The Playlist give it a C-
But there are some saving grace notes throughout. Streep is at her Streep-iest, given a wig to wear, and allowed to look ugly, and she takes to sneering, emotionally volatile Violet with ease. She commands the screen and many scenes like she should, but has a great foil in Roberts playing Barbara. As the eldest daughter, who has to come to grips with her family history, as well as take the unwanted role of Weston matriarch, Roberts hasn't been this good in a while, and that's likely due to a role that gives her a lot of substance to play with. And a special nod of recognition has to go to Cooper as Charles, who delivers one of the film's few genuine moments, with a wonderful, poignant rebuke of his wife Mattie that lays bare the ugliness at the core of the Westons.
As directed by Wells, he seems to have been almost too hands off when it comes to his heavyweight cast. There is little in the way of craftmanship here -- even the usually reliable composer Gustavo Santalalla provides a rather workmanlike score -- and the film could've used a stronger hand in guiding the transition of the play to the big screen. There is a powerful cinematic experience somewhere in "August: Osage County" waiting to get out in the sprawling two hour plus runtime, but in seemingly staying too faithful to Letts' work, the end product winds up playing almost like a supercut of Important Acting In Big Scenes, instead of a cohesive work of dramatic weight and thematic thoughtfulness.
The Weinstein Co’s August: Osage County, which screened early this evening at Toronto’s Roy Thomson Hall, feels a tiny bit abbreviated and doesn’t deliver quite as much of a full-on emotional wallop as Tracy Letts‘ Tony Award-winning stage play, but it’s strong and direct and satisfying enough to give the play’s admirers what they’re looking for. I was intrigued and attuned from start to finish. And the film certainly delivers at least four…make that five top-notch performances — first and foremost Meryl Streep as the bitchy matriarch Violet Weston (an all-but-guaranteed Best Actress nominee), Julia Roberts as her angry daughter Barbara, Margo Martindale as Mattie Fae Aiken, Juliette Nicholson as Ivy weston and Juliette Lewis as Karen Weston.
I would call August: Osage County a very strongly hit double…okay, a triple due to fielder error and the runner sliding in. Whereas the play was a wowser grand slam, or so it seemed when I first saw it in ’08. The bottom line, I suspect, is that the acting is going to get more awards attention than the film itself, and there’s nothing wrong with that scenario. A:OC might very possibly end up a Best Picture contender but it doesn’t hold a candle, horsepower-wise, to 12 Years A Slave. I’m sorry but it just doesn’t. For the simple reason that Slave is a flat-out masterpiece and August: Osage County isn’t.
everyone is a critic, literally
who are these people?
Reviews aren't a particular surprise seeing how this is only John Wells's second theatrical film.
It would have been nice if they had gone with a real filmmaker like Alexander Payne.
thank God, I won't have to sit thru Ellen's opening number
Sounds disappointing. This is the danger of showing a Christmas release in September ... you have to put up with web critics instantly dismissing your film months in advance. Maybe they should have hired William Friedkin instead of John Wells.
My feeling is that Meryl is only going to be nominated a few more times, and this year she may not be nominated. She was supposed to show up at TIFF today but was a no-show. You only can use the "Meryl is sick" so many times before people realize you are over the "me" aspect of the business.
[quote]You only can use the "Meryl is sick" so many times before people realize you are over the "me" aspect of the business.
I'm not sure what you mean here.
As it won't be released until Christmas, was this just a test screening? They have time to re-edit.
It was not a test screening. It was a screening for critics at TIFF.
[quote]However, like her work in another recent screen adaptation of a Broadway hit, Doubt, she hits all her marks with brilliant technique but brings no element of surprise. As good as Streep is, the chewy part actually might have benefited from a left-field casting choice.
Why couldn't they get a decent director?
Why doesn't Meryl ever attract top level directors?
I really wanted Jane Fonda or Jessica Lange for Violet. Left field choice that would have KILLED it? Betty Buckley.
George Clooney produced this, maybe this was his "gift" to ER producer John Wells.
They really needed someone with a theatrical background like Mike Nichols.
R16, click, click, click.
Sick of Meryl being handed all the older role gals when there are more interesting options.
Julia should have convinced Soderbergh to direct.
I haven't paid much attention to early movie reviews since about a year ago when I first heard early raves on about Les Mis.
