2013 Nicolas Cage movie

Rating: 16/20

Plot: A fifteen-year-old befriends a bearded Nicolas Cage who hires him for a job poisoning trees. The kid, probably since his father is a real loser, looks up to his new older friend.

Nic, to whore: "Got any pets?"
Whore: "I mean, I had a cat."
Nic: "Cat? Beautiful. What's his name?"
Whore: "Missy."
Nic: "What'd you feed it?"
Whore: "I don't know. Fucking dry food."
Nic: "What's your favorite color?"
Whore: "Red."
Nic: "Blow me."

I just love that dialogue.

There are metaphors played with here that I only halfway understand. David Gordon Green, just like in Prince Avalanche, is messing around with trees again. Well, that movie had the ghosts of trees. This time, they're being poisoned. And there's a poisonous snake. And there's the titular character who is obviously impotent. And there are guns. There's got to be something going on there, right? It's that or I'm fixated on cigars again.

This movie is relentlessly ugly, just brutal. It's a good thing the kid's in there; otherwise, there's no redemption. The characters are often violent and they're violent for reasons that you just can't figure out. One violent scene in this was one of the most chilling things I've seen in a while, and ironically, it ends with a kiss. People aren't the only animals in this trying to kill each other. There are dogs in there, too, including a scene that looks like something that could have been shot at Michael Vick's house. Brutal. Dogs are symbolic as trees and dicks, and the way they're used here seems like the sort of thing that's been done again and again. Cage shows his violent side, even growls during it. I've heard this described as a comeback for Cage, but that's the kind of thing said by people who haven't seen Bad Lieutenant or who don't know that there's a Left Behind movie starring Cage coming out this year. He's pretty fantastic here, but he stands out only because he's the main character in a movie named after the main character. His "Mexican game show--that's what I'm talking about" or handling of a snake that you just know is real because cockroach-eating Nicolas Cage ain't going to mess around with a non-venomous snake or his cries that a certain dog is "an asshole" or those darting eyes of his or the great line "Pow! Fistful of dollars!" are all things that would normally stand out, but he doesn't here because of the colorful characters around him. A lot of those characters were locals chosen by David Gordon Green who thought it would bring some authenticity to the proceedings. It works, successfully creating this nightmarish location and these frightening characters you wouldn't want to spend any real time with although it's fascinating watching it all safely on the other side of the screen. Gary Poulter, a real-life homeless guy who sadly died before this movie was released, gives one of the most memorable performances you'll ever see. Popping and locking, wearing a G-Daawg jacket, engaging in shouting matches with other characters, or whatever the hell Green has him doing, Poulter's a presence, the type of character you absolutely despise yet still miss when he's not on the screen. I don't know how much acting Poulter is even doing, but he makes an amazing villain and it's hard not to call this an amazing performance. In fact, a posthumous Oscar nomination wouldn't surprise me a bit. Another non-actor named Elbert Hill III plays a character named Shorty and shows off this great gruff voice. At least I think that was Shorty. And I really liked a guy named John Daws who played Coleman, the guy who owned the convenience store. He's been in a few projects, some that might even be real movies. The local flavor they add keeps things entertaining although it doesn't make it all any less dark. The murky ambient music helps build tension and adds shading, but I'm not sure it really needs to be there. There's another random song used for a montage where the characters are driving around looking for a dog. It was really distracting, but I liked it. I'll let you know if I find out what it was.

This movie has a scene where Nicolas Cage and a windsock man are on screen at the same time. And yes, that's as orgasmic as you think it might be.

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