Two highway road workers spend the summer of 1988 away from their city lives. The isolated landscape becomes a place of misadventure as the men find themselves at odds with each other and the women they left behind.
In order to provide for his destitute family of drifters, a likable, sincere, able-bodied 15-year-old boy comes to hire on among a burned-out ex-con's group of aging forest laborers. As the man becomes more and more aware of the boy's abusive home life, his deeply buried humanity is roused. Drinking and smoking incessantly to remain detached from his volatile temper, he finally takes the matter into his own hands - come what may - when the boy's alcoholic father finally goes too far. Written by
Tye Sheridan and Nicolas Cage have both played characters in Marvel comic movie adaptions. Nicolas Cage played Ghost Rider, and Tye Sheridan played young Cyclops in Xmen: Apocalypse. See more »
When Joe and Gary are looking for the dog, Gary climbs into the driver's seat of the truck. When they arrive, Joe is driving. See more »
Hey, you old man, you look at me. I got som'in' to say to you. Every time we land someplace new, you say it's gonna be different, but it ain't. You mess up... a lot... then you leave a mess for me and Momma and Dorothy to clean up, and that ain't right. That's all I'm sayin'. Hell, I do what I gotta do. You do whatever the hell you want - whatever you can get away with. You're just a... selfish old drunk. Yeah, that's what you is. Yeah, this place is gonna be after us. Hell, ...
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Joe is a masterful work that imbues you to it through its realism. It is a perfect movie for Nicolas Cage to be in at this point in his career. While he has continued to put in world class performances and appear in uniquely great films, the actor has developed a reputation as a set-up joke. The interesting part is that there is no true punch line. He is one of the world's supreme artistic talents and he does more serious work than possibly any other movie star. With this culture of ignorance in the Information Age persisting fed by the corporate media, Cage has appeared in one of his best films yet, and in one that brings humanity down to its root nature.
Joe is a blue collar boss doing questionable work in the South who takes a teenage boy, Gary, that is at a pivotal point in his life under his wing. The kid's real father, Wade, is a disturbed alcoholic. Joe is not a perfect man himself, but he gives off the feeling that he wants to do right. The movie is a character study of him, and it is delivered in a type of full force by David Gordon Green and Nicolas Cage that is rare today.
It is not the restrained performance that the critics have described. Cage is in a fit the entire time. What the "professionals" are seeing is how DGG was able to make the moments seem almost like a documentary. While there is some strong personality being displayed, it is done in a way that is truthful to human nature. There is a real duality to all the characters. Joe brings death and life. Gary honors his family and judges them. Wade commits cruelty and shows his strong desire for empathy.
The "restraint" isn't done by Cage, but Joe. He is working to keep himself from emerging under the pressure of a backwards country. Cage is able to show that Joe isn't being two different people, but one man forced to go against his heart if he wants to survive, in a measured performance. He strikes a rhythm with his role and it combined with the entertainment of a drama that feels real, makes the movie go at a nice pace.
All the characters struggle against the system that has also perpetuated the falsehoods about the star leading the project, though it is best embodied by Cage's Joe. There is his fisticuffs back and forward with those who claim to work for justice, but an even better example is his job, which seems necessary but is criminal. The trains can't be stopped and their incessant movement brings about reactive forces in the people it affects.
Tye Sheridan does a remarkable job as Gary, however it is Gary Poulter's execution of Wade, or G-Daawg, that along with Cage's takes the film up a notch. His sullen moments where he stares down another character are deeply moving despite the dark nature of the person he is playing. It is a legendary performance, that will long be remembered.
The Old Media will tell you that this is a comeback for both Cage and DGG, but don't let them brainwash you. Most people just want to give everything lip now, thinking that this endless determination makes them a higher being, and the system needs to feed on its own BS borne out of greed's simplicity. Truth isn't found there. In Joe, it is.
Nicolas Cage has been roundly criticized since winning his Oscar for taking action and fantasy roles as well as playing "dark" and "unrelatable" characters, but he is simply being himself. He has always had a taste for the peculiar. If he were to do the projects "we" wanted rather than the ones he did, then he wouldn't be a true artist, and we would not have the profound work that we find in this film, with a character needing to do the "wrong" thing to be the good person others think he is. Cage was made to play Joe, and DGG, who has received similar criticisms for his "naughtiness," was made to direct him. They have both stayed themselves, and therefore have a better understanding of what is real. That this particular movie has come at this point in both their filmographies, is poetic. It is a reminder to the diseased audience not to let the system think for you both in terms of the story and who is telling it. For, it gives a picture of a backwards society that diminishes reality where culminating incidents brought by suffered individuals show the truth. Here you will find a bit of realism existing in a delusional world.
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