The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent

4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 6/21/22;
Lionsgate;
Comedy;
Box Office $20.3 million;
$29.96 DVD, $39.99 Blu-ray, $42.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘R’ for language throughout, some sexual references, drug use and violence.
Stars Nicolas Cage, Pedro Pascal, Tiffany Haddish, Sharon Horgan, Paco León, Neil Patrick Harris, Lily Sheen, Alessandra Mastronardi, Ike Barinholtz.

All hail Nicolas Cage.

Throughout a four-decade career, the iconic movie star has accumulated an enduring list of memorable roles by stamping each character with his unique blend of quirky charm and searing intensity, be it in comedy, drama or action.

In The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, Cage takes on the role he was born to play — himself.

The hugely entertaining film provides a meta commentary on Cage’s career, telling the story of an aging star, haunted by his past successes, who finds himself creatively refueled by the unlikeliest of circumstances.

As Cage proclaims several times in the film, “I’m back. Not that I went anywhere.”

The premise flows primarily from Cage’s public perception the past few years, taking on countless direct-to-video projects to pay off some financial hardships, while his more-eccentric performances became the stuff of meme legend.

Cage himself was unsurprisingly wary of the project, as he notes in the film’s behind-the-scenes materials, until he realized how much fun it could be to portray the younger embodiment of his self-image.

The film finds Cage playing a fictionalized version of himself, vowing to quit Hollywood after losing out on another role he really wanted, and failing to gain the respect of his teenage daughter (one of the main deviations from reality, as real-life Cage has two sons). Cage frequently has visions of his younger self, Nicky (also played by Cage with some de-aging CGI based on his Wild at Heart days), who taunts him for his failures.

Desperate for cash, he accepts a personal appearance gig for $1 million to hang out at a villa in Majorca for a billionaire’s birthday party.

Cage discovers his new patron, Javi (Pedro Pascal) is a huge fan, and the pair grow closer through a shared love of cinema. But it turns out the CIA suspects Javi of being the mastermind of a huge international criminal enterprise, and they recruit Cage with the hopes of using the actor to learn the whereabouts of the kidnapped daughter of a Catalan presidential candidate.

To learn the details, Cage proposes working with Javi on a new screenplay, and at this point Unbearable Weight’s fourth walls all but fold in on themselves as the film channels some of Cage’s quintessential movies and morphs through a variety of genres.

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The Blu-ray includes two deleted scenes that total about five minutes. The first is a bit of fluff about Javi’s Wifi password. But the second is practically its a short film of its own — a four-minute battle between Cage and Nicky through several Cage films re-created in the style of the 1920 German expressionist film The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, which is mentioned throughout the film by Cage as one of his favorite films.

The deleted scenes are available with optional commentary by writer-director Tom Gormican and co-writer Kevin Etten. The pair also provide an informative commentary track for the movie as a whole, usually alternating between stories of Cage’s contributions to the story and how COVID protocols affected the production schedule.

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The Blu-ray also offers about a half-hour of behind-the-scenes featurettes. The seven-minute “The Mind” delves into the creative process behind the film; the four-and-a-half-minute “Everybody Needs a Javi” spotlights the creation of Pascal’s character; the seven-minute “Second-Act Action” looks at the film’s action sequences in its latter half; the four-and-a-half-minute “Nick, Nicky and Sergio” deals with Cage portraying three versions of himself, while the five-minute “Glimmers of a Bygone Cage” shows some of the visual effects and film techniques used to create Nicky.

On the humorous side, “Cages 5 and Up” is a two-minute reel of a bunch of kids “auditioning” to play Nic Cage.

Finally, the Blu-ray offers a 16-minute clip from a Q&A of the cast and filmmakers at the SXSW Film Festival, though the discussion mostly veers into feting Cage.

Cage Film ‘The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent’ Due on Digital June 7, Disc June 21

The comedy The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent arrives on digital June 7 and on 4K Ultra HD combo pack (plus Blu-ray and digital), Blu-ray combo pack (plus DVD and digital), DVD and on demand June 21 from Lionsgate.

