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.
It’s awards season, which means there are lots of pretty people walking around with pretty trophies in their hands, but before we can into the more serious awards like the Screen Actors Guild Awards or The Grammys or The Oscars, we get to enjoy a little respite with the lighthearted People’s Choice Awards. Granted, it’s still two hours of celebs handing out awards to each other, so to make things easier for you, we’ve boiled down the ceremony to the top 10 need-to-know items.
Emma Stone is So Adorable It’s Unfair
Every time Emma Stone shows her face on film, we’re all overjoyed and charmed by her presence, so it’s no wonder that she walked away with the Favorite Movie Actress award last night. It’s the way she acted when she accepted the award that is remarkable: the utterly likable and genuine actress was adorably flustered, looking to her mom in the audience to steady herself and finally delivering an old, but very authentic message about being yourself. I may like her more than I like Ryan Gosling. Maybe.
Robert Pattinson, WHERE IS YOUR HAIR?
Okay, there is an explanation for this: apparently the new shaved do can be blamed on Pattinson’s role in Cosmopolis. However, I can’t help but express how much I miss the Pattinson with an actual head of hair. Eat your Wheaties, RPatz; we want to see those luscious locks on your noggin once more, please.
WE GET IT, People Choose The Winners
Throughout the night, our host, Kaley Cuoco, and her assistant host (was that necessary) Su-Chin Pak, made an annoying amount of references to the notion of voting, tweeting, texting, facebooking, etc. We get it, by the power of technology the people choose the winners – we don’t need to include fabricated skits fueled by fake tweets to drive that point home.
The Cast of Bridesmaids Goes All Wilson Phillips on The Audience
Not only did the people wisely choose Bridesmaids over the movie I feared would win (The Hangover 2), but they cheered on the cast as they broke out into the movie’s accidental anthem: “Hold On” by Wilson Phillips. Good comedy wins, critics rejoice.
PCA Beats the Golden Globes to The Punch, Gives Morgan Freeman a Icon Award
Take that Cecil B. DeMille Award. Before The Golden Globes could make its way to its Sunday Night timeslot, the people spoke and confirmed that the Hollywood Foreign Press Association clearly got it right. Morgan Freeman was chosen as the first ever People’s Choice Movie Icon, which is great even if his dictionary is under the impression that means he’s a small picture representing a file.
Don’t worry, Michael Patrick King –The 2 Broke Girls Still Love You
After the TCA panel for the hit CBS series got a bit messy, with reporters asking King about the “racist” elements of series and King replying defiantly and indignantly, the showrunner came across in a pretty dismal light. But that same night, 2 Broke Girls won Favorite New Comedy Series like a giant, inflatable middle finger to everyone who questions the elements of prejudice and stereotypes on the series. Plus, stars Beth Behrs and Kat Dennings took aside the last moment of their acceptance speech to specifically send their love to King. We know that was in reference to the beating he took at the TCA event, but we’ll just pretend it was just exuberant praise as a result of the People’s Choice honor.
Write-In Votes Actually Work Sometimes
Nina Dobrev was not nominated for Favorite TV Drama Actress. However, Nina Dobrev won the award for Favorite TV Drama Actress. That’s right, the Vampire Diaries star garnered herself a spot in the running because her loving fans wrote so many letters to the dear people at the People’s Choice awards. But she didn’t just get to go, she actually won. Talk about the power of the people.
Confusing Dresses are Apparently The Next Big Thing
Let’s see. There was Vanessa Hudgens’ chocolate-colored spider-web dress that looked like two dresses got in a fight and then hugged it out; Lea Michele’s dress that was like an elegant silly string explosion; J Law’s (yes, Jennifer Lawrence, I’m giving you a new nickname) sapphire dress with two awkwardly (or opportunely) placed paisley cutouts right; and finally Jennifer Morrison’s 60s dream pulled right out of Holly Golightly’s Manhattan apartment, complete with a million little baubles hanging off the bottom. If these are the dresses of the future, Joan Rivers is going to have a whole lot of new material.
NPH: Man of the People
You can’t stop Neil Patrick Harris from lending his own particular brand of sparkle to an awards show – it’s kind of his thing. First, he very adorably interrupted Kuoco’s monologue – and she seemed to be the only one who (pretended) to mind. Then, there was that moment when he beat out the undefeatable Jim Parsons and Alec Baldwin for a fan-chosen award and when he accepted it, he got a standing ovation from the celebs and the fans. I wonder what it’s like to be loved that universally.
Did I miss anything? Perhaps you thought Sharon Osbourne's inability to read a teleprompter or Don Cheadle's Betty White love are more worthy moments. Let me know in the comments or on Twitter! @KelseaStahler