Monday, January 20, 2014

Writing and August, Osage County

I am now two thirds of the way through January, my designated writing month. I have poured myself onto the page, spent hours tackling the biggest challenge yet for me, and with twenty-four pages typed, I still am not sure where it is going. Will this be a novella, a long short story, a novel in the making maybe? I only know I had a character in my head, and she wanted to speak. So I am giving her voice, and together we are exploring relationships and hardships.

When I heard a little about August, Osage County I knew I really wanted to see this movie for several reasons. The first was it was a movie about family, albeit a dysfunctional one. I wanted to see how the writer handled the family relationships, how he unfolded the dealings among the family unit. I wanted to see how Osage County was portrayed on the big screen, to see the cinematic scenery the film used with the story.  And of course, who wouldn’t want to see Meryl Streep work her movie magic taking us to that country of “willing suspension of disbelief”.

Reviewers aren’t always kind to this movie, but I think I would like to watch it again to see if I could detangle all the emotions presented. The family drama went so fast, fighting and cursing all the way, that my mind was in shell shock by the end. All the characters had some kind of secret, addiction, or flaw that the drama unfolded like a soap opera going fast speed. It felt like the story skimmed the surface of the issues, but maybe I was just too slow to comprehend.

I did not like the foul language even though bad words are also a part of life. However in this story’s case, the bad words were used too often. They no longer held shock value or expressed anger. I had to wonder how much meaningful dialogue was left out to accommodate the gutter language. I ignored it when I could; I felt somewhat offended because most people from Midwest Oklahoma don’t talk this way.

In the end, the movie does not shed any light on why one member can ride herd on a whole family. Why is it that certain people in families, in neighborhoods, in work places have the power to annihilate the dreams and comfort of others? I have never understood why some get by with the transgressions they do and why others stand by failing to hold them accountable for their wretched behaviors. In this movie, the mother’s rough childhood was no excuse for the abject meanness she exercised in her family. However, it was a honest portrayal of life when the oldest daughter mimicked her mother’s miserable side.

Views of northern Oklahoma were beautiful without a doubt. DH and I saw roads we had traveled on, saw buildings we had driven by on sunny days. The new building revamping project of Ree Drummond could be seen if one knew what they were looking for. Oh, and the prairie! The beautiful golden autumn grasses and rolling hills…beautiful scenery for prairie lovers!

It will take more pondering to sort out my feelings about the movie. Meanwhile, I must get back to my own work.
A couple of writing ops:

Call for Submissions: Car-Free Poetry Anthology

Poet who has lived for 14 years without a car in Phoenix seeks submissions for a print anthology.

 Car-free poems feature people walking, bicycling, riding a subway, bus or train to get around.

 For full details and submission guidelines, visit  Deadline: February 1st

 Call for Submissions: Revolution House: Spring 2014Online submissions link: The editors of Revolution House Magazine are currently reading submissions of poetry, nonfiction and graphic stories for issue 4.1, due out Spring 2014. Fiction (both flash and short story) submissions will reopen on February 10.Peruse previous issues and submissions guidelines here


Sioux said...

So, would you give it a thumbs up or a thumbs down?

I saw Streep on a show today, and she spoke of the beauty of Oklahoma.

Terra said...

That movie sounds rather harsh to me, dysfunctional families get lots of attention by writers, directors and the public, don't they?
My writing centers on goodness.

Linda O'Connell said...

I had an ex in-law who could have starred as the main character. She looked and acted like the mama in Throw Mama from the Train. Same story line, same long arm of dysfunction reaching across generations. This movie, though well-acted, would be hard to view for some and hard to believe by others. But yes, these family dynamics existed then, and today, sad to say. Thumbs up, despite the cursing which lost its effect.

Lynn said...

I'll put this on the list to watch when it comes to cable. I hate it when they use too much foul language as it takes away from the movie, even though in real life, I guess some people talk like that all the time. Shazam!

BECKY said...

Claudia, thanks for the info about this movie. From the previews, I'd already decided it was a bit too "dark" for me. I never go to the movies anyway....and by never I mean that I might go about three times in eight years! Seriously! Just too expensive, etc. Anyway....If I really wanted to watch and listen to a bunch of crazy, dysfunctional people who need to cuss with every other word they speak...heck, I can just turn on the Jerry Spring Show, or all its Look-A-Likes! :D
ALSO, I think 24 pages is a very good number. Hope you'll share a little more about what it's about sometime! AND, thanks for the Calls for Submissions. Very unique ones! Stay warm...hahahaha!

Susan said...

Hi Bookie...Funny you should mention that movie. It sounded like one I'd like to see but I read a review that mentioned the trashly language.Decided I didn't want to subject myself to that so didn't see it. Too bad they have to ruin movies by putting in garbage language. What's the point? Do they think people want to hear smutty language? Well, I think it's wonderful you are writing so much. Susan p.s. Want to thank you SO MUCH for being such a faithful Follower and commenting so often. I appreciate you SO MUCH.

Marylin Warner said...

My husband thought the writing and acting were good, but I have to say that I LOVED it. For once, the language fit the specific characters and situations (they were extreme, and so was the language) but to see such a powerful lineup, perfectly cast, was amazing. Kansas also has an Osage County, which of course reflects the Osage Indians settled for awhile in both states. This month when I drove to Ft. Scott to visit my mother, I took the back roads through KS's Osage County, and the scenery is very similar. But I agree with one line from the movie, wondering why the early settlers fought to take such land away from the Indians. The stories in Oklahoma and Kansas...

Lisa Claro said...

Thanks for the movie review. I'll probably wait for it to come out on Netflix. Thanks also for the submission info. :)