Acting secrets from Nicolas Cage | Bleader

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Acting secrets from Nicolas Cage

Posted By on 02.15.12 at 04:18 PM

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From Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance
  • From Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance
There are a number of reasons why I'm looking forward to seeing Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance when it opens on Friday. I'll let the movie's star, Nicolas Cage, articulate one of them. This comes from a recent webchat that Cage conducted for Empire magazine's website:

"[Playing] Ghost Rider... got me thinking about something I read in a book called The Way Of Wyrd by Brian Bates, and he also wrote a book called The Way Of The Actor. He put forth the concept that all actors, whether they know it or not, stem from thousands of years ago—pre-Christian times—when they were the medicine men or shamans of the village. And these shamans, who by today's standards would be considered psychotic, were actually going into flights of the imagination and locating answers to problems within the village."

Another reason I'm looking forward to the movie is that it was written and directed by Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, whose ramped-up (and for many viewers, repellent) imaginations would seem a perfect match for Cage's. J.R. Jones described their first feature, Crank (2006), as a movie whose "empty-headed premise is so pure it's witty," and since then they've only gotten emptier and wittier. Gamer (2009) is one of the more effective movies I know about the perils of the Internet age, a film in which every character is either a helpless computer game avatar or a cynical monomaniac at the controls. Neveldine and Taylor satirize our society of the spectacle by fighting fire with fire: the movie changes tones so rapidly as to suggest ten browser windows running at once. Pointedly, there's no character who's both sympathetic and smart—an understandable issue in a (cyber) world where everyone's for sale. My friend Ignatiy Vishnevetsky wrote a wonderful laud for Mubi in which he praised the writer-directors for their brains. "This is a film by two men who played Super Metroid the way Jacques Rivette read Balzac," he wrote.

I'm curious to see how much of Neveldine and Taylor's cynicism comes through in Spirit of Vengeance, which is their first movie to receive a PG-13 rating and their most mainstream effort to date. Cage's webchat suggests that the movie doesn't lack for weirdness. We'll have to wait a few days to see how it stands as social commentary.

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