John Hillcoat

Indie film and Hollywood are still two very separate worlds. One puts out smaller films where the filmmaker’s artistic vision is key; the other is filming three Avatar sequels back-to-back-to-back in an attempt to give James Cameron complete control of the Earth’s economy. Yet a strange overlap exists between these two extremes, and it’s one that’s been growing in recent times. Where does one categorize 12 Years a Slave? Its cast is a staggering list of star actors and its budget was in the eight digit range, yet it released under Fox Searchlight (Fox’s go-to distributor for indie films) and had one of those newfangled limited releases that don’t go to movies trying to bring in copious amounts of dough. Those who inhabit this odd gray area- your Steve McQueens, Terrence Malicks and Alexander Paynes- often become minor celebrities in their own right (many times have we seen the groupies desperate for Malick to pen his autograph on their body and/or children). Yet there’s another director with the same laurels, who makes top-quality films with that weird “best of both worlds” mixture, that lacks the same star power: John Hillcoat.

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What is Casting Couch? It’s a casting news column that has a theory casting agents are kind of just coasting going into the Thanksgiving holiday. Bryan Cranston. For a long time he was viewed as being an under appreciated character actor, or even “the dad from Malcolm in the Middle,” but these days he’s basically the most universally beloved actor in the business. It’s amazing what cooking meth in your tighty-whities can do for your career. What a coup for the upcoming crime drama, Eye of Winter, then, that it’s landed Cranston as its lead. He’ll be playing a blind criminal who takes a struggling motel owner (Alive Eve) and her daughter hostage so that they can be his eyes while he attempts to retrieve a package from a crooked cop (Logan Marshall Green). Tze Chun (Children of Invention) will direct and has co-written alongside Osgood Perkins and Nick Simon. [Variety]

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Jason Clarke in Lawless

Lawless features some towering performances. Tom Hardy commands with every grunt, Guy Pearce snarls in every scene, and Gary Oldman gives a quietly vicious performance. Then there’s Jason Clarke, playing the oldest of the three Bondurant brothers, Howard. He’s the brute of the group, the unhinged ox who’s seen a mass-scale violence, and he has clearly been affected by it. Clarke, like Hardy and his grunts, walks through the film with a lumbering physicality, as if he’s not even in much control over his own violent tendencies. That physicality is a factor Clarke put a lot of thought into, from using a smaller heel on his boot to wearing weights on his ankles. It’s that sort of commitment which seems to have earned the actor gigs with the likes of Baz Luhrmann, Kathryn Bigelow, John Hillcoat, and the two peas in the pod, Roland Emmerich and Terrence Malick. The actor was kind enough to take time off from walking around the White House for Emmerich to discuss his love for research, finding a character, and how you should never be afraid to go big.

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John Hillcoat and Tom Hardy

Director John Hillcoat isn’t entirely known for crowd-pleasing studio fare. After putting The Road and The Proposition under his belt, Hillcoat showed he’s the type of filmmaker never to shy away from bleakness. One would think that’s what made Lawless such a difficult project to get off the ground, but surprisingly, Hillcoat has made a real summer movie. However, even when striving for some of those cinematic thrills, the acclaimed director never pulls his punches. One major difference between Lawless and his previous films is the fact Hillcoat shot the picture digitally. Although he sounded quite sensitive about going that route, Hillcoat approached the film with a futurist point of view. Still, the director states there’s nothing more magical than celluloid, even after dealing with advantages and disadvantages of digital. Here’s what Lawless director John Hillcoat had to say about his attraction to brutal violence, the film’s sociopathic villain, and his experience with the ARRIRAW:

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The twelve-year run of prohibition in the United States was a period that punctuated social imparity, religious activism, and was a launchpad for some of the biggest names in organized crime. Basically, it’s a mixed bag of deeply interesting subject matter that is spot-on perfect for the big screen. Director John Hillcoat‘s Lawless is a violent slice of that era’s dying days. Distilled by screenwriter Nick Cave from the pages of Matt Bondurant‘s 2008 historical novel, “The Wettest County in the World,” Lawless tells the story of the Bondurant brothers, a family of moonshiners in the Blue Ridge Foothills of Franklin County, Virginia. In the midst of the Great Depression, the citizenry of Franklin County carved a living out of  making moonshine, and none are more successful than the brothers Bondurant, who run a healthy bootlegging racket.

