August: Osage County the movie

NewYorkTheater
Broadway Star
joined:1/23/10
August: Osage County the movie
Posted: 12/25/13 at 03:39pm

I saw the screening for theater people, and was disappointed. (It opens in New York and Los Angeles on Friday.)
Anybody else?


August Osage County: Three ways the Meryl Streep/Julia Roberts film doesn’t measure up to the play.

Updated On: 12/25/13 at 03:39 PM
Libby1209
Understudy
joined:7/22/09
August: Osage County the movie
Posted: 12/25/13 at 03:40pm
I haven't seen the movie, but wasn't impressed by the play. (I know I'm the minority on this one)
Smaxie
Broadway Legend
joined:9/26/05
August: Osage County the movie
Posted: 12/25/13 at 03:48pm
We may be a minority, but you're not the only one.
Begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end: then stop.
PlayItAgain
Broadway Legend
joined:11/8/11
August: Osage County the movie
Posted: 12/25/13 at 07:09pm
I hadn't seen the play but I loved this, Meryl is deliciously wicked and Julia is great too. I can understand why those who saw the play may not love it as almost an hour has been removed and the ending slightly altered but in the end not a bad way to spend 2 hours.

Updated On: 12/26/13 at 07:09 PM
A Director
Broadway Star
joined:12/18/07
August: Osage County the movie
Posted: 12/26/13 at 01:03am
I have read August: Osage County and have seen it onstage. I have no desire to see the movie.

I hate the play and find it over-rated. I have no problem with plays with unlikeable character.

The problem I have with A:OC and other Tracy Letts plays is subtle in not a word in his vocabulary. There isn't much depth to any of his characters. What you see is what you get.

The problem I have with A:OC is there are too many over-the-top revelations. One or two would be enough. This is not good enough for Letts, so he piling them on until the play collapses from all the weight. To say all the revelations work better onstage than on the screen is nonsense. August: Osage County is a melodrama. All the over-the-top revelations could keep a soap opera running for years. The problem for me is Letts packs all the over-top-revelations into three and a half hours. I didn't gasp when the final over-the-top revelation is revealed; I laughed. The play might work as a satire, but Tracy Letts is deadly serious.

The problem I have with A:OS is it's derivate from other and better plays. Eugene O'Neill, Tennessee Williams, Lillian Hellman, Sam Shephard and Horton Foote cover the same ground as Mr. Letts. They are better playwrights than Mr. Letts. As for the idea that some children become their parents, we've seen it before and Mr. Letts adds nothing new.

The problem I have with A:OS is it's over-rated.

I like Meryl Streep, but early in her movie career, I had the urge to yell at the screen, "Stop acting, Meryl."
When I saw the trailer for A:OS, the urge was back.

FindingNamo
Broadway Legend
joined:7/22/03
August: Osage County the movie
Posted: 12/26/13 at 01:06am
An astute person once wrote that the Broadway production was a well-cast, well-directed load of hooey.

It IS hooey. It is HOOEY.
yes, you
NewYorkTheater
Broadway Star
joined:1/23/10
August: Osage County the movie
Posted: 12/26/13 at 02:39am

"The play might work as a satire, but Tracy Letts is deadly serious. "

I don't want to be in a position of defending Tracy Letts' play since 1. my post is about the movie, and 2. I agree with some of the specific criticisms, and *certainly* agree that he's not in a league with Eugene O'Neill or Tennessee Williams or Horton Foote.

However, a key to understanding the wide appeal of this play (obviously to people other than yourself) is that Tracy Letts is not being "deadly serious." If anything, he's being deadly comic -- deliberately outlandish, subversive and yes even satiric....playing with the genre, even as he follows its conventions. Just take a look at the literally thousands of comments in praise of the play on Goodreads, and you'll see that he's created a work that people relate to in one of two ways -- straight up tragedy, or meta-comedy -- or in both ways simultaneously. I'm not sure why you would evoke comparisons to playwrights like Tennessee Williams. Letts is far closer in sensibility to Albee; it's no coincidence that he starred in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?





Updated On: 12/27/13 at 02:39 AM
indytallguy
Featured Actor
joined:7/13/08
August: Osage County the movie
Posted: 12/26/13 at 12:53pm
Wow. A.O. Scott really doesn't like it.
A.O. Scott NYT Review
FindingNamo
Broadway Legend
joined:7/22/03
August: Osage County the movie
Posted: 12/26/13 at 03:15pm
^^^ Ha ha HA! "Fracting"!

Maybe, in honor of one of the leading industries in the Sooner State, we should call it “fracting.” The application of enormous pressure is involved, a great quantity of subterranean gas is forced to the surface, and the environmental consequences are likely to be controversial.

And this: But it also may be that the awkward transition from stage to screen has exposed weak spots in Mr. Letts’s dramatic architecture and bald spots in his writing.

