August:Osage County reviews

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Re: August:Osage County reviews

Postby ITALIANO » Sat Feb 01, 2014 6:17 am

The most interesting thing about this movie is that - as reliable members of this board say - it's actually based on a VERY GOOD play. And honestly - one would never imagine that that from watching this. Yes, maybe here and there there's a line which suggests, if not depth, a certain insight - but it happens rarely, and the effect isn't good anyway because clearly such literary lines still belong to the stage. The transition to the screen is uneven - I'm sure that it's a better play than, say, Steel Magnolias or Crimes of the Heart, but the film version is more or less on that level. Disjointed is the right word - basically a succession of what in Italy we call "scene madri", literally "mother scenes" - big, showy scenes. Only in this case there's nothing in between - and it can get tiresome.

But it can also get funny, and if you consider the movie (unintentionally?) grotesque, you can reasonably enjoy yourself. And I'm not surprised that actors loved it - if not for the quality of its acting, for the "quantity" - there are so many characters (some, by the way, could have been deleted without problems - the movie would be more fluid without them), so many words. But I felt that something was very wrong when at one point I realized that in all that drama I wasn't looking for Meryl or Julia or Margo, but rather for the (unknown, to me) face of an actress called Julianne Nicholson - who, at least in the first half of the movie, seems to play a real human being (later she goes for the hystrionics too).

And then there's Meryl. This is Meryl a la Bette Davis - but not Bette Davis in Little Foxes (they wish!), rather Bette Davis in The Anniversary, a terrible, forgotten movie she made in England in the 60s where she played a domineering mother. Davis, of course, by then had completely sold herself to camp; what makes Streep's performance fascinating (though perversely so) is that she's still as technical as always - so she IS bad, but bad as only very good actresses sometimes can be. She shouldn't have been Oscar-nominated, as I'm sure that not only Adele Exarchopoulos but even young American actress whom I don't know about could have deservedly been in her place - yet watchimg her wrestling with such material - and occasionally finding the right gesture, the right tone, the rare moment of truth - is in some ways more absorbing than watching Sandra Bullock lost in space (at least to me). And at the same time more painful, too.

She's miscast, probably - but then Julia Roberts in theory is less miscast, yet she doesn't do anything interesting (HER nomination is especially absurd - and I'm quite sure that she has more screen time than Streep by the way). Her character could have been potentially the best - and the most "subtle" (though in this context the word subtle sounds quite inappropriate). But she's bland, inexpressive - maybe because she takes the material far too seriously. Meryl at least has fun - and provides the unfortunate viewer with some fun, too.

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Re: August:Osage County reviews

Postby Precious Doll » Tue Jan 21, 2014 1:05 am

John Wells wasn't the only one at fault. Tracey Letts must take some of the blame for his inability to translate his play into a decent screenplay. Though having to trim about an 1 or so would not be easy for anyone. The ultimate blame though lies with Harvey.
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Re: August:Osage County reviews

Postby ksrymy » Tue Jan 21, 2014 12:16 am

Mister Tee wrote:I'm not sure what director would have handled it better

They should've let William Friedkin do it since he did such a great job with Letts' 'Bug,' and 'Killer Joe.'
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Re: August:Osage County reviews

Postby Mister Tee » Mon Jan 20, 2014 11:00 pm

It's so dispiriting when something you really loved on stage sits there like dead mackerel on-screen. It can make you doubt the reaction you had in the theatre -- like, good god, is that all it was?; why did I respond so well? Some plays are just too small, too theatre-specific to bear the scrutiny of the movie camera (Proof, for me, falls into that category). But August: Osage County is play of real scope, one that could have made the transfer successfully in the right hands -- by which I of course mean a director with a sense of what the play is about beyond the crackling dialogue (and the wisdom to leave the essential text intact, not pare it down to its melodramatic action high points).

I'm not sure what director would have handled it better, but John Wells was clearly not the guy. He just planted his camera down and let the actors ram through the dialogue, with barely any sense of overall coherence. The play has enough strong writing, and the actors are proficient enough, that it's not a complete disaster -- scenes like Julia Roberts' "just don't die before me" exchange with her daughter, or Streep's boot monologue, aren't going to fail given the quality of the writing and acting. But Wells offers no connective tissue; I felt like I was forgetting from scene to scene what the play was about. And too much of the dialogue that gave the play its resonance has been trimmed down for no discernible reason (apart from, I guess, it's a movie, and movies should run 2 hours). I don't recall the play in enough specificity to be able to cite every damning omission, but one that stands out is the scene that should have been there between Mulroney and Breslin before Upham intervened with the shovel. I remember a fairly lengthy scene where the Mulroney character behaved borderline creepily, but the young girl was partly complicit in what was transpiring between them. Cut down to the climax only, the scene barely made any sense, and short-changed both actors (I remember Madeleine Martin being terrific in the play, but Breslin barely registered).

