Howdy, y’all! McEric right here with the inaugural entry of what’s going to be a 52-part sequence that I’m calling 2021: A Year of Nic Flicks.
I used to be very disillusioned with my artistic output in 2020. I wrote little or no, and I don’t assume I learn a single e book all yr. I took a number of faculty programs and made a couple of Tik Toks, however I do know on reflection that I used to be not dwelling as much as my potential, most definitely right here at Ain’t It Cool. And let’s face it: that ain’t cool.
I made a decision the reply was to create a column, one thing that might deliver me again to the keyboard frequently and permit me to the chance to speak about issues that basically intrigue. One factor that has at all times intrigued me has undoubtedly been Nicolas Cage. Nicolas Cage is without doubt one of the most divisive actors in America: many both love him or hate him, although most discover themselves within the valley between, their present opinion leveraged by any specific efficiency in query. Cage has been a romantic lead, an motion star, a heavy drama performer, a comedic tour de drive, and a sq. peg in a spherical gap. He can class up a movie or push it into absurdity. He can flip a screw in your coronary heart or fart straight in your mind with the identical depth.
His profession over the previous 4 many years has been certainly one of immeasurable vary, so I had little issue writing down 52 Nicolas Cage movies that I intend to display every week within the yr 2021. I selected some movies to view throughout sure dates that coincided with both the fabric within the movie or a private story from my historical past with Cage. It appears so long as I’ve been taking note of movie, I’ve been taking note of Nicolas. Some movies ended up on this column as a result of I arbitrarily plucked them off a listing, a lot in the identical manner that I’m certain Cage has chosen a few of his initiatives over the previous few years.
There’s a little bit of timeliness in embarking on this journey now: Cage simply celebrated his 57th birthday yesterday, and the Netflix sequence “The History of Swear Words” which he hosts simply hit the streaming service this previous Tuesday. (Yes, I’ve already binged it.) Even at this time, he stored showing on my social media inserted in memes my pals shared as his NATIONAL TREASURE character Benjamin Franklin Gates pilfering artifacts from the Capitol Building throughout the mob rush it endured yesterday. My good friend Caitlin and I share a wierd fascination with Cage, each via his work and his existence as a cosmic drive. I’ve blessed or tortured her with many Cage-themed presents on holidays over time of our friendship. His private life is as assorted and unbelievable as his character work, and he continues to enrapture and confound even at this time. He’s simply as multi-faceted in actuality as he’s on the display, and also you by no means actually know what to anticipate from him at any given second.
So, with none additional ado, let’s get able to Nic Flicks and Chill, with the primary entry, RAISING ARIZONA.
Joel and Etan Coen got down to make a film that might be the polar reverse of their first movie, BLOOD SIMPLE, and to this finish they penned RAISING ARIZONA, a zany comedy romp that includes an odd couple at its core and a McGuffin so irresistible that each character that sees it yearns to say it for themselves: an cute child boy named Junior. Junior is Nathan Arizona, Jr, certainly one of a set of quintuplets born to an area furnishings tycoon of the identical identify, who’s kidnapped by the movie’s protagonists, H.I. McDunnough, a profession prison who robs comfort shops with an unloaded gun, and his spouse Edwina “Ed” Hucket, a former police officer, once they uncover they can’t conceive kids of their very own. Pretty quickly it appears everybody is aware of the kid they’re holding is illegitimate and everybody vies to get their palms on him with the intent of maintaining him for their very own. Hijinks ensue, laughter abounds.
Released in 1987, RAISING ARIZONA is Cage’s ninth theatrical movie in a span of 5 years, an early trace of his tireless proliferation. “Hi” McDunnough is a prison, to make certain, however he’s one thing of a sort soul. His wild hair and easy smile convey a childlike nature within the scamp, one thing akin to Chaplin’s Tramp. He’s a dwelling cartoon, which retains in keeping with the Coen’s imaginative and prescient of the movie as a madcap romp, a stay-motion Merrie Melodie’s characteristic. His hair will get greater when the motion will get crazier, his speech extra southern when he’s agitated, and his sleeves roll greater and better when there’s work to be achieved.
