Day 328-- stock companies
Monday, July 30, 2007
I've always been interested in acting stock companies; the idea of a bunch of actors that regularly work together just intrigues me.
The basis for this interest lies with the John Ford's stock company (it's quite an impressive list). The famous American director constantly used the same actors for his movies; more often than not, his entire supporting cast was made up of his 'regulars.'
And the thing is, they were talented. I'd put a dream team of Ward Bond, Victor McLaglen, John Qualen, Ben Johnson, Harry Carey Jr. and Woody Strode against any gaggle of actors, living or dead.
posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 7/30/2007 10:01:00 PM, ,
Day 327-- Sergeant Rutledge (1960)
Sunday, July 29, 2007
With all of the acclaim John Ford (justly) receives for his other films (namely the Searchers,
She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, the Quiet Man), I'm surprised that Sergeant Rutledge somehow got lost in the mix.
Set in 1880s American west, the film is set during the court martial trial of Sergeant Braxton Rutledge (Woody Strode), a black cavalryman accused of rape and murder. Set to defend him is Lt. Tom Cantrell ('60s heart throb Jeffrey Hunter), who insists on Rutledge's innocence. The story unfolds through flashbacks as the various witnesses take the stand.
The movie was controversial upon its release; the nature of the crimes in the movie--though handled delicately--aren't glossed over. And despite the fact that Hunter got top billing, Strode gets the bulk of the screentime in the movie--every time he's on the screen he's mesmerizing. Considering that this was made before the dawn of much of the civil rights action, that's saying something.
But the movie is quite good; the court room setting works quite well, and the acting is outstanding. (I was surprised at how few of Ford's 'stock company' were present, aside from Strode.) Ford's straight-faced sense of humor really worked this time too, and provided some genuine chuckles while not making light of the subject.
I've always said how Ford is easily one of my favorite filmmakers--his unadorned direction called attention to the story and the characters, and the little nuances he demanded from his actors paid off in the end. Rutledge is a prime example of all of the good things in a Ford film. In fact, I'd say it's almost Ford concentrate.
Labels: review (movie)
posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 7/29/2007 11:31:00 PM, ,
Day 326-- the Nietzsche Family Circus
Saturday, July 28, 2007
posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 7/28/2007 11:26:00 PM, ,
Too tired to post. Blah--maybe more tomorrow?
posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 7/28/2007 12:51:00 AM, ,
Day 324-- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, by J.K. Rowling
Thursday, July 26, 2007
Before Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was released, I remember telling a friend that no matter how good the book--the final in the series--was, it would not live up to the high expectations of its fanbase.
I was wrong. At least for me, the Deathly Hallows ended up as the best in the series, a wonderful conclusion to a captivating series.
(I'm going to keep this as spoiler-free as possible; if you haven't read any of the books in the series but want to, I'd avoid reading any further.)
I won't attempt a step-by-step review, but I'll say this: the book is great on many levels. Rowling wraps up every loose end in the series without making it feel forced. It's the most exciting out of the books, but also the most weighty; the stakes are so high this time that--by page 30--some shocking things happen. And they keep happening.
The usual themes of friendship, love and coping with death are present, but the ones that really rang clear this time were those of forgiveness, the importance of community and redemption. There were three key instances where I just wept and wept because of how clear these were. I'm wondering how much of the evangelical community--many of whom have chastised the series in the past--will react now that Rowling's intentions with the series have become more clear (that link is pretty spoiler-filled, FYI). I for one always suspected this, and I think that the way Rowling handles it is incredibly moving.
The Deathly Hallows is a great conclusion; the characters are lovingly handled, and I really felt like Rowling did a better job than I could have possibly imagined. Here's to you, J.K.
Labels: review (book)
posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 7/26/2007 10:03:00 PM, ,
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Answer these three questions for me, dear reader:
1) What was the last movie you saw, and what did you think of it?
2) What was the last song you heard, and what did you think of it?
3) What was the last book you read (or are currently reading), and what did(do) you think of it?
posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 7/25/2007 11:47:00 PM, ,
1) Playing at the Byham Theater in Pittsburgh was a good venue choice. Having seats at a concert is pretty cool, especially when they're seats in a multi-leveled theater.
2) Wearing chic suits and being polite and gracious to your audience is cool.
3) Starting on time and ending at a reasonable time is also good.
4) Short, classy encores are good.
5) Stunning, complex visual art intertwined with the music is a cool thing.
