Thursday, April 26, 2012

"Hope Springs" trailer released

Last night the trailer for Hope Springs was released.  I watched it twice, and the first thing I thought when I saw Meryl was that she seemed old.   I don't mean that with any negative connotation, it was more a testament to the character.   If we consider that she filmed this movie about two years after It's Complicated was released, it's interesting to see the contrast.  In Complicated, Meryl plays the wife to Alec Baldwin, who was in his late 40's at the time.  Meryl was 60, but very convincingly played someone who could've easily been Baldwin's age.  Her current role of Kay Soames seems a bit more of a fuddy-duddy.  Couple that with codger-acting Tommy Lee Jones (65) as her husband Arnold, and we have a sterotypical grandma/grandpa with nothing happening between the sheets.  Check out the trailer:

It should be a cute, smart comedy.  From what I see, Steve Carell's role is mostly dramatic?  I'm sure he'll have comedic moments, but this might be his attempt at a foray into drama.   Perhaps a bit of a turn for Jones as well, as we rarely see him in light comedies.  Meryl's no stranger to it.  And by the way, Streepers, this will be a Golden Globe nomination at best.  I'm actually glad she's not doing a super baity role right on the heels of her Oscar win for The Iron Lady.  This will set her up for August: Osage County much better.  Have I mentioned I'm looking forward to that film?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Shoulda Coulda Wouldas #2: "Sweet Dreams"

For my second entry in this section, I've chosen the role of Patsy Cline in 1985's Sweet Dreams.  Minnesota native (woot woot!) Jessica Lange was nominated for an Oscar for her role as country music's first female megastar.  This is the part which Meryl has openly described as the one she really wanted, even begged for, but did not get.  Director Karel Reisz, who had directed Meryl to her first lead actress Oscar nomination four years earlier in The French Lieutenant's Woman, evidently had Lange in mind for the role from the get-go.   To be honest, based simply on resemblance to Cline, Lange seemed like a far better fit than Streep.  That in mind, I wouldn't (sweet) dream of underestimating Meryl's talent for executing convincing portrayals.  She had obviously found in the script a connection to the main character.  Plus, it was clearly very Oscar-baity.  I imagine had Streep been cast, the physical resemblance questions would've melted away within her first few onscreen moments.

Meryl of course has been quite vocal in her praise of Lange's performance, calling her "beyond wonderful."  I watched this film (in like nine sections on youtube because I couldn't find it on Netfilix, Amazon or Itunes rentals...sheesh) and I have to agree that Lange knocked it out of the park.  I really had no idea how tumultuous Cline's relationship had been with the her husband, however dramatized or exaggerated it may have been made for the film.  Here's a clip of their first meeting:

Ok, Ed Harris looks like a clone of Michael Fassbender in Shame.  I wager that Meryl was attracted to this role not just for the script, but for the fact that it's a role portraying a singer.  Lange obviously lip-synced to Cline's recordings, so I suppose the same would've been done for Meryl.  I don't know whether or not Lange can sing, but we know Meryl can, and probably in nearly the same vocal fach as Cline.  However, with a voice as recognizable and iconic as was Cline's, I imagine the director would've insisted on the original recordings, possibly to Meryl's chagrin.  At least she would've been able to try her hand at the very distinguished-sounding Virginian accent.  Gawd.

Both Out of Africa and Plenty were released in 1985.  The shooting schedule for Africa was several months long, and I can't imagine that Plenty's was a breeze either.   Would we have been denied Meryl's participation in either of these films had she been given the role in Sweet Dreams?  We can only wonder.  I doubt she would've passed on the role of Karen Blixen, and shooting schedules can likely be shifted a bit in order to accommodate actors.  I have a feeling I wouldn't have terribly missed Plenty, especially if Sweet Dreams had ultimately become part of Meryl's film canon. Regardless, this is one that got away. 

