The Runner

It may not surprise you to learn, given how much of it he’s received over the years, that Nicolas Cage has some thoughts on the state of modern film criticism. Specifically, the Oscar-winning actor would like people to know that he thinks critics should evaluate a performer’s work based on what they put on the screen, instead of on trivial details like how many castles they’ve bought or how often they’ve given a child the name of a prominent Kryptonian:

I think that there was a period in film commentary where it was like the gold standard—I would cite someone like Pauline Kael or Roger Ebert or Paul Schrader—where they were really determining based on the work itself, the film itself, the performance itself. And now, with the advent of this kind of TMZ culture, it sadly seems to have infiltrated the vanguard of film commentary. I see these reviews sometimes where I think, well, you have a right to say whatever you want about my work, and I will listen whether it’s good or bad and see if there’s something that I might work with, but personal issues don’t have a place in film commentary.

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The actor expressed those thoughts in a conversation with Time, in the course of a discussion about his recently released political drama The Runner. Cage says he intended the film, about a crusading politician brought down when the media finds out about his personal failings, to hold a mirror up to society’s willingness to focus on good men’s faults—whether those faults take the form of a sex scandal, or a run of like five movies about grizzled, daughter-rescuing revenge seekers in a two-year span.

Cage didn’t just hold forth on film criticism, though, but on the wider field of Cageology as a whole. Among other statements about his long career, the actor confirmed what we’ve all been suspecting for years: That weird Nic Cage movies are what happens when you let bored Nic Cages roam free. “When I started experimenting with fantasy and horror films and looking for characters who had some sort of emotional or mental difficulty, I saw opportunities to express my music—dare I say art—in a way that I could get a bit surreal,” the actor said, before implicitly comparing his Drive Angry performance as an undead vigilante who drinks beer out of his enemy’s skulls to Edvard Munch’s “The Scream.”

Boredom or not, though, Cage says he doesn’t regret a single one of his roles. “They’re all my children,” he said, with a paternal gleam a parent can only have when thinking back fondly on The Croods. Still, just because Cage is the proud papa of the animated Astro Boy movie, it doesn’t mean he doesn’t still possess the same human emotions as the rest of us. That was confirmed when he responded to a question about his favorite roles with Leaving Las Vegas, Bad Lieutenant: Port Of Call New Orleans, and Vampire’s Kiss, just like anybody else.

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