Around two minutes into Carter Burwell's arrangement of the banjo standard "Way Out There" (known to most of us as the theme from Raising Arizona), the melody, heretofore whistled and yodeled over wild and rambling little arpeggios, gives way to some familiar chords. Then, all of a sudden, someone's humming "Ode to Joy" — and your jaw drops, your chin scraping your sternum. The transition is seamless; the chords are the same. The first time I listened to this song the whole way though on good headphones, the humming made me float with insensible joy, but also with the same panic I felt when I first stared up at the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. It was a perfect, perfect moment.
These days, the same joy swells within me when I think about the star of Raising Arizona, Nic Cage. This should not be mistaken for schadenfreude, or the ironic happiness induced by thinking about Juggalos. This is Beethoven-caliber joy.
There are those who wish they were born in a different time. I spent my adolescence cursing the fact that I wasn't alive when Iggy smeared himself in peanut butter and rolled around on broken glass, or when Zelda jumped into a fountain with her flapper dress still on. How can anything come close to the Algonquin Round Table, to James Brown with Bootsy Collins, to Mark Twain on the Mississippi? Why bother trying?
Nic Cage does. He tries, and then he wins. His dogged pursuit of the sublime serves as inspiration to the rest of us whores. He proves definitively that it's great to be alive in 2010, transcending even the advantages of the Hollywood dynasty into which he was born. I refer you to Gwyneth Paltrow. Did she outbid Leonardo DiCaprio for a dinosaur skull? Does she own two islands? Two castles? Two albino cobras? An octopus? Does she even have one Lamborghini? No, no, no, no, no. And no.
Of course, it's not just about what Nic Cage owns; it's about what he does. Known for oscillating between great performances in small, good films and outlandishly sublime performances in big, bad films, Cage wins at acting. He also wins at YouTube: the montage of the greatest moments in the remake of The Wicker Man remains the best imaginable use of that medium ever.
He also wins at 2010.
So, without further ado, I offer you the Year in Cage.
Nic Cage excites LARPers the world over when the trailer is released for Season of the Witch. In it, he plays a crusader who must transport a witch accused of causing the Black Plague to a monastery. Is she really a witch? Will she and Cage's crusader do it in spite of the fact that his wig looks like it's made of asbestos fibers? Only time will tell.
LARPers everywhere gnash their teeth and rend their chainmail when Lionsgate postpones the release of Season of the Witch indefinitely. Cage announces he will star opposite Ryan Reynolds (a/k/a, the Lamppost Soon To Be Divorced from Scar-Jo) in CGI caveman flick TheCroods. Cage takes his toddler, Kal-El, to Disneyland.
Back in 2007, Cage leased two Rolls-Royces within a four-month period. He returned them to the dealer when he could no longer afford to make payments, but did not escape a lawsuit. This month, Cage settles out of court, because that is just how he Rolls.