1 August: Osage County
August: Osage County benefits tremendously, as far as I’m concerned, from the medium. It was originally a play, which I have neither read nor seen. I cannot help but feel that I might be a little harsher on it if I saw it as a play. After all, it would be yet another play about yet another dysfunctional family. That is American theater’s bread and butter.
However, with the superabundance of superhero movies and action films, August: Osage County feels fresh. As I said in my introduction to the Films About Women series, it is a film about women that is NOT a chick flick. There are some moments of women bonding, but they are overshadowed by the plethora of personal and familial problems. It is dark, but it is not exhausting or draining. When it was over, I felt invigorated.
This film stars Meryl Streep and she is brilliant as the formidable, vicious, pill popping matriarch. Julia Roberts is also excellent as the daughter. This is a film with many movie stars and they are all wonderful in this film. It is an ensemble piece, and the truly work wonderfully together.
2 The Birds
The Birds is another iconic Hitchcock film. (Is there any other kind?) It stars Tippi Hedrin as Melanie Daniels. It is a film about a woman, a man, and his family who find themselves at the center of a strange, horrific development: the birds begin to attack humans.
Its’ a scary film, even fifty years later. Hitchcock knows exactly how to develop the suspense throughout the film, with hints at the events to come until it overwhelms the viewer.
I haven’t seen this film in a few years, but it is, obviously, a classic. Yes, it has spawned imitations, sometimes hilariously ones, but there is only one The Birds.
3 With Love, From the Age of Reason
I’m ending with another film I saw at the Cleveland Film Festival. This is a French film about a woman who is in an uncomfortable stage of her life. All of a sudden, she receives a letter from her childhood self.
It’s an unconventional comedy with plenty of whimsy and fantasy thrown in. The lead actress is wonderful, as she begins to re-evaluate her life and her relationships.
It’s fluffy, but it’s wonderfully charming and definitely wins over the viewer.