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.
Widening the thematic scope without sacrificing too much of the claustrophobia that made the original 1979 Alien universally spooky Prometheus takes the trophy for this summer's most adult-oriented blockbuster entertainment. The movie will leave your mouth agape for its entire runtime first with its majestic exploration of an alien planet and conjectures on the origins of the human race second with its gross-out body horror that leaves no spilled gut to the imagination. Thin characters feel more like pawns in Scott's sci-fi prequel but stunning visuals shocking turns and grand questions more than make up for the shallow ensemble. "Epic" comes in many forms. Prometheus sports all of them.
Based on their discovery of a series of cave drawings all sharing a similar painted design Elizabeth (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie (Logan Marshall-Green) are recruited by Weyland to head a mission to another planet one they believe holds the answers to the creation of life on Earth. Along for the journey are Vickers (Charlize Theron) the ruthless Weyland proxy Janek (Idris Elba) a blue collar captain a slew of faceless scientists and David (Michael Fassbender) HAL 9000-esque resident android who awakens the crew of spaceship Prometheus when they arrive to their destination. Immediately upon descent there's a discovery: a giant mound that's anything but natural. The crew immediately prepares to scope out the scene zipping up high-tech spacesuits jumping in futuristic humvees and heading out to the site. What they discover are the awe-inspiring creations of another race. What they bring back to the ship is what they realize may kill their own.
The first half of Prometheus could be easily mistaken for Steven Spielberg's Alien a sense of wonder glowing from every frame not too unlike Close Encounters. Scott takes full advantage of his fictional settings and imbues them with a reality that makes them even more tantalizing. He shoots the vistas of space and the alien planet like National Geographic porn and savors the interior moments on board the Prometheus full of hologram maps sleeping pods and do-it-yourself surgery modules with the same attention. Prometheus is beautiful shot in immersive 3D that never dampers Dariusz Wolski's sharp photography. Scott's direction seems less interested in the run-or-die scenario set up in the latter half of the film but the film maintains tension and mood from beginning to end. It all just gets a bit…bloodier.
Jon Spaihts' and Damon Lindelof's script doesn't do the performers any favors shuffling them to and fro between the ship and the alien construction without much room for development. Reveals are shoehorned in without much setup (one involving Theron's Vickers that's shockingly mishandled) but for the most part the ensemble is ready to chomp into the script's bigger picture conceits. Rapace is a physical performer capable of pulling off a grisly scene involving an alien some sharp objects and a painful procedure (sure to be the scene of the blockbuster season. Among the rest of the crew Fassbender's David stands out as the film's revelatory performance delivering a digestible ambiguity to his mechanical man that playfully toys with expectations from his first entrance. The creature effects in Prometheus will wow you but even Fassbender's smallest gesture can send the mind spinning. The power of his smile packs more of a punch than any facehugger.
Much like Lindelof's Lost Prometheus aims to explore the idea of asking questions and seeking answers and on Scott's scale it's a tremendous unexpected ride. A few ideas introduced to spur action fall to the way side in the logic department but with a clear mission and end point Prometheus works as a sweeping sci-fi that doesn't require choppy editing or endless explosions to keep us on the edge of our seats. Prometheus isn't too far off from the Alien xenomorphs: born from existing DNA of another creature the movie breaks out as its own beast. And it's wilder than ever.
S2E34: First off, pop-pop. Secondly, if this episode cemented anything for me, it's that I would do terrible things to be allowed to be on set with the cast and crew of Community because it would probably be the most fun I'd ever have. This episode wasn't my favorite and it wasn't mind-blowing, but it was consistently and spastically fun and when so many shows save the big deal stuff for the finale, Community literally just brought out the big guns.