I have been saying this from the day everybody got soooo excited about this thing.
yes, you
Jordan Catalano
Broadway Legend
joined:10/9/05
August: Osage County the movie
Posted: 12/26/13 at 03:38pm
But…but…Meryl!
wonkit
Broadway Legend
joined:9/30/08
August: Osage County the movie
Posted: 12/26/13 at 03:49pm
I was one of those who loved the play, and saw it twice, once with Deanna Dunegan and once with Estelle Parsons playing the role of Violet. I am not sure I can figure out how a movie of the story could work. The play was a tight little, claustrophobic world, beautifully staged inside the three-story set. Violet is a terrifying character because anyone in the house is under her control in some way and that's the way she likes it. It is the reason why Barbara's line (don't have the play to get this exactly, so an approximation): "I am in control now" is so shocking. She is wresting control away from Violet with the same violence that Violet used to maintain control. Once the movie opens this up to the "real" world, everything falls flat, I imagine, since the family can just leave the house and get away from Violet and each other.
SidebySidebyLogan
Stand-by
joined:9/25/13
August: Osage County the movie
Posted: 12/26/13 at 04:09pm
Haven't seen it yet, tentatively looking forward to it. As a big Meryl fan this was one role I did not want her to get. I was rooting for Jessica Lange
Jordan Catalano
Broadway Legend
joined:10/9/05
August: Osage County the movie
Posted: 12/26/13 at 04:25pm
I was rooting for Ellen Burstyn.
ray-andallthatjazz86
Broadway Legend
joined:8/2/05
August: Osage County the movie
Posted: 12/26/13 at 04:49pm
Sissy Spaceck and Sally Field would have been brilliant, but they aren't huge box office draw like Meryl (who's my favorite actress but even now I can accept that the casting choice was lazy). A shame, since this movie needed to get amazing reviews to even make a dent money-wise. A more interesting casting choice would have geared them towards that direction.
I love the play. Why does it need to be Eugene O'Neill or Tennessee Williams? It's a Tracy Letts play and I like it as a Tracy Letts play. The original production was pretty much perfect with Amy Morton creating one of the most fascinating, fully-realized portrayal of a character I've seen. My understanding is that Harvey Weinstein wanted a straight adaptation of the play, and clearly he pushed for a change in tone, what a terrible idea. Wish someone like Mike Nichols or, particularly, David O. Russell would have directed instead.
"Some people can thrive and bloom living life in a living room, that's perfect for some people of one hundred and five. But I at least gotta try, when I think of all the sights that I gotta see, all the places I gotta play, all the things that I gotta be at"
NewYorkTheater
Broadway Star
joined:1/23/10
August: Osage County the movie
Posted: 12/26/13 at 05:46pm
The movie disappointed me too, as I said, but I find it a bit outrageous that in his movie review A.O Scott spends a paragraph pretending to be a theater critic, speculating about a play he admits he hasn't seen in a way that specifically slams the playwright.
The film is some 90 minutes shorter than the play; In Scott's own newspaper just last week, Letts is quoted as saying: "There’s a point where you throw your hands up and say: It’s [director] John [Wells]’s movie. You are not the ultimate authority in this construct."


Updated On: 12/27/13 at 05:46 PM
wonkit
Broadway Legend
joined:9/30/08
August: Osage County the movie
Posted: 12/26/13 at 07:15pm
I kind of wish that Letts had the ability to make them change the title, if it is getting this far away from his play. I hope to see the movie this weekend, just for comparison's sake and without much enthusiasm.
dramamama611
Broadway Legend
joined:12/4/07
August: Osage County the movie
Posted: 12/26/13 at 07:45pm
I read (but didn't do a side by side analysis) the script, and don't see that it veered all that much from him intent -- especially since he penned the adaptation.

I'm disappointed this isnt getting better buzz but I'm still looking forward to it. I loved the play.
If we're not having fun, then why are we doing it? These are DISCUSSION boards, not mutual admiration boards. Discussion only occurs when we are willing to hear what others are thinking, regardless of whether it is alignment to our own thoughts.
GoSmileLaughCryClap
Broadway Star
joined:3/25/05
August: Osage County the movie
Posted: 12/26/13 at 07:46pm
Everyody should take a step back.

Hollywood and movie critics have always had a love hate affair with adaptations of plays. Hollywood loves the prestige and the vague familiarity that a Broadway hit title has, but gets concerned about all the WORDS.

Critics as far back as the 40s already understood the concept of montage, and film being a director's medium. At best a play could be molded into a plausible "picture" by a talented movie director.

You can go back 50 years and read reviews about attempts to "open up" a stage play to give it a more cinematic validity.

Then there's the verbal naturalism that main stream movies adopted versus the riper stylized verbosity of the stage.

