Friday, October 04, 2013


(1999) **

This happened to be on last night just as I was sitting down, and I was feeling a little ambivalent about the 2 blu-rays I'd grabbed from the library earlier, so I decided to just go with it and see if this old Nicholas Cage suspense-thriller was any good. The short answer is "not so much."

It's not horrendous, just mostly sort of plodding. The premise is that Cage is a private eye hired by a rich widow to investigate a snuff film she found in her dead husband's private collection. She's concerned that it might not be fake, that the girl in the film might indeed have been killed, and she's feeling guilty about having been married to some sort of sadistic pervert all those years.

Cage's investigation takes him across the country looking for first the girl and then the men who made the movie. Along the way, he picks up a fun sidekick played by Joachin Phoenix and runs across a pre-Sopranos James Gandolfini. Catherine Keener is also here, playing Cage's neglected wife--a role she once again inhabits with her shrewy whining standard mode. God she only seems to pick unlikeable characters. Anyway, the point is that the supporting cast is pretty excellent.

 In terms of scares, this one falls more into the Silence of the Lambs category--it's more a mystery than a gorefest. However, the subject matter of snuff films does give the whole thing a pretty disturbing feel, and Cage wades through various menacing aspects of the underground porn industry while investigating the film.

Interestingly, one of the recurring motifs of the movie is that snuff films are "myths," which is something I'd never heard before. I'd like to think that's true.

I think what fails in the movie is that the script seems to want to show the Cage character as going through a sort of unraveling as he delves deeper into the seedy porn world. But Cage isn't really that complex of an actor, and the script doesn't really provide the context for us to care much about any such change.


Catfreeek said...

What a legacy to leave behind to be always known as the whining shrew.

Octopunk said...

I like Catherine Keener more than you do, but I saw this when it came out and thought it was a suckfest on all levels. My favorite/least favorite part was when a bad guy lawyer gives Cage this "you're out of your league" speech when the invincible cabal he's championing is a porn star, a porn director and himself. WooOOooo.

AC said...

what a waste of a great cast (not cage, i only like him in raising arizona).

Johnny Sweatpants said...

I only saw this once when it first came out but I admittedly loved it at the time. The phone conversation between Cage and the girl's mother at the end lingered with me for a while.

DCD said...

Doesn't sound promising - despite JSP's endorsement.

I have a soft spot in my heart for Cage in Valley Girl - a movie I watched so many times I used to be able to recite it.

50PageMcGee said...

i never understood the controversy over whether snuff films exist. in the history of people owning movie cameras and in the history of people killing people for sadistic fun, are we really to disbelieve that there's been someone out there who's recognized that, "hey, if i combine these two things, i can beat off to this later"?

Johnny Sweatpants said...

Excellent, albeit disturbing point 50P!

Crystal Math said...

I missed out on this one when it came out but over time my interest in it and Cage's filmography diminished exponentially. I'll just watch Raising Arizona and Kick-Ass into eternity.