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I attended a Q & A screening of Lawlesslast night, thanks to Jeff Goldsmith.  The film is another team up by director John Hillcoat and screenwriter Nick Cave, who previously brought us The Road and The Proposition.  This film is based on the book entitled The Wettest County in the World by Matt Bondurant.  It’s about the Bondurant brothers during the prohibition era in Franklin County Virginia, they make moon shine and have run ins with no so nice people.  The film stars Tom Hardy, Shia LeBeouf, Jessica Chastain, Guy Pearce, Mia Wasikowska and Gary Oldman.

The good; it’s Hillcoat and Cave collaborating again, I love their movies.  They manage to blend two genres together, the western and the gangster/mob genre, this melding is much better than that of Public Enemies.
The acting is great, there’s a great sense of family with the Bondurant brothers, normally I don’t like Shia Le-Beef, but in Lawless he’s casted perfectly as the young brother Jack.
Tom Hardy’s portrayal of Forrest, the brains behind the operation, is wonderful, he reminds me of Clint Eastwood in a western, long stares with minimal dialog.
Guy Pearce plays Special Agent Charlie Rakes, and is creepy as all hell.

The action and violence is gritty and visceral.  It gives this film that wild west feel, where frontier justice ruled over any authority.  The pacing is methodical, but not to the point of being slow, and these moments are then punctuated with scenes of violence.

The music for the film is great as well, it’s done by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis (non-comic book).  The score feels period appropriate but then there are songs with lyrics and even those songs are done as if they came from that time.  Great choices.

The bad; it does detract from history, but then again the movie is “based” on a true story.
There’s not enough Gary Oldman, his introduction in the film is superb, I wanted more of him.  We’re introduced to his character, Floyd Banner a wanted gangster, through the eyes of Jack, we see this brutal act of violence with a sense of longing and romanticism that influential youths have, this is what leads him down the road to criminal activity.

Overall a gem of a movie, I can’t wait to see Hillcoat’s next movie, I hope he teams up with Cave again.  During the Q & A Hillcoat mentioned that it’s hard for him to make films in this country, USA, cause there’s not enough time, things are rushed.  I couldn’t agree more.  When people talk about Grindhouse cinema, I might argue that that period of filmmaking never ceased, it just became the  norm.  I highly recommend this movie.

Oh and don’t sit next to old people during movies… during the Q & A this guy brought out a book and started reading…

The Dark Knight Rises

Just saw The Dark Knight Rises. It’s about Bruce Wayne and his one man war on crime. This time it’s eight years after the last movie, The Dark Knight, Bruce’s body is worn down (like an athlete) and so is his faith in people. There’s a plot to destroy Wayne Enterprises and Gotham, which bring both Bruce and Batman out of “retirement.”

The good; the movie is about three hours long, but it certainly doesn’t feel like it. It had me pretty much on the seat of my pants the entire time, beautifully edited.

The acting is great. Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle, love me some Anne Hathaway. Much like Charlize Theron in Prometheus, Anne Hathaway’s in that catsuit most of the time, no complaints there.
Gary Oldman as the ever faithful Gordon.  Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Blake.  Tom Hardy as Bane.  Michael Caine as Alfred the father-figure.  Everyone delivers a wonderful performance.

The Bat, flying thing, what’s great about these movies is the science and logic behind the technology, they make it believable. From the movie physics of the Bat-Pod to the Bat vehicle, I just love it all cause when you watch it move on screen you think, “yeah, that’s how that would move.”

The bad; oddly enough, I do have some complaints. There wasn’t enough Batman, when you’re watching the movie you don’t really notice this, but thinking back, Bruce Wayne is Batman in the end of the first act, and then at the of the third act, I kinda wanted more Batman-time… on screen that is.
Bane’s voice – in the comic books he’s supposed to be Latin-American, I don’t know what accent he has in the movie, but it’s obviously dubbed and very stage present-ish.  In a shot where he’s in the far background of the scene his voice is still coming in very present at the center channel, that bugged me.

*SPOLIER* When Bane breaks Batman’s back, it doesn’t take him long to recover, there could’ve been more passage of time at this point. His back goes from a vertebrae protrusion to doing push ups and scaling the wall to freedom.

*SPOILER* The ending, very easy, almost too easy, and predictable. Much like Nolan’s previous movie Inception, this one ends in a montage and we’re given information visually. Alfred is away on holiday and sees Bruce just like he’d imagined years and years before Batman showed up, he’s sitting at a table with Selina. I wonder how it would’ve been if they’d taken the ambiguity of Inception’s ending and applied it to The Dark Knight? Leaving us with Alfred’s forming smile instead of cutting to Bruce at the table? And then to have Blake’s character’s real name be Robin? That almost felt like the studio pushed that onto the movie. Don’t get me wrong, I liked that the cowl and mantle would be passed along, but why dumb it down?

Overall, I enjoyed the movie, despite the criticisms I state above. I guess I’m so critical of this new film because I extremely enjoyed the previous films
Definitely worth watching on the big screen, and what a way to end a trilogy.