Eye-Opening Perspectives for Heroic Hearts

Eye-Opening Perspectives for Heroic Hearts

Thursday, January 23, 2014

AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY

NOT WITH A BANG, BUT WITH A WHIMPER
by Winsip Custer   CPW News Service

You have to feel sorry for the inbred Irish Oklahoma cattle ranching poet who crapped his pants when he returned to his TU alumni meeting as the guest speaker.   He had taken the plunge into the lake without benefit of water wings, but retrieved his heavenly ones most likely after a zip-line streak through the needle's eye of a painful, but redemptive purgatorial passage.

His sister-in-law's son, now fixated on his youngest daughter who had brought such pleasure to his dying wife, proves that it is not just the Bible's Abraham and Sarah who are attracted to their own kind.   Little sis and her half-brother, presumably leave with a whimper for raucous New York where people pretend that these things happen only in the South or West and where they hope to enjoy Woody Allen's occasional jazz renditions at Caffe Vivaldi in relative obscurity or even acceptance.

Another of the poet's daughters slinks off to Florida where her fiancé, now on his fourth or fifth marriage, I can't remember, where he will surely find his drug habit of no consequence in a state that elects as its Governor, the hospital founder whose company, Columbia/HCA, had the highest Medicare fraud fine in U.S. history at $1.7 billion dollars.  Governor Rick Scott, not only didn't go to jail, but took his $400 million golden parachute and bought the Florida Governor's mansion.  No wonder the little Cheyenne housekeeper belts the Floridian suitor with a shovel.  The Seminoles would have scalped him.

Poor Julia Roberts, like her mother, older now and unable to become her mother's caregiver, drives quietly into the sunset toward what?  We aren't sure.

Meryl Streep's character is abandoned by everyone but the little Cheyenne earth-mother who is the only one in the story that seems endowed with sanity and humanity and who holds the grieving, cancerous widow like nature's meadows embracing  the brown and gray flowing prairie grass that today withers and tomorrow is next year's field fodder.  As a Cheyenne she, too, is a sympathetic outsider living on Osage County land, given to the Osage as recompense for their displacement from some earlier parcel previously owned by some other tribe.  Will the Cheyenne housekeeper inherit the place?  Who would want to?  Not T.S. Eliot! He left for England long ago where he didn't have to be reminded of America's John Joel Glanton or General Custer's last stand and where the English royals like the Castilian royals and the French royals are as inbred as the natives of Tierra del Fuego.

There is no mention of the Osage County, Oklahoma murders in the 1920's as Osage Indian bride's were killed by their white husbands,  murdered for their oil and mineral rights.   Perhaps that was the part of Anglo-America that T.S. Eliot was escaping when he left his nation of birth and became a British citizen while the Oklahoman poet who handed the little Cheyenne a copy of a T.S. Eliot book on the day she was hired,  took a shorter, less expensive and less confusing departure. 

Osage County in August.....in 2013 or 2014, 1920, or anytime, is just like the rest of the country,  and is sadly filled with hollow men....and hollow women whose lives will end not with a booming bang, but with a whispered whimper, but damn!   What a story and so well acted by the entire ensemble.

It's enough to make producers George Clooney and Harvey Weinstein proud and the documentarian, Michael Moore, wishing he had held out for a bigger settlement in Weinstein's plunder of Moore's Fahrenheit 911 profits.  Meanwhile, the people of Flint, Michigan are still moving out of land once owned by the Michigan tribe.   They, too, are feeling quite confident that August in Osage County only occurs within those tribes to the South...or among those nomadic "fierce Gentile Visigoths" and Anglos who have distilled it all... even the dining room splattering of the Aunt's casserole under the chipped table and faded sideboard, both of which the termites will soon devour, down to an art form.

Had I been the casting director I would have made two minor changes that would have raised the comedic element in this film that, after all, was plugged as a comedy.  The fact that Julia Roberts, Julianne Nicholson and Juliet Lewis were all "Julies" is humorous, but not roll-you-over-in-the-clover hilarious. 

I would have cast Diane Keaton as Meryl Streep's fat sister and Woody Allen as the Florida suitor,  Steve Huberbrecht.  Keaton putting on eighty pounds for the part, now that's funny!  Can you imagine her accepting the award for Woody Allen at the Golden Globes in a size 18 dress? And Woody blowing dope up a teenagers nose?  He was born for the part!

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