Monday, December 29, 2014

Big opening weekend for "Into the Woods"

According to the Los Angeles Times, Into the Woods just outpaced Unbroken for second place at the weekend box office.  Woods took in $46.14 million since its opening Christmas day, just ahead of Unbroken at $46.05 million (despite the former showing in nearly 700 fewer theaters).  Early estimates suggested that Into the Woods would fall slightly short of Unbroken, but it obviously turned out being the other way around.  The final installment of The Hobbit led both films to bring its two week-gross to an impressive $168 million.

Keep it rollin'!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Film review: "Into the Woods" (2014)

At long last, Into the Woods opened nationwide yesterday and I was fortunate to catch a 9:15 showing last night.  Joe has had the original Broadway recording committed to memory for fifteen years, and he was nervous going in, hoping not to be disappointed by this adaptation.  I wasn't too anxious, as I knew it was getting positive reviews and figured it couldn't be terrible.  Regardless, I was happy when Joe, our friend Scooter and I finally arrived at our seats in the packed theater.

I've been posting so much about this film in the past year that I'm not going to go crazy describing the intricate plot.  For the most part, it remained very faithful to the original stage production, with necessary omissions to keep the film's running time around two hours.  The story is narrated by The Baker, and follows the actions of famous fairy tale characters in their intertwined quest to fulfill their "wishes."  But unlike most fairy tales, after these characters ultimately get what they want, it's not necessarily 'happily ever after'.

Meryl of course plays the Witch, who places a curse on the Baker (James Corden) and his wife (Emily Blunt), as retribution for the Baker's father having stolen from the Witch's garden many years earlier.  The Witch's mother curses the Witch in turn for having lost the most prized item in the garden, magic beans, and transforms her from a beautiful woman into an old hag.  If the Witch can make a potion out of four items: 1) a white cow, 2) a golden slipper, 3) yellow hair and 4) a red cape, she will regain her beauty and reverse the curse on the Baker and his wife, allowing for the couple to conceive a child.  I've already posted this video before, but I feel it's the best scene of Meryl from the film, so take another look.  Her song begins at 0:59.

So, after a lot of fun chasing their items and dreams, life appears good in the "kingdom," until a giant threatens everyone's safety.  The setting becomes more dark and somber as sacrifices are made, lives are lost and lessons are learned.  I've rationalized that my laziness in describing the plot works as a good incentive to check out the film for yourself!  Although if you've bothered to look at this site you're probably already planning on it.

Of course Meryl is fantastic in her role.  Great combination of interweaving her acting choices with the tricky music that the wonderful Stephen Sondheim has provided.  I had already seen "Stay with Me" a number of times, but I was particularly pleased with her rendition of "Last Midnight," as it sort of helped sum up the crux of this arduous adventure each character had endured.

Emily Blunt was a treat, as was Anna Kendrick as Cinderella.  Both of their big solo numbers were high points for me.  As expected the audience favorite was Chris Pine and Billy Magnussen's duet "Agony," playfully performed in and around a river.  That Billy can really fill out a pair of leather pants nicely.

I mentioned to Scooter that if I weren't familiar with the story that the first half may have been a bit difficult to decipher, as Sondheim's lyrics are very detailed and fast-paced at times. But I thought some of the choices Rob Marshall made in the film helped make things a bit more clear, particularly the back story of the Witch and Baker's father, which was a bit fuzzy to me when originally seeing the stage production on Netflix.

As Meryl has said, Into the Woods is "a musical with a brain."  It provides a good opportunity for us viewers to reflect on our own motivations, how we choose our own morality, and what we're willing to compromise to get what we want.  Having only seen the film once and about 13 hours ago, there's likely a lot of processing to still do, and of course I'll see it again.  Maybe I'd have different things to say when I do, but until then, just go see it!

At the time of this post, Into the Woods came in second behind Unbroken in the Christmas Day box office with an estimated $15 million (Unbroken around $15.6M).  Considering Woods was shown on nearly 700 fewer screens, I'd say that's a damn good start to a long opening weekend.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

New clips from "Into the Woods"

In an interview with cast members Billy Magnussen (Rapunzel's Prince) and Mackenzie Mauzy (Rapunzel), we get to see a couple of brief, albeit new, clips from Into the Woods.  I don't think we've seen this scene yet of Meryl as the transformed Witch trying to prevent her daughter from running off with the prince.

 In theaters nationwide in two days!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Meryl on the Ellen show

Joined by Emily Blunt and Anna Kendrick, Meryl was on the Ellen DeGeneres Show this morning promoting Into the Woods.  I'm going on Christmas!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Pre-Christmas weekend topic potpourri

Several things to discuss in this post.  Most notable is that Into the Woods is getting the review treatment since Disney's embargo was lifted two days ago.  As I type this, it sits at a very respectable 71% on Rotten Tomatoes with 28 reviews counted, and 69% on Metacritic, with just nine reviews reported. If this film ends up above 70%, I can't imagine the filmmakers being displeased with that.  Nothing to suggest these opinions will deter viewers from showing up on Christmas Day.

Yesterday a new still was revealed from the filming of Ricki and the Flash. 

Rockin' it out with costar Rick Springfield.  I'm pretty sure they've wrapped production, and the film is set to be released June 26th next year.

Finally, it's no secret I'm typically obsessed with the prospect of Meryl's upcoming/rumored projects.  I speculated after the untimely death of director Mike Nichols last month on whether or not the HBO project Master Class, which he and Meryl were planning on doing together, was going to move forward.  As shooting was set to begin in January, I have to imagine that several aspects of the project were already in place.  I still think it's very possible that the entire thing is scrapped, or at least postponed and not to include Meryl.

But I've also noted in a previous post that there is a precedent in this situation, as director Sydney Pollack dropped out right before beginning Recount in 2007 due to illness.  If someone does ultimately step in for Nichols, it would likely be seen as more tactful to not announce his replacement until after the new year.  Part of me thinks that it may still be happening, mostly because, and some people may think this is nuts, but Meryl seems to have lost an appreciable amount of weight in the last two months.  Take a look at this pic of a super svelte Streep with director Rob Marshall earlier this week at an Into the Woods holiday event:

Meryl never appears overweight, but I've also never seen her quite this slight except for when preparing for a role, most recently when she filmed The Devil Wears Prada nine years ago.  I don't think she got this thin for Ricki and the Flash, so is she maybe readying herself to portray the famously trim Maria Callas?