6) Having your sound eventually drown out by reverb is BAD. By the end of the concert I couldn't distinguish guitars from vocals from keyboards.
posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 7/25/2007 01:31:00 AM, ,
Day 321-- for Sheldon
Monday, July 23, 2007
My ranking of the Coen brothers' films, from greatest to worst (NOTE: I'm thinking about overall film value here, not which I enjoy more than the others)--
O Brother, Where Art Thou?
the Big Lebowski
the Man Who Wasn't There
I won't budge on the fact that I think Fargo is their best film. I also won't budge on the fact that I think the Ladykillers and Intolerable Cruelty are their worst (in their defense, those are the only two movies that they didn't write the screenplay from scratch). The rest of their movies are on a narrow sliding scale--while I put Raising Arizona much lower than Barton Fink, they're still both 4.5 to 5 star (out of five) movies.
Feel free to argue with me about why I ranked things a certain way. And where will No Country For Old Men rank on this list, especially considering that it's an adaptation (a first for the brothers)? If it's anything like what I've heard from advance reviewers, probably in the top four.
The brothers should be well-regarded, though, by fans of cinema. They've had few missteps in their 10+ film career, and their hits are almost always out of the ballpark. Can you say that for any other contemporary filmmaker(s)?
posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 7/23/2007 11:20:00 PM, ,
Day 320-- the Inimitable Jeeves, by P.G. Wodehouse
Sunday, July 22, 2007
I've been told all P.G. Wodehouse novels have similar plot structures. A central character--often the narrator--is engaged to be married against their will/stuck trying to help a good friend woo someone/accidentally stolen a policeman's hat, and another
central character helps them out.
And you know what? If this is the case, bring it on; Wodehouse is such an amazing, witty writer that the plot is almost secondary to the language and conversation of the characters.
Set in 1920s England, the Inimitable Jeeves revolves around narrator Bertie Wooster--a wealthy do-nothing--and his valet Jeeves. Wooster is no dummy, but he tends to get himself in scrap after scrap. Jeeves, who possesses a seemingly infinite amount of intelligence, always bails him out.
The almost feels like a bunch of short stories tied together through small plot devices. One of the main connecting points is Bertie's friend Bingo, a scrappy young man who falls in love with every woman he meets. He always wrangles Bertie into helping him some way, and as a result Jeeves gets involved.
The book is consistently hilarious. Wodehouse is a master with the English language, and though this is the only book of his I've read, popular consensus among book-snob types is that he's ALWAYS a master in his hundreds of novels. That's comforting in a way. This was a quick read, and definitely something that fits both into the "serious literature" and "wonderfully fun" categories.
Labels: review (book)
posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 7/22/2007 10:39:00 PM, ,
Whatever it is, go to this instead.
posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 7/22/2007 12:33:00 AM, ,
Day 318-- @ midnight
Friday, July 20, 2007
I will be at Borders Express tonight, volunteering for the big release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. It comes out at midnight; this particular Borders (my now-former employer, sniff) is a small store and there are around 900 copies reserved. I'll be running the reservation table, so when people start lining up at 10 p.m. I'll be the first person they see. I did this for the release of the Half-Blood Prince, and it was fun. The people were very friendly, the crowd a good mix of excited children and even-more-excited adults.
I'm excited. I'm very excited. And the best bookseller on the planet has some great things to say about the book and its release. Trust me, Byron, I would've reserved it at H&M if I were just a tad closer to you.
posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 7/20/2007 03:37:00 PM, ,
Thursday, July 19, 2007
In high school, I would've balked at the idea of going to bed before midnight. Now, with a new office job paired with a fairly humid summer, bed before midnight is looking mighty inviting.
I stopped at Beaver Falls Coffee & Tea after work today. I'm really enjoying me job at Geneva, but it involves lots of mental gymnastics. I'm not used to that--wait, that sounded bad--I'm not used to that for extended periods of time, and in this context. So, I'm worn out.
So I'm at the coffee shop. I'm talking to my friend Megan and--just to get off of my feet before I walk home--I sit down on the couch. And then I wake up 40 minutes later, my shirt speckled with sweat, my hair swooping away from my scalp.
I'm necessarily getting up early. It's just that I think I need more sleep. My body is used to being on my feet all day doing semi-physical work, not sitting down and multi-tasking 10 things. Both are enjoyable and challenging, it's just the doing the latter is fairly new to me.
