August Osage County header

Fall brings no shortage of star-studded prestige pics, but even in that crowd August: Osage County stands out. The John Wells-directed film stars Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts and Benedict Cumberbatch and Ewan McGregor and Chris Cooper and Abigail Breslin (plus half a dozen others) which means we’re all but guaranteed to see it making waves during awards season.

Based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning play by Tracy Letts, August: Osage County chronicles a family gathering in the Midwest. So the setup is fairly simple, but as anyone who’s ever suffered through an extended family trip can attest, it’s ripe for hilarity and emotion. A new trailer has been released by The Weinstein Co., and you can check it out after the jump.

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Bradley Cooper

There’s a showdown brewing in the kitchen. Years ago, David Fincher was attached to direct a film called Chef. His version never happened, but John Wells, whose film adaptation of Osage: Orange County just debuted a trailer, is going to make the movie from the script by Steven Knight. The Weinstein Company is behind the film, and they’ve just landed Bradley Cooper as the star. Good job, guys!

But while that Chef was floundering, before Wells and Cooper came on, Jon Favreau wrote his own indie called Chef, and has recruited actors like Robert Downey Jr. and Sofia Vergara (and possibly Scarlett Johansson) to join him. He plans to shoot the film this summer.

So who gets the title? The film that had it first, or the movie that shoots first? How about the one with the more powerful lawyers? Read More »

August Osage County header

August: Osage County, a Pulitzer Prize and multiple Tony award winning play, is hoping to become a multiple Oscar-winning film. Directed by John Wells (The Company Men), the film has one of the most impressive dramatic casts in recent memory: Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Ewan McGregorBenedict Cumberbatch,Margot MartindaleChris Cooper, Dermot MulroneyJuliette LewisAbigail Breslin, and Sam Shepard. They’ll bring to life a story about a group of young women forced to go home and deal with their parents. A simple story to be sure, but a powder keg for emotion and drama.

Don’t believe me, though. Check out the trailer and poster for the November 8 release.  Read More »


The Hollywood Reporter has posted their one hour long discussion between 2010 Oscar contenders Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network), Simon Beaufoy (127 Hours), Michael Arndt (Toy Story 3), John Wells (The Company Men), Todd Phillips (Due Date) and David Lindsay-Abaire (Rabbit Hole).

Wait a second, is Due Date really an Awards contender? I guess maybe for the Golden Globes Best Comedy/Musical category, but Phillips does seem like the odd man out in this list of screenwriters (and this is not a slam against Todd, I enjoy his movies). Seems like The Coen Brothers (True Grit), David Seidler (The King’s Speach) or Alex Garland (Never Let Me Go) might have been better choices considering the award-focus.

I’m always excited to watch THR’s series of discussions each year, but they usually only post the more interesting clips and not the entire chat. But this year they decided to post the entire thing. Hit the jump to watch the entire hour and seven minute-long discussion.
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Two new TV trailers were released today, and coincidentally, both are for US adaptations of British TV series. The first is Shameless, Showtime’s remake of the ongoing UK show (now in its eighth season) about an alcoholic single-father and his many children that he barely takes care of. Whereas the original series dealt with British underclass and working class culture, the American update has William H. Macy as the patriarch of a working-class Chicago family contending with the recession. Emmy Rossum plays the eldest daughter, who’s tasked with holding the family together.

Developing the hour-long drama is The Company Men writer/director John Wells, who also wrote the pilot. In typical Showtime fashion, it seems like show has a touch of sleaziness to it, but that half is thankfully balanced out by what looks to be more dramatic, heartfelt character work at the center of it. It certainly has a lot of potential, and is probably a show worth keeping an eye on.

Watch the trailer for Shameless, as well as the spot for MTV’s Skins, after the break. Read More »

Movie Trailer: The Company Men

The Company Men

The Wenstein Co has released the first full length movie trailer for The Company Men , John Wells‘ feature directorial debut. Wells is best known for writing and producing hundreds of episodes of both ER and The West Wing. The movie tells the story of “three men trying to survive a round of corporate downsizing at a major company, and how that affects them, their families and communities over the course of one year.” The film stars  Ben Affleck, Tommy Lee Jones, Kevin Costner, Chris Cooper, Maria Bello, Craig T Nelson, and Rosemarie DeWitt. It’s also worth mentioning that eight-time Academy Award nominated cinematographer Roger Deakins shot the film.

The movie premiered at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival, where we filed a video review and interview with the director. I’d like to think of The Company Men as a spin-off from Jason Reitman’s Up in the Air. Imagine being able to see what happens to some of the characters that Ryan Bingham lays off while on his business trips as a corporate downsizing specialist. In Reitman’s film we see interviews and reenactments from recently laid off workers. The Company Men is their story. I’ve heard complaints that the story is very dry, and that the film isn’t very thrilling, but I don’t believe it should be. This is the reality of downsizing, and the depressing nature of our current economic situation. If a 30 year old sales manager can’t find a new job, how is someone older, a senior executive, supposed to survive once his company abandons him?

Watch the trailer embedded after the jump. Please leave your thoughts in the comments below.
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The Company Men

A couple months back, John Wells‘ film The Company Men premiered at Sundance. At the time, as evidenced by this interview conducted by David Chen, Wells didn’t seem fully confident that the film would get picked up.

But the film found a home, as The Weinstein Company has picked up US distribution rights to the film, which stars Ben Affleck, Kevin Costner, Chris Cooper, Tommy Lee Jones and Maria Bello. Read More »

johnwells

When I hear the name John Wells, I think of paramedics hurriedly rushing onto the scene of an accident, arriving just in time to barely save someone’s life. I fondly recall verbose walk-and-talks in the halls of the Bartlett White House. And I remember following the romantic lives of skilled doctors in a Chicago E.R. In short, this man is partly responsible for some of the most thought-provoking, thrilling television ever produced.

Wells directed a movie called The Company Men that premiered at Sundance this year. With an all-star cast featuring Ben Affleck, Chris Cooper, and Tommy Lee Jones, The Company Men follows the lives of three men as their company is torn apart amidst a recession. The film is a personal portrait of job loss, and while its scope is relatively small, the talent of the performances is not. Affleck, Cooper, and Lee Jones all manage to cpature the pain and humiliation of economic struggle with pathos and humor. The stories feel personal and subtle, even to a fault; few things particularly “dramatic” happen during the movie, and while the film can occasionally feel aimless, its depiction of joblessness also feels deeply rooted within vagaries of our reality. Thus, while there were no helicopter crashes or gun-shot wounds in The Company Men, Wells proves that as a director, he can smoothly make the transition to film (a medium he’s already very familiar with as a producer) and tell a story with nuance and skill. You can click here to hear a couple more thoughts about the film or watch the film’s trailer.

After the break, I chat with John Wells about what inspired him to make The Company Men, true stories of job loss, and whether or not The Company Men is really an independent film.

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