"Woo, go Jeff Winger's study group. Those guys are ballers, yo. I hope you like getting balled." -the Dean
So, we picked up where we left off last week: with Josh Holloway out of the game, Pistol Patty (a.k.a. the giant ice cream cone with the creepy voice) brings in reinforcements. And if you saw the previews and thought to yourself, "Wow, those guys kind of look like storm troopers," like I did, then it all made sense as soon as Pistol Patty's ice cream scoop was removed like Darth Vader's helmet in The Empire Strikes Back. (Side note: how awesome was it that when the paint ball troopers spoke, they sounded like storm troopers.) The deal is that of course, City College is behind this whole rigged paint ball competition in a hair-brained scheme to destroy Greendale. And just like that, we're in a Star Wars parody and the Spaghetti Westerns are relegated to last week. Thanks for pointing that out, Abed.
Since they're fighting a greater evil, they all form a rebel alliance (like Star Wars, guys, DUH -- I say as I push my figurative glasses up higher on my nose and snort while I chuckle) to take down the evil forces. This interaction was probably one of my favorite scenes. Not only did we get a little pop-POP from Magnitude right before he throws himself on the robot paint grenade forcing Troy to rush to his side and hear his last words ("Pop- what? What is he trying to to say?!"), but we got to see Jeff in his full douche-tastic glory. Of course, he thinks he's the hero who takes the role of leader "reluctantly" and with rugged handsomeness (which is clearly why he's refusing to take off his pristine cowboy hat), but for once Troy wants to take that role and I for one like that notion. And I like seeing everyone else step on Jeff's toes. He's pretty. He can handle it.
While all this is going on, the troopers find Pierce and he convinces them to spare him so that he can help them take down Jeff Winger's study group. Um, okay, Lando. Also, City College does understand that they could have shot him and still made him help them, right? Because paintballs don't kill people, but whatever.
"Troy, do you happen to have a better plan?" -Jeff
"I do happen. I happen very much." -Troy
As the battle continues, they split up, Jeff and Troy map out a plan while Abed, Annie and Shirley do some recon. While Abed gets all Han Solo on Annie (and we'll get into that in a minute), they find a store room full of paint (with a Greendale poster featuring Dan Harmon on the door) which just happens to support Troy's plan of using the sprinkler system to spray the entire library with paint instead of Jeff's dumb machine gun idea. It's dumb, okay? This little power struggle between Troy and Jeff is great because it feels finale-esque. Their adoration/competition has been building all season, though subtly, and this episode is fun way to keep from wasting it without letting it weigh down an episode.
Of course, the plan ends up splitting the rebels into groups, allowing some alone time for Abed and Annie and separate leadership posts for Troy and Jeff. Aww. I am a bit bummed that Jeff's speech by the picnic tables was in the commercial because by the time the episode came around, it was pretty tired, but I will say that with the knowledge of the Star Wars parody, that last line -- "Then I guess I'll see you in hell" -- worked so much better. (Because it's what Han Solo says right before he rides off on a ton-ton when C-3P0 tells him his odds of surviving long enough to rescue Luke on Hoth are pretty dismal. Yeah, I warned you I was a nerd. Why didn't you listen?) Of course, the outdoor forces are taken down and Troy, Abed and Annie are pinned down in the library in hopes of baiting the troopers into their trap. (It's a TRAP! Sorry, I had to. This is too much fun.) In contrast to Jeff's losery defeat -- a single chest shot and a nonchalant departure -- Troy acts as bait and lets a gaggle of troopers splatter him with endless paintballs. It was pretty epic.
"I don't think you're immature, I think you're great...for a no good, laser-faced, jabba scoundrel." -Annie (It's "scruffy-looking nerfherder," my dear.)
It gets down to the wire, we're running out of people and Shirley, being the mom she is, takes matters into her own hands, pulling the fire alarm and releasing the paint just before escaping the spray. Everyone in the library is "dead." Of course, since Annie falls in love every five seconds, she goes all googly-eyed for Han-Abed and they make out in the paint rain before it turns him back into normal Abed. I have to say though, it kind of worked on me too. I've always been a Han Solo girl and seeing Abed in that role was actually pretty awesome. Go Danny Pudi.
