August: Osage County

A Touch of Sin

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon. A Touch of Sin Four stories of everyday people caught up in the maelstrom that is modern day China. Violence infects their lives, sometimes as victims, sometimes as perpetrators, and none of them will ever be the same again. Zhangke Jia‘s film made my list of 2013′s best foreign language films, and it marks a rare instance where Landon Palmer and I agreed on that assessment. In his own ‘best of’ list he wrote, “A work of national cinema meant primarily for an audience outside of its home nation, A Touch of Sin is a disturbing mosaic of contemporary global China, depicting the excesses and injustices of a country growing through an unprecedented combination of organized labor and capitalist exploitation. A potent combination of genre play and political commentary, Zhangke Jia’s episodic film is as much a masterwork of a tightly controlled, discomfiting tonal range as it is a revealing micro-examination of uniquely 21st-century forms of economic injustice. I believe we’ll be talking about this molotov cocktail of a film for years to come.” [Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]

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In an interview with Rolling Stone, “August: Osage County” playwright, Tracy Letts, said the difference between watching a movie and a play is “…the way people take them in. You don’t work as hard to watch a movie. You work harder to watch a play, so what the audience puts into it is interesting.” Going to the movies is definitely a communal experience, but watching a play can be an intense experience because you are not simply escaping into a story as a passive viewer, you are in a theater with the actors, the presence making you a participant in the overall experience. Before the premiere of the film adaptation of August: Osage County at the Toronto International Film Festival last year, Letts expanded on this comparison saying, “There are a lot of people in a room [when watching a play] and everyone is a living person as opposed to an image that’s already been shot. Meryl Streep is not in the house tonight, just her picture’s up there, so it’s a different experience.” Movies allow for quick location changes and close ups of an actor’s face, but the feeling of being in the same room with an actor is lost when it’s solely their image on a screen – and that is where music comes in.

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WINNER

What is the difference between being nominated for an award and winning an award? The answer is so obvious as to be ludicrous – being nominated for something means that there is a possibility you will win the final accolade, winning something means that you’ve actually won the prize. Simple, right? Clear, not obtuse in the least, plain-faced, correct? Not if you’re dealing with awards season movie marketing, as a number of films are now touting their nominations by billing films as being the “WINNER (of a nomination).” Pardon? It’s a strange phenomenon that /Film’s Germain Lussier wrote about back in December (as inspired by a piece on Franklin Avenue, which meticulously gathered screencaps in support), as he was appropriately flabbergasted by the marketing ruse. Lussier penned a piece on the rash of new ads – specifically for August: Osage County and Philomena – sharing screencaps of various TV spots that touted both films as the “WINNER” of various Golden Globe nominations (up top, you’ll find one for August: Osage County). The ads willfully blew up the word “WINNER” to outshine the more accurate “nominee” or “nomination,” clearly aiming to make an impression of the winning variety (not, it seems, of the nominating variety). At the time of Lussier’s piece, only The Weinstein Company (the distributor of both August and Philomena) had utilized the shady technique to tout their films, but now even Fox Searchlight has gotten in on it, and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association is not happy in […]

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Isn’t it always great to see your family? Don’t you just want to give your parents a call right now and hear what they’ve been up to and also hear at the same time about how you never call? Mmm, guilt. Take a little solace in the fact that whatever you and I are dealing with back at the ranch isn’t as bad as the Weston family’s situation in John Wells‘ August: Osage County. The adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play isn’t hitting theaters until December 25th, but it’s gaining steady buzz for the awards season track up until its premiere.

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August Osage County

Fresh out of its showing at TIFF (read our own Kate Erbland’s review) comes the second trailer for John Wells‘ August: Osage County, the story of a large and cranky family that comes together for the funeral of their patriarch. The high-profile project, based on Tracy Letts‘ Pulitzer Prize-winning play, is nothing to sneeze at; when most of your cast has already won an Oscar or been nominated, you know it’s probably smooth sailing until awards season. While the first trailer focused more on Meryl Streep‘s vicious Violet Weston and her cutting remarks (here’s Scott Beggs’ writeup of the first trailer for comparison), the new incarnation seems to remove a teensy bit of Meryl’s bite to focus more on the larger family as a whole. And while Lord knows we all love ourselves a mean Meryl, by featuring more of the Westons, it gives a better look into their deep bitterness and dysfunctionality. Celebrities — they’re just like us! Check out the trailer for yourself here:

