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City of Angels
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Cage plays Seth, a restless angel on duty in Los Angeles, who encounters Dr. Maggie Rice (Ryan), a pragmatic heart surgeon whose sense of control is deeply shaken by losing a patient on her table for no apparent reason. Although Seth is there to aid the dying man, he is immediately drawn to Maggie and wants to help her overcome her crisis of confidence. In the process, he falls in love with her and longs for the sensory world he has observed but cannot experience.
Some critics complained that City of Angels could never compare to Wim Wenders's exquisite German film Wings of Desire, which served as the later film's primary inspiration. The better argument to make is that any such comparisons are beside the point, because Wings of Desire was a much more deeply poetic, artfully contemplative film, whereas City of Angels is an enchanting product of mainstream Hollywood. Meg Ryan stars as Dr. Maggie Rice, a heart surgeon who is grieving over a lost patient when an angel named Seth (Nicolas Cage) appears to comfort her. She can see him despite the "rule" that angels are invisible, and Seth's love for Maggie forces him to choose between angelic immortality and a normal human existence on earth with her. Featuring heavenly roles for TV veterans Andre Braugher and Dennis Franz, the film liberally borrows imagery from Wings of Desire, but it also creates its own charming identity. Cage and Ryan give fine performances as lovers convinced they are soul mates, and although the plot relies on a last-minute twist that doesn't quite work, this earnest love story struck a chord with audiences and proved to be one of the surprise hits of 1998. --Jeff ShannonSee all Editorial Reviews
- Documentary "Making Angels"
- Documentary "Inside the Special Effects"
- Deleted Scenes with optional commentary by director Brad Silberling and editor Lynzee Klingman
- Selected scenes with commentary by director of photography 'John Seale'
- Selected scenes with commentary by production designer Lilly Kilvert
- Interviews with and Peter Gabriel and Alanis Morissette
- Music video by "U2"
- Music Video by "Goo Goo Dolls"
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Cage does the best he can with the script. He "falls" from grace for a mortal woman. In the course of so doing, he becomes mortal, but it is not a punishment, it is an experience he chose, exercising his free will. Cage's character is not unlike that of Starman, he is essentially a light being in a holographic body that cannot experience any sensory perception, because there is nothing "in" the body, no blood, no hormones. It is an ascended soul wearing a "human" costume.
The angel then, is the watcher who is also the man in black. He can see everything, hear everything, but only as a watcher, he cannot interact, be seen, be heard, it is a one-way street. He is "big" brother but in the form of countless individual angels. Few humans notice angels at all, even though "there is one in every room." Yet no angel can interfere with free will. "Fallen angels" play by the same rules but have more of them and keep their angel memories.
Even those who can see angels and feel their touch might not care what the angel feels. "Maggie" does.
It is the mutuality of interaction that makes the experience meaningful for humans. Humans feel what they expect to feel. At the same time, "Maggie" is the human who wants to ascend. She is cherubic looking. She is selfless. She is ready to be rid of the messy bloody noisy smelly putrid business of sewing up broken hearts that refuse to mend. She is curious to see where they go, perhaps. The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.
Is a moment of love, a few hours of romance worth a dimension shift? Many have said it not only is, but that love is the driving force in the universe. Without love, nothing would move. So some go up, some go down. For each action there is an equal and opposite reaction. The funny thing about love being a driving force is that it has to keep moving. There is no tying it up to a tree, putting in a cage. Even one called Nicolas.
These two souls were attracted to one another not because they "fit" as romantic partners but because they were alike, both curious, both ready to sacrifice everything they know to learn everything they don't know. True love is often a passing of like-souls in the hallway, so to speak. Seth does not get into the elevator, he waits for Maggie outside, a step ahead, during the courtship. Perhaps he does not want to see her choice of destinations.
The interesting difference here is the idea that angelic beings are incapable of feeling emotion, of tasting food, of enjoying sensual touch. That they hang around us in order to figure out what makes us tick. "Seth" asks "Maggie" what tears are, what makes the body cry. Is it a purely physical reaction? How does it work? He gets the technical explanation, he looks into the microscope, but some piece is missing. In the end, he becomes fully "human" by crying then grieving, then finding joy in renewal by loving little things, the pounding surf hitting the body swimming just in front of a wave.
And so do we all, moving in cycles from observer to participant and back again in the seasons of life and of lifetimes.
I love the humanity Nicholas Cage brought as his character developed. Meg Ryan was very good...as was Andre Braugher. The supporting cast was very important to the movie's concept. The filming locations were phenomenal!
This story will make you smile and laugh...and cry. Wonderment, love, joy and heartbreak...all in one story. Watch this movie with "the one" in your life!
Then add Nicolas Cage - who is not one of my favorite people in the world - but is a TERRIFIC leading man. He's not devastatingly handsome. He's just interesting enough to draw you in. And this is his best work.
Meg plays Maggie - a doctor who takes it very hard when she loses a patient on the table when she did EVERYTHING right and he should have lived, but did not.
Nicolas plays Seth - an Angel who develops a strong attachment to Maggie and wants to help her and ends up falling in love with her. So much so that he allows her to see him - which he's not really supposed to do.
Dennis Franz plays Nathaniel Messenger - a former angel who decided to take the plunge (literally) and become human. Maggie is his doctor and he guides Seth to understand more about what's going on and explain to him he can fall to Earth should he choose - and become human.
The movie follows their path to claim each other. The most sensual and yet innocently sweet scene of any movie - a rainstorm and Maggie can't sleep - and she asks Seth to stay with her - although he won't let her see him. The music enhances that scene immensely - Sarah McLachlan's Angel - a more perfect song, I couldn't imagine.
If you've never watched the movie - the ending is actually perfect. It's not what you'd expect, but it is perfect. And beautiful. It's filmed beautifully, acted deliberately and wonderfully, and embedded as a fantastic memory.
It would be a sin - literally - to never see this movie.
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