4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Pig: Nicolas Cage’s purloined pal

Don’t look for an explanation that isn’t there. Just go with it.

Pig: the gourmand and the gourmet (Nicolas Cage).
Pig: the gourmand and the gourmet (Nicolas Cage).

What is life but a succession of good and bad choices? There were times when Nicolas Cage’s career and personal life bounded off the rails in the direction of Charlie Sheen wackyland. But then Cage turned what had the potential to be acres of muddy embarrassment into a greensward of performances replete with innovation, if not always taste. In a career that spans forty years and one hundred pictures, Cage had me at the sound of a cockroach crunched between his fangs. Today we feast on Pig.

It’s a romance that could have begun by answering an ad in the personal section: “Man in wilderness seeks the companionship of a foraging pig.” Somewhere in the woods of Washington State, Robin Feld (Cage) lives a life of mangy-haired seclusion. His sole source of companionship is his pet pig. The no-name hog licks Feld’s dinner plate and sleeps in a bed next to his, like a family dog. But unlike most domesticated pets, Pig’s uncanny snout can smell a truffle a mile away, making her equal parts four-legged friend and meal ticket. How does a recluse come to know the value of a truffle, let alone where to find an underground outlet through which to peddle the valuable edibles? Feld’s only contact with civilization appears to be Amir (Alex Wolff), the wet-behind-the-ears rich kid in the banana-colored Camaro who appears every Thursday like clockwork to exchange cash for highly-prized fungi.

Amir’s offer to pop for the installation of a shower and a phone just in case a fall leaves our hermit unable to call for help only serves to arouse Feld’s contempt. He’s not a bad sort, but Feld’s lack of so much as one word in response finds Amir storming off. When, later that night, home invaders kidnap Pig and leave Feld battered and bleeding, who is our man supposed to blame besides Amir? It takes some doing for Amir to convince Feld that he’s not complicit, but it’s just enough to lead Grizzly Adams to lean on the inexperienced dealer for help. The only clue he has to go by is the fact that Pig was purchased by a city guy in a waxy black car. Feld does own a vehicle, one with just enough gas to get him to a point miles away from both home and final destination before giving out. Happily, Feld has contacts in Portland who should help to point him in the direction of the pig poacher. It’s here that Feld commandeers control of Amir’s Camaro.

I know what you’re thinking. Why not simply get another pig? Fifteen years in isolation may have clouded Feld’s thinking, but not to the point where the businessman in him isn’t afraid of losing a season to training. Besides, we’re told Pig was special, and that no other porker has the power to do what she did. Don’t look for an explanation that isn’t there. Just go with it.

First stop: an underground fight club, where Feld can pick up a little spending money in exchange for letting a mousy waiter beat Rip Van Winkle within an inch of his life. It’s about time to issue a spoiler alert: to call the film a thriller is a touch misleading. The standard issue revenge drama is a setup for what’s actually a surprisingly touching love story between friends. Without going into detail as to why he went full-recluse, suffice it to say that Feld was a legendary chef, the type who would prepare a meal you would spend a lifetime talking about. Now, he’s been in isolation for so long that when he does hit up restaurant row, in the eyes of the old crowd, he doesn’t exist.

Feld’s quest lands him in the hoity-toity restaurant that Amir’s father (Adam Arkin) sells to. (The father and his son appear to be unfriendly competitors in the same business.) After sampling the food, Feld asks to speak to the chef. The dressing down that ensues is the film’s (and Cage’s) #1 source of delight. Feld has an encyclopedic memory when it comes to remembering every meal that he cooked and every customer that ate it. Surely he’ll never forget Chef Finway (David Knell) who, after two months in Feld’s employ, was fired for overcooking the pasta. Finway stands before him as a master at deconstructing food native to the region, which is a fancy way of saying new ways of preparing the same old dishes.

