Writers on Film

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Keith Phipps celebrates the Age of Cage

Season 1, Ep. 55

Age of Cage might be the closest we will get to understanding the singular beauty of each of Nic Cage’s always electric performances. You are holding the Rosetta Stone for Cage. Enjoy it.”

Paul Scheer, actor, writer and host of the How Did This Get Made? and Unspooled podcasts


Icon. Celebrity. Artist. Madman. Genius.


Nicolas Cage is many things, but love him, or laugh at him, there's no denying two things: you’ve seen one of his many films, and you certainly know his name. But who is he, really, and why has his career endured for over forty years, with more than a hundred films, and birthed a million memes?


Age of Cage is a smart, beguiling book about the films of Nicolas Cage and the actor himself, as well as a sharp-eyed examination of the changes that have taken place in Hollywood over the course of his career. Critic and journalist Keith Phipps draws a portrait of the enigmatic icon by looking at—what else?—Cage’s expansive filmography.


As Phipps delights in charting Cage’s films, Age of Cage also chronicles the transformation of film, as Cage’s journey takes him through the world of 1980s comedies (Valley Girl, Peggy Sue Got Married, Moonstruck), to the indie films and blockbuster juggernauts of the 1990s (Wild at HeartLeaving Las VegasFace/OffCon Air), through the wild and unpredictable video-on-demand world of today.


Sweeping in scope and intimate in its profile of a fiercely passionate artist, Age of Cage is, like the man himself, surprising, insightful, funny, and one of a kind. So, snap out of it, and enjoy this appreciation of Nicolas Cage, national treasure.

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6/8/2022

Dana Stevens on Buster Keaton

Season 1, Ep. 59
Buy the book here. In this genre-defying work of cultural history, the chief film critic ofSlateplaces comedy legend and acclaimed filmmaker Buster Keaton’s unique creative genius in the context of his time.Born the same year as the film industry in 1895, Buster Keaton began his career as the child star of a family slapstick act reputed to be the most violent in vaudeville. Beginning in his early twenties, he enjoyed a decade-long stretch as the director, star, stuntman, editor, and all-around mastermind of some of the greatest silent comedies ever made, includingSherlock Jr.,The General, andThe Cameraman.Even through his dark middle years as a severely depressed alcoholic finding work on the margins of show business, Keaton’s life had a way of reflecting the changes going on in the world around him. He found success in three different mediums at their creative peak: first vaudeville, then silent film, and finally the experimental early years of television. Over the course of his action-packed seventy years on earth, his life trajectory intersected with those of such influential figures as the escape artist Harry Houdini, the pioneering Black stage comedian Bert Williams, the television legend Lucille Ball, and literary innovators like F. Scott Fitzgerald and Samuel Beckett.InCamera Man, film critic Dana Stevens pulls the lens out from Keaton’s life and work to look at concurrent developments in entertainment, journalism, law, technology, the political and social status of women, and the popular understanding of addiction. With erudition and sparkling humor, Stevens hopscotches among disciplines to bring us up to the present day, when Keaton’s breathtaking (and sometimes life-threatening) stunts remain more popular than ever as they circulate on the internet in the form of viral gifs. Far more than a biography or a work of film history,Camera Manis a wide-ranging meditation on modernity that paints a complex portrait of a one-of-a-kind artist.