If so, I'm onto you, Meryl.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Good news for "The Good House"?

Variety has revealed that Roadshow Films has purchased a 33% stake in FilmNation, the company that was planning on producing The Good House with Meryl and Robert De Niro.  Nary a word has been reported about the development of this project in over a year.  I've been bugging Joe for a while now whining that I haven't heard any news about whether it was happening, assuming it had been put to pasture for the unforeseeable future.

Well, that still may happen, but a glimmer of hope shines through when a reputable source is quoted as saying "The first two movies scheduled to begin production next year under the new financing structure are The Founder with John Lee Hancock (The Blind Side) directing a biopic of McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc; and The Good House starring Meryl Streep and Robert De Niro and based on Ann Leary’s book."

Meryl recently said in an interview that after filming Florence Foster Jenkins next May, she won't be doing anything for a while.  Well, what's a while?  A year?  Six months?  If Florence is wrapped by July, it's absolutely possible that Meryl would be ready to film by September or October.  I don't imagine either of these films having particularly grueling shooting schedules, and she won't even have to learn a new language or how to play an instrument.

Fingers crossed this actually does happen. I really enjoyed the book and would look forward to Meryl teaming with De Niro in a great story.  Although I love when she learns challenging new skills for her roles, that of Hildy Good won't have any "gimmicky" aspects to her, i.e a major accent (maybe slightly Bostonian),  physical skill or greatly altered appearance.  Critics get too distracted by those things (even though they add to the performance), and it irritates me that the marvelous performance Meryl gives is then unnecessarily denounced.

Here's hopin'.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Streep continues nominations run with BFCA nod

The Broadcast Film Critics Association announced their nominees this morning, and Meryl was recognized with two nominations, Best Supporting Actress and Best Ensemble for Into the Woods.  BFCA has six nominees for acting, so those joining Meryl include the following:

Patricia Arquette (Boyhood)
Jessica Chastain (A Most Violent Year)
Keira Knightley (The Imitation Game)
Emma Stone (Birdman)
Tilda Swinton (Snowpiercer)

Swinton is the only true surprise, but she's been getting a few nods from critics' groups.  Not a good sign for Laura Dern (Wild).  Streep is in good shape for an Academy Award nomination, with the next major televised show nominations being BAFTA, which will be announced January 9.

The Critics' Choice Awards will be presented Thursday, January 15 (the day of the Oscar nominations!).

Congrats again, Meryl.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Film review: "The Homesman" (2014)

I actually saw this a while back but am finally getting around to posting my thoughts on it.  As is my tradition, after any new Meryl film I see, regardless the size of her role, a "review" is required.  News came of Meryl's involvement in this project over two years ago, with filming completed by spring 2013.  After teaming with Tommy Lee Jones in Hope Springs in 2012, Streep was happy to make a cameo in this Jones-directed Western.

Taking place in the mid 19th century in the Nebraska Territory, the story follows a devout spinster, Mary Bee Cuddy (Hilary Swank), as she steps up to volunteer her services in escorting three women (Miranda Otto, Grace Gummer and Sonja Richter) who have gone insane on the harsh frontier, across the Great Plains to Iowa, where they can then be handed off to a reverend's wife (Streep) for safe passage to family on the east coast.

Not long after her journey begins, Cuddy encounters claim jumper George Briggs (Jones), and saves him from an impending lynching.  In return for his life, Cuddy makes Briggs swear to help her on the journey. If they reach Iowa as intended, $300 would be his payment.  Briggs agrees and the two make their way across the frontier, encountering thieves, "Indians" and inclement weather.

Having been unsuccessful in securing a husband for herself, Cuddy ultimately suggests that she and Briggs marry and try to make a life together.  Briggs declines the offer, but when Cuddy propositions him later that night, the two sleep together.  The next morning, Briggs wakes to find that Cuddy has hanged herself from a nearby tree.

Temporarily considering leaving the insane women behind, Briggs reconsiders when they begin to follow him into a river.  After being shortly sidetracked at a hotel that shows little hospitality (Briggs burns it down in frustration) the quartet finally reach Iowa and the women are delivered to Altha Carter, the reverend's wife. This brief appearance in a film involving her daughter (Gummer) is similar to Streep's showing in 2007 in Evening, a film which co-starred Meryl's eldest daughter Mamie.

After Briggs' delivery is complete, he decides to have a gravestone made for Cuddy, only for it be accidentally knocked into the river as he drunkenly makes his way out of town.

It's nice to see a good story with a woman mostly at its center, albeit in a life where she would rather commit suicide than go on living unmarried.  Cuddy's "plain" appearance had essentially isolated her, and although quite capable of managing on her own, Briggs' rejection was one too many for her.  Uncharacteristically seducing him, she couldn't live with herself after this "sin."

Jones is great as the incorrigible wanderer, and Swank, although as effective in her role, shows me little I feel I haven't seen from her before.  There's not much to say about Meryl's role, aside from her being her usual convincing self.  The trio of "touched" ladies had some pretty physical acting to do and for the most part didn't seem too over the top, although at times their condition seemed unfittingly bizarre.

The film is wonderfully shot against the beautiful backdrop of New Mexico.  It's interesting how the picture, although essentially set in the wilderness of the 1800's, has a kind of contemporary feel to it, enhancing a certain melancholy feel to the story.  It's unlikely I'll watch it again anytime soon, but with an 80% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, I'm thrilled Meryl was involved in a highly-praised film following the mostly panned summer release of The Giver. 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Streep receives 29th Golden Globe nomination

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association has announced its nominations for film and television excellence and as expected, Meryl has been nominated for her role in Into the Woods.  This comes off the heels of her SAG nomination just yesterday.  This puts her in very good standing for an Academy Award nomination next month.  Streep currently holds the record for Globe wins with eight.