Deadline Hollywood says it played like gangbusters and received the longest, loudest standing ovation of the festival.
Deadline is full of shit. This did not get the kind of reception and critical acclaim 12 Years a Slave did.
"I really wanted Jane Fonda or Jessica Lange for Violet. Left field choice that would have KILLED it? Betty Buckley."
At this point I don't think Fonda could really pull it off. Lange could do it. Buckley would have overacted, like she does now in that Horton Foote play.
When I saw the play of AUGUST, I thought of Grace Zabriskie as Violet, though she played a somewhat similar character on BIG LOVE.
Thing is, many of these women are not considered boxoffice draws, unlike Streep.
Oh, enough referencing of that tired Hepburn quote. Kate had a lot of fucking nerve, being the one-note actress that she was, ripping on someone who at least worked at her craft. All Hepburn ever did was build a fantastic closet for herself and Tracy. Silly, overrated hag.
Meryl Streep skipped the premiere.
What do you think that means?
You only can use the "Meryl is sick" so many times before people realize you are over the "me" aspect of the business.
This was not very clear:
Meryl can only use the "I am sick" excuse so many times before people realize that she is over the self and/or film promotion aspect of show business.
Will still see this, however. Sounds like Julia did a good job. There is no way that a movie studio would gamble $30 million on Jessica Lange or any other minor television star.
Imagine being Katharine Hepburn and you are elderly. Along comes Meryl Streep who is a different kind of actress, and Meryl gets a lot of attention. Of course she is going to bag on her, because if there is one thing that Katharine Hepburn was known for, it was being a cunt.
[quote]There is no way that a movie studio would gamble $30 million on Jessica Lange or any other minor television star.
Lange is not a minor TV star, Mamie. You are.
Can someone make a mock up poster with "click, click, click" instead of Streep's name?
Didn't the Meryl Loon promise us this would be his goddess's third Oscar?
Ha! I was right once again,
Meryl is not a top contender for Supporting. She's 7th -12th best at most.
I actually see the girl from Blue is The Warmest Color as a bigger threat along with the girls from Spring Breaker.
once again Patty Duke should have had the Meryl Streep role!!!!
r34 I'm submitting for lead and Julia is going for supporting, please keep up.
I'm not really looking for a win this year. I just won 2 years ago. One has to pace one' self.
R36 Then you have no chance in hell cunt!
At least with Supporting you had an outside shot, but now you're toast.
Yay! Carey Mulligan gets closer to the top 5! :D
Carey Mulligan in what?
Hey boys! Help this frau out!
Are we pronouncing "August" as in majestic dignity, or August that month before September?
R42, it's three trochees -- a series of disyllabic metric feet all stressed on the first syllable.
[quote]I really wanted Jane Fonda or Jessica Lange for Violet.
Outside of a couple of (just) decent performances decades ago, Fonda is a terrible actress, now wholly incapable of plating anything but the brassy old Jane Fonda role. Lange could have done nicely.
It would have been worlds better to have gone for a modest budget and not cast "names" but actors who were soundly good in their roles. It's already a stagey play, and casting big name actors to emote the fuck out it does a disservice all around.
There's no need to turn a decent play it into some big heaping dollop of Friend Green Tomatoes kitschy cornpone, with a huge budget and miscast big name stars in all the wrong places.
R44, did you see Fonda in 'The Newsroom?' She was amazing.
And watch Klute again -- it's not 'just decent.' And 'The Morning After?' Also great in that.
Why bring Fried Green Tomatoes into this?
[quote]It would have been worlds better to have gone for a modest budget and not cast "names" but actors who were soundly good in their roles. It's already a stagey play, and casting big name actors to emote the fuck out it does a disservice all around.
Yes, because the goal of the movie business is to lose money, R44.
Some of you are so dense it is amazing.
Fonda has aeorobicized and surgerized her way out of playing anything but the type of rich bitch she is.
Lange would have been a variation of her Season 1 role in AHS and the obsessed mother she played in "Hush".
Streep has always received polarized opinions of her performances in the past, and this one will be no different.
C- How dare they.
Jessica Lange is a cable television star now. She is not offered movies.
[quote]Streep has always received polarized opinions of her performances in the past, and this one will be no different.
