John Wells

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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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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It’s been a year since the Sundance debut of John Wells‘ directorial debut, The Company Men. Films like these are a rare breed. It’s not only a small type of film (despite its star power) that is more than difficult to get off the ground nowadays, but it’s also tackling a timely and difficult topic. Who wants to go see a film about job loss in this climate? Well, that’s a hurdle and a question Wells overcame. Even with the hopeful and upbeat outlook of Wells’ first feature film, it’s sure to be a hard sell for some audiences. Yes, Up in the Air tackled a similar matter and ended up doing gangbuster business, but that also had George Clooney‘s wit and charms at the center of it to make it an easy sell. This isn’t a film with irresistibly likable leads, but instead follows genuinely believable modern day workers. Hopefully, as I’m sure the extremely friendly and well-spoken director hopes as well, more than a few people will look past its downer concept.

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr trolls around hospitals looking for a scorching hot young doctor who doesn’t want a real relationship but would rather have someone she can have copious amounts of sex with many times throughout the week. Upon returning from that fantasy land, he heads to a job-placement agency to rub elbows with laid-off corporate executives who have trouble making ends meet so they can pay the lease on their Mercedes. Kevin is handing out grades for No Strings Attached and The Company Men, and the grades are not good.

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