I’ve set off on my journey. There and back again. In case you didn’t hear, I’m watching every single Nic Cage movie. In a row. I’ve seen the inception now. Where it all started. A Nic Cage who is younger than I am now. Almost strange in his normalcy. You forget, or at least I do, that Nicolas Coppola was just a young kid with a dream of being a star, just like thousands of others. Except for the Coppola part, of course. Let’s review.
Day 1: Brubaker (1980) – Dir. Stuart Rosenberg
So, we start with the inauspicious of all inauspiciousness. An extra. Brubaker is a fine film, not a classic but, y’know. Can’t go too wrong with Robert Redford. I tried to pay close attention the whole time, but I couldn’t see Cage. Just the knowledge that he’s in there though. The first time he appeared on celluloid. No one knew the future he would have.
Attempted Day 2: Best Of Times (1981) – Dir. Don Mischer
Tried extremely hard to find this, but I really have no idea how. I can’t even figure out whether it’s a movie or a TV pilot (the internet doesn’t seem to be in agreement), but I know it was a serio-comedic piece about suburban teenagers starring Nic Cage and Crispin Glover. Da fuck? What sort of cosmic fuckery is that? If anyone knows how I could find this, please, please let me know.
Actual Day 2: Fast Times At Ridgemont High (1982) – Dir. Amy Heckerling
First off, what a great movie. I had forgotten how fucking dark this thing was at times. I guess the story is that Cage originally had a much larger speaking role (which may have been filmed and some people have seen? I dunno) but it got cut down. Big time. He works with Brad in the restaurant, and there’s a good shot of his face in the scene where Brad gets fired. Still got those big crazy eyes. He and Judge Reinhold will eventually star in an erotic thriller together, Zandalee, which I will be watching in a few weeks. Should be really weird.
Day 3: The Outsiders (1983) – Dir. Francis Ford Coppola
Huh. Another Nic Cage as an extra movie. He shows up in the big fight between the Greasers and the Socs at the end of the first act. Kind of frustrated at the lack of Cage thus far in my journey, but you gotta be thorough with these things. This is the first instance where you could charge Cage with benefiting from nepotism (not that I ever would). His uncle Francis Ford Coppola directed it. It’s also notable for Cage assumedly meeting the people onset that he would be working with a lot over the next few years: Diane Lane, Matt Dillon, and Tom Waits.
Day 4: Valley Girl (1983) – Dir. Martha Coolidge
Here we go! A Nic Cage starring role, complete with fucking terrible hair and some brief, if wondrous, moments of the future Cage peeking through. This is a pretty straight up teen romcom (I guess marketed as a Los Angeles retelling of Romeo and Juliet, though the similarities are pretty minimal). It’s got a great soundtrack (Modern English, whatup!) and Cage is totally good. The movie is funny, and full of insanely over the top faux-teen dialogue. He plays a punk kid, and you can tell he was supposed to have a big future as the ruggedly handsome bad-boy-with-heart-of-gold leading man type. But one scene, where he gets incredible drunk, shows the wolf coming out a little bit. Plus, I mean, the hair. What an omen of things to come.
Day 5: Rumble Fish (1983) – Dir. Francis Ford Coppola
As I mentioned, I started to do this because I think Cage is actually a really good actor. Valley Girl is all well and good, but Rumble Fish is actually really great. Once again: Coppola, Dillon, Lane, Waits, and also a young and fantastic Mickey Rourke. Another S.E. Hinton novel too. Cage has a relatively brief but meaty role as Rusty James’ (Dillon) conniving frenemy Smokey. Take that Chris Tucker. He has a monologue near the end about being a manipulator that he absolutely crushes out of the park. His unconventional line delivery, though clearly still figuring itself out, is also present. Two thumbs up on this one.
Day 6: Racing With The Moon (1984) – Dir. Richard Benjamin
I had never even heard of this movie before, let alone seen it, but it’s actually pretty darn good. It stars Cage and Sean Penn as young kids in northern California in the early ’40s. It basically concerns their last bit of time before they have to go off to war, and how they’re going to tie up all their loose ends/get it off their mind. Also got a cameo from Crispin Glover, who punches Cage in the face. Surprised that didn’t cause some sort of black hole. I’ve started to notice that, despite this being like 30 years ago, Cage literally looks exactly the same. It’s kind of really weird actually. He’s much better than Penn at this point, basically acting the shit out of everyone else in the movie. Also has a monologue about how he likes alcohol because it taught him how to thrust his pelvis. Fucking right. Also, Elizabeth McGovern boobs.
Day 7: The Cotton Club (1984) – Dir. Francis Ford Coppola
Coppola strikes again, along with the other usual suspects. Richard Gere and his tiny mustache star here. Cage plays his unhinged younger brother who dreams of being a real tough mob guy. Coppola is pretty much firing on all cylinders with this one, and Cage does nothing to slow him down. Great period piece about the cast of characters frequenting a popular nightclub in the ’30s. It’s also got James Remar at his “looking exactly like Lawrence from Office Space” best, playing an insane gangster called Dutchman. Cage is a sorta evil, sorta just dumb and ambitious racist in this one, plus he gets to wear sweet hats/mustaches (see above). He’s good to the point where nepotism isn’t even considered. You can tell uncle Francis is impressed with him. He’s also very physical, like a live wire. We’ll certainly be seeing much more of that soon.
So there you have it. Week 1. Started out with not a lot of Cage, but I’m about to get into the meat of it. Next week will contain Raising Arizona, which I’m always excited to watch, along with some other choice picks.