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August Osage County

The dysfunctional family drama can pack it in now, because the genre has reached its zenith with John Wells’ spectacularly entertaining and unsettling August: Osage County. Adapted for the screen from his own Pulitzer Prize-winning play of the same name, Tracy Letts has effectively moved the traumas of the supremely effed up Weston family to the big screen, ensuring that droves of film-goers will be able to reason, well, at least I’m not part of that group just in time for an awards season the film will surely clean up during. Starring a tremendously talented cast, the film hinges on Meryl Streep as maddening matriarch Violet Weston and her control freak daughter Barbara (played by Julia Roberts in one of her finest performances), and the two do not disappoint in the slightest. Despite heavy subject matter (suicide, incest, drug abuse, alcoholism, infidelity, oh my!), the film still includes plenty of humor to keep it humming right along, fully engaging its audience all the way. Set in – well, you know this – a steamy week or so in August in Oklahoma’s Osage County, the film opens with Weston family patriarch Beverly (Sam Shepard) conducting an interview of the family’s new cook and aide Johnna (Misty Upham). Before the pair can finish the briefing of duties, the volatile Violet comes to after another night of pill-popping, only to stumble down into Beverly’s booze-filled office to offer color commentary and first class slurring. She’s a wreck, through and through, and it’s no […]

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August Osage County

Emerging from work that won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2008, Tracy Letts has adapted his black comic play into a film with John Wells at the helm, and August: Osage County is downright overflowing with prestige. It also looks awkward enough to make Home For the Holidays feel like an old, warm blanket. To that first point, let’s do the math on the people involved: Oscar Winners: Meryl Streep (3), Julia Roberts, Chris Cooper, George Clooney and Grant Heslov (Producing) Oscar Nominees: Abigail Breslin, Juliette Lewis, Sam Shepard Not too bad. Undoubtedly, a lot of people will be clamoring pre-release for Streep to win her fourth Oscar, but you know what would be even better? Getting Margo Martindale her first. That woman is a powerhouse whose earned her spot on the Academy stage. If this trailer is any indication, she might find herself with a nice shot at Best Supporting Actress and Best Inappropriate Comments. Check it out for yourself:

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Good luck untangling the twisted mess that is the family tree at the center of Tracy Letts‘ soon-to-be-adapted play, August: Osage County. Of course, that’s all part of the story of the Pulitzer Prize-winning production, but it makes confirming casting notices for John Wells‘ film version a real beast. Letts’ play centers on the Weston family, led by patriarch Beverly Weston and his sick, pill-popping wife Violet. Set during the month of August in the Weston’s hometown of Pawhuska, Oklahoma, the play opens with a prologue that features Beverly as he attempts to hire a nurse for his, for lack of a better word, cracked out wife (to be played by Meryl Streep). While that introduction might make it seem as if it’s Violet who will soon wither, Act One hits us with the hard truth – Beverly has committed suicide, leaving Violet alone to deal with his death and the rest of their family. They are not a happy family. And they have much bigger issues to deal with than just one measly suicide. Most of the conflict of August: Osage County is between the various Weston women – especially between Violet and her eldest daughter, Barbara Fordham (Julia Roberts) – but there are two other Weston girls to cast, and it’s now been revealed that rising star Andrea Riseborough will be one of them.

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This is big news for people who like super famous actresses. August: Osage County is an adaptation of a Pulitzer and Tony Award-winning play of the same name. It tells the story of Violet, the pill-popping head of a family who must gather her daughters together in the face of a crisis. The film version will be directed by The Company Man’s John Wells, and it has the Weinsteins sitting in producer chairs. But that’s not why we’re all here reading this article, we’re all here to gush over the two actresses that they’ve cast in the leads. Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts have signed on to play the mother and one of the adult daughters in this film. Maybe you’ve heard of them? Oscar winners? They’re kind of big deals. Of course, when a movie is able to pull a casting coup like this, there are a lot of self-congratulatory quotes that go around in press releases. To that end, Julia Roberts has already said, “After seeing Meryl Streep’s mesmerizing portrayal as Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady, it has me even more excited and proud to co-star with her.” The two have been attached to the film since back in 2010, but the Weinsteins have finally confirmed the pair in an official press release, along with the news that the film will start production this fall.

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