If be "polarized opinions" you mean "near universal acclaim". Or "near universal indifference". Her performances are never "polarizing" in the way someone like Jennifer Jason Leigh's are. MAYBE in "Doubt", but that's about it and only from serious theater kweens, not the general public.
So this August thing appears to have near universal raves as a play. But was the also Pulitzer winning original Doubt any good? I know Cherry Jones is loved here.
I was really unimpressed with Doubt the movie, it was way too stagey and it made me question the material, was shocked it was so acclaimed.
The only time a recent stage adaptation has really worked for me was Rabbit Hole. Have to hand it to Kidman, her famous taste in directors paid dividends here, an inspired choice.
So--another not-so-great film that operates primarily as a Streep vehicle (secondarily as a Roberts vehicle--another woman who hasn't exactly packed her resume with films highly regarded by anyone as time passes).
I thought Doubt the play was incredibly over rated, along with Cherry Jones who is just about as mannered an actress as Streep. So I had no desire to see the movie.
On the other hand, I do think August: Osage County was a brilliant play; I even bought the printed work to read it after seeing the play. I do wish the casting for the movie had fewer movie stars and more character actors who could deliver without the baggage the stars bring with them. Will probably see it out of curiosity if nothing else.
So Julia has been demoted to Supporting and they're going to put Streep in Lead.
[quote]Sick of Meryl being handed all the older role gals when there are more interesting options.
[quote]Streep has always received polarized opinions of her performances in the past, and this one will be no different.
[quote]If be "polarized opinions" you mean "near universal acclaim". Or "near universal indifference".
At the risk of sounding like the Streep troll, I think her record of brilliant performances has started to work against her -- i.e., critics as well as the general public are sick of having to lavish praise on her and now regard what is probably a fine performance as (yawn) "Streep being Streep again" and "it would've been so much better had so-n-so been cast in the part instead."
I agree that there are many fine actresses out there besides Streep and that they too deserve more of a chance to shine in some of these parts that Streep seems to get without even trying; however, I also think it's interesting how, in a society that loves to complain how we make celebrities out of no-talents and do-nothings like anything named Kardashian, we also grow to resent others simply for being good at their craft.
I thought it was tremendous.
Peyton Place is a much better movie. And Lana Turner is a much better star than Meryl will ever be.
But Meryl Streep loves Lange and mentions her quite a bit.
Also, I wonder why Sam Shepard was picked for the role of her husband...
[quote]Peyton Place is a much better movie. And Lana Turner is a much better star than Meryl will ever be.
Agree. I'm sick as fuck of this faked realistic acting. It's boring as all get out. Lana is completely artificial and also completely perfect.
I bet anything when American Horror Story ends, Lange will get offered some Streep-y film stuff. The TV world has changed a lot. The best writers go there, the best stories are on there.
I gotta admit, Streep looks great in that trailer.
[quote]Edges of seats will require reinforcement, given all the leaning forward in stupefied amazement that August: Osage County inspires. That's not a recommendation, unless uncut hysteria is your bread, butter and plate. While Tracy Letts's revered Oklahoma-set stage drama delivered plenty of live fireworks as the bitter Westons tore into each other scene after scene, no one here (certainly not director John Wells) reminded his A-list cast that they were, in fact, making a movie and thus could tone it down a notch. The result isn't far off from the screeching family dinner of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, with Meryl Streep as Leatherface in a black shock wig, rolling eyes and a declarative, finger-jabbing wag. "Where's the meat?!!" Streep's Violet hollers, guffawing at a misremembered Wendy's commercial (and ignoring her cowed daughter's correction). To be sure, you're simply not a movie fan if juicy melodrama like this—more awaits, like Julia Roberts immortal delivery of "Eat the fish, bitch!"—doesn't make you smile. But a reality check is needed: It's pure lunacy to argue that Letts's three-hour play has retained any of its subtle power, or is a prestige Oscar candidate. Nor is anyone going to convince me that the material been properly adapted to the screen simply by shooting it on farm country. Even if you put your own clan's knockdown brawls in mind, this film doesn't occur anywhere close to reality.
