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Wednesday
Nov142012

Anticipation: Osage County 

<--- Remember last week when I shared that little AFM peak at August: Osage County? [Click on the photo to the left if you missed that post].

Well, anticipation means bread crumb madness; no matter how stale or tasteless they are, we have to nibble on them! Supposedly the movie is wrapping up filming on Thanksgiving weekend so it's all over but the post-production and the marketing and the re... okay, it's not remotely over.

So... bread crumbs: here's what the inside of the house might look like; here's what Ewan McGregor recently said about working with Meryl Streep and the director John Wells (not much but I devoured it); and here's what the text on the pamphlet to your left actually said:

Three-Time Academy Award winner Meryl Streep and Oscar winner Julia Roberts, star in the "fiercely funny and bitingly sad" big screen adaptation of Tracy Letts' Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize winning Play, AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY. Coming on the heels of her latest Oscar win for The Iron Lady, Streep stars are Violet Weston, the sharp-tongued matriarch of the South's most dysfunctional family since Paul Newman and Elizabeth Taylor tore up the screen (and each other) in that other Pulitzer-Prize winning classic-Tennessee Williams' Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Directed by John Wells, August begins on the night that Violet's husband of 30 years, Beverly, mysteriously vanishes without a trace. Beverly's disappearance draws the couple's three daughters, including eldest Barbara (Roberts), back to the family home, each returning with husbands and boyfriends in tow to comfort their mother and help solve the mystery of what happened to their father. as with all families, home brings out the best and worst in everyone, as each of the children settles back into their place in the unforgiving hierarchy of the family-all amid the palpable heat of the summer. Letts' work borrows its name from the famous Howard Starks poem, describing a month of August heavy with "heat-thicked air" and "no real breeze all day." And it's that stifling climate that will slowly force Violet and her family to face truths about themselves and each other until the secret of what happened that fateful night is revealed."

I almost balked at the comparisons to Cat on a Hot Tin Roof* -- so risky/shameless to compare yourself to a work of such unarguable genius and iconic stature -- but then I remembered that August: Osage County** the play is hardly lacking in genius or, it must be said, the potential for being thought of in the same hallowed way 60 years from now that we think of Cat now.

Will this movie do the play justice? We'll find out a year from now. Or thereabouts. 

*incidentally, I sometimes --in fact quite often -- think Cat is actually Tennessee Williams single greatest work as a playwright (though the film version of A Streetcar Named Desire is unquestionably the single greatest adaptation of his oeuvre)

** If you've never seen August: Osage County on stage, you should. Readers living near Raleigh North Carolina have an opportunity this month through early December, readers living near Baltimore Maryland can see a production in January.  

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Reader Comments (13)

Agree with you, Nathaniel. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is magnificent. Would love to see how ScarJo and Benjamin Walker make it happen on stage during previews next month.

Not holding my breath for A:OC except for the brilliant casting of Lewis and Martindale. Still reeling from the filmed wretchedness of one of my favorite South American novels, The House of the Spirits, despite its all-star cast. And that was like, 20 years ago!

November 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPam

A Streetcar Named Desire is a work of genius and Vivien Leigh's performance is the greatest Oscar winner for Best Actress.

November 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBVR

John Wells's attachment to this project is a total head-scratcher. There must have been big names lining up for the chance to direct, and he gets the job? Did he buy the movie rights himself?

I'm looking forward to see Margo Martindale knock this out of the park.

November 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLiz N.

I actually had a dream of it but it was not quite the play I remember or the cast of this movie. The original Violet was in and Letts was in and there was a lot of violence and Ihave no idea why I saw that dream.

November 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJames T

Liz, one would think that. But I am not sure if that's the case. Most big names working today are straight men, and they prefer to live vicariously thorough their male leads or fulfill their sci-fi/comic book fantasies. Anything that is intimate or deals with women isn't at the top of their lists. Darren Aronofsky is one the few who is willing to make movies with female leads.

November 15, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterdela

I don't think August is a masterpiece at all. It is always a great entertainment to watch family members shout at each other, but I would never compare it to Big Daddy's monologue. That's another level.

November 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

@Peggy Sue, yes! Though I enjoyed reading it and am looking forward to the film, for me, it lacks the depth of Williams's masterpieces or other great American plays.
It saddens me that at goodreads it has a higher grade than pretty much all the classic masterpieces. I think only Pillowman surpasses it and that's not much of a comfort.
(Though Pillowman is probably a better play, I think)

November 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJames T

dela--Eh, I think that's a very broad generalization. Sure, most directors are men, but I'm skeptical that most of them are literally running away from movies that feature female leads and therefore wouldn't take on a major prestige project with a killer cast. They mostly direct movies starring men because that's where the work is. Most movies star men. The executives who think people won't go see a movie starring a woman are to blame for that unfortunate trend.

For example, my first choice for this movie would have been Noah Baumbach, who has plenty of experience in working with female leads. Other posibilities: Mike Nichols, Alexander Payne, Sam Mendes.

November 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLiz N.

Richard Brooks could not refer explicitly to Brick's gayness, so this bastardized the screenplay to the point where the conflict made no sense. What straight man, especially PAUL NEWMAN! , would not want to sleep with Elizabeth Taylor? The movie was turned into an exercise in absurdity. But the acting is tremendous, especially from Burl Ives. He won an Oscar that year for another move, The Big Country. Great.

November 15, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

Is that Juliette Lewis as Karen/Ivy/the middle sister? Can it please be her? (I mean ideally I would have wanted Robin Wright for the part but still)

November 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPaolo

@brookesboy

I totally agree with you that in Liz and Paul's movie , we did not really see the meat of the story.
Ives should have gotten the Osacr for COAHTR rather than The Big Country.

In the 70's Natalie Wood, Laurence Olivier, Robert Wagner, and Maureen Stapleton did the

onTV with Olivier directing. For so many great actors in the cast ( Wagner? ) ti should have been better... it was just OK. But they did deal a little more with the homosexuality part.

November 15, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterrick

Paolo -- yes, that's Juliette Lewis as Ivy

November 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNathaniel R

Sounds compelling. I've enjoyed Letts other works and see no reason why this shouldn't be great.

November 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterColin Biggs

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