This movie still has its fair share of admirers and plenty of good reviews. The impression from the thread is that it's been panned. It hasn't been. The critical response has been more favorable than negative. But when you throw in a vehement poster or two along with a NYT pan, suddenly the movie is portrayed as a terrible bomb.





henrikegerman
Broadway Legend
joined:4/29/05
August: Osage County the movie
Posted: 12/27/13 at 12:25am
"However, a key to understanding the wide appeal of this play (obviously to people other than yourself) is that Tracy Letts is not being "deadly serious." If anything, he's being deadly comic -- deliberately outlandish, subversive and yes even satiric....playing with the genre, even as he follows its conventions."

Exactly, NewYorkTheater, the play is outlandish, wackily entertaining and highly enjoyable. I loved it but on its own terms, which you have perfectly described as "deadly comic." I would also add, in equal parts, no holds barred melodramatic and hilarious. I would think that those expecting to see a penetrating O'Neil or Williams like exploration would be seriously disappointed, especially if the filmmakers didn't understand why the play works, or, though they did understand it, couldn't bring the same tenor to the screen. I haven't seen the movie yet so I can't comment on how successful it is, though judging by the reviews of major critics who never saw the play, it may well be that the director and cast were not able to bring what works about the play to the screen.
Kad
Broadway Legend
joined:11/5/05
August: Osage County the movie
Posted: 12/27/13 at 01:02am
I thought the film bordered on camp, and brought out the camp elements already inherent in the text.

At the end of the day, Julia Roberts telling Meryl Streep to "eat the fish, bitch!" is camp.
MrMidwest
Broadway Legend
joined:2/8/05
August: Osage County the movie
Posted: 12/27/13 at 03:08am
"Adapted by Tracy Letts from his own Pulitzer Prize-winning play, and starring the woman often hailed as the world's greatest living actress, John Wells's August: Osage County is awards bait at its most overt. Buried within its vanilla packaging and sub-standard compositions, though, is a slyer, more compelling vision, a bawdy and black-hearted vaudeville act that defies the notion of "prestige." Unquestionably a bit of a mess, it's also a dirty, angry, obscene, and uproarious one, and as such difficult to dismiss."

http://www.slantmagazine.com/film/review/august-osage-county
"The gods who nurse this universe think little of mortals' cares. They sit in crowds on exclusive clouds and laugh at our love affairs. I might have had a real romance if they'd given me a chance. I loved him, but he didn't love me. I wanted him, but he didn't want me. Then the gods had a spree and indulged in another whim. Now he loves me, but I don't love him." - Cole Porter
indytallguy
Featured Actor
joined:7/13/08
August: Osage County the movie
Posted: 12/27/13 at 07:58am
Thanks for posting the Slant review. I think it is a good summary of what appear to be the film's strengths and shortcomings. Love the closing lines:

"Linear meaning is elusive to everyone, including the viewer. All that's left is loud and messy feeling."
SonofRobbieJ
Broadway Legend
joined:12/10/09
August: Osage County the movie
Posted: 12/27/13 at 11:11am
Streep is sensational in this...and from the previews I thought I'd hate her. But dammit if she didn't make it work beautifully.

The rest of the film is, as Namo lovingly says, hooey. A big tub of hooey.
logan2
Leading Actor
joined:6/15/04
August: Osage County the movie
Posted: 12/27/13 at 12:18pm
I never saw the play, and have only seen bootlegged parts of the play like the long dinner scene and the "eat the fish, bitch" excerpts on youtube. As for the reviews of the film, the very things that film critics have complained about make me want to see it more. I love camp, I love scenery chewing by talented actors, and I love big Hollywood melodramas. So I'm all in and have a feeling it will be one of those films I love to watch over and over in years to come.

I just wish they hadn't changed the release date to Jan 10. for my neck of the woods.

Updated On: 12/27/13 at 12:18 PM
NewYorkTheater
Broadway Star
joined:1/23/10
August: Osage County the movie
Posted: 12/28/13 at 01:06pm
Thanks Henrik.
I do think that Letts' meta-fiddling doesn't really make it into the film; perhaps others disagree.

Meanwhile, it's interesting that Metacritic, the film review aggregation site, gives August: Osage County a score of 59 ("mixed or average reviews") based on 22 critics. 18 of the critics liked the film better than A.O. Scott did.
Tim Robey of The Telegraph clearly saw the play; it is not clear how many of the others did. (Scott admits he did not; he apparently didn't even bother to read it.)
SNAFU
Broadway Legend
joined:4/20/04
August: Osage County the movie
Posted: 12/28/13 at 01:55pm
Liked the play. Am not crazy about Streep and Roberts. I too think it was lazy casting choices. Yes, I understand why they chose them.
Just received a screener of this and will probably watch it tonight. Don't think I would go to a movie theatre to see it though.
Those Blocked: SueStorm. N2N Nate. Good riddence to stupid! Rad-Z, shill begone!

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