I realized that I didn't mention my Globe predictions in yesterday's post, so I can't really say whether all my guesses made it in, but I feel validated that my SAG guesses ended up being 5/5 for the Globes. Ha. The full list in Meryl's category is as follows:

1. Patricia Arquette (Boyhood)
2. Jessica Chastain (A Most Violent Year)
3. Keira Knightley (The Imitation Game)
4. Emma Stone (Birdman)
5. Meryl Streep (Into the Woods)

A full list of nominees can be seen here.  The Golden Globe Awards will be presented Sunday, January 11.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Streep recognized by Screen Actors Guild

As expected, Meryl was recognized by the Screen Actors Guild this morning with a nomination for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her performance as the Witch in Into the Woods. This brings her SAG nominations total to a whopping 16.  Congratulations, Meryl.  I was a bit disappointed to see that the cast for Into the Woods wasn't also recognized for best ensemble, but of course I'd rather Meryl be nominated than the other way around.  

A few surprises:  Naomi Watts sort of came out of nowhere with her supporting role in St. Vincent, as did Jennifer Aniston in Cake.  Robert Duvall in The Judge and Jake Gyllenhaal for Nightcrawler also weren't expected among most, but all four were certainly in the conversation on many prognosticators' lists.

The list for Meryl's category includes:

1. Patricia Arquette (Boyhood)
2. Keira Knightley (The Imitation Game)
3. Emma Stone (Birdman)
4. Meryl Streep (Into the Woods)
5. Naomi Watts (St. Vincent)

The full list of nominees can be seen here.  The SAG awards will air simultaneously on TBS/TNT on Sunday, January 25.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

SAG predictions

The SAG nominations will be announced tomorrow morning at 8:00 am central.  I expect Meryl to be nominated in Supporting for her role as the Witch in Into the Woods.  Of course there's a chance she misses, but with the early word of mouth the film, and particularly Meryl, has received, she should be in really good standing for consideration.  My five picks for Meryl's category are as follows:

1. Meryl Streep (Into the Woods)
2. Patricia Arquette (Boyhood)
3. Keira Knightley (The Imitation Game)
4. Emma Stone (Birdman)
5. Jessica Chastain (A Most Violent Year)

Laura Dern could very well sneak into the fifth slot for her role in Wild, with a smaller chance for Carmen Ejogo in Selma.  I'll add my Golden Globe predictions (which are announced Thursday) tomorrow after SAG announcements are made.

In related news, yesterday was the world premiere of Into the Woods, with Meryl present on the red carpet. She's looking pretty good these days.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

New interview for "Into the Woods"

Not really much to add to the interview, but as usual, some lovely pearls of wisdom from Miss Meryl.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

New clip from "Into the Woods" and Meryl visits Live! with Kelly and Michael

Broadway World has revealed a new featurette with a clip of Anna Kendrick singing "On the Steps of the Palace."

Also, Meryl did her second morning show in two days, stopping by to have a visit and talk about Into the Woods (among other things) on LIVE with Kelly and Michael.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Meryl on Good Morning America

Meryl was on hand at the ABC studios this morning promoting Into the Woods:

Nice to see an extended look at her first scene in the film. And Meryl looks so pretty in this interview!  New clip of Anna Kendrick singing "On the Steps of the Palace" being debuted tomorrow.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Extended break for Streep after "Florence Foster Jenkins"?

In a recent interview with the Phillipine Daily Inquirer, Meryl talked about several things, including her upcoming role as socialite Florence Foster Jenkins in the Stephen Frears biopic.  Most interesting to me was that Streep was quoted as saying "I've been working non-stop for the last five years.  So this Florence Foster Jenkins will be the last for a while."  Of course it is not uncommon for Meryl to take extended breaks after a hectic schedule, at least in film.  She went the entire years of 2000 and 2010 without making a single picture.

It begs the question, however, whether Master Class will still happen despite the passing of Mike Nichols, who was attached to direct. Several sources had reported that filming was expected to begin as early as January 2015. Interestingly, I happened to notice that HBO's Emmy-winning film Recount was set to begin filming in the fall of 2007 with director Sydney Pollack, only for Pollack to withdraw just weeks before production due to illness. So there is clear precedent for directors being replaced at HBO.  The two productions seem to be of very different scales however, as Recount had hundreds of cast members, and Master Class presumably has only around half a dozen.  It may therefore be easier to forego continuing with the latter project.

I also wonder exactly what Meryl means by "break."  I recall her on the red carpet this past year for August: Osage County saying something similar, and like a month later she filmed Suffragette and signed on to star in Ricki and the Flash, which is currently underway.  I know I'm beating a dead horse, but I continue to have hope that they'll pull The Good House together for a late 2015 filming schedule.  You guys, I read the book and was fascinated by the possibility of Meryl portraying Hildy.  Plus she'd be re-teamed with Robert De Niro.  Make it happen, world.

If we use the filming schedules of The Queen and Philomena as templates for Frears pics, we can reasonably assume that if principle photography begins on Florence Foster Jenkins in May as expected, we can reasonably assume it'll wrap by either late June or mid to late July at the latest.  That would still provide Meryl with at least three months before a possible shooting schedule for The Good House would commence.  Enough time for a vacation, Meryl?  My hope for film releases over the next two years is as follows:

Ricki and the Flash (confirmed release date of 6/26/15)
Master Class (very possible for TV release anytime in second half of 2015 if filming indeed starts in January)
Florence Foster Jenkins (Nov/Dec 2015 release possible if wrapped by June/July)

This 2015 schedule would possibly set Meryl up for several award nominations, most notably for Golden Globe noms in both Drama (Florence) and Comedy/Musical (Ricki) films, as well as in TV Movie/Minseries.  All lead of course.  I can't imagine anyone has ever been nominated in all three of those categories in one year.  Greedy?  Perhaps, but I want it to happen.

The Good House 

Technically, I want both The Good House and The Senator's Wife to be released in 2016, but the only feasible way I can see that happen is if The Senator's Wife takes my suggested filming spot of The Good House in late 2015 and is released second half of 2016, and then The Good House is filmed early 2016 and is released later the same year.

The pessimist in me predicts that Master Class, The Good House and The Senator's Wife will never get made, and Florence Foster Jenkins will be released late 2016.  Hey, at least it'll give Meryl more spread out options for Oscar consideration.  Plus, it provides fodder for my Reimagined History Part 5.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Streep honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom

President Obama awarded the Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor one can receive, to 19 individuals today.  Meryl of course was one of them. He made a point of saying how much her "loved" her in a nice tribute.

Congratulations, Meryl.  Well deserved.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

First official screening of "Into the Woods"

Yesterday turned out to be all about Into the Woods.  A simulcast screening in New York and Burbank took place with a cast Q&A afterward, which Meryl attended.  I was able to watch the livestream, and although it was rather short (under an hour), we got some good feedback from cast and filmmakers.

