GQ celebrates the weirdness of Nicolas Cage!

Liz Smith

"WE MAY not know why we need Nicolas Cage, but plainly we do. The hyperactive one-man train wreck is the dude we all want to spend our last 24 hours with before a nuclear war. Because retaining dignity sure won't be much of an issue then."

That's GQ magazine's Tom Carson writing about the often strange career and inexorably quirky personality of actor Cage. This is one of those fun pieces with diagrams, capsule reviews, illustrations, photos and comments from other actors on Cage -- working with him, their favorite among his wacky films.

I do kind of love him in everything, no matter what. I will probably even enjoy his Rapture movie, "Left Behind." I mean, Nick Cage is in it, so just forget the religious stuff and get aboard with his weirdness.

But for real "soul," over-acted to the nth degree, I have to go with Cage in "Moonstruck" and "Peggy Sue Got Married." Say what you will about his accents, he managed to provoke (and that's probably the most appropriate word) the best out of Cher and Kathleen Turner. Cher, indeed took home an Oscar. Miss Turner did not, which I have always felt was a crime. She was never better than in this movie, which like "Moonstruck," has the tremulous quality of keeping its audience between laughter and tears.

RECENTLY, the multiple feature films "The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby" showcased a disintegrated relationship from both the perspective of Him and Her. I thought it confounding and way too long, though well-acted.

Now we have something else similarly themed; the new Showtime series "The Affair," which debuted Sunday. This tells of an extramarital affair between a restless man and a woman still suffering the loss of a child. Both are married. (He has a lovely wife and four hideous children.) The He Said/She Said in this one is fascinating, and more cohesive. The small details stand out -- how he remembers the way she looked (sexy). How she recalls her attitude (depressed and messy). Dominic West and Ruth Wilson are the adulterers. Maura Tierney and Joshua Jackson are the non-adulterers. Everyone is excellent, even the child actors, who are so viscerally obnoxious.

There is a mystery involved -- the pair are relating their stories to what appears to be a police detective. I don't see how "The Affair" can last more than a season, but it might be quite a fulfilling season.

THE DIVINE and divinely unorthodox actress Tilda Swinton will receive the Actor Tribute at the Independent Filmmaker Project's 24th Annual Gotham Independent Film Awards, on December 1. Oscar-winning director Bennett Miller of "Capote" and "Moneyball" fame will also be honored. He will receive the Director Tribute. (Miller's latest, "Foxcatcher," garnered him Best Director at the Cannes Film Festival.)

Calvin Klein and The New York Times sponsor this event, which includes a $25,000 cash grant for an alumnus of IFP's Independent Filmmaker Labs, which focuses on encouraging female directors. The industry has a scarcity of those. For more information, visit http://gotham.ifp.org.

ULTRA BUSY NIGHT at the famed East Side eatery Primola recently. In and out that evening -- Linda Fairstein and Michael Goldberg, Las Vegas comic legend Pat Cooper, music's Clive Davis and a party of six, Kenneth Langone, founder of Home Depot, Ada Zambetti, whose late husband's grandparents founded the Stella D'Oro Biscuit Company, Carlos Colonna, who was an engraver for Tiffany and Company for many years and then went to the White House to work for LBJ, tennis great Jimmy Connors, Stanley London of night club fame, Gene Pressman of Barney's and real estate billionaires Phyllis and William Mack. It went on and on. "People were waiting at the bar until 10:30 for a table!" But, nobody left to go someplace else.

ENDQUOTE: "The one aspect of this character that I can identify with is finding oneself thrust into a media narrative that's totally unrecognizable. You might go, 'Who is that person. This bears no relationship to me!'" That's Ben Affleck talking to Details magazine about his current big hit, the marital thriller, "Gone Girl." In looking at his "GG" character, Ben says: "He's like 'I'm not going to pretend to grieve. I'm going to be honest. That's who I am.' And he gets obliterated."

The actor recalled times when he decided to "be myself" and ended up "obliterated." (I mean, come on, was it really so wrong of him to appear in his girlfriend Jennifer Lopez's music video?)

One other interesting thing. Recently, much was made of Ben being "escorted" out of a casino for "counting cards" at the blackjack table. It sounded terribly sleazy and illegal. In fact, it's not. If you can correctly count the cards, you are a whiz at blackjack and the casinos don't want such winners. Affleck says he wishes the story of the incident had been so spectacular. "They just came up and said, 'We can't let you play blackjack. But we have other table games. We have Chinese poker!'"

(E-mail Liz Smith at MES3838@aol.com.)

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