Summer of Nicolas Cage Movie #8: 8MM

1999 thriller

Rating: 14/20

Plot: Surveillance expert Tom Welles is hired by an old lady to find out if a "snuff film" discovered in her late husband's safe is real or not. Welles gets help from an LA porn peddler, and clues begin pointing to one particular purveyor of violent pornography. It's a long and winding and especially dangerous road.

Bonus points awarded for the loud use of Aphex Twin's "Come to Daddy" near the end and for Peter "Karl Hungus" Stormare, my other favorite actor. Lebowski, Prison Break, "Slippery Pete" in one of my favorite Seinfeld episodes, Carl's partner in Fargo. He's even in Bergman's Fanny and Alexander. You can go ahead and argue that the guy doesn't deserve a lifetime achievement award of some kind, but you will lose. He gets to show off his character acting chops with a great character here, the sleazy Dino Velvet. He has this ability to deliver a line in a way that makes it seem like the greatest writing ever. And his final lines? I don't want to spoil anything, but he's got a great death scene in this. Acting legend Nicolas Cage is fairly subdued here, and there isn't anything I'd call one of those Nicolas Cage Moments I really enjoy. Cage is actually one of the most realistic things about the movie which probably means there's a problem with the other characters, the story, etc. His protagonist is a flawed thriller hero; he doesn't have his priorities straight, he makes more than a few mistakes, and he isn't afraid to weep. He's also more brains than brawn, and it's fun to watch him work. I also liked Joaquin Phoenix as the wonderfully named Max California, and James Gandolfini is always kind of fun. 8MM's story gets darker and darker as it goes along, sending Tom Welles on a downward spiral of perversion, degradation, and violence. The movie's got a layer of grit and sleaze that keeps it intriguing even if it's not always that realistic or if it starts to fall to pieces by the end. There was probably a missed opportunity in here to make a statement about exploitation in cinema, but the writers apparently didn't want to go there.

Wow. I just did a little research and discovered that this has Torsten Voges in it. Who? Why, he's another one of Lebowski's nihilists. That's two-thirds of the nihilists! I'll have to watch this again to see if there's a Flea cameo I missed.

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