Starring as himself is Nicolas Cage (Best Actor, Leaving Las Vegas, 1995; “National Treasure” franchise, Gone in 60 Seconds, The Rock). Creatively unfulfilled and facing financial ruin, the fictionalized version of Cage accepts a million-dollar offer to attend the birthday of a dangerous superfan (Pedro Pascal). Things take an unexpected turn when Cage is recruited by a CIA operative (Tiffany Haddish) and he must use his legendary acting skills, channeling his most iconic and beloved characters to become a real-life action hero.

Also starring are Sharon Horgan, Ike Barinholtz, Alessandra Mastronardi, Jacob Scipio and Neil Patrick Harris.

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Bonus features on 4K, Blu-ray and digital include deleted scenes (with optional audio commentary by writer-director Tom Gormican and writer-executive producer Kevin Etten); several featurettes; a SXSW Film Festival Q&A; and audio commentary by Gormican and Etten.

Special features on DVD include the deleted scenes; the SXSW Film Festival Q&A; and the audio commentary.

‘The Northman’ Among Trilogy of New Releases at the Domestic Weekend Box Office

In the typical lull before the opening of what is expected to be a monstrous blockbuster, Disney’s May 6 release of Marvel Studios’ Doctor Strange in the Multiverse, three niche films are battling it out at the North American box office this weekend.

The showdown is something of a test to see whether smaller films can still draw audiences to theaters, amid lingering hesitancy from the COVID-19 pandemic and the proliferation of new movies on streaming services.

The Northman, a Viking epic from Focus Features and New Regency Pictures, stars Nicole Kidman, Anya Taylor-Joy, Ethan Hawke, Björk, and Willem Dafoe, and was directed by Robert Eggers, who previously won praise for the horror films The Witch (2015) and Lighthouse (2019). The Northman has already been hailed for its production values — not surprising, given its estimated budget of up to $90 million — and enjoys an 88% aggregate score on Rotten Tomatoes as of Friday (April 22) morning. The film also earned just under $1.4 million in Thursday night previews, more than the two other new releases, Dreamworks Animation’s Bad Guys (just under $1.2 million) and the latest Nicolas Cage film, The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent ($835,000), from Lionsgate.

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Bad Guys is an animated family film with a Rotten Tomatoes score of 86%. The film marks the directorial debut of Pierre Perifel and is based on the children’s book series of the same name by Aaron Blabey. The voice cast includes Sam Rockwell, Marc Maron, and Anthony Ramos. Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Times hailed Bad Guys as “a great-looking film with terrific performances, some lovely messaging and a steady parade of solid laughs — some the kids will enjoy and just as many targeted squarely at the grown-up kids in the audience.”

And The Unbreakable Weight of Massive Talent is a satire with a Rotten Tomatoes score of 89%. Cage plays a fictional version of himself, who has to accept a $1 million offer to attend a not-quite-right superfan’s birthday party. To make things worse, he’s recruited by a CIA operative (played by Tiffany Haddish) and is forced to channel his own iconic characters to save the proverbial day.

All three films are projected to finish behind two big-budget, high-profile holdovers: Warner Bros. Pictures’ Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, the third installment in the “Harry Potter” spinoff franchise, which opened to $43 million over the Easter weekend, and Paramount Pictures’ Sonic the Hedgehog 2, which generated $30 million its sophomore weekend. The film’s total domestic take, according to Box Office Mojo, is nearly $129 million.

Pig

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Decal;
Drama;
Box Office $3.19 million;
$17.99 DVD, $19.99 Blu-ray;
Rated ‘R’ for language and some violence.

Stars Nicolas Cage, Alex Wolff, Adam Arkin.

A smoldering Nicolas Cage performance highlights this mesmerizing tale of a man’s quest to recover his beloved pet pig, which he uses to make a living digging up and selling truffles.