Overall reaction from fans and members of the film/predictions industry has been favorable.  Meryl in particular is getting a lot of very positive notices, as is Chris Pine who's been noted as a surprising scene stealer.  It's impossible to get a good sense by just posting a few twitter reactions, but if you're interested in that, several can be seen on this IMDb thread.  Official reviews have been embargoed by Disney until mid December.

In addition to the screening, another film clip including Meryl was released yesterday.

More great stuff.  Finally, interviews with most of the cast and director Rob Marshall were released to You Tube yesterday, including some interesting B roll from filming.   Below you'll see all three of Meryl's interviews.  Enjoy!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

New clip of Streep singing "Stay With Me"

A new featurette was released this morning with an extended clip of Meryl performing "Stay With Me" from Into the Woods:

Um, that was incredible.  The emotional intensity combined with the vocals....Meryl is in serious contention for an Oscar win.  

In other unfortunate news, most of you have probably learned today of the untimely and tragic death of director Mike Nichols.  He and Meryl were close friends and worked together on Silkwood, Heartburn, Postcards from the Edge, Angels in America and were set to begin filming Master Class early next year. The film industry has lost one of the best, and this of course leaves the future of Master Class unknown. I'm certain he will be greatly missed.

Friday, November 14, 2014

"The Homesman" arrives

Although in limited release, The Homesman debuts today in the U.S.  It's been picking up critical steam in the past couple of days as well, at the time of this post reaching 76% on Rotten Tomatoes with 43 reviews. And despite Meryl only having a bit part, I'm looking forward to seeing it.  Hopefully you all do too.  I'll leave you with an Academy Conversations interview Anne Thompson did the other night with Hilary Swank and director Tommy Lee Jones.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

"Florence Foster Jenkins" acquires international distributors

The Hollywood Reporter has revealed that Stephen Frears' new biopic Florence Foster Jenkins (changed from simply Florence) has picked up multiple distributors worldwide. Pathé will distribute for the U.K., while several U.S distributors have evidently shown interest as well.  Principle photography is set to begin in May, 2015.  Obviously I will no longer consider this a "rumored" project.

With Meryl finishing up Ricki and the Flash over the next month, she's likely going to transition relatively quickly into the role of Maria Callas for HBO's Master Class early in 2015.  It begs the question that if Florence Foster Jenkins begins filming in May and possibly wraps by late June or early July, would they try to get it released by the end of 2015?  No doubt on paper it will be an awards vehicle for Meryl, as were other Frears films like The Queen and Philomena for both Helen Mirren and Judi Dench, respectively.

If we assume they have it ready by December 2015, Meryl will have both Ricki and Florence as contenders for the calendar year. Couple that with the likelihood of Master Class being shown by year's end (an enticing prospect of having Meryl portraying roles of both the most famous and infamous opera singers inside of a month) and we have a plethora of projects to look forward to over the next 13 months.  I can't imagine Streep not in consideration for at least Globe nominations in all three!  I'm still assuming Suffragette will be little more than a cameo.

Knowing Florence will start in May, this seems to leave next fall open for filming.  Will we finally see The Good House or even possibly The Senators' Wife (a film that if it were to happen I believe would be best marketed in 2016) come to fruition?  As I've said countless times before, time will tell.  I want both to happen!  Keep that working cap on, Mary Louise.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Streep to receive Presidential Medal of Freedom

Yesterday, President Obama announced that Meryl will be one of 19 citizens honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.  Wikipedia describes it as an award that "recognizes those individuals who have made an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors."

Wow.  Quite the honor!  Streep has already been the recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors three years ago. Along with her film work, Meryl and her husband Don have been particularly philanthropic and are great benefactors of the arts.  Congratulations, Meryl.  The full list of recipients can be seen here.

Monday, November 10, 2014

"Into the Woods" soundtrack details revealed

Film Music Reporter released an article today with the track listing for the upcoming soundtrack to Into the Woods.  It appears that the deluxe version includes the instrumentals in between sung pieces.

Here’s the track list of the regular edition soundtrack:

1. Prologue: Into the Woods – Company – Into the Woods
2. Cinderella at the Grave – Joanna Riding
3. Hello, Little Girl – Johnny Depp
4. I Know Things Now – Lilla Crawford
5. A Very Nice Prince – Anna Kendrick
6. Giants in the Sky – Daniel Huttlestone
7. Agony – Chris Pine
8. It Takes Two – James Corden
9. Stay With Me – Meryl Streep
10. On the Steps of the Palace – Anna Kendrick
11. Careful My Toe – Christine Baranski
12. Ever After (Instrumental) – Stephen Sondheim
13. Witch’s Lament – Meryl Streep
14. Any Moment – Chris Pine
15. Moments in the Woods – Emily Blunt
16. Your Fault – James Corden
17. Last Midnight – Meryl Streep
18. No One Is Alone – James Corden
19. Finale/Children Will Listen (Part 1) – James Corden
20. Finale/Children Will Listen (Part 2) – Company – Into the Woods 

Here’s the deluxe edition track list:

Disc 1:
1. Prologue: Into the Woods – Company – Into the Woods
2. Cinderella at the Grave – Joanna Riding
3. Hello, Little Girl – Johnny Depp
4. Rapunzel’s Song – Mackenzie Mauzy
5. The Cape as Red as Blood – Stephen Sondheim
6. The Cow as White as Milk – James Corden
7. Magic Beans – Stephen Sondheim
8. Rapunzel’s Hair – Stephen Sondheim
9. Granny’s Cottage – Stephen Sondheim
10. I Know Things Now – Lilla Crawford
11. The Beanstalk Grows – Stephen Sondheim
12. Cinderella Runs – Stephen Sondheim
13. A Very Nice Prince – Anna Kendrick
14. Giants in the Sky – Daniel Huttlestone
15. “Who Cares!” – Stephen Sondheim
16. Baker and Wife Part – Stephen Sondheim
17. Princes’ Fanfare – Stephen Sondheim
18. Agony – Chris Pine
19. The Forbidden Tower – Stephen Sondheim
20. “May I Compare This Ear of Corn?” – Stephen Sondheim
21. It Takes Two – James Corden
22. Two Midnights Gone – Stephen Sondheim
23. One Day Left – Stephen Sondheim
24. Stay With Me – Meryl Streep
25. Jack Chops Down the Beanstalk – Stephen Sondheim
26. On the Steps of the Palace – Anna Kendrick
27. “She Won’t Get Far With One Shoe” – Stephen Sondheim
28. Searching for Cinderella – Stephen Sondheim
29. Careful My Toe – Christine Baranski
30. The Slipper Fits – Stephen Sondheim
31. Rapunzel’s Tear – Stephen Sondheim
32. “This Cow Is Covered With Flour” – Stephen Sondheim
33. Almost Midnight – Stephen Sondheim
34. The Witch’s Transformation – Stephen Sondheim

