Monday, July 19, 2010
The Tragedy That Is Nicolas Cage's Acting Career
If you hang around in any profession long enough, you're bound to fuck up somehow. You get a little full of yourself and you bend the rules. (Enron, Madoff, etc) You start to feel bullet-proof and all-powerful and you think you can get away with anything. (Clinton, Tiger, etc) You make a few enemies who feel threatened and they are happy to climb into your closet and trot out all the skeletons. (Gary Hart, every televangelist, every stick-up-the-butt right-wing moralist who turns out to like gay sex in bathrooms and massage parlors, etc) But it seems popular actors have unique possession of the spectacular self-inflicted sell-out fuck up that overshadows any earlier achievement. (Nicolas Cage, etc etc etc)
I feel particularly sad over Nicolas Cage's flaccidity as an actor these days because, damn, the guy coulda been a contender! Unforgettable the impression he made way back when in "Raising Arizona" - then fun stuff like "Moonstruck" and "Red Rock West" and others when he didn't take himself seriously - and then an Oscar-oriented, creditable, sincere effort at seriousness in "Leaving Las Vegas." And then the train derailed. "Con Air." "Face Off." "Snake Eyes." During this period weight training took the place of acting classes. He became a junkie shooting up blockbusters. Trying to maintain credibility, he barfed up movies like "Captain Corelli's Mandolin." (I would tear out my own ear canals if I was ever forced to listen to his ridiculous accent in that one again.) And then, for a moment, he got his shit together and did "Adaptation"and "Matchstick Men" and you thought, damn, Cage has remembered the whole "being-an-actor" thing. But, alas, the sanity was short-lived and along came "Ghost Rider" and "National Treasure" and a dozen other tormentingly horrid wastes of film stock. Today, whenever I see an ad for one his new movies, I snicker. Run around with a gun some more, Nic, that's the ticket.
Oh, sure, selling out for the big summer movie is a tradition. Get big enough to call the shots, pick the sure-fire popular script, and phone it in all the way to the bank. (Can you say Angelina Jolie? She seemed like an actor once, too.) It's understandable if you're skating on a thin layer of talent to begin with. But it is saddening to see an actor with something unique sucked into the vortex that leads to the dark place, where your cut of the gross means more than doing something good. And oh, sure, I know lots of these stars do the money-maker to finance their own projects, the ones about which they will say "I really believe in this script." That doesn't make it less sad when you drown your light in a sea of dung.
Oh, and by the way - there's a "Ghost Rider" sequel in the works, as well as "National Treasure 3." I feel my lunch coming up.