(US/Spain - 2018)
MANDY, Panos Cosmatos' gonzo mindfuck of a midnight movie that got a lot of festival buzz and was an instant, legit cult classic right out of the gate. It immediately became an essential entry in the Cage canon and got him the most acclaim and attention he'd received in years. But any hopes that MANDY would herald a Cageassaince are dashed with BETWEEN WORLDS, a moronic and amateurish supernatural thriller that hit VOD at the tail end of last year. With enough strange ideas and Cage once again cast as a blue collar loner who finds himself caught up in all sorts of inexplicable mayhem, BETWEEN WORLDS could almost pass itself off as a distant cousin to MANDY, but it's filmed in such a basic, rudimentary fashion so devoid of style and a sense of professionalism that it actually looks, at best, like a student film that accidentally got a distribution deal. It seems the only trick that co-producer/writer/director Maria Pulera has in her arsenal--aside from somehow cajoling the great Angelo Badalamenti into composing the main theme, which I guess is there to give the film a Dipshit David Lynch vibe--is the repetitious and pointlessly wanky reliance on low-angle close-ups of everything from a coffee carafe to a bottle of beer to the hairy ass crack of an overweight convenience store clerk. That, and the ability to get real and long-established actors like Cage and Franka Potente (RUN LOLA RUN, THE BOURNE IDENTITY) to embarrass themselves in a project that's far beneath them.
ZANDALEE seem disciplined, Cage has several absurdly over-the-top sex scenes with both Potente and Mitchell, sometimes amusing himself while thrusting away by randomly quoting and pantomiming the crucifix masturbation scene in THE EXORCIST or reading aloud from a book of erotic poetry with a cover that reads "Memories by Nicolas Cage." He ad-libs endlessly (Potente: "Want a beer?" Cage: "Does the Tin Man have a sheet-metal cock?"), and totally loses it in the finale, which has him sobbing uncontrollably and cradling his dead daughter's Jack-in-the-Box while pouring gasoline on himself to the tune of The Shangri-Las' "Leader of the Pack." Mind you, as on-brand as this is for Nic Cage--who wouldn't wanna see the movie I just described?--none of it is ever as entertaining as it sounds. Similar to his disastrous performance in the unwatchable ARMY OF ONE, Cage's histrionics come off as exhausted and overly affected, because there's no movie here--it's just him goofing off for 90 minutes. Something more polished and professional might've made Cage's antics more palatable, but BETWEEN WORLDS is a film that displays all the production value of a high-end sex tape or hostage video, magnifying the fact that Cage has nothing to work with and really begging the question of what even attracted him and Potente to this thing in the first place. (R, 91 mins)
A PRIVATE WAR
(US/UK/Germany - 2018)
7 DAYS IN ENTEBBE and the solid throwback BEIRUT), A PRIVATE WAR is further evidence of the actress becoming a top Flop Indicator (© Bob Cashill), but like BEIRUT, this one deserved a better reception than it got, and in a perfect world, Pike would've been nominated for an Oscar along with the similarly snubbed Toni Collette for HEREDITARY. (R, 110 mins)