Disc 2:
1. Ever After (Instrumental) – Stephen Sondheim
2. Back Into the Woods – Stephen Sondheim
3. Find the Boy – Stephen Sondheim
4. Witch’s Lament – Meryl Streep
5. Any Moment – Chris Pine
6. Moments in the Woods – Emily Blunt
7. Your Fault – James Corden
8. Last Midnight – Meryl Streep
9. No More (Instrumental) – Stephen Sondheim
10. The Far Away Prince – Stephen Sondheim
11. No One Is Alone – James Corden
12. The Giant Attack – Stephen Sondheim
13. Finale/Children Will Listen (Part 1) – James Corden
14. Finale/Children Will Listen (Part 2) – Company – Into the Woods
15. Stay With Me (Instrumental) – Stephen Sondheim
16. Last Midnight (Instrumental) – Stephen Sondheim

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Full trailer for "Into the Woods" released

Take a gander:

Of course it looks stunning.  And Meryl looks fierce post-transformation.  The only real singing other than group stuff was Meryl singing "Stay with Me."  She sounds lovely but (I can't believe I'm saying this) the last few notes "with me" sounded a bit...hard.  Her voice is nicely light as the role requires, and I know I'm being really picky, but it's possibly my favorite note in the entire show.  She doesn't use vibrato for that section and it comes across a bit amateur.  It's my own fault for getting too attached to Bernadette Peters' version from the original production.

I know Meryl is an actress first and singer second, but I was just hoping for that last little section to be more of what I was used to.  Regardless, she sounds brilliant otherwise, and based on the trailer it looks like the film could really deliver.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

New trailer for "Into the Woods" tomorrow and Streep nominated for People's Choice Award

Moviefone has revealed new character posters for Into the Woods.  In the article it's reported that a full and final trailer will be released tomorrow.  If that's true, it seems my hunch about it happening before the weekend was correct.  Can't wait!

I love how it's actually a gif and not just a pic.  In other, less exciting news, yesterday Meryl was nominated for her billionth People's Choice Award.  Her nom is in the category Favorite Dramatic Movie Actress.  The Giver was also nominated for Favorite Dramatic Movie, so I'm guessing Mery's recognition is for her role as the Chief Elder?  Weird.  The full list of nominees can be seen here

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Full trailer for "Into the Woods" by this weekend?

The teaser trailer for Into the Woods was released at the end of July.  Since then we've all been patiently waiting for the full trailer.  Our appetites were temporarily satiated a couple of weeks ago with the featurette Disney revealed which included some behind the scenes footage and (gasp) actual singing from cast members.  Now that we're into November and the film is set for a wide release at the end of next month, a trailer has to happen soon, right?

Disney's new animated film Big Hero 6 is set for release this Friday, November 7.  I imagine this is the perfect opportunity to market Into the Woods by having a trailer precede Big Hero.  If that's true, we may get the trailer revealed online as early as tomorrow or Thursday.  Fingers crossed!

p.s.- I've updated the film countdown for The Homesman on the right, as it's evidently going to hit theaters (limited) on Friday, November 14.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

New set pics from "Ricki and the Flash"

A few new looks of Meryl with Rick Springfield on the set of Ricki and the Flash have been released:

First of all, I love Meryl's rocker look.  And she looks really thin?  I wonder if that not only fits this character but also that of Maria Callas, whom she'll be portraying in a few months.  So far everything points to this film being an fun experience.  Add these character looks to the pedigrees of screenwriter Diablo Cody and director Jonathan Demme, and we may see something quite special.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Thoughts on Streep's upcoming filming schedule

The past year has seen a sizable list of potential projects Meryl plans to film.  Over the last fourteen months we've learned about the possibilities of The Giver, The Good House, Suffragette, The Senator's Wife, Ricki and the Flash, Master Class and Florence.  Wow!  We of course know that The Giver and Suffragette were filmed, and Ricki and the Flash is underway in New York.

But what do the next couple of years look like in terms of a filming schedule if Meryl were to actually complete the remaining projects?  Master Class, as has been reported, is likely to film in early 2015, considering it has director Mike Nichols attached.  The fact that the setting will likely be rather intimate, if based closely on the stage play, and that it's for television (HBO), I don't imagine filming lasting longer than 4-6 weeks.  If that starts as late as March, it'll likely wrap by end of April.

Like Master Class, Florence already has a director attached (Stephen Frears), which suggests to me that the project is closer to a filming date than say The Good House.  That said, The Good House has a screenwriter in Michael Cunningham, who we know has been working on the script as early as mid 2013, and the production companies FilmNation and Robert De Niro's Tribeca are set to finance it.  Both films considered, I have a hunch that Florence is poised to move forward first, as we've heard next to nothing on the status of The Good House for months.

We've heard even less about The Senator's Wife, a film Harvey Weinstein described as a "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington-like take down of the NRA."  Since he revealed his plans to make this movie (starring Meryl) on the Howard Stern Show in January, not even a peep of its possibilities.  Were it to happen, it seems like the kind of film Harvey would want to market during a presidential election year.  In this case, 2016 would be a great one, especially since we're likely to have a strong female contender in the running.

It's certainly possible that Florence will take a couple more years to go into production.  Stephen Frears was designated to direct The Queen in 2003 and the film wasn't released until 2006.  If that's the case for Florence, we could expect a release as late as 2017, likely around November, if we're to assume similar strategies to the releases for The Queen and Philomena.  

