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Film

#83: Inconceivable (2017)

My name is Ed, and I am going to win the lottery by picking numbers based on every film Nicolas Cage has ever made, for some reason.

This week I watched Inconceivable, which is about Nicolas Cage and Gina Gershon being unable to make a baby due to problems! They decided to pay Nicky Whelan from off of mid-2000s era Neighbours to make the baby for them! But, oh no! She is a baby thief! What a mistake-a to make-a!

Inconceivable has quite a lot of things wrong with it that are presumably explained by it being directed by Jonathan Baker, a spa owner and US reality TV villain best known (in so far as he is known at all) for pushing his wife over because he was annoyed that she had made them lose ‘The Amazing Race’.

As if begging for this to be labelled as a vanity project, Baker also appears in the film as a gynaecologist and/or Faye Dunaway’s toyboy (as with almost everything else in the film, what we are intended to infer from what actually happens on screen is up for debate). Oh yeah, Faye Dunaway’s in this for five minutes in two scenes which were clearly shot on a single location during the afternoon they had her. Including Cage that makes two Oscar winners in one film and you do wonder if Baker thought that alone was more important than ‘a script that makes sense’ or ‘directing the actors’.

Because Inconceivable is dreadful: where this kind of story demands simmering tension about what’s really going we just get Whelan’s character Katie all but looking straight into the camera and yelling I AM EVIL LOL. The twists about who she is and what she’s up to require a ludicrously unearned suspension of disbelief, and the film can’t even be bothered to camp it up – there is absolutely no way of mounting the lazy ‘Actually I was making a black comedy!’ defence here.

Cage’s performance, oddly, is perhaps the only slightly likeable thing in the film – the character as written is non-existent, but it was on some level enjoyable to see him do this sort of goofy suburban dad character (especially after the seemingly endless succession of him as grimly-faced thriller guy), and he manages to inject the tiniest amount of charisma into the proceeding, despite having nothing to work with. Don’t get me wrong, it is to no end and in no sense does this come anywhere close to saving the film: apart from anything else he barely has anything to do until the climax, which is where an already insultingly bad film becomes actively contemptuous of its audience.

I’ll spoil it, because don’t waste your time watching this fucking film (which in the UK is available on BOTH Netflix and Amazon Prime, and probably fucking ‘BritBox’ who knows): we’re led to believe that Gershon’s character has died, and that Katie might have succeeded in in her dastardly plot to become the family’s new mother… except the twist is that she hasn’t died, and Katie is going off to a padded cell.

But it’s not really a twist: the film doesn’t artfully mislead, or trick us into misinterpreting what we’re seeing, it just flat out lies to us that one thing has happened, then tells us that it hasn’t. I went back and rewatched the last bit a few times because I assumed I must be missing something, but no – perhaps they forgot to film some key lines of dialogue, had no money left to fix it and just decided to hope no-one would notice.

Is it fair to call this a vanity project, just because the director was a reality TV star and cast himself, and one of his kids, and it’s crap? Well, it was released alongside a documentary called “Becoming Iconic” (from the director’s own ‘Baker Entertainment Group’), in which various Hollywood figures (including, hmm, Nicolas Cage and Faye Dunaway) explain how one should go about becoming an amazing film director to none other than Inconceivable’s Jonathan Baker, as though in decades to come film students would really want to understand the creative inspiration behind this shitty straight to the internet Nic Cage movie.

Still, if you’re from the 1990s or are a pervert who has been banned from using the internet for some reason, there is some laughably gratuitous nudity, including some particularly grim lingering shots of a completely bare lady pretending to be dead in the bath. Nostalgically tacky or the product of a disturbed mind? Who can say!

“Life is by Design” reads one of the personal quotes on Baker’s (self-authored?) IMDB page, which also claims that he owns and intends to be buried in plot next to Marilyn Monroe’s gravesite. Still, the other quote is “I can wave my hand and make the impossible happen” so let’s pick some lottery numbers and get waving!

THE NUMBERS

5 – We’re informed that one in five guys enjoys mowing their own lawn, in an absolutely riveting bit of dinner party conversation that someone decided was worth writing, filming, and then showing to other people.

8 – At another dinner party later in the film, which is actually definitely just the same dinner party with some very minor costume changes because they only had 2 weeks to shot the film, we’re informed that they’ve been doing ‘this’ for 8 years. From context (they talk about fireworks) I think they mean a July 4th party, which would make this the 3rd Nicolas Cage film in a row to feature a July 4th party? Is this a thing now? Does he contractually demand this?

27 – Katie wears a locket that reads 03 – 27 – 12 (the day her first ‘daughter’ was born).

35 – During the pregnancy Katie complains about getting a test that’s normally only used for women over 35, which is a bit much given that…

40 – she’s being paid $40,000 to be the surrogate.

50 – At one point a reference is made to a nurse’s 50th birthday. She has big boobs, apparently. It’s not ideal when Nicolas Cage saying ‘big boobs’ might count as a highlight of a film.

THE RESULT

Lottery draw: 2592

Date: Saturday 24 October, 2020

Jackpot: £7,254,754

Draw machine: Arthur

Ball set: 3

Balls drawn: 13,18,19,47,53,57

Bonus ball: 44

Numbers selected: 5,8,27,35,40,50

Matching balls: 0

Numbers selected (lucky dip): N/A

Matching balls (lucky dip): N/A

Winnings: £0 (£0 to date)

Total Profit/Loss: £-164

Oh no! And I was going to fund the production of Inconceivable 2 with my winnings!

Jonathan Baker has sadly not managed to make any more films, though his IMDB optimistically lists a future project about a fireman and a ghost travelling through time! Same! Ideally even Nicolas Cage will be too busy if that ever gets off the ground. Speaking of:

NEXT TIME ON WINNING THE LOTTERY WITH NICOLAS CAGE

His fourth film of 2017: Mom and Dad! If it’s about a Mom and Dad trying to have a baby via an evil surrogate I will write to the National Lottery and ask them to stop.