A Spinal Tap song turned up to 11 isn’t as noisy as Meryl Streep‘s first appearance in August: Osage County. Appearing onscreen in director John Wells’ faithful film of Tracy Letts’ acclaimed play, the actress’s performance and affect all but shout, “Watch me! Note my new tics (so cunning) and accent (spot-on)! Examine the coiffure and makeup I chose this time!” Is that Magic Meryl under that mane and paint? Yep. Give another Academy Award to that woman — Streep or her hairstylist.
In August: Osage County, which launched its Oscar campaign at the Toronto International Film Festival, or TIFF (the movie will open in theaters on Christmas Day), Streep plays Violet, the cancer-ridden wife of hardscrabble Okie poet Beverly Weston (Sam Shepard). She enters the room, her gray hair sparse from chemo treatments, her face chalk white. The camera closes in to inspect Streep’s getup and attitude; she could be Mary Tyrone, the drug-addled mother in Eugene O’Neill‘s Long Day’s Journey Into Night, after getting bitten by Nosferatu. She mumbles to Bev through her dope haze, sucking in his perplexity and the viewer’s attention. Later, wearing a black wig and sunglasses, she resembles an ancient pop star — Bob Dylan or Tom Waits — in glorious late-career desiccation.
She is not Vi; she is Meryl Streep doing another of her fabulous impressions. Her Julia Child in Julie & Julia and her Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady were acute parodies that found some emotional grounding in those famous personalities. If PBS had its own refined version of Saturday Night Live, Streep could be a permanent guest host. But when she turns her considerable talents to fictional roles, like the mother in Mamma Mia! or the nun in Doubt, or here with Vi, she tends to go way too big, diverting the audience’s focus from the character to the performer.
Writing August: Osage County, Letts had his own big agenda: he turned some of the landmark family dramas of 20th century theater — Long Day’s Journey, A Streetcar Named Desire, Death of a Salesman, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? — into bitter, biting hilarity. He also detonated nearly as many unexpected deaths and sexual surprises as you’d see in a Mexican telenovela; the story has everything but evil twins and amnesia. Osage County, which richly earned a Pulitzer Prize and a Tony Award for Best Play in 2008, is superb theater but not a cathartic tragedy. The play scalds but does not purge; it’s just a monstrously entertaining spectacle.
So maybe the movie adaptation is a suitable showcase for Streep’s meticulous overplaying. What’s telling, though, is that most of the other actors — Julia Roberts, Julianne Nicholson, Chris Cooper, Margo Martindale, Benedict Cumberbatch, Juliette Lewis — manage to nail their roles, to draw all the wit and pain out of their characters, without showboating.
So who should have played Vi? I’d start with Melissa Leo, an Oscar nominee for Frozen River (in which she was paired with Upham, the Osage County maid) and a winner for The Fighter (in which she presided over another contentious family). Leo, who sneaks in and takes over the TIFF drama Prisoners, could have been great as Vi, spitting out her curses without getting everyone wet. But with a cast of top stars, Wells may have figured he needed the much-laureled Meryl to preside. No question, Streep does gradually lasso the character, locating a good deal of the fun Vi has in spreading her pain around. But she’s still Meryl Streep doing, not being, Vi. It’s the difference between acting and what Jon Lovitz’s Master Thespian on SNL used to call “Acting!“
Yikes! Pans for la Streep. How long has it been since you've seen that.
That critic is a moron. Melissa Leo is way too young and already won an Oscar for basically playing the same character in The Fighter.
I don't see why they had to cast Streep. They already had all the box office clout they needed with Julia Roberts, backed up by a solid supporting slate - names like Breslin, Cooper, Mulroney, Lewis, MacGregor, and the newly- hot Benedict Cumberbund. They didn't need Streep - they should have cast Lange.
I completely agree, R69. To me Corliss's review reeks of a personal agenda, as if his only mission going into the screening wasn't to critique the film but to launch an all-out attack on Streep, whom he's clearly over and just wants to go away (and granted, by now he's not the only one). And the last paragraph isn't film criticism, it's just a final shot at what he calls "the much-laureled Meryl" and finishes her off with a rather low-blow SNL comparison that, in my opinion, is less a reflection on Streep than it is on himself.
Corliss is an ass. I personally find Streep often hammy but to equate her to an SNL guest host doing a skit? That's lame.
R62. She's going to do "Long Days Journey Into Night" on Broadway next year. Sky's the limit from there if you were to ask me.
