Watched The Proposition. Sort of. Saw it in a roomful of people, with several conversations going on at all times. If you’ve been to one of these little film-watching events at my house than you know what I’m talking about—it’s a sort of controlled chaos that’s better suited to oddball genre stuff like The Calamari Wrestler (which we also watched). The kind of thing that you can look over at occasionally and wonder did I just see that? Was that an octopus fighting a squid? In a boxing ring? And then go back to whatever you were discussing. The Proposition, unfortunately, is an actual movie, one that I feel like I’ve seen a third of. Or seen all of with a third of my brain. I fully intend to write about it anyway, though, which is like one of those, what do you call ‘em, metaphors for what all of us are doing here on the Internets. Lecturing from a postion of ignorance—I recommend it!
Anyway, if you’re not familiar, The Proposition is the Nick Cave western—and that’s all the review you really need if you’re familiar with the western genre and the Cave ouevre (try saying that out loud.) Certainly it’s enough to make a lot of people edge away—I was careful not to mention the screenwriting credit when I was trying to get my guests to watch the thing. But that’s because there’s this caricature of Cave as some sort of absurd, self-important Goth Elvis (that’s Glenn Danzig!) rather than just a smart and funny guy who can write pretty damned well. Maybe it’s the moustache.
So, we’ve got an Australian western—which is a sub-genre well-steeped in insanity already. Sun. Flies. Dust. Blood. Sweat. Funny accents. Guy Pearce and Danny Huston are brothers and outlaws, Ray Winstone (or “Sexy Beast” as he will forever be known in my house) is a tormented and extremely unhealthy lawman, Emily Watson is his long-suffering wife, John Hurt is a spectacularly hammy bounty hunter. People get flogged, stomped to death, and shot in the head, although not in that order. Virtue and vice are both extravagantly punished. I think it’s pretty good.
Interesting connections: I read more than one review of this movie that tossed around the name of Cormac McCarthy. This is a slightly lazy comparison, based mainly on the western setting and the presence of lavish violence punctuated by philosophical musings, but it’s still interesting. It may just be coincidence, but Proposition director John Hillcoat is supposed to be in line to direct the movie of McCarthy’s most recent novel (and Oprah’s current Book Club pick!) The Road. Which could, you know, be pretty awesome. I just read The Road—for class, no less—and knowing what I knew, I couldn’t help but think that there was a certain Nick Cave vibe to the whole thing. I also thought it seemed pretty unfilmable—it’s mainly about scrounging for canned goods after the end of the world—but no one should ever let that stop them.