It's almost 11:40 p.m. My bed is calling, shouting into a bullhorn. Unlike the Jason in high school, I won't ignore it this time.
posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 7/19/2007 11:21:00 PM, ,
People really, really need to stop making words plural by adding a 'z' at the end.
posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 7/19/2007 12:42:00 AM, ,
Day 315-- a window by the road
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
I have two glass-block windows in my little basement room, both having a portion that can be opened to the outside. This is pretty neat, except--
- I hear--quite loudly--every car, truck, tractor trailer, motorcycle, ambulance, police car, rickshaw, go cart, bicycle, wheelbarrow and Power Wheel that goes by.
- Amplify this a million times when the streets are wet.
- I hear the skater gangs go by. They would make a sailor blush.
- SIRENS OH THE SIRENS.
- You can conceivably look through the slit and see Jason sleeping. This isn't creepy, not one bit.
posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 7/17/2007 11:39:00 PM, ,
Well, maybe the news really isn't that great. In fact, I think it's pretty lame. But if you care about Indiana Jones at all, it's worth reading. (In short--the new Indy movie might turn into something that resembles the Star Wars prequels.)
But this is a summer of great trailers, folks (and some not-so-great ones):
- First you have the trailer everyone is talking about: the untitled project from J.J. Abrams (one of the names it's being labeled is Cloverfield, which sounds cool). Familiar, tired premise done in a very different way. This could be good (or, if you read my post yesterday, a lot of hot air).
- Martial arts + western = I'm interested.
- Alan Tudyk (Serenity) is a great actor, but...an English accent? What?
- Here's what looks to be a good remake of a very good movie. Could this be the western to get the genre back on track? Look at the names attached, too--pretty impressive.
- Another quirky, coming-of-age story that gets praises from hip sources? Yippee. (I guess this depends on whether you consider Peter Travers hip or not.)
- Jason Flinn and I will go see this together--I can just feel it.
- Film version of a very, very good non-fiction book. A few parts of the trailer might prove to be chilling to anyone that's read it, mind you.
- And the movie I really cannot wait for: what could be a near perfect adaptation of a stunning novel by two of the best filmmakers working today. I'm pumped.
posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 7/17/2007 12:37:00 AM, ,
Day 313--viral marketing is scary
Monday, July 16, 2007
posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 7/16/2007 12:24:00 AM, ,
Day 312-- '80s cover update
Sunday, July 15, 2007
So the Beaver County Times ran a story about next Saturday's amazing show. This alarmed me for two reasons:
1) The Times gave the wrong date. They said it was tonight--oops. About 10 people showed up at the shop tonight over the course of an hour; they thought they had missed it when they didn't see a crowd. I told them the correct time.
2) This was publicity, which means people will be there. I should actually learn these songs.
Here's what I'm doing (this list is different from the one I tossed around earlier in the week):
-"Caribbean Queen" (Billy Ocean)-- I just nailed down a mournful version of this in C# minor. It's going to be amazing.
-"Dancing in the Dark" (Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band)-- I have this one down too. I'm going to just play it with a slightly fuzzed electric guitar, ala Billy Bragg. I love the song, but have never memorized--or even TRIED to memorize--all of the lyrics. Hope I can this time!
-"Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" (Cyndi Lauper)-- Haven't tried yet, but this shouldn't be too bad.
-"Theme from Ghostbusters" (Ray Parker Jr.)--The wildcard. If I can't figure this out, I'll learn...
-..."Drive" (the Cars)-- Easy and coffee-shop ready.
posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 7/15/2007 12:11:00 AM, ,
Day 311-- Walden Media ruins (another) book series!
Friday, July 13, 2007
And to think I was going make cheap jokes about a certain Midwest funk/rock band.
Walden Media did a mediocre job with the film version The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. And now they're upping the terribleness ante with Susan Cooper's great Dark is Rising series.
The books were set (if I remember correctly) in 1970s England. Will Stanton was not an American kid that needed cool magic to help his popularity. In fact, the swords-and-spellcasting fantasy schtick was pretty low in the book series; Cooper opted instead for a more subtle, atmospheric approach. The movie trailer gets so many things wrong that it's painful. See for yourself.
posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 7/13/2007 09:12:00 PM, ,
So, did anyone notice that I didn't post yesterday? Yeah, I completely forgot; I just crawled into bed with a zombie-like persistence. I'll post something for real later today, though.
posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 7/13/2007 07:02:00 AM, ,
Thursday, July 12, 2007
This post is probably aiming at an incredibly narrow niche audience: I'm going to write about what music I'm playing at a performance that very few readers--if any--are attending.
