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.
Henry Thomas, now 40, plays the late singer/songwriter in upcoming movie The Last Ride, which chronicles the final days of Williams' life. Williams died of heart failure on New Year's Day (01Jan), 1953.
Thomas tells the Los Angeles Times newspaper, "I was really intimidated by the role. I started obsessing about trying to look like him (Williams)... and all of the things that go through your mind when you start focusing on playing a person who's that iconic. You don't want to drop the ball."
WHAT IT’S ABOUT?
This follow-up to the 2006 smash hit Night at the Museum picks up shortly after the events of the first film with one-time museum security guard Larry Daley now living the life of a famous inventor. One night he decides to pay a visit to his old haunt the Museum of Natural History where he discovers that some of his favorite exhibits (and old not-so-inanimate friends) have been labeled as “out of date” and are being shipped off to storage at the Smithsonian Institute archives. In no time he gets a distress call from miniature cowboy Jedediah who informs Larry that a group of history’s most notorious evil personalities including Ivan the Terrible Napoleon Bonaparte and Al Capone are hatching a conspiracy. Together with their ringleader the 3000-year-old Egyptian pharaoh Kahmunrah they plan to take over the Smithsonian and after that the world. Larry springs quickly into action teaming up with Amelia Earhart and tries to save his old friends — and perhaps the planet — from the insidious invaders who’ve awakened from their slumber.
WHO’S IN IT?
Ben Stiller returns as Larry playing straight man once again to a legion of historical figures including new and returning characters. Back from the original are Robin Williams as a spirited Teddy Roosevelt Owen Wilson as Jedediah Smith Steve Coogan as the Roman emperor Octavius Patrick Gallagher as Attila the Hun and Mizuo Peck as Sacajawea. Ricky Gervais again appears briefly at the start and finish as museum curator Dr. McPhee. Welcome additions include a lively Amy Adams as the famed female flyer Earhart and a very funny Bill Hader (TV's Saturday Night Live) as an insecure General Custer. Christopher Guest plays Ivan the Terrible while Alain Chabat has lots of fun as Napoleon. Jon Bernthal’s Al Capone meanwhile is cleverly shot and isolated in vivid black and white. Best of all by a mile — and the real reason to see Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian — is Hank Azaria who plays Kahmunrah with brilliant comic timing and an affected speech pattern that’s highly amusing. The multi-talented Azaria (The Simpsons) provides the voices for two new computer-enhanced characters: a towering Abraham Lincoln and Rodin’s sculpture of The Thinker. Jonah Hill also shows up in an early scene as a Smithsonian security guard who confronts Stiller — a subplot that goes nowhere.
Although this follow-up suffers from a severe case of “sequelitis ” director Shawn Levy knows what makes this formula work for kids. Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian deserves props as the rare studio blockbuster intent on actually providing a little education by making these important historical personalities come to such vivid life. Use of photos and paintings from the adjacent museums is the most inventive new wrinkle serving as a clever interactive device for Stiller to use throughout the flick.
The screenplay (again by Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon) rehashes a lot of what was fresh in the first film and the result feels roboticly recycled. Levy’s direction seems rushed at times as if the filmmakers are afraid anyone with an attention span beyond 30 seconds. Kids will eat this up but aside from Azaria there aren’t many laughs for Mom Dad and older siblings.
For pure visual-effects wizardry and wonder you can’t beat the gang’s arrival at the Air and Space Museum where the production actually shot for a week. It’s awe-inspiring. Amelia Earhart’s encounter there with the African-American Tuskegee Airmen is also a swell touch.
NETFLIX OR MULTIPLEX?
Multiplex but drop the kids off and go shopping instead.
Elijah Wood (Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring), Franka Potente (Run Lola Run) and Mandy Moore (A Walk to Remember) are set to star in the romantic comedy Try Seventeen. According to Variety, the film centers on a young man who sets off for college but ends up learning more about life from the eccentric inhabitants of his apartment building. The project will be helmed by Jeffrey Porter and should begin shooting in March.
Kung fu film master Jackie Chan suffered a minor injury while performing a stunt during the shooting of a movie outside Bangkok, but was back on the set Tuesday. The Hong Kong actor bruised his face during the incident Monday, and was kept in a hospital for four hours, the Associated Press reports.
