REVIEW: Lawless

21 05 2012

Cannes Film Festival

Every year, the studios with any self-respect release a film or so between August or October meant to fill a very small hole in the market: respectable films that aren’t quite Oscar contenders but have more brains than your average popcorn flick. Occasionally, one of these will break away and compete in awards season (“Moneyball,” to name one from last year), but more often than not, they just gain respect and claims at the bottom of a few year-end underrated lists (“Contagion,” to take another 2011 example). There’s nothing wrong with this middle except for just like in politics, where it is more popular to go to extremes than be a moderate, such products are hard to bundle and sell if an audience does not know exactly what it will be getting.

Lawless,” John Hillcoat’s drama set in Prohibition-era Virginia countryside, fills such a groove. It does not quite have the overall package to compete for Oscar gold, but it’s hardly a bad movie by any stretch of the imagination. It has flaws, particularly in the insipid first act weighted down by exposition; however, when the film kicks into high gear, it provides a riveting ride.

While I haven’t been a big fan of Shia LaBeouf since “Even Stevens,” which I can now continue to argue is his most accomplished work to date, “Lawless” gets bolstered by a number of supporting performances that should garner the actors some much overdue recognition. Surprisingly, one of these tour de forces is not given by Jessica Chastain, cinema’s new “it girl.”  She’s fine, don’t get me wrong, but Chastain and Mia Wasikowska seem only relevant to the film for marketing purposes, token females to help reach another quadrant.

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Marshall Takes Cannes: Day 4

19 05 2012

Can I get a oui oui for actually getting one of these diary posts on time?  Now that I’m in a rhythm, hopefully you people following my every move in Cannes won’t have to wait like you did for the first three days – totally on edge, that is.  There’s not too much to talk about today, but I’ll throw in a few pictures to make it interesting.

By the way, how awesome is the Cannes festival poster?  I bought one of these to take home and hang somewhere.  Might as well start my art gallery poster collection early…

Day 4 – Saturday, May 19

I woke up early – 6:30, to be precise – in order to dash off quickly to get in the rush line for the day’s first screening of “Lawless,” John Hillcoat’s bootlegger drama starring Shia LaBeouf and Tom Hardy.  Because I didn’t have a ticket, I had to arrive especially early if I wanted to get a chance at a seat not filled by a member of the press or someone with an actual invitation.  I got to the front of the line at 7:00 A.M., a full 90 minutes before the screening was supposed to start.  I snapped this picture of the red carpet with no one there; hopefully it gives you a sense of just how small it really is.

I stood there for an hour and a half watching over two thousand people walk the steps up to the Lumiere theater, which really had me disheartened when the clock struck 8:30 and I had yet to enter.  But around 8:33, someone came to declare (in French, which I don’t speak or understand) that they were simultaneously showing the movie in the Salle du Soixantième, a rooftop theater in the back of the Palais.  Translation: in a few seconds, I quickly found myself at the BACK of the rush line of which I was originally at the front.

So naturally, I sprinted.  I probably pushed a few people.  It was my exercise for the day.  But in the end, I got to see “Lawless.”  It was totally worth the effort.  It was a very good, entertaining movie that probably won’t win the Palme D’Or or an Oscar, but it will hold up for many years on Sunday afternoon TNT viewings.

I was then going to attempt to see the day-after screening of “Reality,” but the line was already absurdly long by the time I got out of “Lawless” around 11:00.  I tried to see “Antiviral,” the first film of David Cronenberg’s son, Brandon, at 2:00 but left the line when I realized I had no chance of getting in.  I tried again at 10:15 … still no luck.  And then I ran to try to make Michel Gondry’s “The We and The I” at 10:30 around the corner only to barely miss the cut.  I’m ready for another double feature day again!  But it looks like tomorrow will just be “Amour” at 8:30 in the Lumiere (I at least have a ticket this time) and several panels of industry experts.  Maybe I can make it to “Diamonds Are Forever” on the beach … but who knows, I may need to be up early on Monday for “Killing Them Softly.”  (UPDATE: “Killing Them Softly” opens in competition on Tuesday … I need some sleep.)  The American cavalcade begins next week!