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Nicolas Cage Tag

Horror movies derive most of their power and enjoyment (you sicko) from a combination of novelty and surprise.The novelty: how the filmmakers will have this particular bad guy stalk and kill the good guys. The surprise: OHMYGODLOOKOUTBEHINDYOUDREWBARRYMORE! Nevertheless, because horror movies are eternally popular, Hollywood remakes

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Recently, I rented Mystery Train on DVD — a film I haven’t seen since its original release in 1989.  Back in the late ’80s, it seemed the U.S. was experiencing an Elvis resurgence, but a lot of it was tongue in cheek. It spilled over into the film world where some filmmakers were trying to capture the zeitgeist of all things Elvis. Certainly Mystery Train was a blatant homage to The King, but David Lynch — no stranger to the ’50s — also jumped aboard the Elvis train with Wild at Heart. Nicolas Cage certainly had no trouble channeling his inner Elvis to depict the character, Sailor Ripley.  But through all the TV movies, books, fake Elvis interviews (and yes, I bought one of those back in the day on cassette), there was, at bottom, a genuine appreciation for the music that Elvis recorded. So here we go with a mix that starts with the power of E and then rides out with covers, tributes, and meditations.

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (Disney, 2010)

I know what you’re thinking: Why would the guy who assassinated Prince of Persia a couple of months ago want to review Jerry Bruckheimer’s even bigger fantasy flop from this summer? Two reasons. One, the trailer showed gargoyles on the Chrysler Building snapping and writhing, and I’m a sucker for New York-set fantasies. And, two, last year I was charmed by the production’s transformation of Chinatown into a two-week Chinese New Year’s celebration, a spectacle I enjoyed nightly as my subway traversed the Manhattan Bridge. How would it look on film, I wondered?

Synopsis: I guess I wasn’t that interested, as, like you, like everyone, I skipped on seeing it at the movies. Has boredom finally set in with Nicolas Cage? Bruckheimer product (I wish)? Sorcery? Beats me; it may have just been a sameness to the concept, or fallout from the Persia disaster. Maybe that it smelled too strongly of kids’ stuff, being based on a segment (however classic) of Fantasia with Mickey Mouse, who doesn’t speak to today’s Playstation-savvy youth. The movie’s biggest failing

knowingr1artworkpic1Knowing (2009, Summit Entertainment)
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Alex Proyas, the gifted director behind The Crow, I, Robot and the cult classic Dark City, really knows how to creep you out. Throughout his latest film, the sci-fi end of time action thriller Knowing, there is always a foreboding sense of doom that keeps the story propelling forward. Whether it’s a well-placed close-up of his actors’ worried expressions, or a niftily constructed shot with beautifully arranged extras silhouetted in long, flowing trenchcoats, Knowing has all of the elements of a great genre film…until it reaches the end, at which point it becomes a mess of new age hokum.

An opening prologue shows Lucinda, a troubled little girl in the 1950s scrawling a series of random numbers on a sheet of paper in her grade school classroom. The children in her class are writing notes for a time capsule the school is burying that will be opened 50 years later. The teacher takes Lucinda’s paper and it is placed in the time capsule. Later, Lucinda is found locked in a janitor closet with bloodied fingers and complaining that she hears voices in her head. Great stuff, so far. Proyas does an excellent job of setting up the eerie mood of the film.