Lawless: Writer Matt Bondurant Post Screening Q & A

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

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Tom Hardy has really been working a lot - Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (Ricki Tarr), Warrior (Tommy Conlon), This Means War (Tuck), The Dark Knight Rises (Bane) and now Lawless (Forrest Bondurant).

It was inevitable that he should come in contact with the other hot property of the moment - Jessica Chastain - The Tree of Life (Mrs. O'Brien), The Help (Celia), Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted (voice of Gia), Zero Dark Thirty, Mama and Tar, the last 3 in post production. 
 
As Maggie in Lawless, Chastain heats up the screen seducing the tough as nails Forrest Bondurant (Hardy); such a shame their lovestory and chemistry is played on the back burner of this gangster/western/historic/biopic.


The story takes place shortly after prohibition is declared. I've always wondered if the government didn't put prohibition in place purposefully as a way to create commerce. Perhaps they didn't know just how bloody and violent it would get; but like wars, it was profitable. After all, it's human nature to want what you've been told you can't have; and there will always be those that not only find a way to break a law, but make great gains from the disobedience.  

Such was the case in Franklin County, Virginia, the town in which Lawless is set, where anyone who wasn't a bootlegger was related to one. Three such moonshine bootleggers are the Bondurant boys.
 

The oldest, Forrest (Hardy) is one of those quietly dangerous kind of men. If you didn't know better, you could be fooled by his cardigan sweaters and calm demeanor, but that would be a deadly mistake.

Howard (Jason Clarke) is the family muscle, wild-eyed and a bit too blood thirsty.

Jack (Shia LaBeouf) is a lover, not a fighter, with eyes for the preachers daughter (Mia Wasikowska). But he's also ambitious and likes fine things.

The crux of the movie hinges on the fact that legend tells it these Bondurant boys and their kin before, are invincible, almost impossible to kill. In saunters Special Agent Charlie Rakes (Guy Pearce) sent to Franklin County to stamp out all the town's stills and put an end to the legend of the Bondurant boys.

Gary Oldman's role as gangster Floyd Banner, is a little adhoc, as if his story should be told in a different movie.  But what I wanna know is how tight must Oldman and Tom Hardy be? As they've now done 3 movies together - Lawless, Dark Knight Rises and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.
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Matt Bondurant and me (Le Anne Lindsay)

The Philadelphia Film Society (click link for Bondurant interview) invited Matt Bondurant, the writer of the novel “The Wettest County in the World,” which the movie is based upon, to the Philly preview screening of Lawless.

In his post film discussion, Bondurant prudently did not reveal a like or dislike for any scenes added to the movie by screenwriter Nick Cave, but he did say, of course, he enjoyed the parts of the movie which stay true to his words and actions the most.

Bondurant wrote “The Wettest County” while teaching English at George Mason University in Fairfax between 2003 and 2007.  His other novels include, The Third Translation and more recently, The Night Swimmer.

The Bondurant boys are based on Matt's grandfather (Jack) and great uncles. Most of the book is fictional, but the foundation is based on researching Franklin County, using transcripts from The Great Moonshine Conspiracy trial of 1935, and family stories he'd heard growing up - like his great uncle Forest having actually survived his throat being cut, a ton of lumber being dropped on him and the gunshot wounds at the bridge. However, the invincible legend is played up a bit more in the screenplay than the book.

It was Tom Hardy's idea for his character to wear the Mr. Rogers sweaters and vests, but director John Hillcoat vetoed Hardy's other costuming input of having a full beard and a corncob pipe. These additions would have made the character far too old and not nearly hot enough for Chastain's Maggie.


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Will there ever be a cap on movie prices?

Will we one day pay $20 a pop?

Why don't we pay on a scale?

A crap movie like everything Adam Sandler has ever done should cost about $4.50.
Big action movies like"Lord of the Rings", "Iron Man," "Transformers" are worth $10.
Woody Allen movie or something like "Silver Linings Playbook" $6-$7.
A chick flick or light comedy $5.75 and most Indie Films $5.25.

You could even do it by seasons - all summer block busters from May to August - $10
Sept - November 15th $3.50 - $4
Back to $10 for Thanksgiving and Christmas etc...

Or you can do it by A Actors ($9 - $10), B Actors ($6 - $7) TV actors on the big screen ($3.50 - $4)

Surely I'm not the first person to realize this makes sense. Has it been voted on in the Motion Picture Industry and then vetoed? If so, why?

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