The Wettest County in the World

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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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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Nothing says “summer at the movies” quite like a metric ton of big name blockbusters flooding theaters near you – superheroes on top of superheroes, classic television series brought back from the dead, animated gems about finding yourself – oh my! But with the cinema summer growing ever-larger, the stakes being pushed ever-higher, and enough content to keep audience members in their seats ever-longer, a line has to be drawn somewhere. Which is why all the members of the Voting Body of Film School Rejects gathered together in our secret chambers to vote on just which films have won our Most Anticipated nod. Twenty films emerged from our complicated, decades-old voting process (read: a Google doc) to be crowned winners. Why twenty? Well, there are twenty weeks in the cinematic summer season (if you count May, which we do – April will be included next year if Hollywood keeps this up), and that should give you movie-lovers a reasonable goal to meet for the viewing season. We’ve even managed to pinpoint our most anticipated movie-going weekend of the summer – June 22nd, when four films open in theaters, all of which made our list. But beyond the mathematics that went into picking the summer’s best weekend, there were also some genuine surprises on the list – including big tentpole films missing completely (sorry, Battleship and Dark Shadows), some indies that sneaked in with lots of votes, a battle royale that went down between our number one and number two picks, […]

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The Holiday Gift Guide: Books for Movie Lovers

It may shock you to realize that you, dear reader, are a reader. You are reading this right now! Bizarre, right? And, if you can read things on the Internet, you can certainly read things that come in the traditionally accepted reading format, better known as a “book.” And if you can do it, surely the people in your life that you love enough to buy holiday presents for can do it, too! Enter The Holiday Gift Guide, and more specifically, enter this particular contribution: 18 Books for Movie Lovers. So shiny and wrap-able! So easily order-able and ship-able! So key to preventing widespread illiteracy! After the break, check out seventeen (but really eighteen) books for the movie lover in your life for holiday season gift-giving. Unlike some of those other guides, not all of these books hit shelves in the past eleven months, as I stretched beyond just this calendar year to come up with some unexpected literary picks to make your gift-giving that much more original. Did I make an egregious omission? Of course I did. Put your obvious suggestions in the comments. And, hey, if you gift one of these books and it’s a big hit, let us know which one it was. It’s always nice to hear praise. Happy Chrismakwanzakuh, you guys.

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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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