>> In Defense of Nicolas Cage

Raising ArizonaI have a couple of friends that despise Nicolas Cage. One of these friends will actively avoid anything Cage is in, and I believe I’ve heard him utter the sentiment that Cage is one of the worst actors he’s ever seen. I get weirdly indignant when I hear this, because, for one, I think Nic Cage is totally awesome, and for another, I know that with every Bangkok Dangerous, with every The Wicker Man, Cage’s reputation increases as the crappiest of the A-list actors. 

Click here to read my full article on Cage at CyberMonkeyDeathSquad.com!


>> The Horribly Slow Murderer with the Extremely Inefficient Weapon


(NOTE:  This video was removed by Richard Gale, as the film is still making the festival circuit.  I support Gale’s decision to remove his film from any sites that share his work without his blessing or permission.)

This short from director Richard Gale was a highlight of last year’s Fantastic Fest and it’s finally made its way online.  (Now if we can only get Jason Eisener to upload Treevenge somewhere…)  This short contains a little R-rated language and violence, so be warned.  Hope you enjoy it!

>> Some Thoughts on Knowing

KnowingConcerning the new Nicolas Cage thriller Knowing, Roger Ebert said, “Knowing is among the best science-fiction films I’ve seen — frightening, suspenseful, intelligent and, when it needs to be, rather awesome.”  He gave the film a four-star review.

But what are the majority of other critics saying?

Knowing starts off mildly ridiculous, ascends to the full-blown ludicrous, and finally sails boldly off the edge of the absolutely preposterous.”–Ty Burr, The Boston Globe.

“The draggy, lurching two hours of Knowing will make you long for the end of the world, even as you worry that there will not be time for all your questions to be answered.”–A.O. Scott, The New York Times.

Knowing is a hilarious movie.”–Russ Fischer, CHUD.

One national critic (and one friend of mine) called the film an early contender for worst film of the year.  I’m guessing these two people didn’t sit through Miss March, and I envy them for that.  It’s disconcerting when so many people hate a film that you really like.  It not only calls your personal judgment into question, but your sanity as well.  “Am I crazy for liking Knowing?”

The truth is that when the lights came up in the theatre, and the credits started to roll, I still wasn’t sure what I saw was a good movie.  What I admired most, immediately as the film came to a close, were the guts the film had–the willingness to take a chance and play out an ending that I couldn’t have expected, in any way whatsoever.  As a few days have passed, I’ve decided that I need to see it again (I rarely see a movie twice in the theatre), and I do think it’s a worthwhile movie.  Overall, I was entertained and surprised, and, honestly, Knowing contains some of the most unforgettable special effect images ever committed to film.  Sometimes it does feel like a bad movie with a lot of fantastic moments, but, to me, these things sort of level out and make the movie defineable as good.  I certainly didn’t feel like I had wasted my time.

I can agree that Nic Cage’s performance  is little beyond serviceable.  Cage, esepcially in his recent work, comes in only two settings–eccentric or mopey.  He’s in mopey mode here.  I think part of people’s dissatisfaction with Knowing is a knee-jerk reaction to the casting of Cage.  I almost feel like you could take the exact same film and replace him with Will Smith or John Cusack or somebody that people usually like and you would not see people responding as negatively as they are to this movie.  (And if this is true, then it’s beyond time that Nicolas Cage do some damage control to his own career.)

The film isn’t particularly well-written, despite its big ideas.  Characters speak in expository dialogue in almost every scene, the movie has a tenuous grasp on logic that is only salvaged by the movie’s Calvinist themes of predestination, and then there’s the stuff that feels like cliche, like Cage’s sign language lovey-dovey phrase he shares with his son.  Also, the script doesn’t make enough of a big deal out of Cage’s (lack of) personal faith, which directly affects the emotional impact of the film’s ending.

Despite these criticisms, I thought the movie was almost great.  It was like watching a crappy high school basketball team win a stunning victory over the state champs.  I never expected it to excite me, so when it did, I found myself way more excited than I normally would be.  I can understand every bit of criticism against Knowing, but, for me, it worked.  It has a third act that seems to divide people into love-it or hate-it camps, but I went along with it, once the film moved beyond a doomsday thriller into something more science-fiction and philosophical.

I don’t think I’m crazy.  Some films just work better for some than they do for others.  You may have found Knowing to be a dopey, dour mish-mash of spirituality and sci-fi, but I found it to be ominous, thought-provoking, and, in many ways, unforgettable.  Po-tay-to, po-tot-o.

>> Some thoughts on Watchmen and 2009.

WatchmenPoor, neglected website.  I’ve seen a ton of movies that I haven’t taken the time to review, for multiple reasons (most of them personal).  I plan on playing catch-up with a post filled with mini-reviews, but until that time, I thought I’d share my thoughts on Watchmen.  No, it’s not an “official” review from me, but I did want folks to know that this site wasn’t DEAD dead.

Before I saw Watchmen, I wrote a heartfelt Open Letter to Alan Moore for CyberMonkeyDeathSquad.  It probably reads a little corny or pretentious, but it’s honest.

As for the film…

The good:
–Patrick Wilson as Nite Owl grounds this film in reality and humanity, which is needed.
–Jackie Earle Haley (as Rorschach)  is awesome.
–You’ve never seen anything like it.
–Reminded me, at times, of a Stanley Kubrick film.
–It’s very faithful to the source.

The bad:
–Really questionable soundtrack choices.
–Feels long.
–Nixon’s make-up is god awful.
–It’s very faithful to the source.

I have no idea what people are going to think about this film, nor am I sure what number rating to give it myself (I lean towards an 8 out of 10, but that score reflects more on its ambition and artistic merits than it does personal entertainment value, which would probably be closer to a 7 or 7 1/2 for me).

It’s a deliberately episodic narrative, following the original individual issue structure, and I’m not entirely convinced that following that structure to a T created the best possible Watchmen film. As a film, it ends up playing out like a sci-fi noir murder mystery that takes really strange tangents from time to time. In the comic, that feels complex. In the movie, that feels meandering.

Still, you’ve never seen anything like this…