Features and Columns · Movies

The Tao of Nicolas Cage: Let’s Get Physical

By  · Published on February 3rd, 2017

The lack of Nicolas Cage Blu-rays is quite disturbing.

“The end of the world is on people’s minds. We have the power to destroy or save ourselves, but the question is what do you do with that responsibility.”

Last week I mixed things up a bit by taking The Tao of Nicolas Cage in a slightly different direction. I had so much fun doing so that I decided to shake things up once more this week by not focusing on a particular Cage movie and performance and instead directing my aim elsewhere.

The elsewhere this week is to Blu-rays of Cage’s films… and to the disturbing lack of them.

If there’s anything I love more than Cage it’s my movie collection as a whole. And when I say collection I mean a physical library of movies that I can pick up and hold. I understand to many physical media is a dying breed but I respectfully disagree.

To be clear I’m not anti-streaming, not at all. Streaming is great. I use Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and a variety of other VOD services, but in my eyes those services are more of something you have as an addition to your physical collection and should really only be used for renting purposes.

Buying a digital copy? Like on it’s own without getting the physical disc? That’s nonsense. I get the convenience factor, but do we no longer have pride in our home video libraries? One’s personal film collection is something that should be on display, something you can show off to friends when they visit. You can’t do that with a digital collection. Just the thought makes me sick. Ugh.

My collection is predominantly made up of Blu-rays, with a handful of DVDs and even a couple VHS remaining. There are two reasons movies remain in my collection that are on a format other than Blu-ray – they’re either a really cool special edition that I like to have in addition to having the Blu-ray, or in most cases it’s because the film isn’t yet available on Blu-ray. Sadly this means my collection is lacking a whole lot of Cage.

When I started this column I wanted to make sure I had the best possible versions of all Cage movies to watch so I took a look through his filmography to see what’s on Blu-ray. I knew some titles were missing but what I discovered shocked me.

Per IMDb, Cage has 86 titles to his name. This includes 5 titles that are in some sort of development stage, his most recent release Arsenal and some uncredited or super cameos in Grindhouse, Welcome to Hollywood, Industrial Symphony No. 1: The Dream of the Broken-hearted, Never on a Tuesday and Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Removing those 11 titles gives us a total of 75 Cage movies. I also removed Best of Times because it was a TV movie/pilot and Christmas Carol: The Movie because his role is really small in that one. That gives us 73 Nicolas Cage movies. Surely we have 73 Nicolas Cage Blu-rays, right?

No, not at all.

Ok, maybe saying “not at all” is a bit much. Some 50+ Cage movies are available on Blu-ray and that’s the overwhelming majority. Rumble Fish, which I discussed a few weeks back, will be getting a Criterion release later this year. But still, there’s 14 Nicolas Cage movies that aren’t on Blu-ray. That’s a lot of titles and I’m sure you’re thinking to yourself right now, “I wonder which titles are unavailable?” Fortunately for you I have a handy list of those titles right here!

A few things jump out from this list. First you may notice that I listed 16 movies despite saying only 14 films are unavailable on Blu-ray, that’s because 2 films – Red Rock West and Time to Kill — are available on region B Blu-rays from Germany. So technically it’s 14 films that are missing, but 16 are missing from the US.

If you have a region free player Red Rock West is easily available for a decent price and it’s very much English friendly. Time to Kill I can’t really vouch for. It’s hard to find any info for this release online, there’s not even a Blu-ray.com listing. There’s a few different Amazon listings and the price is decent but it appears to only have a German language track making it useless as far as I’m concerned.

So depending on how you view it, there’s either 14 or 16 Cage films awaiting proper Blu-ray releases. Whatever the case may be it’s way too many.

What strikes me most about this list, however, is the actual films themselves. And what I mean by that is there are some important Cage films that have yet to make their way to Blu-ray. Valley Girl, The Cotton Club, and Bringing Out the Dead are the first three that immediately catch my eye.

Valley Girl, as I wrote about two weeks ago, is Cage’s first starring role. That alone makes it an important film. As an added bonus it’s incredible.

The Cotton Club was directed by Francis Ford Coppola and has an all-star cast that also includes Richard Gere, Diane Lane, Gregory Hines, Bob Hoskins, and James Remar. And again I repeat it was directed by Francis Ford Freakin’ Coppola.

Bringing Out the Dead is nothing short of a masterpiece. It’s one of the best performances of Cage’s career and it’s the one time he’s teamed up with Martin Scorsese. This is the only time these two icons have ever worked together.

Hey, how’s a guy supposed to watch ‘The Cotton Club?’

How are these three films not on Blu-ray? Here we are in 2017 and we’ve got movies directed by Hollywood legends starring America’s most interesting actor and they haven’t received Blu-ray releases. How in the world is that possible? How? How? How?!

Another film on the list desperate for a Blu-ray release is Sonny. Admittedly it’s not a great film, though it’s been years since I’ve seen it, nor does it star Cage, but it’s the only film he’s ever directed and thus it carries great significance.

Furthering the problem is the fact that some of these films aren’t even available for streaming. At least not easily. Valley Girl, The Cotton Club, Time to Kill, and Sonny are all unavailable via Amazon Prime and per Decider it doesn’t look like they’re available to stream anywhere.

Even more annoying to me than not being available on Blu-ray or via streaming is films that have HD streaming options with no Blu-ray. The majority of Cage films that do have steaming options available have an HD option. What the hell man?! If there’s an HD version of Birdy out there why isn’t there a Blu-ray?!

Now I’m sure there are a lot of people out there that would agree titles like Bringing Out the Dead and Valley Girl are worthy of Blu-ray releases. At the same time there are likely even more people that could care less what happens to Zandalee or Kiss of Death. I tend to think differently.

Those films may not be that great, but that’s not the point. They are films and more importantly they are films starring one of the most important actors to ever live. At some point Cage’s career is going to be over (it kills me to even type this) and regardless of how people feel about him there will be no debating that his career was one-of-a-kind. And as such we should have a complete archive of his career preserved to look back on and appreciate. Not having the films available on the best possible format is doing a great disservice to not just us but future lovers of cinema.

A few months back Pete Tombs, the man behind Mondo Macabro, one of the independent leaders in DVD & Blu-ray distribution, was on the Dorado Films Podcast. Tombs said a lot of great things on that podcast but one specific quote stuck with me.

“To look down on things because they’re cheap films or not interesting at the time is a real mistake,” Tombs stated. “If you’re creating an archive or you’re creating a body of work it’s important that you preserve all of that work, as much as possible.”

While Tombs was talking about obscure B-movies from Europe I feel like that sentiment applies to Cage – or any actor, director, and so forth but come on, we’re focusing on Cage here!

My intent this week was to write about USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage (I’ll now write about that next week) but as I was doing some re-organizing of my collection I noticed how many Cage films were lacking in the Blu-ray department and it bummed me out. Maybe I’m just being paranoid but I feel like if we don’t get these films out on Blu-ray soon they’re going to eventually disappear. I suppose you could argue that the films that are available via streaming are being preserved but that’s not the same to me. Streaming titles disappear all the time. What if these titles disappear? Then what?

So the column got pretty wordy this week, but I want to use this platform for good. In my opinion these films not being available on Blu-ray is an issue that needs to be talked about. So that’s what I’ve done. Maybe this will start the conversation that starts the conversation that gets some of these titles out there.

Catch up on past installments of The Tao of Nicolas Cage.

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Chris Coffel is a contributor at Film School Rejects. He’s a connoisseur of Christmas horror, a Nic Cage fanatic, and bad at Rocket League. He can be found on Twitter here: @Chris_Coffel. (He/Him)