NEW YORK (CNS) — Lawless (Weinstein) is a
morally tangled drama pervaded by a misguided sense of nostalgia. Director
John Hillcoat’s period piece, adapted from Matt Bondurant’s
2008 fact-based novel about the exploits of his paternal grandfather
and two great-uncles, The Wettest County in the World, looks
back with more than a little fondness on their violent adventures as
bootleggers in Prohibition-era Virginia.
Shia LaBeouf plays Jack Bondurant, the youngest, and initially
gentlest, of the trio. Awed by his brawny elders, First World War
veteran Howard (Jason Clarke) and Spanish flu survivor Forrest (Tom
Hardy), Jack yearns to be taken seriously and treated as their equal.
They, in turn, want to keep Jack safely insulated from their escalating conflict with Special Deputy Charlie Rakes (Guy Pearce). Newly arrived from gangster-ridden Chicago, Rakes is anything but an ideal G-man.
Corrupt and sadistic, he’s out to lay down his own version of the law — by any means necessary.
As Jack and his semi-disabled best friend Cricket (Dane DeHaan) try to finagle their way into the moonshining major leagues, Jack falls for Bertha (Mia Wasikowska), the sheltered daughter of a local preacher.
Mumbling, inarticulate Forrest, meanwhile, fights his feelings for Maggie (Jessica Chastain), a woman with a past who has found shelter with the brothers.
As scripted by Nick Cave, Lawless tends to glamorize the mayhem the brothers wreak in their contest with Rakes; it does the same for a premarital bedroom encounter.
Granted that, left to their own devices, the Bondurants are fundamentally peace-loving and domestically inclined, and allowing for the vileness of the enemy they’re fighting, moviegoers will still need prudence to guide them through the ethical thickets. They’ll also need sufficient fortitude to resist giving way to the visceral reaction the proceedings seem calculated to elicit.
The film contains strong, often gory violence, including
torture, mutilation and beatings; semi-graphic sexual activity;
upper female nudity; numerous uses of profanity; many rough and crude
terms; and some crass language. The Catholic News Service classification
is L — limited
adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find
troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R — restricted.
Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.
The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure
NEW YORK (CNS) — Small children will get quite a workout at The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure (Kenn Viselman Presents), an interactive film which periodically prompts young ones to jump up, dance, twirl, wiggle, blow kisses or sing along.
Three members of the Oogielove family live in the candy-coloured
town of Lovelyloveville: Linguist Zoozie (voice of Stephanie Renz) represents
the distaff side; like Doctor Dolittle, Zoozie can speak “animal.” The
boys are Goobie (voice of Misty Miller) and Toofie (voice of Malerie Grady).
Goobie is smart and likes science, while Toofie is a way-cool athlete.
The gang is planning a surprise birthday party for their pal Schluufy (voice of Taras Los), a cuddly talking pillow. Another friend, J. Edgar (voice of Nick Drago), is bringing the presents: five golden balloons with magical powers. (J. Edgar is only tangentially named for the former head of the FBI — he’s a talking Hoover vacuum cleaner.)
When a gust of air carries the balloons away, the Oogieloves must put their heads together and retrieve them before the party starts. Coming to their aid is Windy Window (voice of Maya Stange), a distant cousin of the Magic Mirror in Snow White, and Ruffy (voice of Randy Carfagno), a goldfish confined to his bowl.
Ruffy has an eye for the ladies, telling his admirers, “I’m
a good catch.”
Needless to say, The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure is harmless and wholesome fun, suitable for the very youngest of moviegoers.
The Catholic News Service classification is A-I — general patronage.
The Motion Picture Association of America rating is G — general audiences.
All ages admitted.
NEW YORK (CNS) — Catholic exorcists get some time off
with The Possession (Lionsgate). Since this mostly gore-free chiller’s
premise rests on Jewish tales of demonic indwelling by beings called dybbuks,
it’s a Hasidic student, rather than a priest, who eventually gets
summoned to the rescue. And file this one under Only in America:
said scholar — Tzadok by name — is played by Hasidic rapper
and reggae singer Matisyahu.
At the outset, recently divorced dad Clyde Brenek (Jeffrey
Dean Morgan) hardly knows what he’s letting himself in for when he and his two
daughters, Hannah (Madison Davenport) and Em (Natasha Calis), stop by a
weekend yard sale. There, Em’s fancy is taken by a seemingly innocuous
wooden box and Clyde casually agrees to buy it for her.
Em’s interest soon turns to life-blighting obsession as the dybbuk that was supposed to be trapped in the container forever emerges and instead takes up residence inside her. Logically enough, Clyde and his ex, Stephanie (Kyra Sedgwick), assume Em’s deteriorating demeanour is an aftereffect of their split. But as eerie and inexplicable events continue to plague the family, Clyde at least realizes they’ll need to turn to someone other than a therapist.
Danish-born director Ole Bornedal initially achieves above-average results with his macabre doings, which are ostensibly based on real events. But returns diminish noticeably as his film approaches its overwrought climax.
Clyde and Stephanie’s situation is used as the vehicle for a strong pro-marriage message, however. In one poignant scene, Clyde watches as Stephanie and the girls sit down to dinner with Stephanie’s boyfriend Brett (Grant Show). The quartet makes up a family circle from which Clyde feels both physically and emotionally excluded.
Another plus is the respectful treatment of the Jewish faith in Juliet Snowden and Stiles White’s script, including Clyde’s fervent recitation of the 91st Psalm at Em’s bedside. Of course, the admixture of folklore, like that of the dybbuk, though necessary to the filmmakers’ purpose, tends to blur the bright line between mere legend and revealed truth.
The film contains some violent and potentially disturbing
images, a premarital situation, at least one use each of profanity and
crude language and brief sexual references. The Catholic News Service classification
is A-III — adults.
The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 — parents
strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under
Copyright (c) 2012 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops