Never one to miss a quip, Harvey Weinstein introduced the movie August: Osage County at its Zeigfeld premiere, noting Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts were singled out for Golden Globe acting nominations: "We like to promote new talent." In truth, the Weston family depicted in this tragicomedy is an ensemble, reflected in a SAG nomination. This ensemble is tightly knit, troubled in the way American families can grate and love. Both matriarch Violet (Streep) and daughter Barbara (Roberts) are called monsters, and frankly in terms of the dysfunction, that's putting it mildly. Based on the Pulitzer Prize winning play by Tracy Letts, the film distills scathing dialogue, and blocks scenes so that the claustrophobic effect of the big house translates to the wide flat plains as well. The Ziegfeld's expansive screen is ideal for viewing this American tableau.
In the process of making the work filmable, director John Wells went to the Broadway play and registered every laugh. He did not want to lose those in cutting the original scenes. And what stands out in the film, a production of Jean Doumanian (as was the play), working with George Clooney and Grant Heslov, is Letts' stunning language. The play struck me as an elaborately evocative melodrama. The film strikes me as sheer poetry from the references to T. S. Eliot at the beginning, to the colossal Lear-like tragic end. Harvey Weinstein said we'd need a drink, and we did.
So off everyone went to the meatpacking for a party in a new space, the Monarch Room and Gilded Lily. We were hoping for Meryl Streep's legendary home cooking, or even a casserole from Margo Martindale, but the lamb lollipops and DeLeon tequila provided sheer solace. Julia Roberts missed the festivities altogether, as Chris Cooper, Abigail Breslin wearing Zac Posen's bridge line, Margo Martindale, Dermot Mulroney, Julianne Nicholson, and Juliette Lewis graciously chatted with everyone.
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