Evolution of admiration – Nicolas Cage

Okay. When I said ‘returning to the regularly scheduled weirdness next time’….

….perhaps I should have parenthetically added, “You’ve been warned.”

(I’m working on a response to the “heck with it” post, too, because the reaction to it was all a little overwhelming, but in a good way – happy tears.)

Anyway.

Remember some time ago, I mentioned something about a ‘waterfall’?

This is it.

Even though I planned for this post – sort of; for heaven’s sakes, check the date, could I be any more….? – I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to say. Even though I pushed ‘Publish’ for this post, I still wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to say. In all honesty, nothing I have to say will be good enough. And anyway, anything I have to say has probably already been said by far more witty and intelligent people and so would come across much more effectively from them, but I still want to say it.

So all I can do is try.

You’re getting a little of everything in this post – ramblings, reminiscences, definite honesty, images….even a song (and never-ending thanks to Mozo for it – thank you, Dad!).

Something to keep in mind as you read this – this is not meant to be a persuasive post. Who am I to try to change anyone’s mind(s)? I don’t have that in me. This is just me expressing my own opinion about someone who everyone has an opinion about. Take it however you like it.

Also, at the asterisk (*) at the end, that’s based on a line that was originally written by an author named John Green. Just so you know. I paraphrased it, because I found it fitting.

Okay. Here goes. *taking a big breath*

Has anyone ever known of or seen a more polarizing figure in entertainment nowadays than Nicolas Cage?

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I know I haven’t.

I’m sure this will be an understatement, but I’ve noticed a majority of people either love him or hate him. Period. End of story. And either way – love him or hate him – that feeling is all-encompassing to the pertinent individual. One either really loves him or really hates him.

Which is odd to me. Because it can go both ways. What’s to like about him? What’s not to like about him? You know? There can be a middle ground.

I couldn’t pinpoint the exact moment I ever became ‘aware’ of him. He’s basically been big in the business my whole entire life. (Yeah, I know, way to make someone feel old; and if you read that carefully enough, that’s your first clue, Sherlocks.) So the knowledge of him has always been there, and as a child I didn’t question it. Or him. I grew up knowing of him, knowing his name, but I knew nothing about him, other than the fact that he was a well-known actor.

So it would probably seem creepy of me to say that his presence, as it were, has always provided some semblance of comfort and consistency to me, and continues to do so. But it is the honest truth. He’s out there. He’s alive. He’s real. He’s still doing what he loves and what he does best. It’s not an ‘all’s right with the world’ sort of thing, but it is very good to know.

Of course I was too young to see any of his movies, so growing up I only ever saw pictures of him in newspapers and magazines. And as a family we weren’t big on entertainment programs like “Entertainment Tonight,” so I’d never seen him interviewed and so had never even heard him speak before. But my family and I, we were among the millions watching the Oscar telecast when he won the Best Actor Oscar for “Leaving Las Vegas.” That marked the first time I’d ever seen him ‘live’ and ‘in person,’ and the first time I’d ever heard him speak.

Upon his win, my parents both expressed the same sentiment – “Well, good for him!” And I wholly echoed that sentiment….but felt strangely about doing so. I knew nothing about him at the time, and so had no clue why I felt so happy for him and his accomplishments. Well, wait. Chalk it up to human nature, and how people generally like seeing others succeed. That had to be it, right there. Case closed. Though it could have been a kind of ‘taken him for granted’ guilt. I couldn’t tell.

I know “The Rock” came next, but I don’t remember anything about that movie. But I do remember “Con Air” and “Face/Off” happening, because the TV practically exploded with ads for those two movies. I didn’t see either one of those movies – I was still too young to, and I certainly didn’t do anything as drastic as Jay Baruchel and sneak into any movie of his. (I’ve now seen several of his movies, among them “Con Air;” haven’t seen “Face/Off” yet – it’s in the queue.)

For the longest time, I had no real opinion of Nicolas Cage. Whenever I thought about him, it was like….”Yeah, okay. Yawn.” And I honestly have no reason as to why that was. It certainly isn’t very fair to him, now, is it? It wasn’t because of the movies he’d done, because they all seemed interesting enough. It wasn’t because of anything I’d read or heard said about him – critics, naysayers, and paparazzi are paid to say horrible things about people, so I tend not to listen to them. And it wasn’t because of anything he’d ever personally said or done – he seemed deep, knowledgeable of his craft, and as wise as he was young. And he seemed offbeat. And I like offbeat sort of people. So, in that respect, he had always piqued my interest. So I was always interested.

