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 American playwright/director reportedly passed away in his sleep on Saturday (07May11), but no further information was available as WENN went to press.
Wilson was an early figure in New York's Off-Off-Broadway scene and he became the first resident playwright at the legendary Caffe Cino in Greenwich Village. His comedy And He Made A Her opened there in 1961 and he went on to work on several other shows, including Pretty People and Now She Dances!
Along with his theatre work, Wilson was a keen gay rights activist and he became involved with the Gay Activist Alliance, opening several gay bars.
In 1974, Wilson co-founded TOSOS (The Other Side of Silence), the first professional theatre company to deal openly with gay subject matter. The company produced new plays and revivals by Noel Coward, Joe Orton, Terrence McNally and Lanford Wilson.
In more recent years, Wilson was elected a member of the National Theater Conference and he was also featured in 2010 documentary film Stonewall Uprising.
The lights outside Broadway's theatres will be dimmed on Wednesday night (30Mar11) as a tribute to Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lanford Wilson, who died last week (24Mar11). Wilson wrote and/or produced over a dozen plays on Broadway spanning four decades and he won the Pulitzer Prize in 1980 for Talley's Folly.
The Pulitzer Prize-winning dramatist passed away on Wednesday (23Mar11) in a care facility in Wayne, New Jersey, according to the Associated Press.
Wilson, best known for his plays Burn This and Fifth of July, was one of the founders of the Off-Off-Broadway movement, and helped start New York's Circle Repertory Theater.
He received the Pulitzer Prize in 1980 for Talley's Folly and three of his plays were nominated for Tony Awards.
The writer died just one day before his play The Hot L Baltimore was due to be previewed at The Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago, Illinois.
The Steppenwolf Theatre co-founder Terry Kinney says, "Lanford was a singular voice in the American theatre - an important artist, a gentle soul and a good friend. We will miss him sorely."