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Title: Coming to and Leaving Las Vegas

Description: Today, Steve is joined yet again by contributor Chris to talk about the really intense film from 1995, Leaving Las Vegas. Nicolas Cage delivers a career performance walking us through the life and end of life an alcoholic.


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“Crossing the Chasm” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
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Begin Transcript:

Thank you again for listening to Beyond the Big Screen podcast. Today our contributor, Chris and I are going to talk about topics of alcoholism, suicide and other sensitive themes through the 1995 movie Leaving Las Vegas. We aren’t graphic by any means, but these are themes that might not be appropriate for all audiences. So with that warning out of the way, let’s get on with the show. As usual, thanks to Chris for joining me. I always have fun talking to him and learn something.
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[00:00:00] All right today, we are talking about the 1995 movie leaving Las Vegas directed by Mike FAUS and based on the 1990 novel, leaving Las Vegas by John. Oh, Brian, this movie stars. Nicholas cage is Ben Sanderson and Elizabeth shoe as his sort of girlfriend, Sarah, and a great cameo by AR IIE. Now, today we are joined again by Chris to talk about this movie.
It really the, the basic concept of this movie is about a washed up writer named Ben played by Nicholas cage, who has in some way imploded his life. Ben is absolutely mired in a deep depression and alcoholism in east. Decides to leave Los Angeles [00:01:00] and move to Las Vegas where he plans to drink himself to death.
So this is gonna be, I’d say one of the heavier episodes of beyond the big screen. And in this episode, just a little bit of a content warning. I. This episode will necessarily dive into themes of addiction and suicide. So it may be particularly disturbing to some people in the audience. If you’re struggling with any of these issues, I highly suggest you contact your healthcare provider.
If you live in the United States or Canada, you can now connect. To the suicide prevention lifeline by simply dialing 9, 8, 8. If you need them, call them. Don’t wait. You just have to simply dial the numbers. 9, 8, 8, 3 digit code, just like 9 1 1, except in this case 9, 8, 8, and talk with someone. So with that, there will be spoilers.
And like I said, this will be a little bit heavier than we normally talk about. Now, Chris, as a lifelong. [00:02:00] Nicholas cage fan. What drew you to this movie in particular? 1990 fives leaving Las Vegas. Yeah. So when I was younger, I would, I, I watched all like Nicholas cages, like action movies, and I started getting more into some of his smaller rules and I, the first time I watched.
Leaving Las Vegas. I had heard he won in Oscar for it and no Roger Ebert would gave like RA reviews for it. And when I, first time I watched it, I was. I was just absolutely me mesmerized by Nicholas Cage’s performance and the character Ben Sanderson. He, I dunno, he fills me with, I’ve never really had, uh, a character quite horrify.
Me and me mesmerized me at the same time where I’m completely horrified by Ben Sanderson, but I can’t stop. Watching this movie. I, I can’t stop thinking about him. Like every time I watch this movie, I, I catch myself during the day thinking about Ben Sanderson. It’s, it’s quite, [00:03:00] um, it’s actually quite, uh, accurate with, with how.
Most people. And this has been my experience of if you know, somebody close to you, that’s dealing with alcohol addiction or drug addiction that you really care about. You’ll find yourself being horrified at what they’re doing to themselves, and then you’ll catch yourself. During the day thinking about them, like, how can I help this person?
What can I, you know, what can I do? Yeah. I think for this episode, we really, as we talked this, this out and planned this episode out, we both came to the diff. Different conclusions, but kind of the same conclusion at the end is do you take this movie? And I’ll say when I first watched it in 1995, so that’s going on almost 30 years ago, I took it in the literal view that Ben Sanderson was going from Las Vegas.
Or from Los Angeles to Las Vegas to drink himself to death. That’s what he stated. And so he is seeing it as kind of a [00:04:00] realistic portrayal, but now watching it again, I almost feel that that, that this movie is, could be really portrayed in an anti fairytale way. And I think we both came to this conclusion that it’s a, not necessarily a realistic view of Sanderson’s life, but maybe.
Almost a dream sequence for him, a, a hallucination of Ben. And I think we both came to this from slightly different directions. And I wonder just before we even get started with diving into the issues too much, what did you think and how did your thinking evolve? In this movie. Yeah. Quite like you. Well, actually the first time I watch this movie, when they go to the resort, her, him and Sarah, and she starts pouring liquor on herself and Ben’s, you know, licking her up or what have you earlier in the movie, Ben does like a monologue where he recite basically says the [00:05:00] exact same thing that Sarah’s doing.
And it was at that moment, I started thinking to myself, I go. Is it, is this, is this really happening or is this something that Ben is daydreaming? And then I, after multiple watches, I started noticing like a couple other things that get said throughout the movie that made me question whether this is at least.
Is this a hundred percent reality or is it 100% like the drunk daydream of a screenwriter? Like he refers to, he says to Sarah that she’s an angel from his drunk Fanta and one of his drunk fantasies. So that there’s an, an example right there. When he first goes into Sarah, his apartment, he sees a giant picture of like an angel.
And then that immediately says like, oh, you’re an angel. And then. At the very beginning of the movie. It’s if you it’s a very good song, it’s by staying called angel eyes. And one of the first lines in the movie is are you [00:06:00] slowly losing your mind? You look around each corner, hoping that she’s there. And once you take like all these things into combination together, you start thinking to yourself, it almost comes, says like a hardcore alcoholic, like Ben, who is still who’s obviously.
Was at one point a very talented screenwriter, kind of daydreamed this fairytale in his head about Sarah and going to Vegas. And that’s why it seems like it’s almost like an anti fairytale because it it’s coming from the. The drunk imaginations of like a hardcore alcoholic that is suicidal. When I first started watching the movie, what, what, one of the first few clues that I got that things were maybe not exactly what they seemed was to me.
The dialogue seemed very. Almost stiff between Sarah and Ben forced. And when you think about it, it almost sounds like a play writer [00:07:00] or a screenwriter working through a first draft of a script. And, and then as you start going back into that whole section, there’s the whole section in Los Angeles. And if you notice they don’t roll the beginning, credits or show the name of the movie until about what about a half an hour into the movie?
When he leaves Los Angeles, maybe it’s 20 inch minutes. It’s a long ways into the movie. Yeah. About 15. Yeah. I’d say about 15, 20 minutes. Yeah. And do you see that clear break? That beginning act of the movie in Los Angeles is completely different than the whole rest of the movie. And I think of going back and thinking about it, that that was really, that was the end of his real life was.

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"Coming to and Leaving Las Vegas" History on the Net
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June 12, 2024 <https://www.historyonthenet.com/coming-to-and-leaving-las-vegas>
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