"The Weekend Rent" offers quick-hit suggestions of what to watch at home to get psyched for new releases in theaters, on Fridays.
When Australian director John Hillcoat teams up with screenwriter/composer Nick Cave, things get pretty intense on-screen. New this week to theaters is the ultraviolent Prohibition-era gangster film Lawless, which is based on the true story of Virginia's Bondurant brothers. Shia LaBeouf, Tom Hardy and Jason Clarke play the three brothers whose mountainside moonshine operation comes under threat by local authorities that want to shake them down for their profits. The gorgeously shot, gritty film features some unforgettable performances, especially by Guy Pearce as the eyebrowless, freaky deputy who tries to decimate the Bondurant bootlegging operation, and Dane DeHaan as LaBeouf's gentle friend, Cricket, who gets pulled into the violent world of illegal alcohol trafficking.
Lawless marks the fifth time Hillcoat has paired up with fellow Aussie Cave—the legendary post-punk singer of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds who also writes novels and screenplays—for the big screen. Their first collaboration came back in 1998 with Ghosts… of the Civil Dead, a story about a maximum security prison in the Australian desert where an outbreak of violence has resulted in a total lockdown. Cave cowrote the screenplay, stars in the film and contributed to the music as well.
Unfortunately, Ghosts… of the Civil Dead is difficult to find on anything besides VHS in the U.S. The same goes for Hillcoat's 1996 film To Have & to Hold about an Australian widower who tries to rebuild his life by starting a relationship with a woman in New Guinea who reminds him of his wife, but their life together is anything but a fairytale ending. Cave helped compose the music, which won an ARIA music award.
Hillcoat and Cave teamed up again in 2005 with the Western The Proposition. Set in the Australian outback in the 1880s, the film follows the unsettling events that transpired after the rape and murder of the Hopkins family, which was likely committed by the Burns brothers gang. Pearce—another Hillcoat muse—appears as Charlie Burns with Danny Huston and Richard Wilson playing his brothers. The award-winning film is regarded as a meticulously accurate depiction of the Australian outback at that time because Hillcoat followed the advice of the indigenous consultants. In addition to writing the screenplay, Cave also composed and performed the soundtrack along with violinist Warren Ellis. The Proposition is available on DVD and Blu-ray as well as VOD.
No one will ever accuse Hillcoat and Cave of too much lighthearted frivolity on-screen. The duo's next heavy collaboration, The Road, is a dreary post-apocalyptic tale about a man (Viggo Mortensen) and his young son (Kodi Smit-McPhee) that wander around and struggle to survive after society collapses and the world becomes a dangerous place in which every traveler is met with suspicion and dread. Cave composed the music for the harrowing film along with Warren Ellis. Lawless loon Pearce also appears as a father wandering the wasteland with his family. The Road is available on DVD, Blu-ray and various VOD services.