I’ve to confess, I had not watched RAISING ARIZONA in in all probability thirty years or so earlier than viewing it once more final night time. What shocked me was how vividly some scenes awoke dormant first-impressions of them from many years prior. Like the introduction of villain Leonard Smalls. I keep in mind the shut-ups on the newborn booties, grenading the bunny, capturing the lizard. Those photographs in that introduction are seared into my movie-watching reminiscence from childhood. Randall “Tex” Cobb has been described by Joel Coen as “a force of nature” and even at a younger age I acknowledged him as a personality actor introduced in at any time when the filmmakers wanted to scare the piss out of the viewers.
Likewise the scene during which the Snoats brothers burst forth from the shitty earth exterior of their jail, a la Shawshank, John Goodman bellowing like a new child demon. Or the outdated man within the truck advising Hi that had “a panty on your head.” So a lot of this movie sticks with the viewer after just one viewing. It’s straightforward to see, even then, the penchant the Coens had for crafting memorable cinema.
One factor I didn’t keep in mind, nonetheless, was how early in his profession Nicolas Cage was more likely to go “Full Cage.” If you’ve seen multiple of his movies then you already know what I’m speaking about: a second the place he chews up the surroundings like a fucking leopard, going full ham after which some, giving carnal kind to the Id in a show pulled from a visceral Chuck Jones nightmare. I first noticed a touch of it when he’s driving the automobile with Ed within the passenger seat after he’s punched out Glen. (Side word: has Sam McMurray ever performed a likeable character, and if not, what sort of toll has that taken on him as an individual? Like, is he a dick in actual life so it’s not a stretch? Or is he a brilliant-good man who simply has an terrible vocal cadence and a face that individuals instinctively wish to punch? So he retains getting these roles and he knocks it out of the park and all of us cheer when his character will get his comeuppance, then the director yells “cut” and he’s cracking everybody up on set and having beignets flown in from New Orleans for the entire solid and crew? This is what I wish to know.) Cage’s Hi is beginning to crack, stress hissing out at his seams, so to the purpose that he intentionally makes his voice smaller in order to not give the simmering rage any energy. Then, when the Snoats betray him, he lets all of it out, screaming on the ground of his trashed trailer residence, a fitful ball of sinew and reddened pores and skin.
There’s a fearlessness that Cage brings to Hi when he takes on adversaries significantly bigger than him all through the movie, like Smalls and Snoats. Cage, solely 23 on the time, is way smaller on this movie, removed from the motion hero physique he would develop into for his huge-funds hits of the 90s. To see him on display taking over Goodman or Cobb is a David-and-Goliath fantasy. As talked about, many of the movie is fantasy, a baby’s cartoon caper, spurred onward by none aside from Hi, himself, as our unreliable narrator. During the shootout scene whereby Hi is pursued by the Short Stop clerk, the police, and a neighborhood stuffed with canine, the human pursuers are proven to have revolvers, but they fireplace ceaselessly and with impunity as a result of they needn’t reload as a result of nothing is actual. In reality, in the event you haven’t watched the film previously yr, give it one other view and see that Nathan Arizona leaves his gun within the crib with the quintuplets on the finish of the movie. At the tip of the second act Hi makes an attempt to go away Ed and Junior behind, even going as far as to put in writing an eloquent letter of his intent, however the world turns towards him earlier than he can implement his abandonment, but the damning letter is rarely seen once more.
From his cute, unsophisticated woodpecker tattoo (which he shares with the demon Smalls, proof that the latter was conjured by Hi to punish him for his sins) to his wardrobe of pre-Ace Ventura Hawaiian patterns and drab bowling shirts, Hi McDunnough is Cage at his most simplistic base, a chaotic good trapped in a simulation that slams his towards varied alignments of evil. Who higher to liven up such a personality than Cage, himself, one thing of a manchild, on the time, with youth as a recent reminiscence?
RAISING ARIZONA is probably going the primary movie that I knowingly noticed Nicolas Cage in, and I knew even then that I might be following this actor’s profession with curious curiosity. Thirty-three years later, I nonetheless am curious to find what he’ll do subsequent.
Until subsequent time, y’all keep secure and keep sane!
-McEric, aka Eric McClanahan-
I hope you really liked out story
Nic Flicks – Episode One – RAISING ARIZONA
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