I'm play a few songs next Saturday night. My friends Mike and James are doing a stand-alone episode of their great comedy adventure serial at Beaver Falls Coffee & Tea Co., and they asked me to play a bit between segments. It'll be me and two guitars (to switch it up a bit).
I brainstormed a bit, trying to think of a good setlist. I originally wanted to doing a bunch of covers from ONE BAND, but nixed the idea. Then I thought of doing a smattering of eclectic covers. Nixed that, since I do it almost every time I play music.
Then I pulled the '80s card--covers of pop tunes from the 1980s. This stuck. I want to do a folk rendition of Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun." I just have to figure it out. I want to do a mellow, different-key version of Ray Parker Jr.'s great theme from the Ghostbuster movies. I have to figure this out. I want to do either a straight cover of Bruce Springsteen's "Brilliant Disguise" or "the River." I will figure out whichever is easier for me to sing and play simultaneously. Billy Ocean's "Caribbean Queen" or "Get Outta My Dreams (Get Into My Car)" are both possibilities, as is the Church's "Under the Milky Way."
These choices! So hard. Any suggestions? Oh, and if you're not doing anything on Saturday, July 21st, be at BFC&TCo. at 7:30. The radio show will be a blast (and the music might be OK too).
posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 7/12/2007 01:31:00 AM, ,
Day 308-- Seraphim Falls (2006)
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
As a tautly-drawn and beautifully-filmed western thriller, Seraphim Falls works well. As a commentary piece on a variety of "big" topics, well--Seraphim Falls doesn't work as well.
Pierce Brosnan and Liam Neeson play two former American Civil War officers; Gideon (Brosnan) is a former Union captain that, after committing an atrocity, wants only to be left alone. Carver (Neeson) is a former Confederate colonel that wants to see justice done, and has vowed to hunt Gideon down.
The film begins as a tense chase between Gideon and Carver and his posse, and doesn't let up for the first hour. With very little dialogue it stretches from the foothills of the Rockies to the highlands of the midwest, the scenery acting as strong as a character as the two men. What makes it interesting (aside from the fact that two Scotsmen are playing Americans--and do a good job!) is that both Gideon and Carver are good men. Gideon may be guilty of the great wrong he committed, but wants only to be forgiven for it--still, that doesn't stop him from killing anyone that tries to hunt him. Carver, on the other hand, is essentially an honorable man that's letting his desire for justice morph into twisted revenge.
And all of this is good. But then something happens. Once the chase starts breaking into smaller vignettes--run-ins with wanted criminals, a wandering band of missionaries, a meandering confrontation at a railroad construction camp--the movie just flounders. It tries to make some points, and I'm honestly not sure about what. Gideon starts spouting bits of Scripture, Angelica Huston appears out of nowhere as a Satan figure, people start hiding inside of dead horses (well, that's actually a really shocking, impressive scene)...what? There are some interesting thoughts (even theological thoughts) that seem to be forming behind the scenes, but then plop onto the screen with little formation or finesse. The ending strives to show the power of forgiveness, and it does a fair job. But it's a muddled path getting there.
I liked the cinematography a LOT, and as a first-time director, David Von Ancken (who has worked with TV shows "Oz" and "the Shield") does an admirable job. But Von Ancken's script is pretty unbalanced, and having to watch a very American Xander Berkley play a foul-mouthed Irishman--especially juxtaposed with the Neeson/Brosnan thing--makes me forget the scenery in a bad way.
In the end, it mostly worked, but not enough for me to really enjoy it. It's worth watching, but maybe that's it.
Labels: review (movie)
posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 7/10/2007 10:01:00 PM, ,
Monday, July 09, 2007
SOME THINGS I WOULD CHANGE IF I COULD IN FACT CHANGE SAID THINGS:
--Barber shops/salons/hairstylists that have shops with numerals in them. The simple fact that your hair cuttin' place is called Cutters 3 makes me never want to visit number one or two, to be honest. The same goes for nail or jewelery outlets (pay attention, Nails II and Piercing Pagoda 2--the fact that you're a sequel is just bad).
--Sign-makers would not use quotes unnecessarily. This seems to be common in Beaver County. You know what I mean.
--If you're going to break the sound barrier to pass me so that you get onto an off ramp before me, don't you realize that you're now just a few feet in front of me and going the same speed as me because the guy in front of both of us is going 10 MPH? That's why I'm laughing at you.
