2014
B+


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