Monday night was spent attending a special screening of the new Australian feature film "The Proposition" directed by John Hillcoat, starring Guy Pierce, Ray Winstone, David Wenham, John Hurt and a host of others. More importantly (from my perspective) the screenplay was written by Nick Cave, with music by Cave and Warren Ellis (that's Warren Ellis from "The Bad Seeds" and "The Dirty Three", not Warren Ellis exceptional comic writer).
What can I say? Loved the film to bits. I've always been a fan of Nick Cave's musical work, as well as his prose (If you haven't read his novel "And The Ass Saw The Angel" do yourself a favour and grab a copy. Have a dictionary standing by), so it wasn't going to take too much to get me into the mood. Without doubt a terribly violent film with no punches pulled, however at no time did I feel that the violence was overt or overly glorified. If anything, the violence put a stamp on certain scenes to give them context. People committed violent acts, but you could either see the justification for it or loathed them all the more for what they'd done.
More importantly was the quality of the writing, the music, the acting and the cinematography. I'll never cease to be amazed at how central Australia has the ability to look so hellish and so awe-inspiringly beautiful at the same time. I'd be pleased to go back and see it again.
Tickets were provided through work so I managed to see it for free. Should this sort of offer arise in the future I want you all to promise to stop me from going.
Problems? Of course! Whenever you give out a bunch of free tickets to people with no real interest other than "being seen on the town" on a Monday night you end up with an audience with no investment in the movie or the narrative experience. Because these sort of screenings commence within a minute or two of the printed start time, and because everyone's been conditioned into cinemas taking fifteen minutes of ads and previews to get to the feature, you wind up with people sauntering in late, trying to find seats in the dark. Then, after being dissatisfied with the second row corner seats they've found themselves stuck with, they go wandering through the cinema looking for better ones, right next to where I'm sitting. Moreover, as these tickets tend to be double passes, they tend towards an inclination to talk to their companion, a cardinal sin in my opinion for which perpetrators should be publicly flogged after the conclusion of the film. In fact, I'd have thought that the scene where one of the characters is publicly flogged would have been enough to make these incessant yappers realise what was awaiting them at the end of the show. Alas it did not.
I understand that Cinema (note the "big C") is a communal affair, a shared dream best experienced with a large group of like-minded people, however when, as mentioned before, they have no investment in the story, or even the film experience, I find myself thinking that I would happily pay $15 in a theatre only a third full, provided each of those people wanted to be there as much as I did.
Quote of the night -
(From a woman in the row behind me as the audience left): "If it hadn't been for all the people in this row I'd have run out halfway through."
I turned around to catch a glimpse of this woman. She had tears crawling down her face and her eyes had the red puffiness of fear. I have to admit, I've never seen a cinema empty so quickly. One other patron had this to say to his wife as he left.
"That was the most violent film I've ever seen."
Reaction? You haven't seen many films, have you?
Which reminds me of one last beef before I wrap up.
I'm a credit-watcher. I don't necessarily want to see who everyone was, but I like to sit and take in the music until the movie concludes and the curtains return to centre stage. I'm not the only one, but there's precious few of us. Gripe is, cinema staff wandering through before the credits are done, cleaning up for the next showing, yelling at each other. If I'd paid for those tickets, I swear, blood would have been spilt.
Enough! Feel the love for Australian cinema. See it! Believe that one town can have that many flies.