Here's what I hope happens:  Consider the possibility of all of the above films having release dates before the end of 2016.  How could Meryl fit it all in?  There is a way.  If Master Class actually begins filming in January and wraps by the end of February 2015, Streep could feasibly start another shoot in the spring.   Let's say that's The Good House.  If it started in March and ended in May, it's not impossible to have it ready by then end of 2015.  That would give us Ricki and the Flash in June, Suffragette in September, Master Class in November/December (on TV mind you) and The Good House in December.  I really don't expect any awards recognition for her presumably cameo role in Suffragette, but the other three pictures certainly garner some attention.  Imagine Meryl being nominated in three categories at the Golden Globes:  Actress Musical/Comedy (Ricki and the Flash), Actress Drama (The Good House) and Actress in a TV Movie/Miniseries (Master Class).  I realize this is pretty far fetched, but not entirely impossible.

Were 2015 were to shape up like that, with filming on The Good House wrapped by May, Streep would be open to film The Senator's Wife in late summer/early fall, which would be plenty of time to have it ready before election time in fall 2016.  If shooting for Florence could be pushed to early 2016 (not completely crazy as that's only a year and half after it was announced), that too could be put together for a late 2016 release.  To summarize this release schedule:

Ricki and the Flash (June)
Suffragette (September)
Master Class (November)
The Good House (December)

The Senator's Wife (October)
Florence (December)

Regardless of what happens, I just hope they all happen.  It's certainly more realistic that the filming schedule would be more drawn out, considering my suggestion would have Meryl shooting four lead roles in just over a year.  It just seems unlikely that other projects won't come along that may be streamlined into production the way Ricki and the Flash has been.  As usual, time will tell.  

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Casting updates for "Ricki and the Flash"

Deadline is reporting that Sebastian Stan has been cast to play Meryl's estranged son Josh in Ricki and the Flash.  I know, who?  Apparently the handsome Romanian-American actor is known for his role of "Bucky" Barnes in the Captain America films. 

IMDb also lists Facts of Life star Charlotte Rae on the cast list as "Oma," which means grandmother in German.  I'm assuming she'll play Meryl's mom and not grandma?  I was a fan of The Facts of Life as a kid so it would be great to see Mrs. Garrett starring alongside Meryl. 

Ricki and the Flash is currently filming in and around New York City.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

First featurette for "Into the Woods"

This looks fantastic.  Actually, I prefer something like this to a trailer, as it's more specific info and behind the scenes action.  Along with singing in general, we got to hear a snippet of Meryl singing my favorite song from the production, "Stay with Me."  Not surprisingly, she sounds great.  With the Entertainment Weekly covers revealed yesterday and now this, I would expect a full trailer in no more than two weeks.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

First look at post-transformation Witch

How apropos that the Halloween edition of Entertainment Weekly includes a holiday movie preview and no fewer than four versions of covers which will show characters from Into the Woods.  The most revealing is that of Meryl as the Witch (post-transformation!) and Rapunzel.

Mackenzie Mauzy as Rapunzel and
Meryl Streep as the Witch

Wow.  Of course Meryl looks amazing as expected and I'm excited to get a glimpse of her like this, but part of me was hoping they'd wait until the film was actually released to show us.  I suppose that was pretty unlikely, as we still have a full trailer awaiting.  Here's the rest of the covers, including the first look of Johnny Depp as the Wolf.  

Johnny Depp as the Wolf and
Lilla Crawford as Little Red Riding Hood 

Anna Kendrick as Cinderella and
Chris Pine as Cinderella's Prince

James Corden as the Baker and
Emily Blunt as the Baker's Wife

May the media blitz begin.  

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

"Florence" confirmed

Pathé has confirmed that Stephen Frears is set to direct Meryl in a Florence Foster Jenkins biopic, with the titled now revealed as Florence.  Hugh Grant is listed to portray Jenkins's manager.  Here's the quick summary from the studio:

The true story of Florence Foster Jenkins (Meryl Streep), the legendary New York heiress and socialite who obsessively pursued her dream of becoming a great opera singer. The voice she heard in her head was beautiful, but to everyone else it was hilariously awful. Her “husband” and manager, St Clair Bayfield (Hugh Grant) an aristocratic English actor, was determined to protect his beloved Florence from the truth. But when Florence decided to give a public concert at Carnegie Hall in 1944, St Clair knew he faced his greatest challenge.

I'm guessing the soonest this could be in cinemas is 2016.  Maybe a bit lighter fair, a la Ricki and the Flash next June?  That would be perfect timing to then release The Good House late 2016. Make it happen, Meryl.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

"Mary Stuart" project given new life?

It's been a bit of a slow week in Meryl news so I'll bite.  This week a lengthy article/interview came out in the Hollywood Reporter on Glenn Close's life and career.  In it they happen to mention that Close "has added producing and writing to her résumé and would like to direct, too: She still plans to helm an adaptation of Friedrich Schiller's Mary Stuart, in which she would star opposite Meryl Streep."

What?  I covered the possibility of this project in February in my last "Shoulda Coulda Woulda."  News of its idea was first released in 1997, when both Close and Streep were going to produce and star in the project together.  As we know, it never happened.

I'm certainly intrigued by the idea of this movie happening, but are we really to expect that Meryl will be in it?  The ages of the two actresses would've been far more suited to the roles fifteen years ago, as Mary of Scots (Meryl) was 44 when she was executed in 1587, while Elizabeth I (Close) would've been 54.   I suppose it could still happen now, but considering Meryl's upcoming projects, even if this somehow began filming in 2015, both actresses would be in their late 60's.  I suppose that's not that big of a stretch, but that's small potatoes compared to the obstacles there would be in actually getting this to cinemas within the next five years.  Plus it would mess up my reimagined history!

Regardless of what happens, it would be great if the project went forward, and I'll keep my eyes peeled for any developments.   Not holding my breath.

Monday, October 13, 2014

First look of Meryl as "Ricki"

It was reported this morning that Meryl was filming a scene for Ricki and the Flash at a salon in Rye, NY today and someone happened to post a photo of it to Instagram:

Embedded image permalink

You can see Meryl with her head down, wearing a leather jacket and boots.  It looks like her daughter and co-star Mamie behind her.  Fun to get an idea of what Meryl's physical interpretation of Ricki will be.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Streep to team with Stephen Frears in new project?

