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Film

#88: Looking Glass (2018)

My name is Ed and I watch Nicolas Cage films and pick numbers out of them and use them to play the National Lottery because I’m normal.

It’s obvious what I get out of a film like Looking Glass: the potential of winning millions of pounds! And presumably Nic Cage and everyone else involved get ‘some money’ for ‘relatively little work’, i.e. the (non-lottery winner’s) dream. But unless there’s a scheme to support Hollywood professionals who are not quite good enough to make real films, neither of these really explain the impulse that at minimum one person with access to money had to make this film happen.

It starts very vaguely promisingly with Nic Cage and Robin Tunney on the road to an as yet unspecified destination – it almost looks like an actual film, and the presence of Tunney put me in mind of Selma Blair’s appearance in the not awful Mom & Dad from a few weeks ago. 90s starlets are back (if you only watch terrible straight to streaming films)!

They arrive at a motel which it turns out they’ve bought to help them get over the death of their child??? And then it turns out one of the rooms has a one-way mirror that you can use to spy on whoever’s staying in there? With hilarious consequences!

There is at least something in this premise, but that the thing is the real-life story of Gerald Foos, a motel owner who adapted the ventilation system in order to spy on his guests. This had been the subject of a book and documentary (Voyeur) not long before the release of this film, and hmmmmm.

Now, having said that, there’s obviously nothing wrong with making films partly inspired by reality, because that’s obviously: all films. And there’s actually something in doing a sort of Gerald Foos/Rear Window mash-up in which a motel-owning voyeur witnesses a murder (Foos claims he in fact DID witness a murder but no-one’s ever been able to find any other evidence that this happened ).

But Cage’s character isn’t a Foos analogue – instead the idea is that they’ve bought the motel from a guy who is, and have to figure out what a pervert mirror, a definitely not suspicious policeman played by Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s lamest boyfriend and generally mysterious goings-on add up to. Which just turns out to be the Rear Window thing but done in an incredibly oblique way.

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It’s so clunky that it’s tempting to think that they started this as a straight-forward ‘voyeur sees a murder’ thing, or even a direct adaptation of ‘real’ events, but then got scared about being sued or realised they couldn’t get the rights to the Foos story and had to hurriedly rewrite it. But if you’re making a low-budget Nic Cage vehicle in 2018 there may be more prosaic explanations for it not being very good.

(Why is this film called Looking Glass? Is it a pointless allusion to Alice Through The Looking Glass? Is it a redundant pun because the film is about some glass you can look through? Did they for some reason think that’s what a one-way mirror is called? Wait, is it called that? What if this film is fine and there’s something wrong with me? It’s probably okay. Just keep buying the lottery tickets and don’t think too hard about it. Think about the yacht.)

But it does make you wonder – Nic Cage as motel pervert has some potential in terms of a fun performance – instead we get Nic Cage as a bereaved dad who gets sort of perfunctorily interested in being a motel pervert in a way that film doesn’t seem have the time or the energy to explore beyond very basic plot mechanics.

If you told me they quickly improvised this film using sets built for something else I would fully believe you, because there’s an aimlessness about the whole thing, like everyone just wants to get it over with having fulfilled whatever the minimum contractual requirements were. I sort of hope there WAS some bizarre behind the scenes backstory that forced a hurried rewrite because at least that would be there was something vaguely interesting about this film. Which I don’t recommend you watch!

THE NUMBERS

4 – Near the start, we see a brief flashback to Nic Cage’s dead kid blowing out a cake. I counted four candles. I couldn’t be bothered to go back and check this and have a horrible feeling I’m wrong so if I only get 5 numbers I am going to be FURIOUS.

5 – An actress called Rebecca Beckham is credited as playing Tommy’s Girl #5, which I guess is at least slightly better than Prostitute #5.

6 – The first guest at the newly reopened motel stays in room number 6.

10 – The one-way mirror thing is installed in room 10. Room 10 was where Gerald Foos says he witnessed a murder, which does suggest this was pretty directly inspired by his story.

22 – Riley (yes, he was lamest one) from Buffy’s cop car has P922 written on the side of it.

35 – It costs 35 dollars a night to stay in the dodgy sex motel. Would I buy a motel that’s almost entirely used for shagging as a way to get over the death of my child? I guess I can’t say I definitely wouldn’t? At least I’ve learned something about myself today.

THE RESULT

Lottery draw: 2602

Date: Saturday 28 November, 2020

Jackpot: £12,032,594

Draw machine: Merlin

Ball set: 8

Balls drawn: 9,27,35,45,46,47

Bonus ball: 31

Numbers selected: 4,5,6,10,22,35

Matching balls: 1

Numbers selected (lucky dip): N/A

Matching balls (lucky dip): N/A

Winnings: £0 (£0 to date)

Total Profit/Loss: £-174

ONE NUMBER. My zero streak is finally over! BACK IN THE GAME.

I just need to get five more of those Big Boys and I will WIN THE LOTTERY!

NEXT WEEK ON NICOLAS CAGE

211. I hope it’s about the bus that goes from Hammersmith to Waterloo.