Each week, one randomly selected film from Nicolas Cage’s career. Hopefully we can begin to figure out exactly what he’s been up to all these years.
I’ve recently finished reading Alec Baldwin’s autobiography Nevertheless. It’s bitchy and vain and pages and pages of it are taken up score settling. It’s everything you’d want it to be. Highlights include, Baldwin telling us we’d be lucky if he ran for president of the United States, a whole paragraph talking about how difficult it is to be married to a much younger woman because she doesn’t understand his reference to subway tokens, and endless vitriol directed at Kim Basinger. Everything about her is criticised… except her looks. Baldwin can’t help but remind us that he was married to a very attractive woman.
But the pettiest hatred in the book is reserved for Harrison Ford. See, Alec is still upset that Ford took the role of Jack Ryan from him… TWENTY-FIVE YEARS AGO! (sidenote: does Ford feel the same way about Affleck?) After two pages of deriding Ford for his lack of an Oscar, Baldwin comes up with this gem:
I think it’s my favourite moment in literature. What I love about it is Baldwin’s very specific criticism of Ford in that he has a slightly weedy voice. Much was made in 30 Rock of Baldwin’s gravelly, demonstrative vocal presentation, but until this moment, I didn’t realise that this emphasis on clear diction came from Baldwin’s own neuroses.
What is it about the voice that makes or breaks an actor? Tom Cruise rarely does anything beyond a mutter in his movies, and he’s the last star we’ll ever see. Why can it seem so important in a medium that began in silence?
Occasionally, I have dreams that I’m back in secondary school. And even in these fantasies, logic kicks in and reminds me that I have a degree, but despite this, my subconsciousness will come up for an explanation for why I am there. And you know what… those dreams aren’t interesting. They’re just the product of a nervous mind trying to process the trauma of youth. Peggy Sue Got Married isn’t a very lively film, because despite what we’re sold, being young isn’t actually that fun. We’re pretty ignorant and hormonal and have no money, and everyone looks down on us. Something must be deeply wrong if anyone wanted to relive their teenage years.
But it does feature a brilliant, early performance of Nic Cage, where he performs with a heightened, nasal vocal pitch. It’s completely out-of-sync with the rest of the cast, and is noticeably annoying them in some scenes. And it’s kind of wonderful, because it firstly reminds us that an interesting performance is always better than a good one, and secondly, because seeing an actor actively trolling his colleagues is so entertaining. I wish it would happen more often.
Nicolas Cage Jukebox rankings:
- Lord of War
- The Runner
- Rumble Fish
- Peggy Sue Got Married
- Pay the Ghost