Among other sources, Broadway World is reporting this morning that Meryl is in negotiations to portray America opera singer Florence Foster Jenkins in a new film.  For those of you unfamiliar with Jenkins, you may be thinking, "another opera singer portrayal?"  But Jenkins was no ordinary performer.  In fact, she totally sucked, was unable to sing well, and it was never clear whether her "fans" attended her performances because they enjoyed her, or just to get a good laugh.  Have a listen as she butchers the Queen of the Night's second aria from Mozart's Die Zauberflöte:

Yikes.  Hope you enjoyed the gratuitous cat pics as well(?). So as you can see, this role would potentially call for a different kind of portrayal than Maria Callas for example.  It would be interesting to see Meryl negotiate a portrayal of someone who is possibly in denial of her ability, or someone who knows her limits and doesn't care.  Sort of an early 20th century staging of what it would be like if a really bad American Idol audition resulted in someone selling out concert venues.

Director Stephen Frears is evidently attached to helm this pic.  Recently he led both Helen Mirren (The Queen) and Judi Dench (Philomena) to Oscar nominations (win for Mirren) in their respective biopics.  Hugh Grant is said to be in talks to portray Jenkins's manager.

So now we have yet another rumored project for Meryl.  When I first saw this news on The Daily Mail, it reminded me of the rumors from earlier this year of Meryl playing Susan Boyle.  The difference is that in today's article, they're not saying Meryl has been "approached" to consider the role, they're saying she's already in negotiations.  And the fact that a well-respected director is already attached...more likely to be legit.

Let's just break down Meryl's potential filming schedule over the next year.  She's currently filming Ricki and the Flash, which will be in cinemas next June.  Master Class seems like a done deal, and is supposedly going to start in January with maybe a late 2015 release to HBO.  I haven't heard even a peep in months about The Good House with Robert De Niro, but I REALLY hope that movie happens.  Then there's The Senator's Wife, which Harvey Weinstein mentioned would be an NRA takedown film, but there's never been even a trace of confirmation on this.  Now the Jenkins biopic.

So, Master Class starting in January, The Good House later summer/early fall, and the Frears film early 2016 shooting?  Regardless of what happens over the next year, I continue to be thrilled by the prospects of Meryl's upcoming projects.

For anyone interested, here's how Der Hölle Rache is supposed to sound, thanks to the great Sumi Jo:

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Filming underway for "Ricki and the Flash"

As expected, Meryl's new project Ricki and the Flash began filming in New York this month.  Screenwriter Diablo Cody posted a set pick to her twitter account last week, which has since been deleted.  Rick Springfield, who will play one of Meryl's bandmates, didn't manage a set pick but added confirmation to the film's shooting with this tweet:

This will be Meryl's second of three consecutive projects that are musical in nature, with Into the Woods scheduled for release on Christmas (full trailer, please) and Master Class set for production in January.  Ricki and the Flash will reach cinemas on June 26th, 2015.  

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Streep confirmed in supporting for "Into the Woods"

Sasha Stone over at Awards Daily is reporting that a rep from Disney has confirmed that Meryl will be campaigned in the Supporting Actress category, while her co-star Emily Blunt will be campaigned in lead for her role as the Baker's Wife.

This could've gone either way.  It definitely ups Mery's chances for a nomination in my opinion.  Not sure if Emily Blunt can sneak in, however.  I can see both ladies getting lead nominations in comedy/musical at the Globes.  Looks like Cleyton Davis had the inside scoop!  I'm just glad we now have some confirmation.

Fourth win?

Sunday, September 28, 2014

"The Giver" breaks even

With this weekend's box office estimates still to come, it looks like The Giver will at least make back its budget.  According to Box Office Mojo, the film has earned about $43 million domestically, and by their standards, would need to make about $23 million to at least break even.  A studio roughly earns about 55% of a film's gross as profit, and with a production budget listed at $25 million, I think it's safe to say it's a wash.  Add in the foreign returns and it pushes the total to about $57 million.  I'm not sure if the 55% rule applies as closely when looking at both domestic and foreign receipts combined, but I think the likelihood is that The Giver didn't end up losing money for The Weinstein Company.

This isn't to say that the film was a financial success.  Any studio wants its films to be blockbusters, and there was likely some hope that this movie could do quite well in cinemas. Considering that it's been in theaters for six weeks, I imagine this will be looked back on by Harvey as a disappointment.  Hoping Into the Woods fairs better.  I expect a full trailer within the next month!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Streep going supporting for "Into the Woods"?

Last year there were rumors from Gold Derby's Tom O'Nneil that Meryl may be pushed supporting for August: Osage County.  We know how that turned out, as we know how it turns out every time Meryl seems to be on the bubble for category placement.  One could argue that Streep could have been campaigned in supporting for One True Thing, The Devil Wears Prada, Julie & Julia and August.  All of those roles earned her Academy Award nominations in the lead category, where her arguably lead younger female co-stars were either relegated to supporting (Julia Roberts), or not recognized at all.

Now there are reasons to suspect that Disney may be toying with the possibility of placing Meryl in the supporting category for her role as the Witch in Into the Woods.  This weekend, Cleyton Davis of Awards Circuit updated his Oscar predictions, now placing Meryl in second place in the supporting cagtegory, where he had previously had her in lead (still top five I think but not nearly as high).  He also switched Emily Blunt from supporting to lead.  Does he know some inside information?  Also, Deadline's Pete Hammond indicated today that he feels Streep is a strong contender is supporting.   The only Gold Derbery "experts" to include Meryl in any of their predictions also do so supporting.

Again, this role could probably go either way, but the role of the the Baker's Wife, played by Emily Blunt, won the Tony for Lead Actress.  Historically the Witch is considered one of the main characters, as she has the most solo songs and is sort of a the prestige role in the musical.  Disney has already been quite obvious about giving Meryl top billing status in both the teaser trailer and first poster.  This may suggest, like so many times before, that Meryl will be their main horse in regard to awards recognition.