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The Proposition

You see, Ray Winstone plays Captain Stanley – and delivers an amazing monologue – in The Proposition, but he’s also one of the dwarfs in this Friday’s Snow White and the Huntsman. Yes, that is a stretch, and it’s not the real reason we decided to cover The Proposition in this week’s Commentary Commentary. It’s the John Hillcoat connection. It’s the fact that the director’s latest, Lawless, played Cannes last week and guess who saw it. We can all torch Simon out of jealousy later. There’s a commentary to get to first. The Proposition, a Western set against the Australian backdrop and a very realistic depiction of life at that time, was Hillcoat’s first feature film collaboration with Nick Cave, singer, songwriter, screenwriter, rustic harbinger of death. Friends call him Nicky. The film is every bit as somber and depressing as you would expect from the head of the Bad Seeds. The Proposition is so melancholic, you half expect Lars Von Trier to throw a planet in its general direction. You also can’t wait to see what went on with the making of this movie. And that’s where we come in. So sit back, crack open a Foster’s – which no decent Australian would be caught dead drinking. – and have a gander at all the wonderfully tenebrous and fly-ridden items we learned from listening to Hillcoat and Cave talk about The Proposition.

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There are somewhere around a million reasons to look forward to John Hillcoat’s upcoming movie about Depression-era bootleggers, Lawless. Not the least of which is that it’s got one of the most exciting up-and-coming actors on the planet, Tom Hardy, in a prominent role. Hardy has already proven to be a versatile enough talent, but it’s clear that he’s always at his best when he’s projecting an aura of extreme manliness, and these two new clips from Lawless give us a chance to watch him do just that. In the first his bootlegger character, Forrest Bondurant, is trading some snarky dialogue with the new authority in town who’s been tasked to take him down, as played by Guy Pearce. You see, Pearce’s character is all snooty and from the big city of Chicago, so he thinks he’s going to roll into town and run the joint, and Hardy’s character is from the backwoods and doesn’t get impressed by fancy big talk, so he’s not going to listen to anybody. When they get nose to nose and start poking at each other you could swear that you’re watching a hype video for this year’s Wrestlemania. It’s glorious.

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In Lawless, John Hillcoat has almost crafted the perfect modern Western, infusing more explicitly the gangster genre elements that always occur in the genre, but never quite so explicitly. The film follows the Bondurant brothers – Jack (Shia Labeouf), Forrest (Tom Hardy) and Howard (Jason Clarke) – rise as the most famous bootleggers in sun-dried Prohibition-era Virginia, and the government’s attempts to stop them. The government’s chief agent is Guy Pearce‘s Charlie Rakes, a flamboyant looking, but profoundly villainous Special Deputy, let off his leash when the Bondurants, lead by Hardy’s powerhouse Forrest refuse to pay a monthly toll on their illegal activities. While it may sound like an all guns-blazing, epic Prohibition-era Western, the story, adapted well from Matt Bondurant‘s historical novel by Nick Cave (who also once again offers a superlative score) focuses on human stories to add poignancy and depth to the more explosive sequences.

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Simon has already weighed in on Moonrise Kingdom – his first Cannes film of 2012 – but we check in with him to see what 6 films he’s looking forward to the most. Plus, Movies.com’s Peter Hall faces off against Landon Palmer in the Movies News Pop Quiz, and we end up asking important questions about repertory screenings. Will the films of the future digitally last forever? Download Episode #134

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Director John Hillcoat’s (The Road) upcoming project tells the tale of a family of Depression-era bootleggers coming under the scrutiny of a crooked and cutthroat authority. It’s adapted from a Matt Bondurant novel called “The Wettest County in the World,” it was once being referred to as The Wettest County, and for some reason it’s now called Lawless – but a movie with this cast by any other name would be just as badass. The film’s first theatrical trailer has hit the net today, thanks to Yahoo! Movies, and for the first time we’re getting a glimpse of just how much fun it is to see all of these actors working together; which is a whole lot of fun indeed. First off, you’ve got Shia LaBeouf, Jason Clarke, and Tom Hardy playing the Bondurant Boys, the bootlegging trio of brothers who are, at least in some way, based off the author of the source material’s real family history. Then you’ve got Gary Oldman playing the big-time crook they’re working for, Guy Pearce playing the corrupt authority figure brought in to make sure they’re either getting shut down or giving the government their required cut of the profits, Jessica Chastain and Mia Wasikowska playing a couple of ladies they become romantically entangled with, and a whole host of grizzled-looking character actors filling out the rest of the cast of backwoods Virginia hillbillies.