Shirley goes outside to finish the job, but there were a few troopers who managed to escape the paint explosion and they shoot her -- also epically. But just before City College can claim victory, we find that Pierce, with his fake heart attack trick, pulled a Luke or Han and posed as a paintball trooper so he could sneak in and shoot the remaining two troopers without them knowing it. He wins and he actually gives the money to Greendale. See, he is like Lando. He turned it around eventually!
Side note: kudos on keeping the Cougartown crossover to a minimum. It was appropriate that Busy Phillips was an extra on Community like Abed was supposed to be on Cougartown.
"Alright, I've given this a lot of thought and I've decided we should sleep on it." - Troy
Back in the study room, we find everyone paint-covered and tired, planning out which class to take next semester. Of course, Annie is unrequited by Abed who's since dropped the Han act. (Who saw that coming? This girl.) Jeff gives a nod to Troy and lets him be the group leader, aww. And Pierce comes in just to get his planner and he's still upset over the fact that they tried to vote him out. His season long arc gets a little real and he gives a speech about acceptance to which Jeff responds with an invitation for him to stay. Sadly, Pierce doesn't stay. He's had enough and he leaves, no slinking back like Britta's cats. It was a sad note to end on, and more of a cliffhanger than Dan Harmon let on when he said earlier this season he didn't want to leave us hanging this time around. And it's not just some silly love triangle, it's something that actually makes us feel sort of awful because we've enjoyed their use of Pierce as a punching bag. It was a bit of a downer after all that fun, but it worked.
What's also a downer was that this is our last episode of Community this season. It was a great send-off, but honestly, I'm not sure what I'm going to do myself for the next few months.
The God of Legion secular Hollywood’s latest Biblically-inspired action flick is old-school an angry spiteful Almighty with a penchant for Old Testament theatrics. Fed up with humanity’s decadent warmongering ways He’s decided to pull the plug on the whole crazy experiment and start over from scratch.
Fortunately for us the God of Legion is also a rather lazy fellow. Instead of doing the apocalyptic work himself and wiping us out with a giant flood which worked perfectly well last time He opts to delegate the task to His army of angels — a questionable strategy that starts to fall apart when the archangel charged with leading the planned extermination Michael (Paul Bettany) refuses to comply.
Michael who unlike his boss still harbors affection for our sorry species abandons his post and descends to earth where inside the swollen belly of Charlie (Adrianne Palicki) an unwed mother-to-be working as a waitress in an out-of-the-way diner sits humanity’s lone hope for survival. Why is this particular baby so important? Is it the one destined to lead us to victory over Skynet? Heaven knows — Legion reveals little details its script devoid of actual scripture. What is clear is that God’s celestial hitmen want the kid whacked before it’s born.
But Michael won’t let humanity fall without a fight. Armed with a Waco-sized arsenal of assault weapons he hunkers down with the diner’s patrons a largely superfluous collection of thinly-sketched caricatures from various demographic groups led by Dennis Quaid as the diner’s grizzled owner Tyrese Gibson as a hip-hop hustler and Lucas Black as a simple-minded country boy.
Together they mount a heroic final stand against hordes of angels who’ve taken possession of “weak-willed” humans turning kindly old grandmas and mild-mannered ice cream vendors into snarling ravenous foul-mouthed beasts. They descend upon the ramshackle diner in a series of full-frontal assaults commanded by the archangel Gabriel (Kevin Durand) the George Pickett of End of Days generals.
Beneath its superficial religious facade Legion is really just a run-of-the-mill zombie flick a Biblical I Am Legend. Bettany an actor accustomed to smaller dramatic roles in films like A Beautiful Mind and The Da Vinci Code looks perfectly at ease in his first major action role wielding machine guns and bowie knives with equal aplomb. Conversely first-time director Scott Stewart a former visual effects artist does little to prove himself worthy of such a promotion serving up some impressive CGI work but not much else worthy of note.