Sunday, April 21, 2019

New footage of Meryl in "Big Little Lies"

There's a trailer out there for Spanish-language TV that includes new footage of Meryl in Big Little Lies:

Most of the footage is the same as the U.S. teaser released last weekend. Near the end of this one, Meryl's character demonstrates to her grandsons and daughter-in-law how she apparently screamed after learning of her son's death. In just the few seconds of this clip, Mary Louise Wright seems a bit kooky. I wonder if that'll be an edge to the character. Up to now, I had expected her to be a sort of unsmiling hard ass. Leave it to Meryl to keep surprising.

The first episode of season 2 premieres seven weeks from today!

Sunday, April 14, 2019

First trailer for season 2 of "Big Little Lies"--set to debut on HBO June 9

HBO has revealed its first teaser for season 2 of Big Little Lies:

Yay! We get to see a little more of Meryl toward the end, where her interaction with Reese Witherspoon suggests she's on to the lie the ladies of Monterey have spun to cover up the death of her son, Perry.

Like I'm sure many others, I was expecting the first trailer to be attached to tonight's opening of the eighth and final season of Game of Thrones (canNOT wait). Maybe they'll still attach it to the opening of the show tonight. I have to remember that not everyone is freakishly checking for when any news of BLL will be revealed, and most will therefore see the new trailer for the first time when they tune in tonight for the network's juggernaut.

Season 2 debuts on Sunday, June 9.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Alexandre Desplat to score "Little Women"

Two-time Academy Award-winning composer Alexandre Desplat has been tapped to write the musical score to Greta Gerwig's upcoming remake of Little Women. The Frenchman gave a recent interview to an Italian news outlet and apparently stated that this film is one of a few he has in the pipeline. 

Desplat won Academy Awards for The Shape of Water and The Grand Budapest Hotel. 
Among his other credits include The Queen, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The King's Speech, the final two Harry Potter films, Argo and Zero Dark Thirty. 

Great to hear that Little Women will have such a distinguished artist attached for the music! The film is set for release on Christmas Day.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Shoulda Coulda Wouldas #15: "Feud"

A year and a half after my last post in this section, I'm writing only the second Shoulda Coulda Woulda for which I can find no evidence that Meryl was ever considered to be cast. Going back to as early as 2005, Ryan Murphy had snagged Streep to star in an adaptation of John Jeter's play Dirty Tricks. We all know that never came to fruition, and ultimately we've still never seen a pairing of Meryl with TV's reigning titan.

Fast forward to 2016, when Murphy's series Feud was picked up by FX for an eight-episode season. Susan Sarandon and Jessica Lange had apparently been tapped to portray the two leads of Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, respectively. Back in 2014 I had commented in my reimagined history of Meryl's film career that the film Best Actress seemed like it would be a fantastic project for Meryl and Susan Sarandon. I even speculated that 2018 would be a reasonable time frame for release. Murphy ultimately optioned the script, which had covered the lead up to Bette Davis and Joan Crawford's feud during their filming of 1962's Whatever Happened to Baby Jane. 

The series (I'll say limited series because although it was intended to have more than one season, it has not) premiered in March 2017 to high acclaim. As the script had been extended into a eight episodes, we were able to see a far more in-depth, detailed look at the characters and the events that brought everyone together for the production of this now historic film. Particularly, it's a showcase of the antiquated studio system of Hollywood, and how anti-woman it was, much less women over forty.

This all reads like a wonderful project for Meryl. Of course Bette Davis would be a meaty part, but Susan Sarandon has such a likeness to her that the only option would've been Joan Crawford. Crawford was notoriously volatile and a somewhat tragic figure, owing to her troubled, abusive childhood. Part of me wonders if there would have been some raised eyebrows because of how traditionally beautiful she was--a feature that was regularly brought up the series. Jessica Lange certainly fits the bill for that, but how great would it have been to see Meryl super dolled up to be made as "pretty" as possible for the role? Couple that with the intensity of the character and you've got one of the best parts she could probably have asked for in her 60's.

The fact that the best roles for women of a certain generation are increasingly being represented on television, I have to wonder if projects like Feud, American Horror Story, Big Little Lies and The Nix are what we can expect to see most from Meryl in the future. I wouldn't complain. Getting eight hours of her over the course of several months is more to relish than one hundred minutes of a feature film once year.


Wednesday, March 27, 2019

My film reviews: "The French Lieutenant's Woman (1981)

Following Meryl's Oscar-winning turn in 1979's Kramer vs Kramer, she apparently told either her manager or publicist to find something really juicy for her. Up to that point, Streep had enjoyed only supporting roles in film, so Karel Reisz's filming of the 1969 novel The French Lieutenant's Woman (John Fowles) became the perfect project for her debut as a leading lady.

The film, like many others, had apparently taken years of rewrites and had to overcome multiple financial obstacles to reach the screen. When it finally got the green light, Meryl was cast along with British actor Jeremy Irons for the dual lead roles of Sarah/Anna and Charles/Mike.

I imagine that one of the draws for Meryl at the time was that the screenplay sort of followed a story within a story. Anna is a film actress having an affair with her co-star, Mike. The film they're working on involves two people involved in a scandalous relationship in Victorian England. In the Victorian sequences, Sarah Woodruff finds herself out of a job as her employer has died. Woodruff has a reputation for having had a previous affair with a French Lieutenant, and as such has become sort of an outcast. Charles, a paleontologist, falls for Sarah, despite his own engagement to another woman.

