August: Osage County
An ensemble of Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Ewan McGregor, Chris Cooper, Abigail Breslin, Juliette Lewis, and Benedict Cumberbatch star in August: Osage County, a dark comedy about a dysfunctional family that reunites after a tragic loss, only to remember the reason they spend so much time apart. Based on a play by Tracy Letts, who also penned the screenplay, and directed by John Wells (The Company Men), the film explores a family embroiled in scandal, stricken with grief, and struggling to move on from the past.
Despite the gravity of these issues and the serious subject matter with which the film is burdened, Letts is able to cut through the tension cleanly with outrageous banter and witty comebacks from this wonderful cast. Streep shines in the role of Violet Weston, the matriarch of the family who struggles to salvage whatever is left of her relationship with her daughters, especially with her eldest daughter Barbara, played by the talented Roberts. Roberts and Streep are the heart and soul of the film, turning in Oscar-worthy performances and livening up the days the Weston family spends in Osage County considerably. And as this family faces a range of issues from years past, their only option is to laugh off their troubles. As the characters realize this, so does the audience.
MMM — Jason Coelho
Dallas Buyers Club
Over the past few years, Matthew McConaughey has transformed his career incredibly, switching gears from the cliché romantic comedies he became known for to the artistic and dramatic world of independent film. In Dallas Buyers Club, McConaughey shows the world that he is serious—and seriously talented—by putting on the skin of accidental AIDS activist Ron Woodroof in a film based on real events that took place in the late 1980s. Supported by a talented cast, including Jennifer Garner and Jared Leto (whose performance should net him a nomination for Best Supporting Actor at the Oscars next year), McConaughey is at the top of his game.
Dallas Buyers Club chronicles the life of Woodroof, who, after being diagnosed as HIV-positive, struggles to receive adequate treatment in the United States. This forces him to import medication unapproved by the FDA from Mexico, fighting along the way to have these highly effective medications approved.
Directed by Canadian Jean-Marc Vallée (C.R.A.Z.Y.) with a screenplay by Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack (who met with the real Woodroof over 20 years ago so that they could one day tell his story), Dallas Buyers Club is a low-budget film that has already won the hearts of critics at TIFF, which is hopefully only the beginning of the accolades it will receive.
MMMMM — J.C.
Jason Reitman’s successful directing career, including films such as Juno, has seen him rise to become one of Hollywood’s top directors. In Labor Day, Reitman writes and directs a story of a young boy and his divorced mother who help out an injured man they encounter, only to realize later that he is a fugitive on the run.
Adapted from the novel Labor Day by Joyce Maynard, the film brings together a cast featuring Kate Winslet, Josh Brolin, Tobey Maguire, and Gattlin Griffith. Reitman expertly crafts a romance-thriller hybrid through this story of a Labor Day weekend that changes the life of a family. The consistent pace, though sometimes slow, is expansive in covering every detail of this long weekend. Reitman has created yet another endearing film, with a haunting performance from Winslet that’s bound to appeal to both critics and fans.
MMM — J.C.