The Playlist

'August: Osage County' Ending Still In Flux After TIFF Premiere

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • September 11, 2013 3:12 PM
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  • 7 Comments
August Osage County
While we weren't too keen on John Wells' adaptation of Tracey Letts' "August: Osage County" (you can read our review here), that doesn't mean that the film isn't still a heavy Oscar contender, especially with the star wattage of the cast (Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Benedict Cumberbatch, Ewan McGregor, the list goes on) and the raw schmoozing power of its producer, Harvey Weinstein. One thing that seems to be very much in the air, though, is the nature of the ending, which was changed at the last minute due to test audience reactions and Weinstein's insistence, but still could go back before the movie's theatrical opening in December. Read on for details of the saga; spoiler warning for those who care about the downbeat conclusion to a Pulitzer Prize-winning play that ran on Broadway for a hundred years.

TIFF Review: 'August: Osage County' Starring Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts & More

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • September 9, 2013 10:43 PM
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  • 56 Comments
August: Osage County' Starring Meryl Streep
It's undeniable that, at least on paper, "August: Osage County" looks like a can't-miss proposition. Pairing Tracey Letts' Pulitizer Prize and Tony Award-winning play with an outstanding ensemble cast ranging from awards-nominated veterans to rising young stars—Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Ewan McGregor, Chris Cooper, Abigail Breslin, Benedict Cumberbatch, Juliette Lewis, Margo Martindale, Dermot Mulroney, Julianne Nicholson, Sam Shepard, Misty Upham—it's hard to fathom the material not working. And while the choice of helmer John Wells ("The Company Men") might not seem like the most inspired decision, all he theoretically has to do is put the camera on a tripod and let the actors do their thing. And he does. And yet, 'Osage County' still turns out be an exhausting, screechy drama, in which a lot of very good actors work very hard, and yet produce so little as a result.

Bradley Cooper Enlists 'Chef' John Wells For New Cooking Drama

  • By Edward Davis
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  • May 2, 2013 6:52 PM
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  • 2 Comments
John Wells, Bradley Cooper
The story of “Chef” is rather complicated, but let’s have a go at it. And before we get there, do not confuse this with the very-similarly sounding “Chef” project that Jon Favreau is now attached to. Written by “Eastern Promises” screenwriter Steven Wright, “Chef,” is a cooking comedy/drama that’s been in development for some years. It interested David Fincher and Keanu Reeves for a while a few years back, but the project never gained enough traction (Fincher’s short attention span went elsewhere). Owned by the house of Weinstein, Bradley Cooper became involved in the lead after Harvey Weinstein figured their “Silver Linings Playbook” went swimmingly well (Oscar noms for Cooper, over $100 million domestically, etc.). Cooper then tried to enlist his “Place Beyond The Pines” director Derek Cianfrance, and while he toyed with the idea of making it his next film, the “Blue Valentine” filmmaker eventually decided it was not for him (you can read about that in our interview with him here).

Review: 'The Company Men' A Bland, Out-Of-Touch Look At Job Loss

  • By Kimber Myers
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  • January 20, 2011 4:04 AM
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  • 2 Comments
“The Company Men,” aka “The Supposed Problems of Unsympathetic Rich People” or “Good Actors Stuck in a Mediocre Movie,” tries to be timely, but it’s as out of touch as Pat Buchanan. It aims for “Up in the Air”-level relevance and poignancy with its plot centering on layoffs at a New England company, but it’s more likely to garner yawns than tears. What’s worse is that this isn’t a substandard movie with an equally substandard cast. Instead, first-time feature director John Wells has somehow managed to attract top-level talent Ben Affleck, Tommy Lee Jones, Chris Cooper, and Maria Bello (and Kevin Costner).

'Company Men' Director John Wells Talks Scaling Back Melodrama To Be Truthful

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • January 19, 2011 8:07 AM
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  • 0 Comments
John Wells has had the kind of career most people can only dream about -- he's worked on phenomenally popular television series like "China Beach," "ER," and "The West Wing" (he served as the show-runner after creator Aaron Sorkin left the series), while also shepherding more esoteric film projects to the big screen, like Todd Haynes' "I'm Not There" and "Far From Heaven," Mark Romanek's "One Hour Photo," and even John Waters' "A Dirty Shame." (In addition to all of this, he's the head of the Writer's Guild of America's West Coast branch.) But he's never directed a feature film himself, until "The Company Men," a drama about the 2008 economic collapse -- and the people caught in it -- which stars Tommy Lee Jones, Ben Affleck, Craig T. Nelson, Chris Cooper, Kevin Costner and Maria Bello. After a brief Oscar-qualifying run in December, the movie opens wide this weekend. We talked to Wells about the difficulties in making a feelgood film about the recession, what it was like to work with superstar cinematographer Roger Deakins, and how the real-life experiences of people both informed the film and enriched it after its completion.

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