We live in dark times. We must find light where we can.
Look above. That is light. That is joy. That is Nicolas Cage, in 2014, at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. That is Nicolas Cage, introducing Guns N' Roses' Hard Rock residency, which was titled "Guns N' Roses: An Evening of Destruction. No Trickery!"
That is the look of a man who is about to hear "Mr. Brownstone" and "It's So Easy" live—with no trickery. That is also the look that represents how each of us feels while watching a Nicolas Cage performance.
Starting Friday, the Hollywood Theatre kicks off Cage Uncaged, a series that celebrates all Cage has to offer, from Cage's most recent work, like Color Out of Space, director Richard Stanley's Lovecraft adaptation (screening Wed Jan 22), to a few quintessential Cage performances in classics like David Lynch's phenomenal Wild at Heart (on 35mm, Sat Jan 11 & Sun Jan 12), a film that also features killer turns from Laura Dern and Willem Dafoe, and Red Rock West (Sat Jan 18), one of the finest noirs ever made. Director John Dahl will be in attendance for Red Rock West, and that particular evening, I suspect, will be fantastic. (Dahl, who also helmed The Last Seduction, might be more familiar these days for his TV work: Breaking Bad, True Blood, House of Cards.)
There's more, too, including a few Cage faves that will bring out some crowds: The early Coen brothers masterpiece Raising Arizona (Fri Jan 10), which sees Cage matched with an equally remarkable Holly Hunter; Martha Coolidge's exceedingly '80s Valley Girl (on 35mm, Sun Jan 12); and Vampire's Kiss (on 35mm, Mon Jan 13), a film that features what the Hollywood boasts is Cage's "most unhinged performance."
That is up for debate. Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans features a turn from Cage that, I would argue to your honor and the jury, is even more committed and unpredictable, and I'd also like to make a case that both Mandy and The Wicker Man are legally required to be part of any and all conversations about Cage's best and Cage's Cage-iest performances.
Which is, perhaps, the most beautiful thing about Cage Uncaged: Sure, this series features excellent Cage films, not to mention a visit from John Dahl. But the series also reminds us of how many more astonishing Cage turns there are, from Adaptation to Face/Off, from Leaving Las Vegas to Kick-Ass, and from Drive Angry to Moonstruck. I'd even argue Cage is one of the best parts of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, a movie that's nothing but best parts.
Should Cage Uncaged be a yearly endeavor? A monthly one? A daily one?
We live in dark times. We must find light where we can. Cage Uncaged has found that light for us. No trickery.
Cage Uncaged starts Fri Jan 10 at the Hollywood Theatre.