Wednesday 4 February 2015

Nick Cave on Film

Previously published for Front Room Cinema in 2012...

Most famous for his dark, sorrowful music style, Nick Cave is an accomplished musician who has
had countless hits with various incarnations of his band, most notably a haunting duet with Kylie Minogue 'Where the Wild Roses Grow' that bolstered what was already an impressive career. His music has been used in films as diverse as Dumb and Dumber, Scream, Hellboy, and even Harry Potter, but it is his skill as a scriptwriter and composer that has created an indelible impression on the film industry. His partnership with John Hillcoat is a match made in heaven; their fascination with brutal violence and morbid subject matter doesn't mean they leave humour at home, with a vicious streak of black comedy coarsing through Nick Cave's scripts that is effortlessly adapted to the screen by Hillcoat. Whilst his involvement in films has not been as prominent as his musical career, his track record so far indicates just how talented a man Nick Cave is:

Ghosts... of The Civil Dead - Writer, Actor and Music Department

Nick Cave's first stint as a writer led to the inception of this claustrophobic prison drama which also marked John Hillcoat's directorial debut. This forgotten gem has been overlooked and is difficult to get hold of but those who seek it out will come face to face with a stark and brutal vision of a maximum security jail where Nick Cave actually portrays one of the prisoners as well as providing the intense and chilling score. Most of the violence is off screen and there is little semblance of a plot but that doesn't stop Ghosts... of the Civil Dead from being a gripping viewing experience. It would be seventeen years later before Cave returned to lend his skills as a writer once more but boy was I glad when he did.

The Proposition - Writer, Music Department, and Composer

Once more Nick Cave wrote a captivating screenplay and teamed up with his ally John Hillcoat to shoot a cautionary revenge tale in the Australian outback. With an impressive cast featuring John Hurt, Guy Pearce and Ray Winstone to name a few, Hillcoat refused to shy away from the bloodshed and the end result garnered awards for a number of the cast as well as Cave for his writing and enigmatic score. When a lawmen forces a notorious outlaw to hunt down his older brother if he wants to prevent his younger brother from being executed, tough decisions are faced by all as the film spirals towards its inevitable bloody conclusion.

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford - Actor and Composer

This stunningly beautiful western knowingly references Malick throughout, with long sweeping shots of nature that are capable of mesmerising all but the most impatient of viewers, and an accompanying grandiose storyline that recounts an epic tale of betrayal. Nick Cave lends his bluesy ballads to the fray with an acting role as a saloon singer that he seemed born to play, along with his usual contributions to a fitting soundtrack that perfectly compliments the enchanting cinematography.

The Road - Music Department and Composer

Set in a world as sparse and depressing as some of Nick Cave's downbeat songs, The Road is a harrowing adaptation of a Cormac McCarthy novel that is an exhausting but fascinating watch. Cave's accompanying score is perfectly suited to a post apocalyptic future where few managed to survive and enhanced Hillcoat's vision of a decaying earth by adding a palpable sense of dread that has the power to leave the audience numb. The grim determination of a lone father and son has never been so fraught with danger, and the world around them slowly crumbles away whilst they struggle to remain alive. Once again, Cave's contribution to a Hillcoat film elevates it to a monumental piece of cinema that shakes the viewer to the core.

Lawless - Writer and Composer

Out in cinemas this week, Lawless is a thrilling depression-era western that charts the changing fortunes of three brothers and their illegal bootlegging business as a new law enforcement officer attempts to bring them down. Much like in The Proposition, the trio of brothers includes a young inexperienced teen taking his first steps to becoming a man (Shia LaBeouf), a tough but responsible decision maker (Tom Hardy) and a careless older brother who is prone to outbursts of violence (Jason Clarke). This combination of personalities leads to another fascinating tale, and veteran actors Gary Oldman and Guy Pearce breathe life into Cave's characters with striking performances that deserve to be seen on the big screen.

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