"BUT WE DISCOVERED THAT AUDIENCES DON'T BELIEVE IN GOD COMING DOWN AND CREATING THE FLOOD"
In a post headlined "Nicolas Cage’s 15 Wildest Film Roles", IndieWire's Ryan Lattanzio includes Cage's role as Rick Santoro in Brian De Palma and David Koepp's Snake Eyes. I don't know if I agree when Lattanzio describes the film as "a relentless gush of style over substance." The substance is there, and if the style calls attention to itself, well, the substance is still there. I suppose if the style and the substance can be said to be working in tandem, then maybe -- maybe -- the style is in the front seat, so maybe in that way Lattanzio has it right, but to me, everything in the movie feels of a cohesive piece, even if the ending of the film has been somewhat compromised.
"Nicolas Cage is aptly matched to the material," Lattanzio continues, "as a flamboyant and (natch) corrupt Atlantic City detective who witnesses an assassination during an epic boxing match. Cage’s bugged-out outsized performance veers toward exhausting, but that’s precisely the point as De Palma assaults the senses with his characteristic cinematic feints, where everything is larger than life."
On Part 2 of the Brian De Palma/Susan Lehman Light The Fuse interview, hosts Drew Taylor and Charles Hood dipped into the ending of Snake Eyes after mentioning John Knoll's work on Mission: Impossible:
Drew: John Knoll told us a story that you said that he could have a credit -- I believe it was Visual Effects Supervisor -- only if he did an extra shot for you of Jon Voight in the plane at the beginning of the movie. Do you remember this at all?
De Palma: No.
De Palma: But I would believe John.
[Laughter] Drew: Okay.
Lehman: Is that something you would do?
De Palma: Are you kidding? [Laughter] Why not? [More laughter] You need the shot...
Drew: Did he work on Snake Eyes, on the...
De Palma: Yes.
Drew: Okay. I've always been fascinated about that ending, and I'm so glad that you put some footage of it in the documentary. But, yeah, do you think the lack of that ending hurt the movie, or... what's your sort of feeling on it?
De Palma: My concept and David's concept was, this is like the great flood. I mean, when you're dealing with such a corrupt universe, the only way to deal with it is a flood. You've gotta kill everybody. And that was always the concept. But, we discovered that audiences don't believe in God coming down and creating the flood. When there's such rampant evil around. So then we had to come up with a different ending, which I don't think is as effective. But that's basically because our conception of how it should have ended, we were never able to do. And the audience would never accept, basically.
Drew: Well, how dependent are you on those test audience responses? I mean, did you have anything like that on Mission? And was it sort of freeing writing this book, because you didn't have to... I mean you had to show it... you and Susan talked about it, but...
De Palma: Well, yes, you're always dealing with that research group. And believe me, my history, I had all the movies, you know, that had all the language, all the eroticism in them, and I'd be constantly fighting with these people that would, you know, poll the audiences. Because anything really excessive, an audience reacts very strongly to. And the studio, always when the studio, when they would get kind of negative cards after a screening.
Lehman: One reason that we started working on this book is because Brian had been involved in an HBO production of Paterno. And then he'd get, you know, a million notes, and he said, "Let's just write a book. It's much easier. I don't have to take these phone calls or read these crazy notes."
De Palma: Yeah, thousands of notes about Paterno.
Charles: And so was that more notes than you'd ever had before? Was it getting worse?
De Palma: Absolutely. You'd get piles of notes. You know, and I said, "Well, I've had it." Basically, you know, and I just walked away. Thank you, HBO.
Drew: Do you feel like the medium of fiction is sort of going to be your outlet for the next little while, or are you itching to get back...?
De Palma: Well, until I become senile, one's mind tends to be working all the time, and I'm, you know, trying to make maybe one more movie. If possible, maybe another. And of course writing books is, you know, a lot of fun, what Susan and I do together.