Notes from the attic: John Hillcoat

I'm a big fan of Nick Cave and his dark wit. He's probably best known for his work with The Bad Seeds. But he's also a screenwriter and (recent) novelist. I first experienced his cinema side watching The Proposition back at the old Ragtag in 2005. Directed by fellow Aussie John Hillcoat, it's an Australian western based loosely on true events (I'm pretty sure). There are four brothers: two in the bush, two in the hands of the law. One is given a proposition: bring in the psychotic, murderous two and save the younger third from the gallows pole.  It's one of my favorites.

I brought it to movie club a few months ago but there was some objection to watching it because of its "grisly violence." Too early in the morning, I guess. Rent it from 9th Street.

John Hillcoat's most recent cinema feature is the adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's The Road (2009)---that ultra-scary post-apocalyptic father-and-son story. I have read the book but not seen the movie. I'm sure it's good but I'm in no hurry to visit that darkness just yet. Nick Cave produced the score for The Road, by the way.

A while back I was perusing Hillcoat's IMDb page and noticed Ghosts... of the Civil Dead, from 1988, Hillcoat's first feature. Nick Cave is one of many writers on the film and an actor. It never got US release, though there are VHS copies floating around out there in the ether. I procured a copy and we watched it.
Ghosts is a prison movie. It is a political movie. And its aim is to portray the brutal, dehumanizing qualities of the prison system. And it works. It's not the best movie, admittedly, but it's a great first effort and was probably made for zero dollars. It's often fun to explore a director's early works and test out that ol' auteur theory.

Coming up from Hillcoat and Cave:  The Wettest County. Opening some time later this year, I imagine. Based on Matt Bondurant's 2008 historic novel The Wettest County in the World. It's about bootlegging. The cast is impressive: Tom Hardy, Jessica Chastain, Gary Oldman, Guy Pearce, and Shia LaBeouf. I'm not too excited about seeing LaBeouf in there, though. Hopefully he isn't screaming for the whole movie like all his other performances.