Given the at-times ridiculous nature of its subject matter, the film does occasionally stall from taking itself too seriously. But Feld’s adventure following what appears to be Bigfoot with a gaping head wound as he takes a constitutional down the side streets of Portland adds welcome comic relief to what sometimes plays as an overly pious road picture. Perhaps that accounts for Cage’s surprisingly subdued performance. Return his pig and all is forgiven. Mention must also be made of Alex Wolff’s performance as the overconfident daddy’s boy. He either has great taste in scripts, a good agent, or both, because he’s appeared memorably in a string of indie pics (Hereditary, Stella’s Last Weekend, Castle in the Ground). Now playing a theatre near you! ★★★★

Video on Demand and New Release Roundup

Gunpowder Milkshake — Sam (Karen Gellan) was barely a teenager when a shootout in a diner ended badly. Her mother, professional assassin Scarlet (Lena Headley), disappeared, leaving her daughter in the care of Nathan (Paul Giamatti), head of HR for a nebulous government organization known as The Firm. Fifteen years later, and Sam is batting cleanup for the same squad that once employed her mother. Sam’s next job puts her in contact with a trio of munitions experts (Carla Gugino, Angela Bassett, and Michelle Yeoh) disguised as librarians. Rounding out our three generations of hitwomen is nine-year-old Emily (Chloe Coleman, in her second feature since My Spy). She doesn’t know it, but Emily’s dad was one of Sam’s assignments. The sick look that crosses the young actress’ face upon learning the truth outshines all of the seasoned pros that surround her. Much of the violence that opens the picture, most notably a standoff in a bowling alley that involves neither guns nor knives, is heard and not seen. Alas, director and co-writer Navot Papushado couldn’t contain himself for too long, and the violence, although cartoony, turns graphic. The climax allows each of our first-generation stars a moment in which to shine. But it’s the quieter scenes involving Emily — particularly when she’s pointing out the similarities between a hired assassin and a serial killer — that make this Netflix offering worth your time. 2021. — S.M. ★★★

Space Jam: A New Legacy — When asked why he didn’t direct Space Jam, a look akin to vaping rancid butter crossed Joe Dante’s (Looney Tunes Back in Action) face. Then he answered my question with a question of his own: “Have you seen it?” It’s with more than a little outrage that I report that the original is Fantasia compared to the CG throttling Bugs and the gang receive in this belated sequel. “Athletes acting never goes well,” LeBron James winkingly observes. Though he holds his own against the squash-and-stretch horde, the biggest laugh in the film goes to an appearance by Michael Jordan. Unlike their high-minded counterparts at Disney, WB cartoons seldom sent kids packing with a moral to ponder. Better to pile on more animated mayhem than dwell on the soppy live-action exchanges between James and a fictional son who would rather compete in a video game competition than go to basketball camp. The drawings are cold and brittle, the voice work even less appealing. (Couldn’t they afford Billy West?) Right before the climactic game, the filmmakers decide to give Team Looney Tunes a makeover. I’ll accept a black guy playing Alexander Hamilton or a female James Bond. What I won’t cotton to is watching my beloved troupe reduced to dribbling stuffed animals. 2021 — S.M.

Summertime — Last week, readers were introduced to the term “dansical,” a musical without singing. With its liberating lack of dependence on traditional song and dance routines and a script fashioned out of twenty or so poems, Summertime earns a category all its own: the slam poetrysical. First impression: 18 poems in search of a narrative quickly vanished under the pulsating outbursts of measured rhythm that the characters, frequently played by the poets, brought to their individual segments. The story unfolds stream-of-consciousness style, frequently jumping from character to character before settling on one. Will it be the passenger who stepped off the bus, the street musician he passed, or the guy dropping money in the horn player’s tip cup before meeting his wife for couples therapy? The action can occasionally grind to a halt for a brief recital, and too often, images meant to enhance the verse simply mirror them. (And the lover of camera movement in me was disappointed by director Carlos López Estrada’s reliance on straight-cuts to transport us from scene to scene.) Some of the characters run consistently throughout, others drop in, rap a little, and vamoose. It’s only as good as the character that occupies the screen at any given moment, but when a connection is made, the result is something spectacular. 2020. — S.M. ★★★

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

Remembering Louis Procaccino

“He always had food in his pockets”
Pig: the gourmand and the gourmet (Nicolas Cage).
Pig: the gourmand and the gourmet (Nicolas Cage).

