Star – Nicholas Cage
Genre – Drama
Run Time – 117 minutes
Certificate – 18
Country – USA
Amazon – £5.9900 DVD
Awards – 4 Wins & 9 nominations
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Oscar winner Nicholas Cage gets a roar deal by the critics if you ask me. Since his golden statue for playing a lush in Laving Las Vegas back in 1996 he hasn’t done much of note for two decades. I personally think he should have won for Moonstruck but there you are. His comic book stuff hasn’t been great and the less said about Ghostrider the better and it’s playing that mixed bag of projects that has irked the movie media. He will literally do anything if the money is right. Kids stuff like National Treasure is probably more his thing these days but this low budget piece of Southern Gothic is what he can deliver and well worth a look. Every now and then actors need to remind us, and themselves, they can actually act and not just about their shouldering sexy eyes or living off past glories. To me Cage is an extremely charismatic actor on screen and you end up enjoying his bad movies just because he is in them. But you get to a certain age the way Mathew ‘Mahogany’ McConaughey did and you no longer get the leading man role as your looks go and time to get serious. It’s certainly an uncharacteristically subtle and dialed down Nicholas Cage this time around.
‘Joe’ (2013) is adapted from the 1991 book by Larry Brown of the same name and a film directed by David Gordon Green, who has also done mixed bag of movies with likewise styles, hopping from the melancholic indie All The Real Girls to stoner comedies like The Sitter and Pineapple Express and back to subtle mood comedies like Prince Avalanche. DGG has an interesting why to work and likes to cast unknowns who are the real people living his stories on screen. A homeless man was cast to play a likewise character in this film and a significant role too. But it did not turn Gary Poulter’s life around and two months after filming ended, the actor was found face down in three feet of water after a night of heavy drinking, stone dead.
• Nicolas Cage as Joe Ransom
• Tye Sheridan as Gary
• Heather Kafka as Lacy
• Ronnie Gene Blevins as Willie
• Brian Mays as Junior
• Sue Rock as Merle
• Adriene Mishler as Connie
• Gary Poulter as Wade
• Dana Freitag as Sue
It’s going to be a tough life for 15-year-old Gary (Tye Sheridan), if it hasn’t been already, his abusive hard drinking bum father Wade (Gary Poulter) always ready to dish out a random beating as the family drift around the South looking for work. Then one day Gary happens upon Joe Ransom (Nicolas Cage), a foreman who runs a crew of cash in hand casual workers for a small timber crew in backwoods Texas. The mostly black workforce has to pump toxins into the trees to kill them as the wood is too old to be used to make anything. But the woods are often protected and so this is an agreed loophole for landowners to clear scrub land to farm on. Gary may be young but prepared to graft and after a quick trail allowed to start on the following Monday.
Joe is well-liked by the residents of his small town and his crew, but has a criminal history of jail time for his bad temper and disrespect for the law. He lives in self-imposed emotional isolation of always holding back his anger by staying away from people and relationships, the local brothel run by boozy Madame, Merle (Sue Rock) the only place he can find escape, bonking one of the regulars called Connie (Adriene Mishler) who he is sweet on.
Gary starts work on Monday and accepted by the crew and asks Joe if his pop can work to, which Joe is happy with. But pop is a waster and self destructive, getting them both fired, and Joe witnessing Wade getting a beating by his old man when he takes his pay to the kids house. Gary is desperate to work and tracks down Joe to his house in a storm. Joe agrees, and Gary begins working for him regularly, hiding his pay from Wade, who would rather like the money to buy booze.
Joe has a far bigger problem on his plate than an impressionable young lad who needs a father figure when a vendetta with local man called Willie (Ronnie Gene Blevins) rears its ugly head again like an angry rattler in the desert scrub, the local criminal out of jail and back in town, taking a pot shot at Joe with a rifle, hitting his shoulder. Gary is also in a battle as he decides to stand up to his father by fighting back as his job and being around Joe gives him more confidence. Joe sees a lot of himself in Gary and as the two bond he feels obliged to get the kid away from his old man, especially when Wade tries to prostitute his own daughter (Dana Freitag) to some local rednecks.