I hate to state this but it is kind of refreshing in a way that Saint Meryl of Streep has a dud on her hands. Proves she's human after all. Hell, this might level the playing field for all the other actresses in her age group if anything.
I love Saint Meryl but I also love Frances Conroy, Viola Davis, Loretta Divine, Cherry Jones, and all the other talented ladies in her age group as well.
[quote]Yikes! Pans for la Streep. How long has it been since you've seen that?
Far too long. Which makes them all the more delicious.
Richard Corliss is an old crank who likes to lash out at the ladies. Don't see him doing this to Daniel Day Lewis. The new trailer is great.
Um, Lana Turner is a completely different era than Meryl Streep. Not quite getting the reach, unless it's nostalgia for pre-computer.
When will people accept that Jessica Lange no longer gets film offers? That ship sailed years ago when she started flopping at the box office.
[quote]when she started flopping at the box office.
don't think she ever was box office. supporting player at best.
[quote]Peyton Place is a much better movie. And Lana Turner is a much better star than Meryl will ever be.
I'm an actor, I never aspired to stardom. (and Lana Turner? "these are the options")
At least when Lana Turner was onscreen, you couldn't take your eyes off her. Same with Bette Davis and Joan Crawford. You can't say the same for Meryl.
I lack gravity. Julia lacks gravitas. I think I win.
I liked that trailer, r63. That looked great. I guess one could be wary of the fact that 80% the lines in that trailer came from one scene but it was good.
Being from Oklahoma, I can say the accents were spot on too- not over-exaggerated or confused with the deep South Which is nice change.
I kinda can't wait to see Pawhuska in the background. It's a quaint little town that doesn't have much going for it but small-town scenery.
[quote]The result isn't far off from the screeching family dinner of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, with Meryl Streep as Leatherface.
Girls! Calm down! Calm down!
PAGING THE SANKA LADY!
Maybe Streep will finally win her first Razzie!
Pauline Kael(yeah,I know most all y'all hate her)said of Streep: "Try to picture her from the neck down and you can't imagine it."
That quote of Pauline Kael's never made sense. You can't reduce an actor that way without sounding stupid.
Melissa Leo playing Julia Roberts mother? F.U.!
I will win the razzie for Into the Woods. I feel all this acclaim has made me seem haughty. I'm doing Woods to humble myself and then return as an underdog for #4.
August is just nomination material at best. No win expected.
Melissa "why don't I get magazine covers" Leo will not be happy she was suggested by Time to play Roberts' mother.
Roberts is 45, Leo 52!!!
Melissa Leo played Mar Wahlberg's mother. Not much of a difference.
Pauline Kael's quote about Streep makes perfect sense to anyone who can read and has the basic understanding that serious artists are attempting something in their work, and therefor should be discussed and critiqued. I suspect R87 has never read that review. Kael was early hip to Meryl's tics and tricks.
What is more interesting is that it was a one line throwaway observation regarding a long ago Streep performance, and in its' brevity and insight still highlights the same concerns about Streep today. Is she a living breathing human female person or a series of dazzling ticks of the head and voice and wigs? What is her character's cunt feeling? Her characters do not seem to have cunts or legs or asses or torsos or feet, and that is what Kael meant r87.
The only reason I repeated it is because I have found it over and over again to be true.
Try to picture Meryl Streep (in any of her performances) from the neck down. Close your eyes. Most cannot do it. Kael's scathing and elegant remark hit the bulls-eye mark of our unease.
Many a thinking film lover could not explain, but recognize their unease and detachment from Meryl's "artistry." What Kael meant is open to discussion if you have a literary stick in your ass, but when complex and inchoate responses to a performer's work can be so wonderfully summed and articulated, why bother to argue? Brevity is the source of wit, and sometimes the truth.
Streep herself has said long ago that she recognized what is missing from her performances, and that it was not a technical element. She has once or twice overcome it.
A harsh truth of life is that we most often can't change even what we do acknowledge.
R91, I was just about to agree, and then Death Becomes Her popped into my mind.
Meryl's body is very much a part of her performance, special effects aside.
Letts' play was always long so people knew it was IMPORTANT!
Like THR said, it's just a rip-off of Shepard, Albee and Williams. Nothing new.
[quote]I hate to state this but it is kind of refreshing in a way that Saint Meryl of Streep has a dud on her hands. Proves she's human after all.
