RAD: CageFest Vol. II at Gorilla, Manchester, 11 September 2016, from £5.00 - Book now
Oscar-winning actor (yes, you can look that up) Nicolas Cage is often unfairly maligned. In truth, his committed performances are always at least interesting and, when paired with filmmakers who share his indifference to naturalism and his interest in the weird, he can often approach the sublime.
The people behind R.A.D. certainly know the value of the man they are calling “the greatest living screen actor”, which is why, for the second year running, they’re commandeering Gorilla to host a whole day of back-to-back movies starring the man himself.
The day begins with Wild at Heart; David Lynch’s violent, road-movie take on The Wizard of Oz sees Cage in the role of ex-con Sailor who is on the run with girlfriend Lula (a superb Laura Dern) in tow. This punchy, energetic film is the perfect vehicle for Cage, who exhibits both a sweetness and a hold-onto-your-hats intensity as he and Dern zip through the bizarre backroads of America.
Next up we get 90s thriller The Rock, which has Cage play a biochemist forced to team up with ex-con Sean Connery in order to break into Alcatraz and stop a group of renegade commandos from unleashing poison on San Francisco. A pre-Transformers Michael Bay directs and he has a blast bouncing the two actors off of one another for our entertainment. Overall, The Rock is one of Cage’s straighter roles, but it should provide a bit of a breather before the full-throttle insanity Cage unleashes over the course of the next two films in the marathon.
The actor won his Oscar for playing an alcoholic in Leaving Las Vegas, but he’s better here as the titular strung-out, drug-addicted cop in Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call, New Orleans. Fellow eccentric Werner Herzog helms this grimy neo-noir and smartly lets Cage loose on a post-Katrina New Orleans. The results are spectacular, with the hyperactive star matched with breakdancing souls and a surprising number of iguanas.
None of these performances quite match Cage’s devoted turn in Vampire’s Kiss, though. The source of a thousand memes, he uses every single muscle in his face and body to produce a bonkers, one-of-a-kind portrayal of an 80’s New York literary executive who may or may not be turning into a vampire. Laugh all you want – it’s hard not to – but the fact is that there’s pretty much nothing else like this in cinema history…and that’s got to be a good thing.
If you are devoted to the cult of Cage, (and really, why wouldn’t you be?) then you can grab a pass for all four films for only £15. Alternatively, less brave film fans can purchase individual tickets at a fiver a film.