Just above ‘run-of the-mill would be fiar’ on this one. Although not much story and what there is pretty routine its Cages understated performance that makes this enjoyable. The plot slowly simmers like hot tar waiting to spill over for its telling ending and plenty of good performances, the kid Tye Sheridan very edgy. I think child actors are so good as they are not vain on screen and simply want to do well for the adults around them and so more naturalistic and so have no angle to their performance. They are not acting as such but playing themselves at that age. Gary Poulter’s turn as the bum dad is spot on as that appears to be who he is. Taking a drunk off the street to play a big part in your movie is incredibly brave. Everything Poulter does seems real, especially when he brains a fellow homeless person just to steel his booze. I was not surprised he died in a bum fight two moths after the movie.
The story meanders a bit and it becomes a right-of- passage standard fair as the boy maturity charge offers Cages character redemption of sorts. Cage does pathos rather well and his brow one of the better furrowed ones in the business. He is an awaked physical shape on screen with his gentle hunch and slightly odd he is a leading man but as ever with Italian Americans it’s all in the eyes. His real name is Nicholas Kim Copolla. He is nephew to Francis Copolla and a family of film people and so always going to be a movie star. I like him though and although he gets panned for his film choices he is magnetic on screen and is here. He just comes across more like one of us than a movie star.
Now Blockbusters has closed down on the highstreet no one really knew about this film and so it tanked on pay per view and the flicks. With three brash superhero films, a couple of romcoms and a big name cop caper raging on the other screens in your local multiplex it’s hard to get people through the doors of cinema seven to watch a low budget moody indie. Its $4m budget trickled back $2.36m for what is one of Cages better movies. To me this feels like a prelude to something better for Cage and maybe h quite fancy a second Oscar one day to join the ‘Mcconaughonsance’.
Imdb.com – 6.9/10.0 (37,980votes)
Rottentomatos.com – 87% critic’s approval
Metacritic.com – % critic’s approval
-Behind the Scenes-
The Sun –‘Nicolas Cage, in 2014, gave about 15 horrible performances and one great one’.
Sight & Sound –‘There is a pleasing synchronicity between Joe's attempts to stem his temper and the effort made by Cage to keep his own actorly excesses in check’.
Financial Times –‘The plot griddles its right-on themes. Deforestation; social deprivation; child abuse; alcohol abuse . . . It's a long menu and the food isn't any good’.
The Seattle Tribune –‘The way director David Gordon Green uses Cage, and the way the actor modulates the performance, seems a quiet commentary on who he's become onscreen, and how to draw upon it’.
The Independent –‘Green specialises in a soulful naturalism, and Joe contrasts moments of Malick-style lyricism with scenes of extreme brutality’.
EFilm Critic –‘A real movie, for grown-ups, fighting for table scraps in a marketplace dominated by spider-men and x-persons.
The Guardian –‘Joe is a gripping drama with a powerful moral core, that has sympathy for those trying to make their way alone through the world, but doesn't give them much of a chance’.
.Empire Magazine –‘An understated Nicolas Cage - there's a phrase you don't get to write too often these days - anchors a superbly realised film, which, like its eponymous hero, has a brittle outer shell concealing a surprisingly warm heart’.
The front entrance of the Lighthouse is just off the top end of Union Street, on Shiprow. Unlike UGC there isn't any parking, but it's conveniently so near our bus routes that we don't need cars. (Score one for the enviroment.) It's where ABC used to be; only it's better. Like the Odeon, which sadly closed down this year, queue time for tickets is usually very short. Also like the Odeon, ID isn't an issue. The guy at the desk mistook us for students (can he see into the future?) so we all got in for £3 each - a saving of over £12 collectively. The girl in charge of checking tickets didn't question our right to study, so we didn't need our non-existant student cards. (Score one for us.) There are tables and chairs near the entrance with leaflets detailing film times, and flat screens on the walls showing trailers for old movies. If you're waiting for a friend (or plural friends) then feel free to take a seat. Nearby is the place where food is sold - popcorn anyone? It's about £3 a tub. Near that is a wide corridor. You have to get past this to get to the screens, so this is where they check your tickets. They point you in the direction of the film you're going to see - upstairs - downstairs - and you toddle off to find your screen. (There are about 7 in total.) Since no one checks up on you beyond this point, you could theoretically buy a ticket for one film and decide to pop into the screen next door instead. We toddled off upstairs to see Shrek (for R., it was her 4th time...) because the showing of Moulin Rouge had been cancelled. (It *was* advertised outside, but the guy at the desk decided that was wrong. He actually wasn't sure, so M.R. *could* have been on and he just wasn't selling tickets for it... False advertising, or what? But for £3 we didn't mind...) Anyway. We like the Lighthouse. We get in as students, we pick our own seats (which are comfy) a
nd the back entrance leads out into Union Street where we can go and buy things. At the moment, the Lighthouse is showing: A.I., The Fast And The Furious, Moulin Rouge, Scary Movie 2, A Knight's Tale, Planet Of The Apes, Rush Hour 2, Cats And Dogs, Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles, Dr Dolittle 2 and of course Shrek. You can book online, over the phone (0845 60 20 266) or do what we do - drop in randomly. That's the advantage of it being in a central location - no planning required. The only other cinema in the area that hasn't shut down in the Belmont. But that's a different story...
