Tag Archives: Tiffany Haddish

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent (2022) Review

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The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent

Time: 117 Minutes
Age Rating: 2773-o[1] Violence, offensive language, drug use & sexual references
Cast:
Nicolas Cage as Nick Cage/Little Nicky
Pedro Pascal as Javi Gutierrez
Sharon Horgan as Olivia Henson
Tiffany Haddish as Vivian Etten
Ike Barinholtz as Martin Etten
Alessandra Mastronardi as Gabriela
Jacob Scipio as Carlos
Neil Patrick Harris as Richard Fink
Lily Sheen as Addy Cage
Director: Tom Gormican

Unfulfilled and facing financial ruin, actor Nick Cage accepts a $1 million offer to attend a wealthy fan’s birthday party. Things take a wildly unexpected turn when a CIA operative recruits Cage for an unusual mission. Taking on the role of a lifetime, he soon finds himself channeling his most iconic and beloved characters to save himself and his loved ones.

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I was looking forward to The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent ever since it was announced. The prospect of Nicolas Cage playing himself was always going to have my attention, no matter how it turned out. I will admit that I was a little worried, despite the exciting premise, it sounded like it could easily fall into easy meta humour and Nick Cage throwbacks and nothing else. However, I was satisfied with the movie and really enjoyed it.

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With Nicolas Cage’s reputation and following, The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent could’ve easily been a mockery of him but its actually a love letter and genuinely respects him. There are plenty of references to him and his movies, even his more obscure films. It could’ve been a mess, but it was the right amount of meta.  Thankfully, it does try for more beyond its outlandish premise. While the plot is definitely very familiar and nothing special, it is surprisingly heartfelt, whether it is Cage and his family or Cage and Pedro Pascal. It does feel like a lot of love was put into it, and it has a charm to it. The character moments in the first two acts really work, and as a buddy comedy, I found it consistently entertaining and funny. With that said, it is very typical and by the end becomes a cliché filled action movie. It is self-aware and makes jokes about cliches in Hollywood movies but falls into many of those cliches at the same time. The third act is particularly conventional, even if it still entertains. You could say that the movie is slightly unhinged, but not as unhinged as you’d imagine it to be given its subject. It does play things fairly safe, beyond the meta nature of the movie and Cage imagining a younger version of himself, it’s not that wild.

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First and foremost is Nicolas Cage playing one of his hardest roles yet… Nicolas Cage (known as Nick Cage in the movie). It was quite something seeing Cage portray a fictional version of himself, yet one that still draws from his real life and persona. It is interesting watching Cage reflect on his career and the choices he made. He delivers on the comedy greatly and as you would expect has some satisfying over the top moments that you’d expect and hope from him. But he was also good at delivering on the drama at heartfelt moments, especially with his strained relationship with his daughter. There’s also Pedro Pascal playing the role of the mega fan of Nicolas Cage who offers him $1 million to appear at his party. Pascal is quite fun to watch and plays his part perfectly. Cage and Pascal have fantastic chemistry, they are delightful together and have wonderful comedic timing. Amongst all the great parts of the movie, their dynamic was the highlight for me. Additionally, other actors like Sharon Horgan, Lily Mo Sheen, Tiffany Haddish, and Ike Barinholtz are also good and play their parts well.

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The movie is directed by Tom Gormican and his work isn’t that special, but it functions for this movie. The visuals are good, and it takes advantage of its locations well. The action isn’t spectacular but is decent enough. There is some CGI de-aging with Nicolas Cage’s alter ego Little Nicky who he imagines (based off a younger Cage specifically from his infamous Terry Wogan interview appearance). While the visual effects on him look very off especially when he’s on screen right next to present day Cage, the uncanny valley nature of it actually works for the movie.

Unbearable Weight Of Massive Talent

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent was thoroughly enjoyable. While it is unfortunately quite conventional considering that it is a movie about Nicolas Cage playing himself, it is entertaining and funny, and a good tribute to him. If you are a big fan of Cage, then I highly recommend checking it out. Even if you aren’t a mega fan, I think there’s a lot of fun that you could have with it.