What is life but a succession of good and bad choices? There were times when Nicolas Cage’s career and personal life bounded off the rails in the direction of Charlie Sheen wackyland. But then Cage turned what had the potential to be acres of muddy embarrassment into a greensward of performances replete with innovation, if not always taste. In a career that spans forty years and one hundred pictures, Cage had me at the sound of a cockroach crunched between his fangs. Today we feast on Pig.

It’s a romance that could have begun by answering an ad in the personal section: “Man in wilderness seeks the companionship of a foraging pig.” Somewhere in the woods of Washington State, Robin Feld (Cage) lives a life of mangy-haired seclusion. His sole source of companionship is his pet pig. The no-name hog licks Feld’s dinner plate and sleeps in a bed next to his, like a family dog. But unlike most domesticated pets, Pig’s uncanny snout can smell a truffle a mile away, making her equal parts four-legged friend and meal ticket. How does a recluse come to know the value of a truffle, let alone where to find an underground outlet through which to peddle the valuable edibles? Feld’s only contact with civilization appears to be Amir (Alex Wolff), the wet-behind-the-ears rich kid in the banana-colored Camaro who appears every Thursday like clockwork to exchange cash for highly-prized fungi.

Amir’s offer to pop for the installation of a shower and a phone just in case a fall leaves our hermit unable to call for help only serves to arouse Feld’s contempt. He’s not a bad sort, but Feld’s lack of so much as one word in response finds Amir storming off. When, later that night, home invaders kidnap Pig and leave Feld battered and bleeding, who is our man supposed to blame besides Amir? It takes some doing for Amir to convince Feld that he’s not complicit, but it’s just enough to lead Grizzly Adams to lean on the inexperienced dealer for help. The only clue he has to go by is the fact that Pig was purchased by a city guy in a waxy black car. Feld does own a vehicle, one with just enough gas to get him to a point miles away from both home and final destination before giving out. Happily, Feld has contacts in Portland who should help to point him in the direction of the pig poacher. It’s here that Feld commandeers control of Amir’s Camaro.

I know what you’re thinking. Why not simply get another pig? Fifteen years in isolation may have clouded Feld’s thinking, but not to the point where the businessman in him isn’t afraid of losing a season to training. Besides, we’re told Pig was special, and that no other porker has the power to do what she did. Don’t look for an explanation that isn’t there. Just go with it.

First stop: an underground fight club, where Feld can pick up a little spending money in exchange for letting a mousy waiter beat Rip Van Winkle within an inch of his life. It’s about time to issue a spoiler alert: to call the film a thriller is a touch misleading. The standard issue revenge drama is a setup for what’s actually a surprisingly touching love story between friends. Without going into detail as to why he went full-recluse, suffice it to say that Feld was a legendary chef, the type who would prepare a meal you would spend a lifetime talking about. Now, he’s been in isolation for so long that when he does hit up restaurant row, in the eyes of the old crowd, he doesn’t exist.

Feld’s quest lands him in the hoity-toity restaurant that Amir’s father (Adam Arkin) sells to. (The father and his son appear to be unfriendly competitors in the same business.) After sampling the food, Feld asks to speak to the chef. The dressing down that ensues is the film’s (and Cage’s) #1 source of delight. Feld has an encyclopedic memory when it comes to remembering every meal that he cooked and every customer that ate it. Surely he’ll never forget Chef Finway (David Knell) who, after two months in Feld’s employ, was fired for overcooking the pasta. Finway stands before him as a master at deconstructing food native to the region, which is a fancy way of saying new ways of preparing the same old dishes.