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Typically, release date information isn’t the most important of news, but when it comes to John Hillcoat’s latest project, a star-packed adaptation of a book ripe for a cinematic telling, all bets are off. Hillcoat lensed The Wettest County in the World, from Matt Bondurant’s fact-based tale of his very own grandfather and two of his granduncles and their moonshine-running exploits in Prohibition-era Virginia, earlier this spring, and rumors once held that we’d see it this December, but that’s just not the case. The Weinstein Company picked the film up back during this year’s Cannes Film Festival, but they won’t have the time or inclination to get it into theaters until April 20, 2012. The film is crammed with a murderer’s row of talent, from the firmly established (Gary Oldman, Guy Pearce) to the up-and-coming (Jason Clarke, Jessica Chastain, Dane DeHaan, Mia Wasikowska) to the hot properties looking to expand their resumes (Shia LaBeouf , Tom Hardy). Hardy, Clarke, and LaBeouf star as the three bootlegging Bondurant brothers, who attempt to hold their family business together through threats that include the law, other bootleggers, and love. While the book itself is a bit dry, the tale of the Bondurants is inherently cinematic, and under Hillcoat’s watch (and with a script from his The Proposition scribe, the ever-talented Nick Cave), Wettest County should prove to be an accomplished and thrilling slice of Americana. [BoxOfficeMojo, The Playlist]

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John Hillcoat, director of The Proposition and The Road, has managed to once again assemble an awesome ensemble for his next project Wettest County in the World.  The film will be an adaptation of a Matt Bondurant novel of the same name (except for an added “The” at the front, I guess Hillcoat got tired of making “The” movies) that is about a family of Virginia-born brothers who take to distributing booze during prohibition. Originally Hillcoat had tapped Shia LaBeouf and Ryan Gosling to play two of the three brothers in a cast that was to also include Paul Dano and Amy Adams, but that all fell apart. Hearts were broken and what looked to be a pretty awesome film project was put into question. Things have looked up since then, however. LaBeouf is still on the project and instead of a Ryan Gosling it was announced that we would be getting Tom Hardy. That’s a pretty strong trade. And now The Hollywood Reporter has Hollywood reported that Jason Clarke, Guy Pearce, Gary Oldman, and Mia Wasikowska will join LaBeouf and Hardy for the ride. Mind blown. Clarke will be the one filling out the trio of brothers, while Pearce plays the hardass deputy trying to take them down, Oldman plays a gangster who employs them, and Wasikowska plays LaBeouf’s love interest. The movie will be made from a script by Nick Cave and it’s set to begin shooting on February 28th. That’s a whole lot of name-dropping for one […]

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Red Dead Redemption

Since Roger Ebert doesn’t consider video games art, he can go suck a rattlesnake. Meanwhile, at Film School Rejects, we celebrate the cinematic qualities, and the John Hillcoat short film, of Red Dead Redemption.

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Director John Hillcoat

An offer is out to John Hillcoat to take on the project with locations in Hong Kong and Macao still left to be used from the Johnnie To days.

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theroad-header

There’s something so beautiful and captivating about the end of humanity, the last gasping breaths of life as we know it. This is why post-apocalyptic movies have been so popular in recent years.

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gosling-labeouf-wettestcounty

Coming off of his long-gestating project The Road, director John Hillcoat is looking toward the future. Toward a story of Prohibition bootleggers that may star two of Hollywood’s best young actors.

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the-road-trailer-header

The first trailer for John Hillcoat’s adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s Pulitzer Prize winning book The Road is currently stalking you. Submit to it’s will, before its too late.

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the-road-header

Someone has seen the film adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, and they’ve written about it at great length. And it is time for our resident lover of the novel, Neil Miller, to react appropriately.

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theroad-header

We’ve been excited — like many of you — for the long awaited release of John Hillcoat’s adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. And now, at least as far as we can tell, it finally has an official release date. Again.

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theroad-header

If there is one thing that makes me sad it is a good filmmaker — in this case John Hillcoat, director of The Proposition — who has a great piece of material that they’ve turned into a potentially great film — in this case Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road” — and it just sits on the shelf, collecting dust.

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published: 12.19.2014
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published: 12.18.2014
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published: 12.17.2014
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