Familiar family fights fuel the fiery, fraught friendships found within August: Osage County. Strong-headed women return home to the dysfunctional oddity that raised them. A family crisis makes this inevitable and necessary. Tracy Letts’ script offers nothing unique, but the parallels of a distant family longing for a big bust-up are too intriguing to refuse for many. We are ghouls hoping for breakdowns and fallouts because we find it entertaining to take a quick look at the lives of a fictional family. How much time is really needed to weave characters we care about, though? August: Osage County seems to need a lot more time, not just to make its characters interesting, but connected to one another.
My personal dislike for the latter-day efforts of director Steven Soderbergh comes from a part of me that can’t shake the feeling that his stories are often empty. A burst of interest in Contagion (for obvious reasons), led me to the conclusion that he can certainly make some interesting premises but following through on those ideas to create interesting conclusions or depth is something I don’t believe his direction can bring. Ocean’s Eleven is perhaps his most famous piece of work, and if not it’s by far his most famous trilogy (solely because this is his only trilogy). Although littered with the tropes that I dislike from his direction, I find Ocean’s Eleven to be a completely amicable heist movie.
Within the sub-genre of romantic comedies, there is another layer. Throughout the late 90s and early 2000s, Hugh Grant dominated as the affable, always loveable lead in various romantic comedies. Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill and Love Actually seem to be the trio that are remembered most fondly by fans of film. He jauntily thrust himself from screen to screen, wooing the leading lady in scenes of bumbling charisma. Grant is a great performer, iconic on British screens for churning out so many incredibly iconic performances, but Notting Hill is just a tad drab.