As for the other actors: It was refreshing to see Chris Cooper play someone gentle for a change, even if his part didn't amount to alot. Margo Martindale was fine as far as she went, but her role felt truncated from what I remember onstage. Streep does well with a lot of individual pieces of the role -- popping out the wisecracks with glee, conveying rage and desolation when called for -- but suffered from the director's inability to harness it all together. As for Julia Roberts: I've said here on many occasions that I always thought Amy Morton's performance was the strongest element of the play, and I don't think Roberts can hold a candle to Morton in the commanding presence department. Roberts is fine, and does the dialogue well enough, but it felt like casting for marquee value rather than ability. And, really: Julia Roberts became a star because of, among other things, her incandescent smile. It seems perverse to cast her in a role whose main requirement is that she be glum all the time.

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Re: August:Osage County reviews

Postby flipp525 » Sun Jan 12, 2014 12:31 pm

I went into August: Osage County with quite a bit of (what's the opposite of the word "hype"? Backlash fever? Trepidation? I don't know) and came out, I won't say surprised...maybe intrigued? I don't think that Meryl Streep is as bad or camp or over-the-top as people have been saying. Yes, all of these elements are there in full effect throughout the film (the big fight on the floor reminded me of Faye Dunaway straddling Diana Scarwid in Mommie Dearest). But the character is written that way and there's really no way around it. I thought the way that she commanded the infamous dinner scene was almost masterful. There are so many quick switches and she nails every one of them. The reason her performance is being shredded,sliced and diced by the critics is due to the fact that it doesn't match the tone of the film, which itself is quite dour and serious instead of being darkly comical. It's tonal discordance and problem of the director's. I don't think that Amy Adams deserves her perennial spot this year. Yep, I said it.

In some ways, I think the movie is about the long-term repercussions of physical abuse. As someone who has read the play several times and seen it twice on-stage, this isn't something I've thought about before. Violet is just beyond damaged from the abuse she suffered as a child from her mother and everything she does is to cloud her head from focusing on it.

What really wasn't working for me was the obvious lack of an ensemble feel. None of these people really seem related to one another. There are certain dynamics that feel genuine: Meryl and Margo Martindale feel like sisters. And you can definitely see Sam Shepard (in his brief appearance) as the beleaguered husband of Meryl's Violet. I also thought that Misty Upham was used to great effect in a role that usually feels intrusive and ancillary on the stage. But the sisters don't work as a trio (Juliette Lewis feels utterly miscast). Julianne Nicholson, while good in her role, feels too isolated from the other actors. Benedict Cumberbatch felt off to me. Not a strong performance. I'm surprised to hear that the performers all lived together in order to establish that ensemble familial feel because I wasn't feeling it.

With that said, I think this is Julia Roberts' strongest work in years and, while it's clear category fraud to have her in support, I think she absolutely deserves her nomination. Her performance was really the biggest surprise for me. She matches Queen Meryl with every step and demonstrated a kind of actorly intelligence about her character that was really telegraphed on the screen. Best in show.

I can't believe that this is being considered in the Best Comedy or Musical category at the Golden Globes tonight. The movie has funny moments, but is almost unrelentingly depressing at times and especially in the third act.
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Re: August:Osage County reviews

Postby ITALIANO » Sun Jan 05, 2014 6:52 am

dws1982 wrote:
ITALIANO wrote:gays especially have traditionally been welcomed there by the local boys, who are famously handsome.

I read in some history book recently that Tsar Ferdinand of Bulgaria was known for taking regular vacations to Capri to meet up with local boys and other wealthy gay men who vacationed there.


Oh sure, and many others, since - and probably even before - the time Roman emperor Tiberius used to go there to "swim" with the local boys. De Sade wrote about a bisexual orgy in Capri which he had taken part in (and that was in the 18th century!). And then, when in 1891 Italy became one of the first countries in the world to make homosexuality legal (what a different Italy that was!), Capri especially became "the" place to go for foreign gays and lesbians who were persecuted in their own countries (Oscar Wilde being the most celebrated name) or were afraid to be persecuted or simply wanted to taste a bit of sexual freedom. Somerset Maugham, Truman Capote, Baron Fersen, Norman Douglas, D.H. Lawrence, Rudolph Nureyev, many others visited the place or moved there. And of course the infamous Krupp scandal started there - though the man killed himself in Germany.
The boys were - still are, actually - beautiful and welcoming. They weren't necessarily gay, but money wasn't the only reason they were available. There was a sort of Mediterranean "bisexuality", an approach to sex which was very fluid, "all inclusive", and without guilt feelings, and even quite "macho" despite the fact that it was between men. One can still find it, but times, of course, have changed even here.

