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Post Info TOPIC: Nicolas Cage is a national treasure. Or not


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RE: Nicolas Cage is a national treasure. Or not



"My heart beat thrice, twice, once...and then no more the moment a passing comet bespoke of your fall from grace".

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Leather fetish forum founder - In a world of her own...planet CAGE!

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Interesting article!biggrinwink

Nicolas Cage is a national treasure. Or not

Nicolas Cage's "Knowing" tries to bridge the gulf between genre flicks like "Next" and "Con Air" and art-house fare like "Raising Arizona".

On the eve of his next genre film, he tries to reconcile his split screen personality

Mar 15, 2009 04:30 AM


With his wounded blue eyes, hangdog visage and Elvis-esque drawl, Nicolas Cage is the eternal enfant terrible. A rabble-rousing outsider who has managed to infiltrate Hollywood's inner circle, he has careened between art-house experiments and crowd-pleasing pulp fiction while defying audience expectations at every turn.

He's as beloved as he is berated, an Oscar winner whose persona is steeped in mystery and coloured with sensationalism and who, at age 45 and with over 60 feature films under his belt, remains massively misunderstood.

After defining eccentricity with a slew of unhinged turns in such offbeat fare as the Coen brothers' absurd Raising Arizona, Norman Jewison's joyous Moonstruck, Robert Bierman's underrated satire Vampire's Kiss (in which he scarfed down a live, squirming ****roach) and David Lynch's unclassifiable Wild at Heart, Cage graduated from barely controlled bad boy to the A-list elite after his Oscar-earning performance as a suicidal drunk in Mike Figgis's Leaving Las Vegas.

Immediately after that victory, the actor ensconced himself in the mainstream, joining forces with big-budget juggernaut Michael Bay for the action blowout The Rock. The following years would see Cage tackling alternately offbeat (the John Woo lensed Face/Off) and ordinary (the car-fetish thriller Gone In 60 Seconds) projects and working with diverse filmmakers such as Martin Scorsese, Brian DePalma and Ridley Scott.

His latest offering is the apocalyptic sci-fi drama Knowing, directed by cult icon Alex Proyas (The Crow, Dark City). It's another in a seemingly unending line of blockbuster genre efforts that have given us the pretty good (Ghost Rider), the pretty bad (the remake of The Wicker Man) and the downright atrocious (see the mind-numbing Next if you dare).

Immersing himself in pictures like these has etched the line in the sand between Cage supporters and detractors, with his harshest critics accusing him of squandering his early promise and Internet bloggers spewing all manner of virtual venom his way.

But Cage is adamant that there is, and always has been, a method to his madness.

"You can't please everyone, but I have to stay true to my personal opinions and to the public," Cage told the Star of his muse-following career path.

"I want people to go to my movies, I want to resonate with audiences. When I do a picture that has a certain amount of budget involved, I of course want it to do well, it's good for the business, it's good for everyone involved in movies. And I still do smaller, dramatic films where higher returns are not as necessary, but even then, I really just want to make that connection with people. It's why I started acting to begin with."

If the box-office tallies are correct, Cage's films do indeed inspire audiences to part with their pennies time and time again. Ghost Rider boasted a worldwide theatrical take of over $237 million; National Treasure: Book Of Secrets made over $450 million, while the lower budgeted Bangkok Dangerous (which earned a paltry 9 per cent fresh rating on the ratings scale) still managed to rake in over $46 million internationally.

But Knowing may be the picture that bridges the gap between fans of Nicolas Cage the actor and the Cage-hating deriders. First of all, it has a real-deal visionary at its helm, an auteur whose cutting-edge work helped change the rules of dark-fantasy filmmaking and who manages to milk from Cage some of his best work in years.

"I remember the first time I saw Dark City," reflects the actor about Proyas's most celebrated work, "I was amazed by it because it was unlike nothing I've ever seen before. It went into areas that were truly surreal, and I knew that I was looking at a voice, a signature director. I knew that I wanted to work with Alex one day and now, here we are."

The picture casts Cage as an emotionally disconnected single father who, after a mysterious code pattern buried in a 50-year-old time capsule is unearthed, begins to suspect that the world is spiralling into an alien-induced end of days. And while it certainly sports enough jaw-dropping digital effects and white-knuckle action sequences to please the mainstream multiplex set, Knowing's real strength lies in its dread-fuelled imagery, its emotional core and a serious approach to its narrative that requires the audience to stay awake and get involved, just like real sci-fi should.

"Science fiction really works when it's intelligent and enigmatic," Cage says.

"It gives you something to discuss, it asks the big questions. To me, the best science fiction is stuff like Kubrick's 2001 and the original 1953 version of War of the Worlds, movies that have that intersection of fantasy and faith. As an actor, being in a film like this is also one of the few ways that I can get abstract; to go to abstract places and have audiences come along for the ride and believe it."

Even though the bleak world Proyas sculpts is complex and sophisticated and in many ways just as visionary as the futuristic neo-noir landscape the director forged in his previous work, Knowing is still a genre movie and will most likely not garner Cage any awards. But here's the thing he doesn't really care. It's no secret that Cage's personal sensibilities lie within the realms of the bizarre, the surreal, the comic-book and the arcane. (As proof of the latter two, his youngest son is named Kal-el, Superman's birth name on Krypton.)

Witness his own self-produced, head-spinning horror show Shadow of the Vampire, the vintage crime thrills of the modern noir Red Rock West or his cheeky cameo in 2007's epic paean to trash, Grindhouse, where he played himself playing Fu Manchu in Rob Zombie's fake trailer for Werewolf Women Of The SS. A quick glance at his post-Knowing release schedule includes the medieval shocker Season of the Witch and, most alarmingly, an ultraviolent remake-cum-companion piece to Abel Ferrara's outrageous Harvey Keitel showcase Bad Lieutenant, directed by the king of the German art house, Werner Herzog.

"I really think you can say more about humanity and culture with these kind of genre films," says Cage.

"They can do things a standard, realistic drama can't do. And I think that they're the ones that stand the test of time and the ones that can really make a difference."



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