City of Angels

After a lovely sojourn at the cottage, Sean and I came home to no internet. No internet! So after a nice vacation of living off the grid by choice, we are immediately and understandably enraged that we are now forced to continue doing so IN OUR OWN HOME. And guess what: the Bell guy (internet provider) says they can’t fix it until September. SEPTEMBER. Which is not this evening. It’s next month! Which is a long way of saying there’s a reason there’s been a dearth of reviews on the site lately, and that some of the past reviews were random cottage finds (see: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) and many of the future ones will be pulled off the dusty shelves of our DVD collection, which has been housed in the garage ever since DVDs became obsolete. And yet here we are, watching movies like “a homeless person” (I’m quoting myself here, in a moment of admitted hyperbole).

Anyway, there we were on a Saturday night, which is to say, a Sunday morning, watching The Big Lebowski. And no, you’re not having a stroke. That’s not the same title as the one up top. We were maybe 90 seconds into the film when Los Angeles is referred to as the City of Angels. That’s not endemic to The Big Lebowski, it’s a pretty common if misleading nickname for L.A. but at any rate, it DID remind of the 1998 romantic classic City of Angels (I know, not a big leap) and as soon as I learned that Sean never saw it (clearly he was terminally single in 1998), I insisted that Sean go out to the garage to find a copy of the movie I was 36% sure I owned and 98% sure I hadn’t seen this century.

And here’s how that panned out.

First I am shocked to recognize Captain Raymond Holt (Andre Braugher). Actually, it took me a while to convince myself I was actually recognizing him – it looked like him, sorta. A younger him to be sure, but really the problem is that Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s Capt. Holt is the world’s most deadpan character AND HE NEVER BREAKS. I’ve never seen his face express emotion before. I’ve never seen his lips do that slight curling upwards thing known as a smile. Even his voice was different; Capt. Holt is serious, and monotone. Braugher is my favourite part of the show, and he has transformed himself so wholly for the role that I could barely recognize him even though this film does nothing to obscure his identity. Watch carefully and you’ll also see a brief cameo from Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman), so all your TV idols really did start off in a Nicolas Cage movie. Just kidding. That’s not a saying. Gross.

I’m actually very surprised that there’s a 1998 version of me that liked this movie. I was young, but was I really that dumb? I pretty much loathe Nicolas Cage and it’s hard to imagine that there was a time that I did not. And this movie gives you LOTS of reason to hate him. Dear god.

Nicolas Cage plays an angel, in a city that is chock-full of them. They creepily hover around people in order to better swoop them away at time of death. Seth (Cage) is doing exactly that, and exactly as creepily, during a man’s heart surgery. His surgeon, Maggie (Meg Ryan), loses him on the table, and unaccustomed to loss, she starts to fall apart. Seth starts to fall in love. Usually invisible to the living, he’s convinced she somehow saw him as he lurked about her operating room. And so he makes it so: he appears to her, and compels her to fall in love with him, and just when it starts to feel crazy for a human who saves lives and the angel of death to be in a romantic relationship, he becomes human for her. He takes the fall from grace.

I remember being a kid in full meltdown mode for like HOURS after this movie. HOURS. Oh the hormones pumping through my little body.

This time I just can’t get past Nic Cage’s cadaverous skulking about. I feel insulted on Meg Ryan’s behalf. Cage is in no way suitable for a romantic role. Deranged psychopath? Sure. I buy that. I still don’t like him. I still think he’s a terrible actor. But I’d buy it. Here? Not for a second. I keep wanting to yell at Meg Ryan that there’s a vampire waiting to eat her face! And frankly, when they kiss, I can’t help but feel like my suspicions are confirmed.

Even though my eyes were extra extra dry at the end of the film this time around, I still had to explain the ending to Sean, who is a robot. He doesn’t get stuff about love and sacrifice and forever. Sean’s review would consist solely of a shrug. Mine is likely far more hostile. This thing just isn’t holding up.

21 thoughts on “City of Angels

  1. bessclef

    I guess this is why I connected more to Wim Wenders’ Wings of Desire. Wings is definitely way more poetic. But, not gonna lie, I felt the feelies when I watched City of Angels for the first time.

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  2. observationblogger

    I thought Cage was excellent in Moonstruck, Leaving Las Vegas, Adaptation and Mandy. Most of his other performances leave a lot to be desired. Still he has one more best actor Oscar than I do so it’s hard to be too critical.

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  3. Orca Flotta

    Mostest boringest flick I’ve ever seen. Never again shall that thing happen upon me ever again. 😦 Thank you Jay for taking one for the team. 😉

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  4. Liz A.

    I did go to the theater to see this one. (At the time I didn’t have HBO et al, so if I wanted to see a movie, I went in the theatrical run. By myself. I never felt compelled to buy the DVD, though.) The ending ticked me off, but I wasn’t terribly shocked. It was kind of obvious, if you think about it. (Plot wise, anyway.)

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  5. selizabryangmailcom

    Time heals all wounds…and changes rose-colored glasses to extremely crystal clear
    sometimes where movies and books (and lots of other things) are concerned.
    We used to sort of love Wild at Heart back in the day. Started watching it a few years ago and couldn’t get past the first 20 minutes, lol !!

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    1. Jay Post author

      Plus lots of things just aren’t aging well. It’s crazy to look back at something you loved once and not feel the same connection. The movie hasn’t changed, but we have!

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  6. Birgit

    I thought you were giving a review of this new flick with Gerard Butler and you talk about this flick that I tried to watch but seeing Cage as someone romantic made me throw up in my mouth a little. The one thing I do like is the song by Alannis Morrisette. I might have spelled her name wrong..sorry:)

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    1. Jay Post author

      Yes, so much 90s music in there!!!

      Haha, yes, I think the Butler one is maybe Fallen Angel…something like that? I saw preview for it recently…
      And I am seriously impresssed with your Cage conclusion.

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    1. Jay Post author

      Oh my heart goes a flutter when someone says this! Two of my very best friends have been on the Cage wagon for years and try so hard to convert me. It’s a relief.

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  7. peggyatthemovies

    JAYSUS… September!!! I would lose my ever-loving mind. They tried 5 days on me once and I asked to speak to the dispatcher directly.. was a sweet as pie to her and she was sweet back and viola’ the guy was at my door at 9am and fixed in the outside box where someone had cut it of all things.. but their fault, because the thing is only opened by their people so.. maybe it could help for you.. But yes, we do refer to our lovely city as the City of Angels.. kinda funny no? I remember liking this movie back then.. but he was also still in my heart from Leaving Las Vegas and all the other great movies he did for about a decade.. don’t know how I would feel now. ha!

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  8. J.

    Ha! I love how overblown Cage can be… which I’m assuming is him not doing much acting. Anyhoo, this was one of those flicks I had to endure in another life cause it wasn’t my turn to pick the movie. And cause I was a wee bit curious about how Cage became this guy who was in movies that weren’t batshit crazy. Admittedly, this was pretty batshit crazy. Maybe if Cage played Cage this would have been a way more entertaining proposition. “I’m a fucking angel! Wooooooo!!!”

    Or something.

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