Ah, that face is tingling my nostalgia senses.
See, a year ago this week, I started the original “In Defense Of…” column for my college newspaper. In the past year, I have blogged about Lindsay Lohan and Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, Star Wars prequels and Star Wars sequels, Nickelback and Ke$ha and everything in between. And that’s not even mentioning pet costumes and cosplay…
Ah, the memories. The haunting, haunting memories. But it all began with one man: Nicolas Cage.
I find it appropriate that my first entry was Mr. Cage, a man who screams at the cross-section of lunacy and stupidity (my two favorite topics). Heck, I could’ve devoted all of my entries to him and his crazy, bugged-out eyeballs.
So this week, I wish to reaffirm my defense of Mr. Cage. But before I do that, I need to confess a severe oversight from my original column. Somehow, someway, I researched the man and never watched this. It’s a YouTube video called “Nicolas Cage Losing His Shit.” Oh, probably NSFW. Unless you work in a f***** prison or some ****baked *****house where f****** eat ****.
… yeah, definitely NSFW.
So can we all agree that this man is crazy? If you had the time and moral fortitude to watch that video, I think it becomes pretty obvious. Except for one little problem. One little, niggling suspicion.
He may be decades ahead of his time.
If nothing else, Nicolas Cage is a trailblazer, and every trailblazer in history was considered crazy. Marie Curie, Thomas Edison, Galileo… nearly every inventor was (rightfully) considered insane by their contemporaries. And Nicolas Cage is the literal inventor of a new, seemingly strange acting technique. He calls it, “Nouveau Shamanic” and it involves… going back to caveman acting and invoking… Picasso-like processes…Yeah, this guy is totally insane.
Maybe his lineage will illuminate something other than lunacy.
At this point, I feel it’s necessary to point out the pedigree of this oft-derided thespian. To start off, let’s reveal Mr. Cage’s real name for the unenlightened: Nicolas Kim Coppola.
Yeah, Coppola. As in Francis Ford Coppola, the “Godfather-“directing cinema mastermind. Well, he also directed “Jack,” but one pile of toxic waste at a time. Mr. Cage is Francis’s nephew, imbuing him with at least some level of talent… I assume. In some way, there may be method to his madness. Maybe?
Naw, he’s just cray-cray. Mad cray-cray.
But I must ask… is being mad cray-cray such a bad thing?
Allow me to introduce a professional witness: film critic Roger Ebert, who wrote an essay on the acting prowess of Mr. Cage.
“There are often lists of the great living male movie stars: De Niro, Nicholson and Pacino, usually,” Ebert writes. “How often do you see the name of Nicolas Cage? He should always be up there. He’s daring and fearless in his choice of roles, and unafraid to crawl out on a limb, saw it off and remain suspended in air.”
Yeah. Roger Ebert wrote that. “Great Movies” essay on “Adaptation.” But he’s not the only one defending Mr. Cage.
Daniel Snyder, an entertainment writer for The Atlantic, writes about Cage’s willingness to accept any role that interests him. Cage has frequently expounded his love of comic books and pulp science fiction, so what does he do? Stuff like Ghost Rider, Kick-Ass, Astro Boy, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Drive Angry, Knowing, and Season of the Witch. Say what you will, but Nicolas Cage performs for his own sheer joy, not money or prestige like most actors.
Hack? Maybe,” writes Snyder. “The least pretentious actor in Hollywood? For sure.”
But beneath Snyder’s article, an Atlantic user named “Fakko” asserts something interesting. This is hopefully the last time I quote someone named “Fakko.”
“(Nicolas Cage is) the Michael Caine or Sean Connery of the 21st century. A lot of forgettable roles, some cringeworthy, some excellent, but always memorable.”
Do you love Michael Caine or Sean Connery? ‘Cause they may be just as “unpretentious” and “completely insane” as the venerable Nic. I mean, Sean Connery starred in Zardoz. If that’s not crazy, I’m not sure what is.
If an actor is consistently memorable, tears into roles with resolute gusto and inspires laughter and weird admiration, isn’t that pretty neat? In modern Hollywood, what other actor inspires similar emotion while shooting at the moon? Isn’t doing things differently at least somewhat fascinating?
Whether through mocking laughter or true appreciation, I think we can find it in ourselves to not hate Nicolas Cage. I don’t know about you, but I can appreciate a bit of crazy in our largely normal world. Who knows… maybe he’s like one of those inventors I mentioned earlier. One day, we may be able to… love him.
And with that, I have finished my first year of pop-culture defending. Here’s to my future of Kardashian research, Michael Bay fan pages and Anime analysis. But first, I’m going to fulfill the wishes of one of my mother’s co-workers.
I don’t know anything about “Teen Mom,” but I’m already afraid.