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The Playlist

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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“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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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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