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Re: August:Osage County reviews

Postby dws1982 » Sat Jan 04, 2014 5:35 pm

ITALIANO wrote:gays especially have traditionally been welcomed there by the local boys, who are famously handsome.

I read in some history book recently that Tsar Ferdinand of Bulgaria was known for taking regular vacations to Capri to meet up with local boys and other wealthy gay men who vacationed there.

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Re: August:Osage County reviews

Postby ITALIANO » Sat Jan 04, 2014 3:19 pm

flipp525 wrote:I didn't ask where or what the island of Capri was. I've been there, thanks. You really do think we're all a bunch of rubes, don't you?


Well, actually I was replying to YOU... ;)

But seriously yes, not a Razzie but something closer to those very minor awards you mentioned...

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Re: August:Osage County reviews

Postby flipp525 » Sat Jan 04, 2014 3:11 pm

I didn't ask where or what the island of Capri was. I've been there, thanks. You really do think we're all a bunch of rubes, don't you?

Thanks for the explanation of this dubious honor. So, not a Razzie, more like a Dallas/Fort Worth Critics' Award?
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Re: August:Osage County reviews

Postby ITALIANO » Sat Jan 04, 2014 2:36 pm

:D

Well, first of all Capri is an island in the Mediterranean, not far from the Naples coast. You should all go there at least once: the climate is warm, the landscape is wonderful (caves, rocks...), the sea blue and clean, and the food... heavenly (especially if you like fish - I've eaten the best spaghetti alle vongole there). It's been for centuries a favorite retreat for international intellectuals (including many Americans) - gays especially have traditionally been welcomed there by the local boys, who are famously handsome. All this, of course, has made the island a place for the rich and famous - the rich in particular, as it is honestly quite expensive. But one can always find cheap places.

And then yes, since 1995, there is also this film festival, Capri Hollywood, which is devoted only to American movies. The island has money - its festival obviously has money too. American actors are glad to be invited (all expenses paid, of course) to the legendary place, and treated like royalties. The movies shown are usually the big ones, those with Oscar potentials, and as the jury is generally quite conservative, the festival itself has become a sort of Italian equivalent of those precursors that this board often, and justly, makes fun of. They basically make the safest choices (though this may be a rare case when their pick for Best Picture won't be a Best Picture nominee at the Oscars). It's a famous fillm event in Italy, but even here it's not considered as reliable as, say, Venice or even Rome.

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Re: August:Osage County reviews

Postby flipp525 » Sat Jan 04, 2014 1:37 pm

What's a "Capri"? Is it like a Razzie?

'August: Osage County' Dominates Italy's Capri, Hollywood Fest With Four Awards

John Wells' drama about a dysfunctional family joins the select list of films to win Capri, Hollywood's film of the year honor.

Capri, Hollywood's Film of the Year award is often a harbinger of good things for the film selected: last year's film of the year, David O. Russell's Silver Linings Playbook, earned eight Oscar nominations, and the year before that, The Artist from Michel Hazanavicius ended up taking home five Oscars, including best film.

Best film Oscar winners The King's Speech and Slumdog Millionaire were similarly honored at previous editions of the festival, which is set on the picturesque island of Capri, off the coast of Naples.

August: Osage County's Meryl Streep, who did not come to the festival, won the prize for best actress, while the film's all-star cast -- which includes Julia Roberts, Ewan McGregor and Chris Cooper -- won the festival's best acting ensemble honor. Earlier in the festival, Cooper was on hand to receive the festival's lifetime achievement prize.

The film won the festival's top prize over a power-packed lineup that included Justin Chadwick's Nelson Mandela biopic Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, Steve McQueen's 12 Years a Slave, Disney's Saving Mr. Banks, Lee Daniels' The Butler, Russell's American Hustle and The Great Beauty (La grande bellezza) from Paolo Sorrentino, the first Italian film shortlisted for the foreign language film Oscar since Don't Tell (La bestia nel cuore) nine years ago.

But most of those films did not leave Capri empty-handed: Mandela star Idris Elba was named best actor and co-star Naomie Harris was selected as best supporting actress. U2's "Ordinary Love," from the film's soundtrack, was selected as best song. Elba and Harris were on hand to receive their awards personally.

