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Picks and Pans Main: Movies

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Tom Hardy, Jessica Chastain, Shia LaBeouf, Guy Pearce, Mia Wasikowska R |


Lawless is so violent you’ll gasp-but it’s breathtaking in more ways than one. Set in Virginia during Prohibition, the film is based on Matt Bondurant’s book about his grandfather and two great-uncles, moonshiners who refused to bow down to corrupt lawmen. Forrest (the brilliantly subtle Hardy) is the brutish leader of the “Bondurant Boys,” while Howard (Jason Clarke) is his brawny right-hand man. Both feel responsible for their sensitive little brother Jack (a heartbreaking LaBeouf), who wants desperately for them to see him as an equal. Though most of the distillery owners in the county knuckle under to a shady special agent (Pearce, fantastic in a truly despicable role), the defiant Bondurants fight back, culminating in shootings, stabbings and stompings. Faint of heart? You’ll spend a lot of time covering your eyes. Still, the film’s gorgeous scenery is reminiscent of a Wyeth painting, and the performances are just as finely detailed. While the men are the stars here, the ladies shine too: Chastain is quietly exquisite as a hardened former dancer who falls for Forrest, and Wasikowska, as a preacher’s daughter, is a bright spot in a dark, intense film. I dare you to stop thinking about Lawless after the lights go up, especially knowing it’s all inspired by real events.

Robot & Frank

Frank Langella, Susan Sarandon PG-13 |


Robot & Frank, a sweet film about an elderly man who’s losing his memory, examines what life would look like if sophisticated robots acted as caretakers for those who need them. Frank (Langella), a former con man, must live with a robot (voiced by Peter Sarsgaard) because his son (James Marsden) worries about his safety. Though Frank resists the robot’s help at first, ultimately the two become partners for a few more heists, as Frank tries to win over the local librarian (Susan Sarandon). Poignant performances make this simple and timely tale one that resonates.