Spoiler alert here - if you haven't seen The Weather Man or Lord of War, I just might give away some key points. Plus, you really should see these films before I color your view of them with my viewpoint.
So Nicholas Cage has made two excellent films this past year that I have seen, both of which leave some pretty uncomfortable questions. The first is The Weather Man. Personally, I think this movie speaks a lot to the futility of the American Dream and to what my friend Eric calls the paradox of success (a book he actually let me). We live in a strange country where sacrifice of family and friends for the sake of your job is not only admired but expected. The question posed is, will we get the outcome we want, and will we like what we have done to ourselves? As for me personally, why am I working so hard now? Will it lead to the idyllic life, filled with love and joy and all that good stuff? Or am I heading down the inevitable path to 100-hour work weeks and watching my children grow up one weekend visitation at a time? Why the hell do I want to work that many hours anyways? Don't get me wrong. I love medicine, and I love the fact that I have a job where I'm constantly learning, constantly helping people, constantly making a difference in their lives as well as mine. I've always thought I have one of the most interesting jobs in the world, and I've just come to accept that the price to pay for having such a job is to work my butt off and sacrifice a great deal. The problem is that I want it all, I know I can't have it, and I'm not really sure I made the right choice. I don't know if I really want to sacrifice everything to have a cool job anymore. It's an uncomfortable thought to have, 4 months from graduation.
The other excellent film from the cage this past year is Lord of War. It is another brutal movie, in which playing the part of the anti-hero, he destroys everything he cares about. Good and evil are well defined in this movie, and the moral strong (the heroes if you will) are all the weaker for their strong sense of ethics. Those who live for principle, who dare to take sides, who strive to save a few lives in the huge conflict are ultimately rewarded for their efforts with absolutely nothing-the lives they try to save are lost anyways, and the change they try to instill never happens. Pleasant thought, huh? So is it pointless to live by principles? Does doing the right thing make any difference? Or should we really be doing what is convenient, what is necessary to survive? If this becomes the case, is there any point to altruism anymore? As cage so astutely states, "They say, 'Evil prevails when good men fail to act.' What they ought to say is, 'Evil prevails.'" Of course, the one flaw in living an unethical life is that it's never easy to live with yourself. Sometimes, it becomes so difficult to live with yourself that it is easier to die-or at least some characters in the movie seemed to think. Or maybe I'm pulling out messages that might or might not be there. I do like doing that. At any rate, the questions are uncomfortable since in general, I like the idea of living by principle and refusing to sacrifice one's character for a quick gain-even if I'm not particularly perfect myself. It's something to think about.
Oh, and apparently Nicholas Cage is going to be the sheriff in this year's remake of The Wicker Man. And National Treasure 2 is in planning. Awesome. If only there could ever be a movie to top The Rock. Paper or plastic?!