There's an allure to imperfection. With his latest drama Lawless director John Hillcoat taps directly into the side of human nature that draws us to it. Hillcoat finds it in Prohibition history a time when the regulations of alcohol consumption were subverted by most of the population; He finds it in the rural landscapes of Virginia: dingy raw and mesmerizing. And most importantly he finds it in his main character Jack Bondurant (Shia LaBeouf) the scrappy third brother of a moonshining family who is desperate to prove his worth. Jack forcefully injects himself into the family business only to discover there's an underbelly to the underbelly. Lawless is a beautiful film that's violent as hell striking in a way only unfiltered Americana could be.
Acting as the driver for his two outlaw brothers Forrest (Tom Hardy) and Howard (Jason Clarke) isn't enough for Jack. He's enticed by the power of the gangster figure and entranced by what moonshine money can buy. So like any fledgling entrepreneur Jack takes matters into his own hands. Recruiting crippled family friend/distillery mastermind Cricket (Dane DeHaan) the young whippersnapper sets out to brew his own batch sell it to top dog Floyd Banner and make the family rich. The plan works — but it puts the Bondurant boys in over their heads with a new threat: the corrupt law enforcers of Chicago.
Unlike many stories of crime life Lawless isn't about escalation. The movie drifts back and forth leisurely popping in moments like the beats of a great TV episode. One second the Bondurants could be talking shop with their female shopkeep Maggie Beauford (Jessica Chastain). The next Forrest is beating the bloody pulp out of a cop blackmailing their operation. The plot isn't thick; Hillcoat and screenwriter Nick Cave preferring to bask in the landscapes the quiet moments the haunting terror that comes with a life on the other side of the tracks. A feature film doesn't offer enough time for Lawless to build — it recalls cinema-level TV currently playing on outlets like HBO and AMC that have truly spoiled us — but what the duo accomplish is engrossing.
Accompanying the glowing visuals and Cave's knockout workout on the music side (a toe-tapping mix of spirituals bluegrass and the writer/musician's spine-tingling violin) are muted performances from some of Hollywood's rising stars. Despite LaBeouf's off-screen antics he lights up Lawless and nails the in-deep whippersnapper. His playful relationship with a local religious girl (Mia Wasikowska) solidifies him as a leading man but like everything in the movie you want more. Tom Hardy is one of the few performers who can "uurrr" and "mmmnerm" his way through a scene and come out on top. His greatest sparring partner isn't a hulking thug but Chastain who brings out the heart of the impenetrable beast. The real gem of Lawless is Guy Pearce as the Bondurant trio's biggest threat. Shaved eyebrows pristine city clothes and a temper like a rabid wolverine Pearce's Charlie Rakes is the most frightening villain of 2012. He viciously chews up every moment he's on screen. That's even before he starts drawing blood.
Lawless is the perfect movie for the late August haze — not quite the Oscary prestige picture or the summertime shoot-'em-up. It's drama that has its moonshine and swigs it too. Just don't drink too much.
The Disney Channel began an on-air campaign Thursday to help children cope with the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, with the first lady, Laura Bush, talking about her feelings on the situation, The Associated Press reports. The network designed the campaign to target children aged from 6 to 14 and plans to bring in Hollywood celebrities to join.
The attacks on New York have not changed PBS' plans to air the final episodes of New York: A Documentary Film on Sunday and Monday at 9 p.m. The film, compiled by filmmaker Ric Burns eight years ago, details another period in the city's history when it faced challenges that seemed insurmountable, like the post-World War II and its fiscal crisis of the 1970s. "The message, of course is that the city is simply too strong, too resilient, too important," Burns told Reuters. He also plans an eighth installment looking at the impact and meaning of the World Trade Center tragedy.
Rolling Stone magazine has compiled a roundup of rock star reactions to the tragedies, relating stories of how some interrupted their daily lives to help out on Ground Zero. Ozzy Osbourne sought solace in a Manhattan with wife Sharon after witnessing the attacks from the roof of their midtown hotel. Alanis Morissette clung to her boyfriend all day in Los Angeles. Beastie Boy Adam Yauch delivered food and socks to volunteers at the scene.
Los Angeles detectives served a search warrant at boxer Mike Tyson's mansion after a woman accused him of rape last week. "We obviously don't consider Mr. Tyson a threat to the community, otherwise we would have done something immediately," Las Vegas Police Capt. Dennis Cobb told Reuters. Tyson was said to be "cooperative" during the search. Details of the allegation were not available.
Jonathan Glazer's gangster film Sexy Beast, the London comedy South West Nine and the indie film Jump Tomorrow lead the pack with five nominations at the fourth British Independent Film Awards, to be held Oct. 24 at London's Park Lane Hotel. Sixteen prizes will be handed out at the ceremony, Reuters reports, including the Daily Variety Personality of the Year Award, which goes to scribe Richard Curtis, of Four Weddings and a Funeral and Bean.
India's popular film star, Amitabh Bachchan, will play the lead role in the Indian version of Hollywood's legendary The Godfather, Reuters reports. The film, starring Marlon Brando and Al Pacino, was based on Mario Puzo's bestseller and traced the rivalry between Italian Mafia families in the United States, Amitabh, who was voted actor of the millennium in a BBC poll will play Vito Corleone, producer A.G. Nadiadwala told Reuters on Friday.
In the spring, ABC will mark the 50th anniversary of American Bandstand with a two-hour primetime special. Host Dick Clark, 71, will show classic moments from the shows and introduce performances by music superstars spanning five decades, AP reports. WFIL-TV in Philadelphia began broadcasting the show in 1952, which eventually moved to Los Angeles before ending its long run in 1989.
Michael Jordan's leap into NBA basketball has failed to fire up advertisers, as many wait on the sidelines to see whether the basketball player's comeback will be successful, analysts told Reuters on Wednesday. Media buyers and sports consultants believe Jordan's decision to come back and play for the Washington Wizards, a team he partly owns, should help jump-start the team and draw fans into the sport.