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It’s All About Meme Meme: The Perfect Timing of “The Wicker Man”…

The podcast that I co-host, The 250, marked Halloween with a look at Neil La Bute’s adaptation of The Wicker Man. It’s a fun, broad discussion. However, watching the film and talking about the film got me thinking about Nicolas Cage, meme culture and the perfect storm of timing involved.

It’s possible to break down Nicolas Cage’s career into two phases: before and after The Wicker Man.

Before The Wicker Man, Nicolas Cage was a respected actor. He had won the Best Actor Oscar for Leaving Las Vegas. He had become an blockbuster movie star thanks to films like The Rock and Con Air. He had worked with auteurs like David Lynch on Wild at Heart and the Coens in Raising Arizona. Indeed, at the turn of the millennium, Cage had settled into a respectable cinematic middle age. In the years leading up to The Wicker Man, he worked on fare like Andrew Niccol’s earnest Lord of War and Gore Verbinski’s decidedly middle brow The Weather Man.

And then The Wicker Man happened. Almost immediately, Cage’s career shifted gears. There were where still franchise films like Ghost Rider or National Treasure: Book of Secrets. There were still auteur collaborations like with Werner Herzog on Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans. However, there were also movies like Bangkok Dangerous, Next and Knowing, which would lead on to films like Drive Angry, Seeking Justice and Trespass. Not all of these films were bad, but they were instrumental in establishing the Nicolas Cage audiences know today: “full Cage.”

To give Cage some credit here, his later work is often more interesting than his popular reputation would suggest. In particular, Cage works remarkably well in ensemble genre pieces like Kick-Ass or Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. More than that, Cage works remarkably well in the context of films that are pitched to match his fevered intensity as a performer like Mandy or The Colour Out of Space. Nevertheless, The Wicker Man was very much a watershed moment for Cage, like the flicking of a light switch.

Part of this is simply timing. The Wicker Man arrived at the perfect moment in popular culture, as a seismic shift was taking place. Discussions about the history of cinema often focus on the mechanics and the politics of the industry itself – the way in which movies are produced, funded and distributed. This makes a great deal of sense. However, it’s also important to consider how movies are discussed and how audiences engage with those films.

The Wicker Man arrived at a moment where the internet was primed to change the way that movies were watched, and the impact on Nicolas Cage’s career is perhaps a graphic illustration of that seismic shift.

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Meme of the Moment: Super Groups

The guys behind Clockbusters and Clockbusters II, two of of my favourite ways of whiling away time, are back with another addictive little mini-game. They sent on the link to Super Groups, which basically asks the player to group together bunches of iconic characters by picking them out of a line-up. Just like Clockbusters, it is really addictive, and well worth a look. Check out Super Groups here or click the picture.

Meme of the Moment: Cinema Code of Conduct

Note: You can find the full list of participating blogs here. Kudos to all involved, and especially to CinemaScream for putting it together.

I feel somewhat humbled to open this post with an admission of a breach of blogging etiquette. Those who frequent the site might have noticed that I have been somewhat absent from the blogging world in the past few months – my postings are sporadic, cobbled together from a car ride or bus ride on an iPhone screen. I won’t dare to make a series of excuses about how things have gone upside down of late, or make reference to increasing commitments. We all have those, and yet most manage it far better. Anyway, I owe a sincere apology to CinemaScream – I agreed to take part in this rather ingenious (and thoroughly practical) meme, but it completely slipped my mind. So this post is somewhat more haphazard than usual. But only somewhat.

Basically, the Cinema Code of Conduct (as proposed by Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo) is intended to make going to the cinema a far more pleasant experience for those involved. In this era of mobile phones and iPods and such, it’s a rather wonderful idea to attempt to codify the behaviour that should be considered acceptable in modern cinemas. I really wish that a few major chains would consciously publicise the list to promote it among movie-goers. The ten items, included below, are not excessively harsh or intrusive – they are in fact relatively minor things which, if everybody did them, would make going to the cinema a much more enjoyable experience.

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Iron Man 2 – Who Is Keeping Score?

Occasionally something small and quirky comes to my attention which I can’t help but post here. In this case, it’s a unique (and clever) way of advertising Iron Man 2. Sure, it would be better if they spelt Terrence correctly, but who am I to judge?I found this over on Rope of Silicon.

Who the Meme! Seven Movie Questions About Moi!

Hey, I’ve been tagged by the always fantastic Aidan at Cut the Crap Movie Reviews to take part in a little movie-meme-related madness. This time it’s an interview-style questionaire. Can I phone a friend?

Over dramatic? Moi? Never!

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Holy Interactive Lost Character Map!

I rarely take the opportunity to get in on some solid internet meme action right here, so please indulge me. With the sixth and final (‘thank god,’ says most of the audience) season of Lost hitting the airwaves on this side of the Atlantic soon, it seems some fan has thought of a nifty and interactive way of charting the various connections between the castaways, whose lives interact in ridiculously unlikely ways before they end up the island. Anyway, it’s an application where you highlight a main character’s name and it’ll connect them to others through numerous smaller secondary characters. Give it a go here, or click the image below.

Not to mention there’s a little Nathan Fillon love going on there, which I think we can all get behind.