Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Jason goes to Midnites for Maniacs and celebrates Nicolas Cage's 50th Birthday

Happy 50th Birthday to an actor who doesn't always get respect, but is always interesting. A man who never phones it in, even if what he brings is a little...out there. Or, in his words, Nouveau-Shamanic.

Before I get to the movies, I just want to tell you all about the time I very briefly saw Nicolas Cage in person. This was back in my college years. I went to college in Pasadena, and one of the favorite spots for my friends and me was the Original Pantry in downtown L.A.--a classic 24/7 greasy spoon diner. They would start serving breakfast at 4:00 am, but at one point we were such regulars if we showed up at 3:30 they'd switch to their breakfast menu right then. One night, we accidentally got off a few exits too early and we ended up driving through downtown L.A. in the middle of the night (if you take the 9th street exit you get off and you're practically there.) There was almost no traffic, and we knew the way by surface streets (some of us had actually walked there from Pasadena, but that's another story) so this wasn't a problem. But then a cop pulled us over. Although we thought we had obeyed all traffic signals (i.e., we waited for the light to turn green) it turned out the streets were partially blocked off for filming a major studio project. When that occurs, you're not supposed to look at the traffic lights, you're supposed to look at the motorcycle cop off in the corner and cross when he signals you to. Anyway, we were given a brief talking to but no ticket, and we made our way to the diner easily enough. As we were walking in, there was a guy in a dirty, bloody wife-beater walking out. This is...not common, but not that surprising for the place and time of day. So we sort of averted our eyes and walked past him. But something made me turn around for a second look, and I suddenly recognized Nicolas Cage. He apparently was taking a break from filming and grabbing a bite at The Pantry just before we got there. It was too late (and I was too timid) to stop him and say anything to him. But a few months later, we started seeing advertisements for CON AIR. So...I brushed by Nicolas Cage in costume during a break on CON AIR. Pretty cool story, isn't it?

Shut up. On to the movies.

VALLEY GIRL (1983): The movie that made Cage a star. And, of course, a teen classic. And an R-rated teen comedy with tits...so it deserves to be a classic. Why isn't director Martha Coolidge a bigger name? I looked her up on IMDb, and was surprised to be reminded that she also directed REAL GENIUS. Which--tying back to my rambling story about brushing past Nicolas Cage--was shot at and (sort of) based on my Alma Mater. So now I'm not just more of a Nicolas Cage fan, I'm more of a Martha Coolidge fan, too.

RAISING ARIZONA (1987): And of course, the Coen brothers (I swear I'll see INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS soon!) I love this movie. There was a time I watched this so often it was undoubtedly my most-watched Coen brothers film (I think THE BIG LEBOWSKI has overtaken it, mainly because of Indiefest's annual Lebowski party.) I don't even feel a need to describe it, instead I'll mention a friend of mine in college (bringing me back to my rambling Nic Cage story again!) who was adamantly not a fan of Cage (way, way before he was a joke to nearly everyone, this guy thought Nicolas Cage was a talent-less hack. But even he admitted that RAISING ARIZONA was a great movie and Cage was great in it. He just attributed it to the Coens giving him such a great role. And at the time, I would've listened. But after this night of Cage-apalooza, I disagree. Nicolas Cage is just...great. Just fucking great, man!

And it wasn't just the movies, it was the 20-some Nicolas Cage trailers. Kinda like seeing an abbreviated version of his career arc, I realized that there are a lot of Nicolas Cage movies that I've skipped (not necessarily avoided, just wasn't interested in) that suddenly seem a lot more interesting.

I still refuse to acknowledge that there was ever a remake of WICKER MAN, though. I know this is against all the high-minded principles of M4M, but...no...I draw the line there.

Total Running Time: 193 minutes
My Total Minutes: 346,920

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