--"Coffee shop performance" will some day not conjure images of sad 20-something acoustic guitarists that only know Ani DiFranco/Dave Matthews covers. STOP IT AND LEARN SOMETHING DIFFERENT.
posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 7/09/2007 11:35:00 PM, ,
Sunday, July 08, 2007
I start a new job--and this job is a very, very big step in my life--in less than nine hours.
I hope I can sleep tonight.
posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 7/08/2007 11:10:00 PM, ,
Day 305--endless stories
Saturday, July 07, 2007
The feeling I get deep in my stomach when I realize there are but a few pages left in a good book...I hate that feeling. There's a small taste of victory as I'm able to put one more book on my "read" shelf, but it's eclipsed by the slight sadness that a great story--with great characters or beautiful prose--closes its final chapter.
Stephen King has an essay at the end of the most recent issue of Entertainment Weekly; it's geared mostly toward the remorse he feels about the final chapter of the Harry Potter series that will be released in two weeks, but it's also about the remorse he feels when a great story is complete.
I think he's right when he says that for some fictional worlds, an ending--no matter how well-crafted it may be--is never good enough. I also think he's right when he says that the best stories don't have an ending. Taking that statement and putting it into a more theological framework, I wonder if he realizes how right he is.
posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 7/07/2007 06:35:00 PM, ,
Looking at my book collection today, I was amazed at how many book I own and haven't read (the total it close to 160 or so at the moment). And no matter how hard I try to stop myself, I tend to gain books faster than I read them. So I have a solution.
In two easy steps:
Step one-- read the next few books that I've mentally set aside to read: finish A Severe Mercy (Sheldon Vanauken) and What Saint Paul Really Said (N.T. Wright), then plow through the Death of Adam (Marilynne Robinson), the Inimitable Mr. Jeeves (P.G. Wodehouse) and end with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (J.K. Rowling) when it's released in a few weeks.
Step two-- READ AS MANY SHORT BOOKS AS I CAN. Not that this will help in the long run, but it'll at least heavily reduce the number of unread books I have. I do want to tackle Atonement (Ian McEwan), Little Women (Louise Alcott) and Ulysseus (James Joyce) before the end of the year, but that's not hard.
I think most of the shorter books I haven't read in my collection are novels, so I guess I'll be reading a lot of fiction over the next few months.
posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 7/07/2007 01:59:00 AM, ,
Day 303-- 1001 books to read before you die
Thursday, July 05, 2007
List here--it's also in a book form, and can find it at various stores for a bargain price (I think my soon-to-be-former employer has it for $5.99)
It's an eclectic list, with many wonderful books. For the record, I've read 47 of the listed books, and own--but have not yet read--37 more. That's pretty stunning! The list does seem to favor stuff written in the past 40 years, and I guess I get some points for recognizing at least 60% of the stuff on the list.
posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 7/05/2007 10:50:00 PM, ,
The band broke up a few years ago. Singer/lead guitarist/songwriter Billy Corgan wrote a plea in a Chicago newspaper for the band to reform, for the members to put the strains of the past behind them and band together once more. Drummer Jimmy Chamberlain jumped on board immediately, but no word from the other two original members (guitarist James Iha and bassist D'Arcy Wretzky).
The band recorded an album late last year. While the reformed Pumpkins kept their line-up a secret, they started booking dates across the world. And after much speculation, false news reports and guessing games, the band released a single and now the full new album--Zeitgeist--is being entirely streamed here.
It's not bad, at all. But that's not why I'm writing this. After playing their first show a few weeks ago, audiences realized that James Iha and D'Arcy weren't in the new rehash of the band. Instead, there's a second half-Asian guitarist (much like Iha) and a female bassist (much like D'Arcy). Plus, both of the new band members are or were part of various CCM-geared bands.
Very, very interesting.
posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 7/05/2007 01:18:00 AM, ,
Day 301-- the Egyptologist, by Arthur Phillips
Tuesday, July 03, 2007
Fiction with an unreliable narrator: no big deal. Fiction with two unreliable narrators: something different.
Arthur Phillips's second novel, the Egyptologist, is a well-done--if not spectacular--exercise in narrative. Told through letters and journal entries from the 1920s and 1950s, the novel centers on Ralph Trilipush, an archaeologist searching for the tomb of the Egyptian ruler Atum-hadu. Trilipush is obsessed with the lost king, having translated what is rumored to be the king's collection of lewd poetry.
Trilipush falls in love with a young Bostonian socialite, and with the financial backing of her wealthy father, travels to an area outside of Cairo to find Atum-hadu's final resting place. The bulk of the novel are the journal entries, book notes and private letters of Trilipush, as well as those of his fiance.
