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 »


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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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Sundance Video Review: The Company Men

The Company Men

I was a huge fan of John Wells’ work in E.R. and The West Wing, so when I heard that he would making his film directorial debut at Sundance with The Company Men, I was pretty excited. Add to that an all-star cast featuring Tommy Lee Jones, Ben Affleck, Chris Cooper, and Rosemary DeWitt and you have a recipe for success, right? Find out after the break if we thought The Company Men was any good.

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Evan Young and Jareth Grealish are the co-writers of the comic book series the forgotten, officially all in lower case like that. It’s a murder mystery series featuring a lead character with one very unusal power , “the ability to reach out with his own mind to anyone he sees, anyone he meets, anyone on the street and make them forget about him completely.” This mysterious man sets about trying to solve the murder of a stripper and comes in contact with a lot of nasty folk that I’d want to forget about me too.

It was a complete, standalone story, originally published as a monthly series then collected into a single volume which was then optioned by John Wells and Don Murphy‘s Angry Films earlier this year, and just recently, their option has been renewed.

Asked for progress on the project, Grealish said:

A well established screenwriter is now attached to the project. While we’re not at liberty to disclose his name, I can assure you the guy has some very impressive credentials. The take that he and our producers have on the forgotten is top-notch. Evan and I are very excited about where they are taking it.

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The Company Men

John WellsThe Company Men will screen at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival as part of the Premieres category. The film 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.

This is the feature directorial debut of Wells, who is best known for writing and producing hundreds of episodes of both ER and The West Wing. A lot of people are interested to see what he will be able to do with a feature film. It’s also worth mentioning that eight-time Academy Award nominated cinematographer Roger Deakins shot the film.

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Last week, we discussed the surprising, albeit less surreal in 2009, news that Fox had picked up an animated TV pilot based on the characters of subversive comic book legend Peter Bagge. Today, the network has greenlit another new animated series, this one from Jonah Hill, who will co-write, provide voice work, and executive produce. Details after the jump…

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First Look: John Wells’ The Company Men

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Maria Bello and Craig T Nelson have joined the independent drama The Company Men. I haven’t written about this film on /Film yet, so I thought I’d take the opportunity with this last minute casting news.

Written and directed by John Wells, the film 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. Ben Affleck, Tommy Lee Jones, Kevin Costner, Chris Cooper and Rosemarie DeWitt have already been cast.
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