Wednesday, March 08, 2006

The Proposition

by Nick
The best film I have seen this year so far.

Having not seen more than a plot synopsis and no trailer, I came into this one pretty unprepared. Not that there is anything to prepare yourself for, save some pretty brutal action. This is just a plain excellent Western.

Guy Pearce plays one of two brothers captured by Captain Stanley (Ray Winstone), the local military/police chief, who is given the proposition of the title. Find and kill the older brother (Danny Huston) or the younger one will hang.
It's an excellent premise and setting the film in Australia proves to be a greater bonus than having it take place in the Old West would have been. After a while I started to wonder why they hadn't done this before and more often.

It succeeds on all the fronts I thought The Missing failed. Getting under your skin, managing to tell the history of an era and an area, with an honest depiction of the brutalisation of an indigenous people, with biblical and lyrical elements that don't go overboard (except almost once with John Hurt popping in). That and some well rendered and shaded characters.

The film turns out to be more of an ensemble drama, with great performances all around. Have to say that Danny Huston is becoming something of a favorite. His particular brand of the smiling bastard has gotten pretty appealing. It's good seeing him get some much needed exposure here.

Whoever hired Nick Cave as a screenwriter deserves some kind of finders fee. A long time fan of the artist, but I really hope to see more screenplays from this guy in the future.

Great film.

Highly recommended to all lovers of a good Western.


Blogger Colin said...

Wow, that sounds like a swett movie. Thanks for the rec. I also agree with you completely on "The Missing."

A check on imdb shows that in 1988, Hillcoat directed and Cave wrote "Ghosts...of the Civil Dead," which has this plot description:

The inmates and guards of a modern, clean and efficient maximum security wing are slowly and increasingly brutalised until they erupt in violence. Dark and macabre, and based in truth, the story is told in a traditional dramatic style combined with telephone interviews and narration.

That sounds like a rental, too, but it doesn't look like it's on netflix.

3/08/2006 03:48:00 PM  
Blogger Nick said...

Oops, maybe I should change that to someone deserving a reward for giving Cave and Hillcoat money to make another movie. Naah..

But that does sound like a good rental. If there was a chance in hell it was available in Sweden.

3/08/2006 04:11:00 PM  
Blogger Brian said...

Will watch for it to come around.

BTW, the IMDb lists a release date for Sweden of Feb. 24, 2006 (US theatrical release in May).

3/08/2006 04:24:00 PM  
Blogger Nick said...

All the films I've reviewed for the blog so far have been seen in a cinema. Nothing illegal going on (yet), Brian.

3/08/2006 04:34:00 PM  
Blogger Colin said...

We've recently discussed Michael Winterbottom and Robert Altman (and specifically "McCabe & Mrs. Miller"). In that vein, and while discussing Westerns, I'll throw out 200's "The Claim" as a flick that more people should catch up with.

Winterbottom directed it from a script by frequent collaborator Frank Cottreel Boyce based on the novel "The Mayor of Casterbridge" by Thomas Hardy.

Here's the plot, which should sound some echoes of McCabe to those who have seen it:

Based on Thomas Hardy's The Mayor of Casterbridge, The Claim follows the story of Daniel Dillon, who traded his wife and newborn daughter for a gold mine. 20 years later he is thrown into a kind of hell in the prospecting city he controls is being surveyed as potential railroad route and the wife and daughter that he hocked for his riches show up as well.

Thinking back to Wes Bentley in "American Beauty" and this one, he (like Guy Pearce) really needs a new agent

3/08/2006 04:35:00 PM  
Blogger Nick said...

Poor Wes Bentley. Such a lost momentum.

But don't agree with Guy Pearce. If you're willing to forgive The Time Machine, last ten years the guy's done plenty of excellent films.

And I've promised myself before to do three things.
1) See McCabe & Mrs Miller
2) Read The Mayor of Casterbridge
3) See The Claim

Might skip out on 2). Tess of the D'Urbervilles was excellently written but also perfectly depressing. To not speak of Jude the Obscure.

3/08/2006 04:50:00 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

Guy Pierce is the shit. I was hoping he was going to be Batman in the Nolan version.

But then I heard it was going to Christian Bale and I instantly knew it would be soo much better that way.

God I loved Batman Begins.

3/08/2006 08:10:00 PM  
Blogger jaydro said...

Those stills make me think of The Outlaw Josey Wales (among others), and that is always a good thing.

3/08/2006 09:25:00 PM  
Blogger Colin said...

I agree that Guy Pearce rocks; it's just that he hasn't made anything that's really registered over here in a while. Maybe I should catch up with some of these, though. Has anyine here seen:

"The Hard Word"
"Til Human Voices Wake Us"
"A Slipping-Down Life" (I saw part of this on either Sundance or IFC, and it seemed pretty good).

Hopefully his turn as Andy Warhol in "Factory Girl" will give his career some heat, and the it looks like he's playing Houdini in "Death Defying Acts," which could be cool.

3/09/2006 08:10:00 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

Wow, I haven't seen any of those yet. Oh light of Netflix, shower me with your golden Guy Piercey delight!

3/09/2006 09:46:00 AM  

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