John Ridley won the adapted screenplay honor for his work on 12 Years a Slave, while the supporting actor honor went to Michael Fassbender for his work on the same film.

Saving Mr. Banks won the Capri Audience Award and The Great Beauty was given the Capri Visionary Movie Award.

Other awards went to actress-director Valeria Golino as European actress of the year, while Emily Ratajkowski was selected as the Capri Rising Star. Both Golino and Ratajkowski were at the festival to receive their honors.

Russell was honored by the festival earlier in December, in Rome.

Additionally, earlier this week film mogul Harvey Weinstein received an unscheduled achievement honor. Weinstein attended the 18-year-old event for the first time in connection with both August: Osage County and Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.

"The winners are justly deserving of the honors they received and we congratulate them for their extraordinary contributions to the art of motion pictures," festival founder and artistic director Pascal Vicedomini said.

The festival, which got underway Dec. 27, concludes Thursday. The festival spans the new year annually, making it the last film event of each year and the first of the following year.
"The mantle of spinsterhood was definitely in her shoulders. She was twenty five and looked it."



-Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

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Re: August:Osage County reviews

Postby Precious Doll » Wed Jan 01, 2014 4:35 am

I was lucky enough to see this play performed by most of the original cast including Deanna Dunagan (Violet), Rondi Reed (Mattie Fae), Amy Morton (Barbara) & Sally Murphy (Ivy). Though the play in really nothing more than one giant soap opera it was acted to perfection by the entire cast and had the most impressive set I have ever seen at the theatre - basically a life size dollhouse.

The film however is a disaster in every respect and I don't have a single positive thing to say about it. The play has been butchered with pretty much only all the confrontation scenes remaining and lots of unnecessary filling. Opening up the play to include as many scenes as possible set outside has taken away the claustrophobic feel of the original piece and all that is left is a mess.

Whilst I appreciate that theatre is a different medium then cinema I also believe that with in the right hands any play can translate to a fine film. This is a major missed opportunity and hopefully sometime in the future someone else will give it a try who can get it right.
"I think he sexually assaulted a child and I don't think that's right…It's gotten very quiet in here, but that's true." Susan Sarandon on Woody Allen, Cannes Film Festival 2016

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Re: August:Osage County reviews

Postby Johnny Guitar » Sat Dec 28, 2013 3:37 pm

I haven't seen the film, and I probably won't unless my wife talks me into it (we're both big fans of the stage play, which is excellent). But my favorite comment I came across - on Twitter maybe - was that after Bug and Killer Joe, William Friedkin really deserved a chance to direct this one and complete his Tracy Letts trilogy. Sight unseen, I'd bet money that it would have resulted in a much more interesting film.

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Re: August:Osage County reviews

Postby Uri » Thu Dec 26, 2013 4:54 pm

When a supposedly heavyweight American film opens in Israel way before it does at home one knows there’s a problem. And indeed there is. It’s not about personal preferences nor is it about merit or the lack of it. This film simply doesn’t work. Nothing about it really manages to even remotely pick up some steam, so I’m afraid, Eric, that even as a camp fest this one is DOA. It’s a totally fragmented, disjointed piece. Nothing relates here – not actors and the roles they play, not characters and their actions, not one scene to the ones preceding it or following it. And most of all, there are no real interactions between characters – each one seems to exist in a bubble, having nothing to do with the other ones. A family they are definitely not, and once this very primary element is missing in this particular setting, there is really no point to follow the rather predictably “shocking” revelations one is rather conditioned to have with this kind of extremely familiar brend of American drama. And a lot of it has to do with the fact that this is an “all star” cast which not for a single moment evolves into an ensemble. As one would expect, some of the actors are professional enough to be able to handle the basic demands of the scenes they are in – they knew their lines and didn’t bump into the furniture (unless it was called for). Some didn’t even manage this. Roberts, whom I like, in particular is painful to watch here. Then there’s Streep. I think I know what she was aiming at. Her approach seems to be not that different than what she did in Doubt in a sense that she gets the material and the character do not call for subtlety and she experiments with externalizing rather than internalizing this person’s mechanism. Back then I praised her performance for being intriguingly deconstructive. Here it just doesn’t amount to more than collection of flamboyant actorly etudes. Maybe in a better film version of a better play it would have worked, but not this time.

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Re: August:Osage County reviews

Postby Eric » Sat Nov 09, 2013 7:30 pm

Future camp classic? Now I'm officially intrigued.

http://www.thewrap.com/august-osage-cou ... s-megalon/


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