by John Larkin
Available for purchase on Amazon.com by clicking the image above.
Nicolas Cage is certainly in the midst of some of his best and most interesting work, to date. Being a life-long fan of Cage, the master of the 'nouveau shamanic' acting style continues to impress and fascinate me as he enters his 60's. In the last couple years alone, UNBEARABLE WEIGHT OF MASSIVE TALENT and DREAM SCENARIO were both in my top 10 of 2022 and 2023. BUTCHER'S CROSSING, a new Western from Sony Pictures was an unexpected treat for me, arriving on blu-ray in the final days of 2023.
Although he sports a hairless dome in DREAM SCENARIO (2023), this film marks the first time Cage has ever shaved his head for a role. Sporting a giant dark black beard, the look really helps define his rough edged character and gives the entire project that extra intriguing element of gravitas. BUTCHER'S CROSSING centers around a young ivy-league dropout named Will who join's Cage's character, 'Miller' on a Buffalo Hunting quest. Miller promises an unprecedented amount of Buffalo meat and hides, but warns of an arduous and unforgiving journey to achieve it.
I think it's fair to say BUTCHER'S CROSSING is more of a survival film than your traditional western. Who knew that BUTCHER'S CROSSING was adapted from the book of the same name by author John Williams (!)*.
Although the story is really focused on Will's perspective, the real treat for the audience, is watching Cage chew the scenery against a vast array of gorgeous western scenery.
Colombian Director of Photography David Gallego does an exquisite job of capturing a range of looks from dark tree shrouded woods, white-out blizzards and sun spattered buffalo plains. There's one scene around a campfire where Gallego and Director Gabe Polsky capture Cage's closeups in a nearly identical fashion to Brando's iconic final closeups in APOCALYPSE NOW (1979). It's a fitting aesthetic choice considering that as the film progresses, Cage's character delves deeper into a Col. Kurtz type madness as his thirst for dead buffalo never quenches throughout all four seasons of the year. I could easily imagine the pitch for this film being TRUE GRIT meets APOCALYPSE NOW.
Although CROSSING was captured digitally, I noticed a nice level of film grain added to the image that projected nicely on the blu-ray and made for a more theatrical viewing experience. While the picture and sound on the disc are stellar, I would have liked to see an audio commentary or some behind the scenes footage included. Despite that, it's a solid disc.
We should all be thankful for Cage's prolific presence in modern cinema. No matter what project he's apart of, he always makes the material more interesting and nuanced. He is still in my opinion, one of our biggest underrated acting talents. We could still possibly see a NATIONAL TREASURE 3 in the near future, I say bring it on!
*Not the one who is the greatest film composer of all time