SHERDOG MOVIE CLUB: Week 35 Discussion - The Proposition

Discussion in 'Mayberry Lounge' started by Guestx, Dec 28, 2016.

  1. Guestx

    Guestx Guest

    NOTE to NON-MEMBERS: Confused about what's going on in here? See the following thread:

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    It's a Western! In Australia! That's right, this week we discuss @jeicex's contribution. . .


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    Our Director


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    The Proposition was directed by JOHN HILLCOAT.

    Hillcoat was born in Australia, but raised in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. He first entered the art world as a painter, and as a child his paintings were featured in the Art Gallery of Hamilton. Later on, he attended St Thomas More Secondary School and was active with the McMaster University Film Board, most notably producing an animated short titled The Finger.

    Other films he directed include The Road and Lawless. His most recent film was Triple 9 earlier this year.



    Our Stars


    Guy Pearce: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001602/?ref_=tt_cl_t5


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    Ray Winstone: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0935653/?ref_=tt_cl_t8


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    Danny Huston: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0396812/?ref_=tt_cl_t13


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    Emily Watson: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001833/?ref_=fn_al_nm_1


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    Film Overview and YouTube Videos


    Premise: A lawman apprehends a notorious outlaw and gives him nine days to kill his older brother, or else they'll execute his younger brother.

    Budget: $2 Million
    Box Office: $5 Million (worldwide)





    Trivia
    (courtesy of IMDB)​


    * Nick Cave finished the script in three weeks.

    * The wardrobe was handmade to be as authentic as possible and even the buttons were all handmade for the film.

    * Neither Captain Stanley (Ray Winstone) nor Jellon Lamb (John Hurt) kill anybody or even fire their guns throughout the whole movie, despite being a policeman and a bounty hunter, respectively.

    * Originally, John Hillcoat approached Nick Cave about doing the soundtrack for a Western, eventually he asked if Cave would write the screenplay as well.

    * As noted in behind-the-scenes features included on The Proposition DVD, the film is regarded as uncommonly accurate in depicting indigenous Australian culture of the late 19th century, and when filming in the outback, the cast and crew took great pains to follow the advice of indigenous consultants. In an interview included on the DVD, indigenous Australian actor Tom E. Lewis even compares the depiction of indigenous cultures in The Proposition to the landmark film The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith (1978), which Lewis starred in.



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    Members: @shadow_priest_x @europe1 @EL CORINTHIAN @HUNTERMANIA @iThrillhouse @DaDamn @chickenluver @jeicex @MusterX @BeardotheWeirdo @Caveat @In The Name Of @Coolthulu @Werdun @AndersonsFoot
     
  2. Minotauro Rex Foot

    Minotauro Rex Foot CONSTABLE & Assistant Acting PWD GM 1st Class Platinum Member

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    I really enjoyed this. I wasn't sure what to expect going in as I wasn't even aware of its existence until a few days ago, but it was nice surprise. Great acting, cinematography, decent story. I got a laugh at Charlie saying his name was Charles Murphy because the first thing i heard in my head was Dave Chappelle as Rick James yelling "Charlie Murphy!". I may be way off here but the pacing felt a little weird to me, I was expecting a big battle for Mikey at the end but it was a kind of anticlimactic last few minutes, not bad, just not what i was expecting. Overall good movie tho, IMO. I was a little confused at how Jellon was first hurt when he captured Charlie, blood just randomly appeared and I didn't hear a gunshot or see anything happen to him.

    I'd give it a 7.6
     
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  3. Guestx

    Guestx Guest

    I think this movie subverted expectations on a number of levels. But personally, I loved the ending and thought it was very impactful.

    What was interesting was that the first few minutes of the movie set up Ray Winstone as this ruthless, cruel man, or at least that was the impression that I got. And then the rest of the movie walks that back and shows that, no, he's actually not that at all. In fact, he's one of the few characters in the story who shows any compassion or humanity.

    So at the end, when he's about to be killed and Emily Watson is about to get raped, I was like, "No, not like this." After all, if anyone deserved their comeuppance it was that sniveling fuck in the bowler hat, not the Captain and his wife.

    When I realized that Guy Pearce wasn't initially in that last scene I was pretty sure I knew what was about to happen, and thankfully the movie did not disappoint. If the film had ended with the rape and murder of these relatively innocent characters then it would've just been too nihilistic for me.
     
  4. Guestx

    Guestx Guest

    I thought this was a very good film.

    @CerebralKnievel mentioned that the film was slow, and I had said in that same thread that I had tried to watch it before but it just wasn't working for me so I turned it off after 10 or so minutes. This time, however, I had a different experience.

    I think one reason for my different experience is the format in which I watched it. The first time I actually had gotten the DVD from the library and my DVD player at the time was REALLY shitty when it came to upscaling the 480p image for HDTVs, so the image did not look good. Last night, however, I was on a good stream and had a much sharper image, which had a positive effect on my enjoyment of the film.

