Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Finally, someone to pull away that precious title from Jim Belushi


If I've learned anything by moving regularly from the highest of high to the lowest of low brow movies, it is this - Nicholas Cage is the worst living actor on the Planet.  Maybe of all time.  There was a time when "Raising Arizona" earned him a bit of slack to step away from that pronouncement.  But after suffering through a recent Cage double bout of the mental runs, I can no longer afford to give him that much rope.  First of all, "Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans" is a complete sewer of dumped cliches and flushed mental hygiene products.  I give it a strangely-coveted big phat F rating.  Weirdly, it got enough flaky good press that I thought I'd grind through it via Netflix.  Big mistake.  It's not that it's gritty.  It's just bad.  And Cage is by far the worst part of it.  Given that he's on screen in every single scene save a few interspersed short expositions with even less likable characters, well...you've been warned.

Then I moved onto "Kick-Ass" in the theatre.  It's a little "s" success of a movie.  There's enough sweetness layered into the silliness to make it entertaining front to back.  My rating - a very watchable C-plus.  But as much as Nicholas Cage should be hilarious and perfect for the good Dad doing bad things training his assassin daughter, he is just doubly awful.  Much of the time he's vamping Batman including the horrible Christian Bale accent from "The Dark Knight".  But he slips out of the accent enough while in costume to sound more like Adam West from the 60s TV version, and he doesn't seem in control enough to figure out which persona he's making fun of.  He just about ruins every scene he's a part of as a result.  There was a time when I maybe liked him as an actor.  I'm sorry to say that was a few decades ago and I've officially given up on him.  So use that to buck up and do some good work, Nick-o.  I doubt you will, but I don't want to be entirely a downer.

In contrast, one recent small movie that stuck with me for like 10 minutes because of the leading actor's performance (in a good way) was "The Ghost Writer".  It's not Roman Polanski's best.  Or even very close to it - he's got bigger issues than work right now given his extradition and associated legal fight.  Still, in "The Ghost Writer" the political-thriller story is overdone and the humorlessness of most of the action made it feel so cold and dated.  But Ewan McGregor is fantastic.  He adds something to every line and his infectious charm is the perfect counter point to an otherwise downbeat film.  He almost single-handedly earns a recommendation for the film.  Instead, I'll give it a C-Plus and say wait for the rental.  And whatever Ewan's in next, right in line next to me.

Hope your own reviews move you instead way above the mean today.  Rock on.

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