Cage plays a former gourmet chef who has turned to a life of seclusion in the woods of Oregon. He makes a living using his pig to sniff out truffles, which he sells to Amir (Alex Wolff). However, one day he is attacked and the pig is stolen, leaving him desperate to find her.

With Amir’s help, he returns to Portland to reconnect with the network of contacts he thought he left behind, seeking clues to the whereabouts of his beloved pig.

Cage’s quiet, seething intensity in the role and the way the plot uses a pet to drive the main character’s motivation would at first blush seem to set the movie up to be a sort of “John Wick with a pig” type of movie. But that’s not what it ends up being. The film is more of a dramatic meditation on the nature of loss, the pitfalls of the culinary world, and finding purpose in even the simplest aspects of life.

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The Blu-ray offers a few interesting bonus materials, including two cooking segments with Cage that run about 20 minutes each. Seeing Cage’s fascination with the culinary techniques is almost worth picking up the Blu-ray on its own.

There are also three superfluous deleted scenes that run seven minutes in total.

Nicolas Cage Film ‘Pig’ Due on DVD and Blu-ray Nov. 2

The Nicolas Cage starrer Pig will come out on DVD and Blu-ray Nov. 2 from Distribution Solutions, a division of Alliance Entertainment.

In the film from Decal and Neon, Cage (National Treasure, Mandy, Gone in 60 Seconds) stars as a truffle hunter who lives alone in the Oregonian wilderness who must return to his past in Portland in search of his beloved foraging pig after she is kidnapped.

This thriller also stars Alex Wolff (Jumanji: The Next Level, Patriots Day, Hereditary), Adam Arkin (“Northern Exposure,” “Chicago Hope,” Halloween H20: 20 Years Later), and is directed by Michael Sarnoski.

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Bonus content on DVD and Blu-ray include “Nicolas Cage Cooks,” which follows the actor as he learns to cook two dishes from renowned chefs in preparation for the film, as well as deleted scenes.

Nicolas Cage Drama ‘Pig’ Hitting PVOD Aug. 3

The Nicolas Cage starrer Pig will be available for PVOD rental and sale Aug. 3.

In the dramatic thriller from Neon Films, Cage plays a truffle hunter who lives alone in the Oregon wilderness. He must return to his past in Portland after his beloved foraging pig is kidnapped.

The film, directed by Michael Sarnoski, also stars Alex Wolff and Adam Arkin. Released in theaters July 16, Pig has earned $2.6 million at the box office.

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Nicolas Cage Movie ‘Willy’s Wonderland’ on Disc April 13

Screen Media will release the comedic horror actioner Willy’s Wonderland on Blu-ray Disc and DVD April 13.

Nicolas Cage stars as a quiet loner who finds himself stranded in a remote town when his car breaks down. Unable to pay for the repairs he needs, he agrees to spend the night cleaning Willy’s Wonderland, an abandoned family fun center. He soon discovers the Wonderland’s dark secret when he’s trapped inside and forced to battle the possessed animatronic mascots that roam the halls.

The cast also includes Emily Tosta, Beth Grant, Ric Reitz and Chris Warner.

The film made about $400,000 in a limited theatrical release in February, when it was available simultaneously through VOD.

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Nicolas Cage Actioner ‘Jiu Jitsu’ Due on DVD Dec. 22 From Paramount

The Nicolas Cage actioner Jiu Jitsu will come out on DVD Dec. 22 from Paramount Home Entertainment.

The title is available now on VOD and digital and in select theaters.

The sci-fi actioner follows an ancient order of Jiu Jitsu fighters who face a vicious race of alien invaders in an epic battle for the survival of Earth. The film also stars Alain Moussi, Frank Grillo, Rick Yune, Marie Avgeropoulos, Juju Chan and Tony Jaa.

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Like, ‘Valley Girl’ Bows on Disc Oct. 6

Valley Girl, a musical romantic comedy adaptation of the 1983 film, arrives on Blu-ray and DVD from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment and MGM Oct. 6.