    From a plot perspective, I felt like it presented an interesting question: Would you kill one brother, who you knew was a crazy, sadistic fuck, to save another brother who you felt like had preserved some measure of innocence and who perhaps still had a chance at living a productive life? That, to me, was at the core of the film's story. And that's a hell of a choice to have to make because, no matter how crazy they were or how terrible of a person they were, how do you kill your own brother?

    I felt like every performance here was top notch, masterful even. Guy Pearce does a wonderful job, but frankly I felt he was upstaged by almost everyone else. Ray Winstone as the morally conflicted Captain, Danny Huston as the well-spoken madman, John Hurt as the bounty hunter, and Emily Watson as the devoted wife all play their parts to perfection. It's pretty amazing that a relatively inexperienced (at the time) director was able to get performances like that out of his cast.

    Cinematographically, the film is also excellent. There are some incredibly striking visuals here, the kind where you just want to pause the movie and admire what you see like its a painting. I had never heard of Benoît Delhomme before, but apparently he had shot several films before this one, and he went on to shoot films like 1408, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, Lawless, The Theory of Everything and The Free State of Jones.

    My one complaint, as Knievel had pointed out before, is that the movie IS a little bit slow. Or if you prefer, "deliberately paced." But overall I enjoyed it quite a bit and, after hearing so much about it, I'm glad I've finally seen it and can talk about it. We can check this one off the list.

    8/10
     
  5. Minotauro Rex Foot

    Minotauro Rex Foot CONSTABLE & Assistant Acting PWD GM 1st Class Platinum Member

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    Agreed, I totally misread Winstone based off the first scene. Also, I didn't think Arthur was that bad until the ending. He killed the guy in the barn but he was focused on getting his brother, so I didn't think much of that. The rape scene really showed who he was tho.
     
  6. Guestx

    Guestx Guest

    Well you have to remember that we are told early on that this crew had already raped and killed a mother and her child, and by all accounts he is the leader of this gang. We even see the aftermath in the burned down house.

    The question we're really left with is how much culpability for that act belongs to each character. I think that through Ray Winstone's dialogue though we're told that it really was Arthur's doing, the rest of the guys were just along for the ride.
     
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  7. Guestx

    Guestx Guest

    BTW @AndersonsFoot, if the conversation seems slow right now it's always like this. It starts slow and then picks up steam later on as more members come online.
     
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  8. Minotauro Rex Foot

    Minotauro Rex Foot CONSTABLE & Assistant Acting PWD GM 1st Class Platinum Member

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    Good point. I guess I was expecting his reveal to be a bit crazier than it was, but there was no need since the situation didn't call for that.
     
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  9. FierceRedBelt

    FierceRedBelt Red Belt

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    I haven't seen it in a few years but I really liked this movie; absolutely beautifully shot as well.

    I was bit taken back at how oblivious Ray Winston's wife was to his life and wondered if that was common for the time. I'll have to rewatch it and give it a bit of thought.
     
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  10. europe1

    europe1 It´s a nice peninsula to Asia

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    On the subject of subversion of expectations... and this might not even have been intentional... I think the movie did a main-character switcheroo on us.

    The premise, title, DVD-cover, and opening all point towards Guy Pierce as our leading man. We sort of tune-ourself towards following his journey. However... the movie really is just as much about Ray Winstone as it is Pierce... maybe even more so.

    I was getting ready to ride out with Pierce into the outback but the movie kept switching back to Winstone at the outpost so many times that eventually he seemed to be the protagonist.

    I think the handling of Arthur as a character was the films greatest flaw.

    Think about it... how do people "talk" about Arthur. The aborigines say that he is a dog-man, a beastly creature. Even these guys that are as native to the outback as one can be find him mysterious and as a natural force. John Hurt describes him like some sort of shadow, a haunting of the outback.

    Everything we're told about Arthur makes him out to be some sort of mythical, larger-than-life creature. As if he's one with the wilderness, more a demon of the desert than a man of civilization.

    In this manner, the film evokes the mythical qualities of Apocalypse Now. It's a riff on Colonel Kurtz. The film set itself up as a story about Guy Pierce riding out to take on this mythical superman -- whom even the aborigines fear and find mysterious, a man more in-touche with the Outback than even themselves -- just as Martin Sheen does in Apocalypse Now.


    Yet... Arthur himself evokes none of these statements. He's a cunning rogue, basically, more dejected and brutal than most and he lives in the wilderness. Yet I don't really see why the aborigines would find this guy such a dog-man... or a shadow. He is in fact -- quite civilized, articulate even, which stands in contrast to his painting as a desert-man.

    We're teased a mythical superman yet are given a much more life-like man. But this isn't played as a subversion. And there lies the problem.


    As shadow mentioned, fratricide is a major theme of this film. I think that that should have been the angle they should have played. Instead of foreshadowing Arthur's mythical qualities, the film should have foreshadowed Arthur and Guy Pierce's brotherly relationship, what they were like as brother, what the dynamic between them was. That would have made their encounter and eventual clash more poignant.
     
  11. Guestx

    Guestx Guest

    My take on her obliviousness was that, at least at that time, women were supposed to concern themselves with feminine matters. It would not be appropriate for her to be aware of the grisly details of law enforcement in this forsaken land.
     