The Card Counter (2021) Review

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The Card Counter

Time: 111 Minutes
Cast:
Oscar Isaac as William Tell
Tiffany Haddish as La Linda
Tye Sheridan as Cirk
Willem Dafoe as Major John Gordo
Director: Paul Schrader

William Tell (Oscar Isaac) is a gambler and former serviceman who sets out to reform a young man seeking revenge on a mutual enemy from their past. Tell just wants to play cards. His spartan existence on the casino trail is shattered when he is approached by Cirk (Tye Sheridan), a vulnerable and angry young man seeking help to execute his plan for revenge on a military colonel (Willem Dafoe). Tell sees a chance at redemption through his relationship with Cirk.

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I had been hearing about The Card Counter for a while, it would be Paul Schrader’s next movie starring Oscar Isaac in the lead role. I liked Schrader’s writing work on Martin Scorsese’s movies like Bringing Out the Dead, Taxi Driver and Raging Bull, and I really liked his last directed movie First Reformed. So I was looking forward to what he would do with The Card Counter and he didn’t disappoint.

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As you can probably predict already, The Card Counter is yet another character study from Paul Schrader about a lonely protagonist with degrees of self-destructive behaviours (like Taxi Driver and First Reformed) and is suffering with guilt and suicidal tendencies. You might say that the story is treading familiar ground and there are certainly similar themes especially when it comes to morality, but I found it compelling nonetheless. The film does a good job at getting into the mindset of his character, and we learn more about him and how he’s trying to leave behind a past he can’t escape. The plot might seem to meander a bit as it is about Oscar Isaac’s character going from place to place with Tye Sheridan playing cards and gambling while interacting with people, and we learn more about him during this. However I was invested in what was happening all the way through. Don’t watch the incredibly misleading trailer, the film is nothing like how it represents the movie and you’d be only doing yourself a disservice. Despite the title and about the main character being a gambler, it’s very much not that kind of movie. Essentially, The Card Counter is about consequences and guilt, with focus on the acts of torture during the War on Terror. It’s particularly about the problems that veterans face and the responsibility in systematic torture at Abu Ghraib prison, especially when it comes to Isaac’s character and how he was involved. The Card Counter is firmly a slow burner and is very meditative, so don’t expect that hour and 50 minute runtime to fly by. However I thought that pacing really worked for the film.

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There’s a great cast in this movie, and everyone plays their parts well. Schrader’s next troubled protagonist William Tell is played by Oscar Isaac and this might be the best performance I’ve seen from him. He’s very believable and convincing, coming across as calm, mysterious and slick on the outside, but there’s clearly some stuff simmering beneath the surface. He’s superb in the part and carries the movie excellently. There’s also a really good supporting cast in Tye Sheridan, Tiffany Haddish and Willem Dafoe. Sheridan gives one of his best performances as a younger man who Tell tries to steer onto a better path. Haddish was a great counter to Isaac, she’s very different to him which makes their relationship so much more interesting. Dafoe is only in a few scenes but plays a critical role and as usual plays his part fantastically.

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Paul Schrader directs, and his work here is great. He certainly uses familiar techniques, such as the voice over from the protagonist. It even has scenes of the protagonist lying in his bed or writing in a journal at a desk paired with a liquor of their choice (just like First Reformed). Nonetheless it fitted very well with this story. It’s a very well shot movie, I particularly liked the long takes, and some of the visuals could even be hypnotic and dreamlike. The two highlights for me were a long take passing through a prison with a fish eyes lens, and the other has Oscar Isaac and Tiffany Haddish at a light show which was visually stunning to watch.

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The Card Counter is a stylish, layered and thematically rich character study. It’s excellently written and directed by Paul Schrader, and has great performances from the cast, especially from Oscar Isaac in the lead role. It’s definitely not for everyone, as I said it’s a slow burn character drama, not a fast paced ‘gambling movie’. However, if you’ve like some of Schrader’s other work like First Reformed, I think you’ll enjoy The Card Counter.