Most of the other letters are dated 30 years later, from the mid-'50s. Written by dying private investigator Harry Ferrell, they focus on his search for a missing Australian autodidact and several murders tied to the man's disappearance. Ferrell's investigation ties directly into Trilipush's adventures.
The two narrators are in interesting positions: both want immortality, and both cloud the truth to get it without realizing they're doing so. The detective is more interested in his name living on in adventure novels based around his exploits that he misses that he's wildly off base with most of his thoughts. And the egyptologist is so obsessed with living forever--in more ways than one--that he's grasp on reality and truth slackens over the course of the novel.
The Egyptologist is brilliant in this area; the nuances used in the two narrators' language is precise and incredibly multi-layered. There are a few twists in the narrative that are foreshadowed by the Trilipush's language choice--and the way Phillips delivers it skillfully.
But much of the novel floats along too lazily, too carelessly. I didn't really get hooked into the story until the last third of the novel. And, in some ways, the two narrators aren't very likeable; while that's not a requirement for a good book, wishing ill upon the characters of a novel isn't a good sign.
And the book ends on a bizarre, surreal note; it's memorable, that's for sure, but I think I can say that I've never read a novel like the Egyptologist before, and I doubt I'll ever encounter one like it again.
Labels: review (book)
posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 7/03/2007 10:33:00 PM, ,
Day 300-- the Proposition (2005)
Monday, July 02, 2007
"Australia. What fresh hell is this?"
The Proposition is a very hard film to pigeonhole. It's an Australian-set western, but not in any traditional sense.
Set in the 1880s, the movie focuses on Charlie Burns (Guy Pearce, bleeding silent charisma onto the screen), a wanted criminal. Captured during a brutal gunfight in the beginning of the film, Charlie is offered a proposition by Captain Morris Stanley (Ray Winstone): Charlie is to find and kill his older brother Arthur by Christmas or his younger brother Mikey will be executed.
Charlie cares deeply for his slow-witted younger brother, so accepts Stanley's proposition. The film then pits the notion of justice versus the strength of family ties. Charlie is no innocent; the brothers are infamous for a very brutal reason, as the film slowly reveals. But he left Arthur (Danny Huston in an unforgettable role) for a reason, and you can tell there's quite a bit of conflict happening in Charlie's head throughout the movie.
As Charlie searches for Arthur and his gang, Stanley faces problems in the town he watches over. Stanley and his wife Martha (Emily Watson)--both English displaced to the 'colony'--reek of civility and proper-ness, both traits fading fast in the dusty Australian sun. Though noble in most of his reasons, Stanley crumples under the strain and brutality of the country.
The screenplay--written by Australian songwriter Nick Cave--is wound tighter than a bedspring. All of the major characters are driven by desires that turn out to be lies: Arthur believes that love rules all (while remaining a chilling murderer), Stanley wants to civilize Australia (and ends up letting chaos rule in the town), and so on. The ending is poetic, in a warped way, hinging on the phrase "no more" and showing that one character might, in fact, seek redemption.
John Hillcoat's direction is extraordinary, and the cinematography is so richly bleak that it's beautiful, in a stark way. Sunsets loom over everything, painting the few dying trees on the horizon with sickly orange hues. Flies are omnipresent, buzzing around townspeople and the numerous corpses that pile up over the film's duration.
With that in mind, the film is absolutely brutal. The violence is often unexpected and graphic. In fact, much of this movie makes a grisly western like Unforgiven seem tame in comparison. There are a few scenes that I would be fine with never watching again.
Cave, who has claimed a faith in Christ (a deeply troubled Christian, but I'm not doubting him), might've made an interesting point with the film. Stanley mentions the outback as Godforsaken, and a crazed bounty hunter (played wonderfully by John Hurt) mentions how God abandoned him in this land. Even the constant drone of flies in the background hints at a land without God, a land of violence and pain and hurt. Hell, in other words.
It's hard for me to openly recommend this to anyone--while the acting is incredible, and the soundtrack (by Cave...it's good enough to purchase on its own) and visuals are haunting, it's a harsh, harsh film. That I may have found it worthwhile in some ways, I realize most won't. The Proposition--in some ways--shows hell, and having seen it I can appreciate the good around me even more.
Trailer for the Proposition.
Labels: review (movie)
posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 7/02/2007 10:16:00 PM, ,
Sunday, July 01, 2007
What a useful site!: Common errors in English.
posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 7/01/2007 06:15:00 PM, ,