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Critic Lets Loose with Rip-Roaring (Nicolas) Cage Match

There’s a wonderful essay in the February 2011 issue of GQ Magazine by Tom Carson. Titled “National Treasure”, it tackles the amorphous legacy of actor Nicolas Cage. Or, as the sub-headline more aptly puts it: “As Drive Angry arrives in theaters, the question must be asked: Can anything explain the lunatic career of Nicolas Cage?”

This is just flat out great writing. From the opening sentence referencing Xanax to the closing challenge of naming a truly boring Cage movie, Carson careens through the actor’s career at a gonzo pace in keeping with his manic subject’s on-screen demeanor. It’s tough to pick a favorite paragraph, as there are so many. But here’s one highlight:

Actors clutching a new Oscar acquire not only artistic clout but market value; the question is which bent they’ll indulge. Cage zeroed in on the second with a single-mindedness exceeded only by Denzel Washington‘s treatment of dumb thrillers as acting sinecures.

Carson peppers his appraisal with a variety of pitch perfect summations of Cage, everything from “the idiot savant of modern movies” to “the most musical actor around.” The critic’s only regret is that it is Daniel Day-Lewis rather than Cage ( a pair he compares to Paul Muni and Humphrey Bogart) who will be playing Honest Abe in the upcoming Steven Spielberg biopic.

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