Charles breaks off his engagement only to discover that Sarah has disappeared. Simultaneously, Anna struggles with how to negotiate her affair with Mike, as she's currently already married to someone else. Sarah has a new job as a governess and eventually writes to Charles. The two sort of reconcile and are seen at the close of the film ending up together. Anna and Mike don't seem to fare as well, as Anna leaves from the film's wrap party with her husband without saying goodbye to Mike.

Whew. It gets a bit tricky delineating the two storylines, and I've give a fairly basic recap of the plot. I struggle to compile my thoughts on how to describe my views on this film. I often tend to approach Meryl's film choices and performances from a perspective of how tickled I am by something new she does, or how unexpected or difficult I imagine the role to be. Meryl herself has been on record that's she's not particularly fond of this performance. Looking back, she apparently found that she never quite knew if she was succeeding at the role. "Was I just the French lieutenant's woman? Or the actress being the French lieutenant's woman? Or the actress being the actress being the French lieutenant's woman?" That question is an interesting one and therefore appealing to me as a viewer and fan.

I suppose we'll never know for sure to what extent any sense of holding back or perhaps what many have criticized as a certain "rigidity" in Meryl's performance as Sarah was her interpretation of Sarah, or her interpretation of how Anna would interpret Sarah. Is that even possible to know? If anyone could figure it out I suspect Meryl at least went into it with some idea. I watched the movie this past weekend with my husband, Joe (who somehow had never been forced to watch it with me before), and he made the comment about how we perhaps get a glimpse into Meryl's magic when she's rehearsing a scene in the film (as Anna) and we see her sort of transform into Sarah. If we want to be convinced of Sarah as a character, I have to think that Meryl made the choice of breathing life into Sarah as well as Meryl the actor could do. Are we to assume that the actress Anna is as good of an actress as Meryl? Would Meryl dare act less well as Sarah because Meryl thought maybe Anna would not be quite as good an actor as Meryl was herself? That's where my brain kind of goes sideways.

Just having to figure that out as an actor is pretty impressive to me. Frankly, it's the only real interesting thing I found in rewatching this. It's pace is incredibly slow. And although it tackles themes of female oppression in Victorian England, I often found myself easily to drifting off into other thoughts.

The film was actually well received by critics groups. It had five Oscar nominations and a staggering eleven BAFTA noms. Meryl won Lead Actress in a Drama at the Golden Globes, as well as for BAFTA. She was the front-runner for the Oscar as well (her first lead nod), but ultimately lost to Katharine Hepburn, who took her record-breaking fourth statuette for her performance in On Golden Pond. Interestingly, having written this post, it's the first time I really considered how if Meryl had won for this film, she'd have three lead actress wins and one supporting, while Katharine Hepburn would have three lead (one being a tie). They currently seem so far apart in their Oscar tallies, but it's wild to think how very close Meryl came to being the standalone top recipient for acting honors from the Academy Awards.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Let's talk about...retirement.

I'm resurrecting an old tag that I haven't posted in for two and a half years! I had ostensibly started the "Let's Talk About..." section to chat about work Meryl has done, but considering the stage her career is nearing, I'm curious to hear people's opinions.

Streep is just a few months shy of her 70th birthday. A lot of years left, one might assume. If we look at some of her contemporaries, many are working well into their 70s and 80s. There has been no greater time to be an actress over 50 in Hollywood than it is now (not that it's great).  And I have to expect that most actors don't think of retirement the same way most of us plebeians do, in that we work and save so that one day we might be able to survive without having the commitment of a job. No, they're doing exactly what they want to be doing. So what's there to retire from?

I suspect that this is how Meryl sees it as well. If the roles are there, she'll keep it up. Yes, she takes breaks, then goes four or five years working on multiple projects successively. But she's also a grandma now, and one wonders if it ever occurs to her that it would be nicer to just hang it up for longer than six to twelve months on occasion.  Granted, not filming anything for, say four years, isn't retirement, but it would be a distinct shift in the pattern we've seen since Meryl got her start in the late 70s.

My speculations are probably out of fear that she would consider putting less out there, as I've become so accustomed to essentially having a new project to look forward to on a yearly basis. What gives me comfort is that if the scripts are out there, Meryl's likely going to be at the top of the list for whom directors want to work with, assuming Meryl fits the demographic of the role. She typically doesn't produce her own stuff, but perhaps if The Nix gets underway it would be a foray into creating roles for herself that she finds interesting and would otherwise not get made.

This year will be a fun one, with Big Little Lies, The Laundromat and Little Women all still to come. But what we can expect from Meryl's future résumé as she enters her eighth decade of life is probably anyone's guess. Here's hoping it's even more fruitful an exciting than the previous seven!

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

"Mary Poppins Returns" available for digital download

As of yesterday, Mary Poppins Returns was available for home viewing through certain digital download options. Physical media like DVD and Blu-ray come out next week (do people still buy those?).

I think I've mentioned this in a previous post, but I don't really have much desire to see the film again. Despite that, I'm a sucker for extra features, to which a simple click of a button on my computer will give me access. So I might end up forking over the bucks for it. 

There was an interesting article today in USA Today about what can be expected from the film in terms of its place in movie history. With the popularity of the original classic with Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke, I tend to be pessimistic about Mary Poppins Returns being looked back on as anywhere near as memorable or accomplished. It was an enjoyable movie-going experience, but a forgettable one, for me. 

Ultimately, I'm not sweating it either way, as Meryl had a bit part and there are much bigger and better things to come.