I guess I just wasn’t interested enough.

And for several years, that was the way it was. I just didn’t really pay that much attention to him. Even though I heard so many conflicting things about him and his movies. Even though I only ever caught bits and pieces of some of his movies on TV (“City of Angels,” “Knowing,” and both “National Treasure” movies, if you want points of reference). And the only movie of his I was interested in going to see when it came out in theaters was “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice;” Mom was, too, but we just….didn’t get around to seeing it. (More on “Sorcerer’s Apprentice” in a bit.)

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Interested but not interested enough. Sad but true. Now therein is definitely a ‘taken him for granted’ guilt.

So what, you ask, changed all that?

Well, I hate to go all cliched and melodramatic on you, but this is also the honest truth. Just this past October, things were going on in my life that were not good. At the time, I was on the verge of another nervous breakdown (there’s the cliche), and I was just looking for something, anything else, anything different, something that would, in a way, save me (and there’s the melodrama). I’d either get pulled back from the cliff or fall right off the edge. Again. (Everything’s all cleared up now, so no fear of falling.)

It was a Tuesday night, mid-October. Older Sister had just picked up Younger Brother, to drive him to a weekly event of his; the way it worked was Mom and Youngest Brother would go pick him up after they got off work, and then they’d all be home for the night. So, for about an hour-and-a-half, I was home, alone. I had the TV to myself, a rare occurrence, and one I don’t let get by me. So I was watching the TV Guide Network, just for a run-down of what was going to be on other channels at the top of the hour. Halloween programming was in full swing on several channels, but there looked to be nothing interesting on, at least not interesting to me.

Except for one thing – the TV Guide Network itself was going to be showing the remake of “The Wicker Man.” Starring Nicolas Cage.

I still have no reason as to why that stopped me, why that intrigued me so. It just did.

Also, for whatever reason, it occurred to me that, up until that very moment, I had actually never seen a whole entire movie of his from start to finish. Bits and pieces like I said above, but never a whole entire movie, beginning to end. That ‘offbeat’ notion of him suddenly stirred from somewhere deep in my mind. And I’ll be honest – I had not heard anything good about the remake of “The Wicker Man” or about his performance.

But as there was really nothing else on TV at the time…. Do not laugh at me, but I sat down, tuned in, and wholly intended to watch that movie from start to finish.

Bottom line is, I was curious. Finally curious enough about him to watch him, and find out for myself what he was all about.

At the same time, I had some things to do around the house, so my attention wasn’t entirely focused on the movie at first. Until one particular moment. And when that moment occurred, I silently freaked out. And then I turned off the TV. So, no, I did not finish watching that movie, but not for obvious reasons, and not because anybody came home. And, actually, thank goodness I didn’t finish watching that movie…. (Ehh, I’ll talk about it later. Maybe.)

It stuck with me. And it got me thinking….

Specifically, it got me thinking about all the flak he’d been getting, and continues to get, about what a lot of people consider to be bad personal choices and/or bad career choices on his part. And such vitriol it is, was, and had been.

And I’ve just been like….”WHAT?!?”

With regards to his ‘bad personal choices’ – and so by extension his fabled financial difficulties – like I said in a previous post, he is a person. A human being. And no human is perfect, not even him. He is no different than anyone else. He has thoughts and feelings, just like everyone else. He’ll have his good days and his bad days, just like everyone else. He is entitled to his quirks and eccentricities, just like everyone else. He’s bound to make mistakes, and he will make mistakes, just like everyone else. And he deserves any and all chances to right any and all wrongs he may make or encounter, just like everyone else. I guess the shame there is he is such a public figure, people feel he’s fair game to cut down when he makes a misstep. And people have been vicious. But as I do not know him personally, and most likely never will, I really have no right to say anything or pass any sort of judgment on him or anything he does. Nobody has that right. The only person who has any right is him, and him alone. So let the man live his life, let him get by, let him learn, and let him continue to make his own way. Simple as that. Leave it at that.

As for the perceived ‘bad career choices,’ well, he has said in several interviews that the films he’s recently made are in the direction he wants to go as an actor. And he seems genuinely 100% enthusiastic about his projects when he talks about them. That tells me he truly wanted to take part in these films. Okay, yes, I understand that whole ‘don’t believe everything you read or hear’ thing – I simply subscribe to the belief that ‘You wouldn’t say or do something if you didn’t mean it.’ Therefore, he wouldn’t be saying anything or doing anything if he didn’t mean what he said or did. I doubt anybody is pulling any sort of strings on him by pressuring and/or forcing him to take on roles or to put a positive spin on anything he’s done. So, yes, I will take his word above anyone else’s. Why can’t everyone else?!?

