Saw SNAKE EYES tonight.... don't know how to feel about it though. I have this cold clammy feeling like ya get when somebody joyfully comes up and tells you someone is dead, and you don't know who they are talking about or why they told you, but you can tell you're supposed to be happy about it, but you ain't. SNAKE EYES left me in this state. Here's the set up as usual.
Pulled a real early morninger, doing some debugging chores, fixing some stuff, answering tech questions and updating the site, so when I went to bed at 10am this morning, I was not real sure when I would wake up. So when Dad got me off my ass at 3:30pm, I found myself in a struggle to return calls, read emails and go grab some supper before attempting to see SNAKE EYES.
In other words today was short, rushed and not alot was accomplished. One of them days where ya just don't see a progressive arc to your life. But hey, whatever, there was a DePalma flick showing and I had to get in. Ya see I didn't have tickets, so I had to work the line like the fat ticket whore that I was. There's a fine art to this practice, you look for odd numbers. People in groups of 1, 3, 5, 7, etc. This means they have a spare tire that you can ride in on. I was searching for Daddio too. Finally I found a geek with a heart of celluloid, he was wearing an X-Files shirt (which meant conversing wouldn't be a problem) and sure enough he let me pick up his spare. He recognized me as being a movie poster and collectible seller, while the group ahead of him recognized me from one of those TV shows I did. They fired off questions and I answered, but I couldn't wait to geek out with the X-Files T-Shirt Wearing dude. We began talking DePalma. His fave being BLOW OUT, mine being PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE. Later two other geeks cried out SCARFACE, and another said THE UNTOUCHABLES. We all agreed the adolescent in us worshipped the hot body double for Angie Dickinson in that kickass shower scene in DRESSED TO KILL, and the oh so hot masturbatory dance from BODY DOUBLE. I even found a defender of RAISING CAIN, an excretable log of regurgitated celluloid. The audience had it's fair share of DePalma fans, so we should have a good audience. Copernicus shows up to scam a ticket, and like the excellent observer that he is, he managed to score a whole pass for him and Father Geek. Good enough.
Next we watched as the special V.I.P. seated people got in early, evil people, then we filed in. We were sitting for about 10 minutes when the manager and the rep for the studio came out to announce that due to bad weather, the print of the film was delayed in it's flight from Dallas to Austin, and that if we waited around for another 45 minutes, we 'may' see the film. Otherwise we could go out of the theater, getting a pass with a special mark, allowing us to see the film tomorrow night. Fuck that, we're here.
So we spent another 45 minutes talking about DePalma, Carpenter, Ridley Scott, Tony Scott, Oliver Stone, Coppola, Malick, etc. A frenzy of filmic references ensued until finally the lights dimmed and SNAKE EYES began.
Well, I love Brian DePalma, and I love Nicholas Cage, but this movie has left me in a strange fucked up in-between state. With a complete uncertainty of how I feel about this. Ultimately it's like this...
The movie has some wonderful technical things. The opening tracking shot, the overhead hotel room to hotel room shot, and when looking at this I get a feeling that DePalma was right smack dab in a 'craftsman' state of mind. However, I think there are some fundamentaly screwed up things with this one.
I have always hated it when we knew there was a bad guy, but we didn't know who, but the filmmaker decides to reveal that to us too early. Thereby stealing the mystery. Taking away the suspense. I am well aware of the Hitchcock rule, the one about showing two people eating at a picnic table, while we the audience sees the bomb ticking away beneath the table. Each second becomes more and more unbearable, till finally with 7 seconds the lady chips her tooth on a nut, leaves the table and as she gets 20 feet away the bomb goes off killing her boyfriend, spouse, son, whatever.
But ya know what, the bad guy in this flick is not a ticking bomb, he's more like a llama that goes nuts for a bit. He doesn't scare me. And as for the people sitting at the table, well I don't really care about them either. Everything is so morally ambiguous here, that I don't really care about anyone besides this one babe. Cage is so over the top and bigger than life that I can't believe how screwed up he is.
Now at the same time there are some issues dealt with here that I just love dealing with. Let's talk about betrayl. I just love betrayl. I'm not talking about the sort of betrayl like ya coming home and finding your wife bonking your big brother, I'm talking about something entirely different. I'm talking about dealing with the betrayl of your personal heroes, the ones you look up to. Often times this is the case with kids from divorced families, when they feel their parents have let them down, betrayed that idyllic life that they dreamed of. Or perhaps you could look at this whole thing as a parable for the presidency. A position that has always meant holding above what we as individuals are. The general concept of the presidency and whomever sits in that seat is to be better than we the common people. To be better, to raise above the 'common' or 'baser' natures of man, and to truly be the pinnacle of humanity. Well in the last 26 years that's all gone to hell. Now we look upon the people that sit in the 'highest office in the land' as flawed humans. With the same desires, fetishes, greed and flaws we all have. And if our heroes are no better than we, then what are we to do? In this film the answer comes. That's what Nick Cage has to deal with.
When all the heroes are gone, when the world has turned dark, and you realize that they who the world idolizes are baser than you, what do you become. Do you stay the same, or do you become better. When I discovered my mother was an alcoholic, I became better, I refused to become who she became. We see faults all about us, but when we realize these faults exist, what do we do. I love these sorts of things in films. Items of morality that we must face. Because ultimately a lot of what I believe is right and wrong I took from film. And it still challenges me.
That's why this film upsets me so. It has things I love, and things I hate. And in all the film leaves me empty and icky, with only my over-analyzation to save me. One thing is sure, DePalma is a great 'craftsman' but he needs to make sure that style serves the story, not the other way around. The story is paramount, and the film needs to be anchored a bit. The epilogue is terrible, some of Nick Cage's stuff is terrible, and please oh please make your bad guy not so bad guy looking. This is the sort of thing where I would have loved to have seen a regular hero type (Mel Gibson, Tom Hanks, Harrison Ford) play the 'bad guy' cause we really need to be caught completely unawares. Oh well....