From MGM’s Orion Pictures and directed by Rachel Lee Goldenberg, the film stars Jessica Rothe (Happy Death Day, La La Land) as Julie Richman, Josh Whitehouse (The Knight Before Christmas) as Randy, Mae Whitman (The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World) as Jack, and Judy Greer (13 Going on 30, Ant-Man, 27 Dresses) as Diana.

Set to a new wave ’80s soundtrack, the film follows a pair of young lovers from different backgrounds defy their parents and friends to stay together.

The 1983 classic, directed by Martha Coolidge, starred Nicolas Cage and Deborah Foreman.

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‘Moonstruck,’ Girlfriends’ ‘Ghost Dog’ Getting Criterion Re-releases in November

The Criterion Collection in November will release new Blu-ray and DVD editions of catalog titles Moonstruck, Girlfriends and Ghost Dog.

Arriving Nov. 10 on Blu-ray and DVD is the 1978 comedy Girlfriends from director Claudia Weill. Melanie Mayron stars as a struggling artist who considers a fling with a married, older rabbi (Eli Wallach).

The film comes with a new, restored 4K digital transfer supervised by Weill and director of photography Fred Murphy, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray. Extras include new interviews with Weill, Mayron, actors Christopher Guest and Bob Balaban, screenwriter Vicki Polon; Joyce at 34, a 1972 short film by Weill and Joyce Chopra; Commuters, a 1973 short film by Weill; the film’s trailer; and essays by critic Molly Haskell and scholar Carol Gilligan.

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The new Moonstruck Blu-ray and DVD editions arrive Nov. 17 with a new 4K digital restoration, and a 5.1 surround DTS-HD master audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray.

The film stars Cher in an Oscar-winning role as Loretta, an unlucky-in-love bookkeeper whose feelings about her engagement to the staid Johnny (Danny Aiello) are thrown into question after she meets his hot-blooded brother, Ronny (Nicolas Cage). The film also won Academy Awards for Best Supporting Actress for Olympia Dukakis), and Best Original Screenplay for playwright John Patrick Shanley.

Extras include a new interview with Shanley; a new interview with scholar Stefano Albertini about the use of opera in the film; an introduction from 2013 featuring Cher; interviews from 1987 with director Norman Jewison and actors Cher, Nicolas Cage, Vincent Gardenia and Olympia Dukakis; an interview from 2002 with actor Danny Aiello; an audio interview from 1989 with Shanley about screenwriting and the development of Moonstruck; “At the Heart of an Italian Family,” a 2006 program about the making of the film; “The Music of Moonstruck,” a 2006 program featuring interviews with Jewison and composer Dick Hyman; audio commentary from 1998 with Cher, Jewison and Shanley; the film’s trailer; and an essay by critic Emily VanDerWerff.

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Also due Nov. 17 on Blu-ray and DVD, 1999’s Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai, directed by Jim Jarmusch, stars Forest Whitaker as a Zen contract killer working for a bumbling mob outfit, a modern man who adheres steadfastly to the ideals of the Japanese warrior code even as chaos and violence spiral around him.

The film comes with a restored 4K digital transfer supervised and approved by Jarmusch, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray, as well as an alternate isolated stereo music track. Extras include a new Q&A with Jarmusch, in which he responds to questions sent in by fans; new conversation between actors Forest Whitaker and Isaach De Bankolé, moderated by film scholar Michael B. Gillespie; a new interview with casting director Ellen Lewis; a new interview with Shifu Shi Yan Ming, founder of the USA Shaolin Temple; a new video essay on RZA’s original score for the film; deleted scenes and outtakes; archival itnerviews; “The Odyssey: A Journey into the Life of a Samurai,” a 2000 program on the making of the film; the film’s trailer; and an essay by critic Greg Tate and quotations from Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai, by the early-18th century monk Yamamoto Tsunetomo.