Sigourney Weaver has been cast in director Andrew Davis' (Collateral Damage) next film, Variety reports. Holes, about a young boy falsely accused of stealing a pair of sneakers and sent to a wayward camp for kids, is based on Louis Sachar's 1999 Newbery Award-winning kids' book. Weaver is set play a juvenile detention facility warden.
Following the lead of many movie and TV productions, NBC has announced that L.A. Law: Return to Justice will be shot north of the border in Vancouver, the L.A. Times reports. Lured by tax breaks and a low Canadian dollar, the L.A. Law reunion project, which brings together the original series cast (minus Jimmy Smits), is the latest Southern California production to be shot in Canada.
The American Red Cross has inducted Jane Seymour, who played a quasi-physician on the long-running series Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, into their new Celebrity Cabinet. According to Britain's The Post, Seymour will focus her attention on childhood illnesses, especially measles, which is killing millions of children in Africa.
Proving that she's still "worth it," former Spice Girl Geri Halliwell has signed a $1 million deal to feature in a new international poster and TV campaign for cosmetics giant L'Oreal, reports Sky News. Halliwell joins the likes of Jennifer Aniston, Andie MacDowell, Claudia Schiffer and more recently, Destiny's Child singer Beyonce Knowles.
Barbara Walters and Diane Sawyer denied Tuesday that an interview with talk show host Rosie O'Donnell had caused a rift between them, AP reports. In the interview, O'Donnell is expected to talk openly about her homosexuality for the first time. Sawyer landed the interview, which is set to air on ABC's Primetime Thursday on March 14.
Hank Williams, Jr. paid tribute to country icon Waylon Jennings, who died last week, during a sold-out Saturday night Grand Ole Opry performance at the Ryman Auditorium. It was his first appearance on the esteemed radio show in twenty years. In what may be the longest grudge in history, Williams has avoided the Opry not only because of the chilly reception he received the last time he appeared, but because the show fired his father, Hank Williams, Sr., in the 1950s.
Dawson's Creek veterans James Van Der Beek and Kerr Smith are both engaged-and no-not to each other. Van Der Beek, who plays Dawson Leary, proposed to actress Heather McComb, his girlfriend of two years, while Smith asked actress Ali Hillis to marry him. However, according to Ananova, neither of the cuties have immediate plans to wed.
Record labels have tapped into video games--and the latest recruit in this cross-promo trend is none other than pop princess Britney Spears. According to Rolling Stones magazine, interactive entertainment software developer THQ is releasing Britney's Dance Beat, a game where players get to select from a choice of dancers auditioning to be backup dancers on her tour. Get into the groove and you'll score points to move on to more complex tunes.
Oasis will release "The Hindu Times," their first new single in nearly two years on April 15, the band said in a statement posted on their Web site. The group first performed the track at a series of concerts late last year celebrating their 10th anniversary. It's the first song from the band's as yet untitled fifth studio album which scheduled for release in July.
Madonna has been nominated for the Les Paul Horizon Award at the Orville H Gibson Guitar Awards for her guitar playing. The singer is up against John Mayer, Pete Yorn, Michelle Branch and Chris Thomas King. For those of you who didn't know, Madonna actually played the guitar on her Drowned World Tour.
In a blow to small broadcast outfits that fear being squeezed out of the marketplace, the federal appeals court Tuesday threw out the FCC's regulation that prevents broadcast and cable operators from owning each other. The elimination of the TV cap enables companies like AOL Time Warner to acquire a major network like NBC.
Actress Anne Heche will go on national television tonight to talk about how the sexual abuse she suffered from her father until she was 12 drove her "insane," Reuters reported.
"I remember entering the bed with him many times. I went through fighting to get him off me. I went through screaming at my mother. I went through the terror of thinking I was going to die. I went through thoughts of wanting to die," the actress confesses.
Heche, 32, who married cameraman Coleman Laffoon on Saturday, also tells Barbara Walters on ABC's 20/20 that she suffered from a split personality. Her alter ego's name was Celestia and she talked to God.
The actress will also talk about her mental breakdown, which lasted until after her breakup with comedian Ellen DeGeneres, who she touts as "the best sex I ever had," The New York Post reported.