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  12. europe1

    europe1 It´s a nice peninsula to Asia

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    I think this is related to the "civilize the outback" theme that Ray Winstone's character talks about throughout the film.

    So Winstone wants to cultivate civilization in this wilderness. What does that entail? Or... what does he think that entails? It's probably something like:

    1. Establish english law and order
    2. Protect the settlers
    3. Kill bandits/hostile natives

    Yet... this process isn't as uncomplicated as he thinks. The line between the good and the bad isn't as demarcated as he believes. His subordinates are uncouth, undisciplined thugs -- not the sort of people that care about cultivating civilization. The townsfolk, likewise, blatantly ignore law and order. Their desire to see the youngest Burns brother killed doesn't steam from any notion of justice (remember that justice, by it's very definition, has to be impartial), they are after (understanded) revenge. In doing this they strongarm Winstone, go against his orders, they go against the very law and civilization that he is trying to keep intact. Even his wife positions herself in their ranks.

    The irony in this is that the only character that proves himself to possess the sense of righteousness in the end, is a bandit, one of the Burns bros. By killing Arthur, it is he that sees to it that civilization will have a chance to flourish in this land. It's not the townsfolk, it's not the policemen, it's not Ray Winstone, that strikes the strongest blow for civilization. Moral convictions, not something institutionalized, will tame the Outback.

    Note that even Winstone's own methods are corrupted. He strikes underhanded dealings and dishonorably keeps people in the dark about his dealings. He will not succed because he is not pure in intentions or method.

    Guy Pierce, meanwhile, actually seems to struggle morally with the murder that transpires. Likewise he does not kill John Hurt when given the chance... and he mercy-kills him later. And his murder of his brother seems to steam from some sort of moral conviction.


    Also... two other things. Notice that Guy lies to Arthur when they look at the sunset. He says that their little brother has settled with some dame (a blatant lie). They seem rather wisful when discussing this. Do Guy and Arthur secretly long to settle themselves?

    And when Guy mercy-kills John Hurt, Arthur says "Why can't you ever just... stop me?". Is this to imply that there is prior conflict and that Guy has thought long about killing Arthur?
     
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  13. Guestx

    Guestx Guest

    About Irishmen?
     
  14. Guestx

    Guestx Guest

    I'm not sure I'd agree with this. Winstone may not quite be up to the task of civilizing this land, but I definitely feel that he possesses a legitimate sense of righteousness. You can't only look at results.


    I was reminded of Of Mice and Men. Arthur obviously isn't the imbecile that Lennie is, but there is a broad parallel of one man having affection for another but ultimately realizing that his friend (or brother) is just too fucking dangerous to live on.
     
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  15. MusterX

    MusterX Titanium Belt

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    The racist old man we first encounter in the bar, Jellon Lamb played by John Hurt, is a classic racist but there would be a lot of racism during that time period. A couple of lines he had in that bar scene were grin worthy. Charlie Burns tells him if you don't stop talking about the Irish I'll kill you so he tells Charlie a greater race I've never met.....who peeled a potato. Later in the same scene Charlie grabs him by the neck and then Lamb puts a shank to Charlie's neck and tells him he's about to get cut so Charlie lets him go. The Darwinian monkey ancestry also seemed to give him a good laugh.

    Also, its pretty neat how the wild west time period in American history, which really was a very short period of time, has so infected people of many different countries. Cowboy's and gunslingers, have taken on a life of its own over the years. I know Australia has a history of cowboys but not sure how much the film borrows from the American cinema version of western films and how much is authentically Australian.
     
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2016
  16. europe1

    europe1 It´s a nice peninsula to Asia

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    Oh I forgot to mention... wasn't it just cruel of them to fill that jail-cell with sand and keep it roofless? Lying on all that hot sand with the sun in your face must be downright unbearable to endure. :p
     
  17. MusterX

    MusterX Titanium Belt

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    @europe1 I'm terribly disappointed you didn't pick up on the highlighted above.
     
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  18. europe1

    europe1 It´s a nice peninsula to Asia

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    I am dishonored and know what I must do.

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  19. Guestx

    Guestx Guest

    Yeah, that would be some fucking bullshit.

    From everything I've read and seen, basically ALL prison circumstances were incredibly harsh up until like 70 or so years ago.
     
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  20. dissolved

    dissolved Steel Belt

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    6.5/10

    I had a really tough time with this one a 2nd time around. I enjoyed it much more the first time. I just had such a tough time being interested or caring.

    The first interesting part was in the bar with the racist. But then the movie fell back into a boring rut with brief moments of intrigue. The ending was pretty good.

    I think Guy Pearce suits these roles more than any other. Probably my favourite of his was Ravenous. Obviously LA Confidential was a gem too.

    I'd have included Ravenous in the list, but sorry to rabbit-trail.

    *edit

    Sorry to be a Debbie Downer, it's just that this time around it just didn't hit me at all. Some good parts, acting and costumes. Wasn't sure about what looked like a out of season canola oil crop surrounding the town but most probably wouldn't have caught that (if it was).
     
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2016
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