Most of her films are duds. She hasn't been in a good movie since Adaptation and Angels in America.
[quote]"Directed by John Wells"
Who is this person? Is this a selling point?
I don't think Meryl moves her hands enough in that trailer.
R87, R89, you think that's bad? On twitter, three critics who were at TIFF all agreed that neither Meryl nor Julia had that "dark edge" that was necessary to make the movie work like it should have. So which stars did they decide would've been better? Annette Bening, 55, as the mother, and Jodie Foster, 50, as the daughter!
Poor Annette. Does she really come across more matronly and older?
My personal opinion is that people like PK or RC who want to demean Streep are really unhappy. She's just an actor. A gifted one, sure, but the vitriol says more about them than her.
I read today that John Wells and Tracy Letts want to maintain the original ending of the play as the ending for the film. The movie will probably undergo further edits before it's released at Christmas.
Pauline Kael was a blizzard of clichés who has erroneously been credited with being a great critic. On the one hand this college drop-out wanted to sound more intelligent than she was, but on the other she wanted to write slangy prose that even her semi-literate father could understand. Kael never resolved this contradiction. What resulted from this lifetime of struggle was simply snark. Pauline Kael invented snark, and in our degraded, illiterate age that passes as great criticism.
And yet Kael was still right about Streep.
99: I agree about Kael. John Simon once made the observation that she was "an intelligent and gifted lowbrow" and to an extent that was true. She reveled in "trash" and elevated the "middlebrow" (ie, Altman, De Palma)at the expense of real art. Read her on foreign films and she is often clueless--and also defensive, the way you would expect from a lowbrow.
Her criticism of Streep is silly, but so is her praise of the above mentioned directors. In fairness, she was better than most of what passes for criticism these days.
Viola Davis is not in Streep's age group as someone up thread mentioned. They are a generation apart!
plus r102, I don't play domestic help roles
I just read a bunch of rave reviews. OP is selective.
"Meryl can only use the "I am sick" excuse so many times before people realize that she is over the self and/or film promotion aspect of show business."
Good. I loved Meryl when she was more private and didn't feel the need to be promote her product everywhere. When she let the acting speak for itself. The regal, grande dame air that she has put on in recent years never rang true to me. I always felt it was just another performance. And I wouldn't be surprised if Meryl is probably sick of it by now too. She was also a no-show at the Globes this year.
Now besties Julia and Oprah are going to be competing together. Why do I have a feeling that this will end in tears?
I saw raves for it as well. Not for the film (of course not, lol) but for the performances.
At least once a year, I like to revisit Renata Adler's epic smackdown of Pauline Kael from the 1980 New York Review of Books. it's really deliciously written:
"Now, When the Lights Go Down, a collection of [Kael's] reviews over the past five years, is out; and it is, to my surprise and without Kael- or Simon-like exaggeration, not simply, jarringly, piece by piece, line by line, and without interruption, worthless."
Didn't Pauline champion films like Eyes of Laura Mars and Cruising? Her contrarian nature was often endearing but her targets, from Clint Eastwood to Meryl Streep, felt her drunken barbs. She's largely known now because of her comments regarding Meryl Streep, so the joke is on her.
I can't wait for August: Osage County. It looks good.
[quote]She's largely known now because of her comments regarding Meryl Streep, so the joke is on her.
That is an absolutely ridiculous statement. I'm not a Kael fan, but to say she's known only because of her opinion about one actress is objectively false and reveals an almost complete ignorance of film criticism. This is the sort of shit that makes Meryl Loons so tiresome.
R99 - completely agree!
R101 - agree with your first paragraph
Kael was almost unbelievably ugly.
For you show queens out there, the character of Mary in the musical Merrily We Roll Along was partly based on Kael. Yes, I know the show was based on a 1930s play but still.
Is Juliette Lewis supposed to suck the life out of every scene she's in?
Pauline Kael was a homophobic cunt with no taste in movies whatsoever. The only reason she was popular is because of her woman-who-writes-like-a-snarky-het-male-asshole writing style. She championed pretentious, meretricious middlebrow crap at the expense of really good, solid entertaining mainstream films or anything that was actually artistically challenging, and she was hardly a stickler for accuracy. Filmmaking has never recovered from her pernicious influence.