Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Nic at Night

You know how some people have a "type" that they're attracted to? Well, you take a tall guy, give him a hawkish face and make sure he's not blonde and that's pretty much my thing, as you'll see as these posts continue. Even better? Make him a guy who's got a bit of an edge. Even better? A guy who's not so much quirky as borderline weird. And that's what brings me to Nicolas Cage.

Cage has carved out his niche in the flicks by alternately making odd little pictures where he gets to chew scenery to making bona fide blockbusters where he gets to chew, regurgitate, and then rechew scenery. Or, sometimes, he even chews cockroaches onscreen. But that's what makes him Nic, and that's what makes me love him. Now, even though I'll watch any movie he's in, no matter how crappy it is, I do still realize that many of his movies are, indeed, crappy. But hey, that only makes the non-shitfests that much more delightful!

Unlike Keanu, Nic isn't aging with a whole lot of grace. He's still got a nice face and hot bod, but I can't believe that with all the money thrown at special effects they can't come up with a workable way to deal with his rapidly receding hairline with a little more style or ingenuity. That said, my favorite Cage flick isn't what I'd consider the peak of his physical prowess. That'd probably came a decade later with The Rock, and though that's still a worthy action flick, his character was just a bit too normal to consider it the pinnacle of Nicness. Instead, I give that honor to 1987's Moonstruck.

This movie is pure fluff, a straightforward mix of romance with a dash of operatic fairy tale and just enough cultural detail to ground it while lightening it. Cher, of course, took home the big prize for her turn as a Loretta, a practical widow who unexpectedly finds a second chance at romance with Nic's character, Ronny Cammareri. As if that name isn't enough to get me interested, Nic's Ronny is also a moody, eccentric baker, who toils away in front of a hot oven, wearing his white wifebeater, while hiding his deformed hand. Oof. He's sweaty and luggish, more than a hint of Stanley Kowalski around his edges, but instead of violently purging his demons like SK, Nic's Ronny finds passionate fulfillment through opera, and, eventually, Loretta.

Though he was only twenty-three at the time, and only had a handful of leading roles under his belt, this movie works primarily because of the way Nic and Cher manage to carry to the frothy material and keep it charming. Already, the now-famous affectations in his voice are already appearing in this performance, and, even more interesting, his prosthetic, metal hand only makes him sexier. That's surprising, because if you're a Nicolas Cage aficionado, as I obviously am, you know that his hands are a primary part of his appeal. He's got these long, strong, expressive fingers, and since he uses his hands so often while speaking -- insert your own Italian joke about that here -- they're very often on display. Although he's missing one here, it gives him that rough edge while simultaneously pulling more attention to the other one he's still got.

He doesn't have that approachable charm that Keanu had going in Speed. Instead, he's definitely working a borderline misanthropic angle, prone to tortured outbursts, but that's complemented with a raw, needy lust that combines with a starry-eyed adoration.

Over the years, Nic would go on to successfully play all sorts of lunatics, louts, and losers, many of them with a great deal of success. But in Moonstruck he wasn't just wild or weird, he was also woefully lovable and wonderfully endearing. And that, even more than tall, dark and dago, is just my type.


Ellen said...

Moonstruck is one of my all-time favorite movies. So much charm in every scene I've never been able to click past it. (And that's saying a lot.)

Don Capone said...

I liked him in Matchstick Men, which I saw recently.

SusanD said...

Hiya Ellen. I have a few movies like that, and this is one of them.

Don -- if you liked Matchstick Men, you might like Eric Garcia's "Rex" series. It's a weird idea, but it's pretty funny.

Murghi said...

Johnny has his hand! Johnny has his bride!

Love Moonstruck. It's perfect.