Friday, April 20, 2012

"Hope Springs" production stills

I'll jump on the bandwagon this week and add some photos that have been released from Hope Springs.   It's the first glimpse we see of Steve Carell in his role as marriage counselor to Meryl and Tommy Lee Jones.   There's been some buzz about the suggestive photos of Meryl with the bananas.  Rather uninteresting.  As I've suggested before, I expect this film to be a typical, fairly well-written, romantic dramedy.  The acting will be superb no doubt, but I'm not lactating with suspense. Any film from Meryl is fun news, but I'm probably spoiled after this awards season and my weird anticipation of August: Osage County.   Here are the pics:


 We can expect a trailer within the next month I would think?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Academy Awards analysis (1983)

Meryl did not stand a chance.  In fact, I think it was an amazing feat that she was even nominated for Silkwood. She absolutely deserved to be, but this was Meryl's fifth nomination in six years, and she had already won her second Oscar for Sophie's Choice the year prior. I reckon this was sort of the year that established Meryl as historically an almost perennial Oscar nominee, and she would go on to be nominated a total of six times in the 80's. Shirley Maclaine was up for the sixth time in her career, and up to this point was winless.  Pretty good set-up for the veteran actress in her role as a neurotic mother to Debra Winger in Terms of Endearment.   I actually watched this film for the first time a few weeks ago.  I recall seeing it listed in Entertainment Weekly several years ago as the #1 tear-jerker of all time.  Sophie's Choice was #2, coincidentally.   The movie as a whole was not particularly impressive to me, but Maclaine did a great job, and I'd have to give it to her over Winger.  Here's the complete nominee list:

Jane Alexander (Testament)
Shirley Maclaine (Terms of Endearment)
Meryl Streep (Silkwood)
Julie Walters (Educating Rita)
Debra Winger (Terms of Endearment)

I haven't seen Testament or Educating Rita so I can't comment on the performances of those two ladies, but with the very "overdue" status of Maclaine in this year, it was likely pretty clear who would walk away with Oscar. 

Holy 80's hair, Liza.  Some fun wit from Maclaine at the beginning of the speech. She gets a little preachy and weird for my liking, but hey, it's a stage with the whole world as your audience, so say what you want.  And sheesh, they just let 'em talk as long as they wanted back then.  Suppose that's why the shows used to last like five hours.

Imagine what an amazing race this would've been if Meryl hadn't won the year before.  I still think I would've given the edge to Maclaine, considering it was her sixth nomination to Meryl's fifth, and Meryl had already won in supporting four years prior for Kramer vs Kramer.  This was the first of twelve consecutive losses for Meryl until her win for The Iron Lady less than two months ago.  Incroyable.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Well, it's not "Into the Woods" but...

News is out that Meryl will be performing at the Delacorte Theater this summer after all.  She'll join her Sophie's Choice co-star Kevin Kline in a one-night-only staged reading of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet for a Public Theater Gala that will also honor Al Pacino.  I really don't care about this news.  Just thought it was worth mentioning since there was some buzz about her possibly being in a different production this summer in Central Park.  Tickets run at a reasonable $1500.  Damn, if only I weren't busy June 18.   Tune it tomorrow, Streepers.  I'll probably do a new Academy Awards analysis. 

BTW, can we get a cast list for August: Osage County already?  One would think they'd have this wrapped up only four months prior to shooting.  Staying tuned for that one too.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

"Iron Lady" DVD

So, as I mentioned, I picked up a copy of The Iron Lady on DVD last night.  When I got home I watched the special features section and all I have to say is...underwhelmed.   There was a "making of" section, costumes, casting the young Margaret, something about Jim Broadbent, blah blah blah.   The sections were all so brief.  I feel like I got a way better sense of the behind-the-scenes goings on from interviews I saw with Meryl during the awards season.

