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Uncaged - Racing with the Moon (1984) & The Cotton Club (1984)

This year, I am going to try to get through the whole oeuvre of Nicolas Cage because my fascination with this man and his contradictions is endless. God help me.

Racing with the Moon (1984)

It’s difficult to reconcile modern Sean Penn and Nicolas Cage with their young, boisterous men that they are here, but I found this coming-of-age film, set weeks before both will be shipped out to fight in World War II, quite affecting. While the romance especially between Sean Penn’s character and Elizabeth McGovern’s is quite sweet, the best part is the bromance between these actors. They both have the same, nervous energy that makes them seem like coiled-up piles of nerves, but Penn is more intense and brooding while Cage is more over-the-top and flamboyant. In fact, one could say that both of these men would play variations of these personalities for the rest of their careers. Also, this is notable for being the first filmed script of Steve Kloves of Fabulous Baker Boys and Harry Potter fame, and his gift for making memorable characters is apparent even at the beginning of his career.

Best Cage Moment: When he is demanding that an eagle be tattooed across his chest while extremely drunk, of course.

The Cotton Club (1984)

There was so much talent attached to this movie that it seemed like it would have a longer shelf life. As of now, it’s not widely available on streaming and has never gotten more than an early DVD release. The Cotton Club is about the famous nightclub of that name in Harlem that featured the most popular Black entertainers of the time, yet the club would not allow Black people to patronize the place ‘cause, you know, racism. It was directed by Francis Ford Coppola with a script by Mario Puzo (of Godfather fame) and looked like such a surefire Oscar prestige picture. After watching this movie though, I understand why it’s fallen by the wayside. The movie drags and is so enraptured with its period look that it forget to tell a really compelling story. It feels more like a live stream of watching gorgeous people in 1920’s period dress, which is occasionally punctuated by graphic violence and some legitimately great performances from Gregory Hines and the other talented Black cast, playing famous entertainers like Cab Calloway and Duke Ellington. Also, not too much of a Cage quotient here, as he plays a thug enforcer for the main gangster in the movie.

 

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