I say: never underestimate the Coppolas with all their creative aplomb, for causing complete confusion at their every turn. For example, Nicolas' father, August Coppola, was the Dean of Creative Arts at SFSU where I was an undergrad. His sole contribution to the department, as far as I can tell, was to decree a windowless storage area off a dark hallway as the Casablanca Room. It was completely decorated as if it were a set from the movie--a place for creatives to meet and discuss important artistic matters among the (fake) palm fronds. I can understand his architectural desperation. The Creative Arts building was the most depressing army-barrack-like structure on the entire campus. He must have despaired for us State-school students and our hideous surroundings.
But back to Cage. Why all the crapola movies, despite a work background filled to the tippy-top with so many high-end artistic ideals? One theory: he's a workaholic. He's in his mid-40s and he's made, or is making, up to 61 films. That's a lot. They can't ALL be good, or even half-good. Another idea: as he gets older (and balder) he seems to be constantly gravitating toward the physical roles. Maybe he wants to prove himself in some way. He was kind of a nerdy leading man in his youth (that nasal voice he used in "Peggy Sue Got Married"!--I'll never forgive him for that).
Final theory: like many of us, he likes making and spending money, and has a particular penchant for multimillion dollar estates and castles, but when you're making $20 million per film, that's not such a big deal, I guess. Although he did just reportedly sell his German castle, due to the recession, so the money-making theory is plausible.
There may be no explaining the career of Nicolas Cage. I'll just let him do the talking:
I am not a demon. I am a lizard, a shark, a heat-seeking panther. I want to be Bob Denver on acid playing the accordion. - Nicolas Cage
"The Rock" (1996) In this, Cage's first big-budget action film, co-star Sean Connery got to wear the wig. I think Nicolas made a note of that. This San Francisco-based thrill ride started him on the long, lucrative road of action. And why not? It's got a cable car explosion, for crissakes.
"Con Air" (1997) - "He's a U.S. Ranger, highly decorated. He's defending his wife--got in a drunken brawl--and he killed a guy. Could have happened to you or me." So begins the saga of Cameron Poe. The first of a series of action films where Cage would wear a (very long) wig. I think this is where his action-hero addiction really kicked into high gear.
"Lord of War" (2005) - Cage plays an amoral international arms dealer. This film was officially endorsed by Amnesty International for featuring weapons trafficking. The action film as educational tool is a rare thing.
"The Wicker Man" (2006) - A laughable remake of the 1973 movie and late-night-TV cult staple directed by Robin Hardy. I think he was on a castle-buying junket when he made this.
"Ghost Rider" (2006) - Cast as the devil's bounty hunter, Cage played a comic-book character with a fiery skull-head. It seemed like a good idea at the time.
"Bangkok Dangerous" (2008) - YouTube commenters insist this is a great film. They might be right. But I think the stupid title cancels out any inkling of greatness. Plus the wig. I mean, LOOK at his wig! I haven't seen any of these movies, by the way. They're not marketed to me.
Be sure to check out Nic's upcoming films: "Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans," "G-Force," and "Kick-Ass." I'm not making this up.
Disclosure: I have no ties to Nicolas Cage but we did cross paths once on Haight Street. He was getting out of his nice black car as his girlfriend entered Ambiance, an excellent dress shop (where I got my wedding dress, by the way). Our eyes locked for a second, simply due to geographical space and timing. My eyes silently said, "Whoa--you are Nicolas Cage." His eyes said back to me, "Yes, that is true." Then I said (with my eyes), "I will not disturb you. That would be awkward for both you and me." He faintly nodded and we went our separate ways.