Friday, November 06, 2009

the proposition (hillcoat, 2005)

As another writer noted, the idea of a rock musician writing a screenplay for a western (albeit an Aussie variation) sounds like a recipe for disaster, but Nick Cave's screenplay for The Proposition is so rich and novelistic that one may be alarmed to discover, upon digging deeper into the film's production history, that it's an original work, not based on any pre-existing book or screenplay. Hillcoat's direction yields a nasty, concise bit of business that recalls not just Cormac McCarthy but also Werner Herzog (particularly Cobra Verde) and Alex Cox (Walker, less for the fever-dream surrealism and more for the relatively sober period production scored to contemporary music). Making the most of the Australian outback, Hillcoat makes frequent use of overhead camera angles as well as underground or partly-underground structures, conveying the impression that every hideout is already a grave, every interior that of a mausoleum.

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