Considering the film wasn't released in theaters nationwide in the U.S. until mid January, it's a little surprising that it was already released on DVD three months later.  I suppose maybe they wanted to get it out while the the memory of Meryl's Oscar win was reasonably fresh in people's minds.  I would've rather they waited a bit in order to give us a more comprehensive look at the film's making, a la the DVDs of Out of Africa or Sophie's Choice.  Of course I would've liked a section that covered Meryl's casting, as they did for Broadbent and Alex Roach, who played young Maggie.  There were some fun comments about Meryl. Olivia Colman stated that she was waiting to see if Meryl would be as good as she expected, and she found herself distracted from her ability to remember her own lines because she was so enthralled by Meryl's work.  By far my favorite story however is from one of the male British actors.  Evidently after one of the first scenes with Meryl he went home and his family immediately peppered him with questions about her and whether her accent was believable.  He said "Stop.  Stop right there.  I've just had dinner with Margaret Thatcher."  Love that shit.

Our roomie Scyler had not yet seen the film and he showed interest in watching it tonight, so we just finished up. This was my third time seeing the film and I have to say, it gets better each time.  I really feel that I went into it being so preoccupied with Meryl's performance, and all the reviews I had read sort of panned the film, while praising Meryl.  While no masterpiece, the film isn't that bad.  However, had Meryl not been in it, I likely wouldn't have seen it, especially three times.  It reminds me of how I didn't even realize that The Last Station had been made with Helen Mirren and Christopher Plummer until the role landed Plummer an Oscar nomination.  Anthony Hopkins and Meryl had been in talks years prior to play Leo Tolstoy and his wife, Sophia, respectively.  I can recall getting jazzed at the possibility of Meryl mastering a Russian accent.  But alas, role rumors abound, as this past week's news can attest regarding Into the Woods and Saving Mr. Banks.  Patience, grasshopper.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Another project rumor squashed

Well, several sources now report that Meryl's friend, Emma Thompson, is now in talks to star as P.L. Travers in Disney's upcoming film Saving Mr. Banks.   From the article I've linked they indicate that Meryl put to rest rumors about her involvement in this film last month.  Um, I didn't read anything in March that made it so clear cut.  Tom Hanks apparently is still in talks to play Walt Disney.  This role seemed sort of intriguing to me.  It would've been nice to see Meryl work with Hanks.  Maybe she thought one film role with an Australian accent was enough.  Or maybe the script just isn't all that polished.  Regardless, we must move our minds away from the possibility of seeing Meryl as Travers.  I'm sure Thompson will kill it.

In other news, I plan on picking up a copy of The Iron Lady DVD on my way home from work tonight!  I'm more interested in the special features than the actual movie, as I've already seen it twice in the theater.  Expect another post later today or tomorrow about my thoughts on the dvd.  I'll be popping it in as soon as I get a chance this evening.  Woo hoo!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Guess I spoke too soon...

Ugh, so now today there's news that Donna Murphy is in talks to play "the Witch" this summer in Into the Woods.  I tend to give more weight to this than the possibility of Meryl's participation.  I guess that's why they're "rumored projects."  I didn't realize how behind I was on this story.  There just wasn't much about it on the web.  Wasn't getting my hopes up anyway. 

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Meryl in the park?

There is some news buzzing on the possibility of Meryl's involvement in a production at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park this summer as The Witch in Steven Sondheim's Into the Woods.   Sondheim evidently would not deny or confirm the rumor in an interview with a British newspaper in February, but it appears the Witch is the only remaining role to be officially cast.  Certainly this is all currently gossip, but Meryl has been saying for some time in interviews how much she'd like to do more stage work.  And, I didn't know that Rob Marshall was working to adapt a screen version of the musical.  What better stepping stone into the eventual film role than for Meryl to wet her feet in the play this summer prior to the start of filming August: Osage County?! 

Speaking of August (which I'm obsessed with), Julia Roberts said in an interview this past week that she "can't wait!" and that it's "a dream come true." One can only presume that she's referring to the chance of working with Meryl. Get this movie going!