Given the at-times ridiculous nature of its subject matter, the film does occasionally stall from taking itself too seriously. But Feld’s adventure following what appears to be Bigfoot with a gaping head wound as he takes a constitutional down the side streets of Portland adds welcome comic relief to what sometimes plays as an overly pious road picture. Perhaps that accounts for Cage’s surprisingly subdued performance. Return his pig and all is forgiven. Mention must also be made of Alex Wolff’s performance as the overconfident daddy’s boy. He either has great taste in scripts, a good agent, or both, because he’s appeared memorably in a string of indie pics (Hereditary, Stella’s Last Weekend, Castle in the Ground). Now playing a theatre near you! ★★★★

Video on Demand and New Release Roundup

Gunpowder Milkshake — Sam (Karen Gellan) was barely a teenager when a shootout in a diner ended badly. Her mother, professional assassin Scarlet (Lena Headley), disappeared, leaving her daughter in the care of Nathan (Paul Giamatti), head of HR for a nebulous government organization known as The Firm. Fifteen years later, and Sam is batting cleanup for the same squad that once employed her mother. Sam’s next job puts her in contact with a trio of munitions experts (Carla Gugino, Angela Bassett, and Michelle Yeoh) disguised as librarians. Rounding out our three generations of hitwomen is nine-year-old Emily (Chloe Coleman, in her second feature since My Spy). She doesn’t know it, but Emily’s dad was one of Sam’s assignments. The sick look that crosses the young actress’ face upon learning the truth outshines all of the seasoned pros that surround her. Much of the violence that opens the picture, most notably a standoff in a bowling alley that involves neither guns nor knives, is heard and not seen. Alas, director and co-writer Navot Papushado couldn’t contain himself for too long, and the violence, although cartoony, turns graphic. The climax allows each of our first-generation stars a moment in which to shine. But it’s the quieter scenes involving Emily — particularly when she’s pointing out the similarities between a hired assassin and a serial killer — that make this Netflix offering worth your time. 2021. — S.M. ★★★

Space Jam: A New Legacy — When asked why he didn’t direct Space Jam, a look akin to vaping rancid butter crossed Joe Dante’s (Looney Tunes Back in Action) face. Then he answered my question with a question of his own: “Have you seen it?” It’s with more than a little outrage that I report that the original is Fantasia compared to the CG throttling Bugs and the gang receive in this belated sequel. “Athletes acting never goes well,” LeBron James winkingly observes. Though he holds his own against the squash-and-stretch horde, the biggest laugh in the film goes to an appearance by Michael Jordan. Unlike their high-minded counterparts at Disney, WB cartoons seldom sent kids packing with a moral to ponder. Better to pile on more animated mayhem than dwell on the soppy live-action exchanges between James and a fictional son who would rather compete in a video game competition than go to basketball camp. The drawings are cold and brittle, the voice work even less appealing. (Couldn’t they afford Billy West?) Right before the climactic game, the filmmakers decide to give Team Looney Tunes a makeover. I’ll accept a black guy playing Alexander Hamilton or a female James Bond. What I won’t cotton to is watching my beloved troupe reduced to dribbling stuffed animals. 2021 — S.M.

Summertime — Last week, readers were introduced to the term “dansical,” a musical without singing. With its liberating lack of dependence on traditional song and dance routines and a script fashioned out of twenty or so poems, Summertime earns a category all its own: the slam poetrysical. First impression: 18 poems in search of a narrative quickly vanished under the pulsating outbursts of measured rhythm that the characters, frequently played by the poets, brought to their individual segments. The story unfolds stream-of-consciousness style, frequently jumping from character to character before settling on one. Will it be the passenger who stepped off the bus, the street musician he passed, or the guy dropping money in the horn player’s tip cup before meeting his wife for couples therapy? The action can occasionally grind to a halt for a brief recital, and too often, images meant to enhance the verse simply mirror them. (And the lover of camera movement in me was disappointed by director Carlos López Estrada’s reliance on straight-cuts to transport us from scene to scene.) Some of the characters run consistently throughout, others drop in, rap a little, and vamoose. It’s only as good as the character that occupies the screen at any given moment, but when a connection is made, the result is something spectacular. 2020. — S.M. ★★★

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Daniel Atkinson’s big jazz venture

Opening more slots for all that jazz
Next Article

Grossmont High students break the code

“It’s basically a war on girls”
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Drinks All Around — Bartenders' drink recipes Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Outdoors — Weekly changes in flora and fauna Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Street Style — San Diego streets have style Surf Diego — Real stories from those braving the waves Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close