And besides, it’s all a matter of opinion when people say his performances are bad. There is going to be nothing normal about any character he plays. He’s always going to do something different, and he’s always going to make it interesting. Take “Drive Angry,” for instance (and, yes, I did watch that movie) – I initially thought, yeah, his performance seemed ‘wooden,’ but in thinking about it, it really wasn’t, not when you consider his character’s story, the little tics he exhibited, and the gleam in his eyes throughout (and, yes, I was watching the same movie). Why do people keep insisting that he’s constantly “phoning it in,” that he’s only taking on roles because he’s broke and needs the money, when something like “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” was his idea to begin with?!?

I’m not trying to hoist him up on either a pedestal or a petard. I’m just essentially talking aloud, trying to get a clearer picture.

For all anyone knows, he could be acting all the time. Everything about him could be a performance, he could be pulling the wool over everyone’s eyes, and he could be lying through his teeth about anything and everything. In that case, then, yes, my ‘image’ of him is a huge misconception, and therefore I am that big a dupe. (But wouldn’t that turn the whole ‘he’s a bad actor’ thing on its ear?)

But….I honestly don’t think he’s that kind of person. Yes, he is an actor, but like I said, he’s a person first and foremost. There is a separation there. I was brought up to always believe the best about people, so I believe him to be a good and decent man. And a lot of his co-stars have said he’s a nice guy, and he’s fun to be around, and he’s a real professional, and that he’s always eager to be there, working, trying something new, and lending a hand. Besides, he once mentioned a Picasso quote, something about how ‘art is a lie that tells the truth.’ But then he added to that, by saying, “What if you just want to tell the truth and not lie about it?” And I thought that was just such a brilliant thing for him to have said. There is something very real about him, something honest – ergo, there is truth in him.

So, then, maybe there is some truth to my ‘image’ of him, somewhere.

I’ll never know.

Best I can do is try to understand. Find the right words, find the right thoughts, put them together, make them touch, make them seamless at the ends.

Speaking of “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”….

As Balthazar Blake
As Balthazar Blake

….thankfully ABC Family showed that movie the Sunday night before Halloween. And I loved it! With that movie came that whole new level to him that I hadn’t even realized I’d been looking for or waiting for. And then I found out that movie was entirely his idea in the first place!

That was it. That was it. I’m a fan. And I’m not ashamed to admit it.

So. There you go.

On one particular fan site for him, one of their ‘break the ice’ questions is “Describe Nicolas Cage in ten words or less.”

There are not ten words that could do him justice. Heck, there aren’t ANY words that could do him justice, not that could totally and completely sum him up. Although Roger Ebert’s summation is pretty much spot-on; read the last two paragraphs….

Well, I’ll try ten words:

~ Different and/or unique.

~ Raw.

~ Intriguing.

~ Worldly.

~ Unpredictable (this encompasses oft-used words like ‘crazy,’ ‘quirky,’ ‘eccentric,’ and ‘dangerous’).

~ Beautiful.

~ Vulnerable and/or uncertain (others would say ‘fearless,’ but that’s not quite what I see).

~ Brave (as it doesn’t necessarily mean ‘fearless,’ this word would be more accurate).

~ Kaleidoscopic.

~ Genuine.

(Yes, I know, that’s way more than ten, but like I said….)

So. There it is. The evolution of my admiration for Nicolas Cage.

I have nothing but deep respect for him. If I were an actress, I’d give anything to work with him. Not only that, but he seems to be the kind of person I would like to get to know, even though that won’t ever happen. Anything I feel for him, now and forever, has to include everything I know about him, good or bad. And still I think he is worthwhile, both as an actor and as a person.

A star I have fathomed into a constellation.*

Which reminds me of a song. And it wouldn’t be a birthday without a song.

This song caught me totally unprepared the first time I heard it. And it turned out to be perfect. It is exactly how I feel. It is exactly what I want to say. And the beauty of it is, it’s instrumental. There are no words.

Really, it’s the only gift I could think to give.

The band is named Pallas. The song is called “Northern Star.”

To Mr. Cage – I’m sure none of this will ever reach your eyes or ears, but I meant it all, every word. I wish you all the best, in anything you do. Thank you so much for all the little moments that have made me smile and think and feel. Thank you for unknowingly seeing me through a tough time. Thank you so much for being you. Thank you so much for everything.

Happy 49th birthday.

Nicolas Cage-d rage

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