Oscar-winning actress Geena Davis married her surgeon boyfriend of two years, Dr. Reza Jarrahy, 30, on Saturday in a small private ceremony in Wainscott, N.Y., her publicist has confirmed. "We are very happy and we look forward to spending the rest of our lives together," the couple said in a brief statement. This is the fourth marriage for Davis, 45, who was previously married to restaurant manager Richard Emmolo, actor Jeff Goldblum and director Renny Harlin.
The four-foot, one-inch tall Howard Stern sidekick known as "Hank the Dwarf" died Tuesday at the age of 39. The cause of his death is still undisclosed. Hank appeared more than two dozen times on the Howard Stern radio show, always wearing his infamous pink bunny suit. Ironically, he was voted the Most Beautiful Person in the World in People magazine's 1998 poll.
Reverend Gesner Jean, a Newark minister and father of the hip-hop star Wyclef Jean died at a South Orange, N.J. hospital after an accident that pinned him between his garage door and a car. Police are still investigating the accident, The Associated Press reported.
The Gospel Music Association announced on Tuesday that it will induct the king of rock n' roll, Elvis Presley, into its Hall of Fame. Presley will be honored along with other musicians including Doris Akers, Wendy Bagwell & The Sunliters, Keith Green, Kurt Kaiser, Larry Norman, The Rambos and Albertina Walker. "This year's class of inductees is outstanding and represents the wide diversity and musical heritage of Christian and gospel music," GMA President Frank Breeden told AP. The induction ceremony will take place in Nashville, Tenn. on Nov. 27.
Kenneth Branagh received an honorary degree on Sunday from The University of Birmingham for helping to popularize the work of William Shakespeare, Reuters reported. The actor has brought Shakespeare's plays to mainstream audiences in film adaptations such as Henry V and Much Ado About Nothing. "I am delighted to be associated with an institute that has done so much to further cooperation between the theatre and academic life," Branagh said in a statement.
Director Spike Lee will be honored by the Directors Guild of America on Nov. 17 for "ushering in a climate of newfound respect for African-American filmmakers and actors," USA Today reported on Tuesday.
Eminem and his mentor, Dr. Dre, will take the stage at the Michael Jackson 30-year celebration, being held on Sept. 7 and 10 at New York's Madison Square Garden, ABCNEWS.com reported. It is still unclear what the rapper will perform at the event.
Mariah Carey has postponed a Sept. 12 interview with ABC News' Barbara Walters because "she needs more time to rest," Carey's spokeswoman Cindi Berger said in a statement. The 31-year-old singer has been staying with her mother since she was treated at a Connecticut clinic last month for exhaustion. No new date for the interview was given.
Nicole Kidman has joined British singer Robbie Williams on a duet of Frank Sinatra's classic, "Something Stupid," on his Swing When You're Winning Sinatra tribute album. Reuters reported. Williams invited the actress to sing on the album after he heard her singing for the film Moulin Rouge. "I have no desire to be a singer. I just did that for fun. I think he's very talented. I had a giggle," Kidman told Reuters.
Tom Cruise ranks 26th among the Top 50 leaders of the information age according to a list compiled by Vanity Fair magazine this month. Cruise is the only actor and one of the highest new entrants on a list dominated by entertainment and technology companies, Reuters reported. The magazine has called Cruise "one of the savviest businessmen in Hollywood," saying that he negotiated a back-end deal on last year's Mission: Impossible 2 that earned him about $75 million.
ABC is working on a musical adaptation of 1984's Footloose, which could air as a two-hour movie as early as next May, Reuters reported. Unlike the film, however, the characters will actually sing the songs in the movie. The network also announced last week that it is developing updates of Grease, Annie and Cinderella.
After Warner Bros. purchased the movie rights to J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter, the studio commented that they had wanted director Steven Spielberg to take part in the project, hoping he'd turn the film into a major franchise, People magazine reported. Spielberg, however, said that the project wasn't challenging enough for him to undertake. "I purposely didn't want to do the Harry Potter movie because for me, that was shooting ducks in a barrel. Just a slam dunk," he told Vanity Fair magazine. "It's just like withdrawing a billion dollars and putting it into your personal bank accounts. There is no challenge," he said.