The Lighthouse cinema is the newest cinema to open up in Aberdeen and boy did we need it! Even though Aberdeen is a large city, the choice of cinemas has always been a bit poor. When I first moved here 5 years ago, Aberdeen didn't even have a multiplex. Two years later one eventually arrived down by the beach. However, this wasn't the most accessible place as buses were poor and you really needed a car to get to it. There were also two cinemas in town but one shut down due to the competition from the multiplex. The other cinema struggled to survive as it was situated towards the outskirts of town with no parking. It was much easier for people to drive to the multiplex where they could go for a meal or a drink before or after the film. However, last year some brave people decided to revamp and reopen the cinema that had closed down. This was an excellent idea in my opinion as it had a fantastic setting. The Lighthouse cinema is set just off Union Street which is the main shopping street in Aberdeen. It is so easy to pop into the cinema as it is not out of your way and it is near lots of pubs so you can have a drink before or after the film. The cinema only opened about 3 weeks ago but I was extremely curious to see what it was like! They have done a fantastic job in refurbishing the place. They have added more screens (7 in all) so it now has the same choice of films as the multiplex and is well laid out. The entrance is quite impressive and puts you in the mood to see a film. It has little sparkly lights all over to give it that "Hollywood" feel and the door was opened for us by a man who looked as though he also acted as a bouncer. I've thought for a long time that there should be bouncers in cinemas but that's another story! The first thing that hits you when you walk in is the sense of space. There is load of room to meet friends, pick up tickets and generally hang about until your film
starts. You don't need to buy your tickets here - you can either book them over the phone (0845 60 20 266) or you will eventually be able to book them over the internet (whenit gets online!) on the cinemas web site (www.lighthouse-cinema.com). I'm sure that lots of the women out there will agree with me when I say that they have placed a site of major temptation in the foyer. They have a Haagen Dazs ice-cream bar. I couldn't look at it for fear of succumbing to temptation but I know that there were quite a few flavours on offer! For those of us without such a sweet tooth there is also a very long counter where you can buy popcorn, juice, hotdogs, nachos and bags of sweets. This counter is really well staffed so you shouldn't have to wait long to get served. Moving onto the actual theatre I was very impressed. The seats are big and don't flip up which is lovely for those of us with short legs. For those taller people, there is plenty of legroom so you don't have to sit with your knees up at your chin. One great idea is the double armrests so you don't have to fight with your neighbour for control of the rest; there's enough room to share. The screen in our theatre was huge and is certainly the largest screen I've seen outside an IMAX theatre. I'm not sure if all the screens in the cinema are of such a large size but they do boast about the size of their screens! The sound quality was wonderful, as you would expect for such a large cinema with noises scaring you from behind to keep you on your toes. One of the most important factors in going to the cinema is price. When you are a family of four it can prove to be an expensive evening out. The prices for the Lighthouse are fairly standard. The prices are as follows - Adult - £5.50 Children (14 years & under) - £3.75 Senior citizens - £4 Students - £4 Family (inc. at least 2 kids) - £15 Not too bad for a family I suppose
but when you add on the price of all those sweets and drinks! If you are rich or just feel like splashing out for that special film, you can get Premier tickets. Premier tickets include the movie, your first choice from selected bar items (choose from alcoholic drink, soft drink or hot/cold snack) and seats in a specially designated area of the cinema. This area is situated up the back where there are tables for your drinks and snacks and wine coolers (!) built into the extra wide luxury seating. Not bad I suppose but I don't think I'd be willing to pay £10.50 (Fri-Sun) or £9.50 (Mon - Thur) for the privilege! Overall I was impressed by the new cinema apart from the fact that they only had two ladies cubicles in the toilets (unless there were others that I never found!). I will definitely be going back, as it is so easy to get to and is as good as the larger chain multiplex cinemas.