So what do we think?  I happen to think it's a luxury to be in the position of being able to choose which category to campaign in, as it increases the chances for a nomination.  My guess is that Meryl is in the range of 4th-6th place in the lead category.  In supporting, I'd push that to 2nd-3rd.  If you're that high up in supporting, and there is no super strong frontrunner (Patricia Arquette looks very solid right now, but possibly peaking early?), anyone can challenge for the win.  Do I think Streep will win a supporting and overall fourth Oscar for Into the Woods?  No.  Have crazier things happened?  Most definitely.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

New poster for "Into the Woods"

Of course Meryl gets top billing and is the only face featured in the poster.  I think this helps answer the question of whether or not she'll be campaigned in lead or supporting. the poster.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

"The Roosevelts" premieres on PBS

Meryl has lent her voice to the PBS film The Roosevelts, providing the narrations for former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt.  The seven part series, the first of which airs tonight, chronicles the lives of Theodore, Franklin and Eleanor.  Paul Giamatti voices Teddy.

I normally don't report much (or at all) on Meryl's voicework, but as a bit of a history buff, I might actually check this out once it becomes available online.  Apparently is going to be available in its entirety tomorrow online.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

New trailer for "The Homesman"

The first official U.S. trailer for The Homesman was released today:

I like this extended trailer better than the international ones.  Better views of the beautiful cinematography and a better sense of what to expect from the story, without revealing the big spoiler of course.  The film was shown last month in Telluride and will again be screened at the Toronto International Film Festival on the 16th.  Swank is certainly in the conversation for awards consideration.  The nationwide release is scheduled for November 7.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Audra McDonald joining "Ricki and the Flash"?

Meryl attended the premiere of her Ricki and the Flash co-star's (Kevin Kline) new film My Old Lady.  Not looking too shabs in a cute print dress.

More importantly, someone on the Meryl Streep forum posted a quote this morning from Kline, who essentially stated that filming was starting soon on Ricki.  Telling a brief synopsis of the story, he mentioned that in the film his character, Meryl's ex-husband, is remarried to Audra McDonald.  I have not heard any reports that McDonald is attached to this project, but that would seem strange for him to mention it if it weren't a done deal at this point, as filming is set for early October.  I would love to see McDonald in a Meryl movie!  She is a six-time Tony Award winner, her first coming in the mid 90's for her featured performance in none other than Master Class.  

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

"Suffragette" to 2015?

I've been wondering for quite some time what the hell was going on with Suffragette.  By most accounts, signs were pointing to a late 2014 release in the U.S.  Filming wrapped this spring with little expectation of a prolonged post-production process.  IMDb continues to list the film as being released in the U.S. in 2014, with specific release dates for Australia on 12/26 and the U.K. on 1/16/15.  The U.K. date has been particularly telling for me up to this point.  If the film were indeed released on that date, it would be highly likely that a late December release would happen in order to position the film for awards consideration in the U.S.

However, this weekend I was directed to a website that now lists the U.K. release date for the film as 9/11/15.  If correct, I imagine a U.S. release would accompany that date fairly closely  The site also indicates that Twentieth Century Fox is the distributor of the film (Pathé in U.K.), which was news to me.  Considering it's already September and there's really no official news on a distributor, no official release date in the U.S., no trailer...I don't think we'll see it this calendar year.  I'm a bit disappointed because I sort of wanted this year to be a better version of her 2007, where Meryl had four films released (technically Dark Matter didn't have a non-festival release until 2008, but it was kind of special circumstance).  With the barren state of the Best Actress category at this point, it seemed a good chance for Carey Mulligan as well.

I suppose it's still possible that it'll happen in 2014, and if it does, I'll do a post comparing and contrasting this year with 2007.  In fact I may do that anyway and eventually add a new segment to my reimagined history, placing Suffragette in 2014.

Friday, August 29, 2014

New poster for "The Homesman"

The Homemsan evidently had its American premiere today at the Telluride Film Festival in Colorado.  A new poster was released yesterday to coincide with the occasion.

I'll be interested to see a few more reviews of the film in the coming days.  Currently it stands at a respectable 69% on Rotten Tomatoes.  The Homesman is set for a wide release in early November.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

"The Homesman" release pushed back a week?

Yesterday, the Hollywood Reported revealed that The Homemsan will be the centerpiece picture at the Hamptons Film Festival in October.  In the article, it states that the film will be released in cinemas on Friday, November 14, while previous reports have indicated a release set for one week earlier on November 7.  I suppose it won't really matter all that much to die-hard Meryl fans, as she pretty much just has a cameo, but I'd still rather have it sooner than later.  Regardless, it's great for the film to have a slot at the festival, and I'm looking forward to seeing it whenever it reaches a theater near me.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

New still from "Into the Woods"

A new production still of Meryl as the Witch in her upcoming film Into the Woods was unveiled today:

After seeing this, I can't help but picture Streep's character as a more grotesque version of Anita Morris in A Smoky Mountain Christmas: 

Coincidentally, Woods opens December 25th.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Week two of "The Giver" in cinemas

The Giver will likely finish in sixth place at the box office this weekend.  Estimates put it at about $6.7 million for a domestic total of about $24 million.  With a budget at around $25 million and this already being the second weekend, I think this film will be hard pressed to surpass $40 million in the U.S.  Typically a film needs to gross at least double its budget to make a profit (at least domestically I think).  International roll out will take place over the next month, but I don't see that being a huge help.  Not that I would describe this a complete flop, but considering it's being distributed by the Weinstein Company, the film's performance in theaters will likely end up being a financial disappointment.  Hopefully I'll be off on my estimates.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Modest opening weekend for "The Giver"

Meryl's new film The Giver opened to somewhat disappointing results this weekend.  Optimistic expectations were that it would open between $15-20 million.  However, it could only manage a fifth place spot according to Box Office Mojo with just over $12 million.  It's not terrible, but unless there's fantastic word of mouth for this, I don't see it getting much better.  With a budget of around $25 million and considering production studios collect just over half of a film's gross when all is said and done...the Weinstein Company may be left with a bit of a dud.  And it may not necessarily be a good sign when Sarah Palin champions your film.  I hope I'm wrong.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Film review: "The Giver" (2014)

Scooter and I caught a 7:00 showing of The Giver last night.  It was great to have him along as he was less familiar with the story, hadn't read the book, and came in with unbiased eyes.  I have read the book, am quite familiar with the story and was looking forward to seeing how director Phillip Noyce would negotiate capturing the adaptation of Lois Lowry's novel.

The story surrounds the young Jonas, played by Brenton Thwaites, and his isolated community that has attempted to liberate itself from all human suffering.  Daily injections to remove certain emotions, no pain, no illness, no color,  assigned occupations at the age of 18.  Jonas has been selected to become the Receiver of memory, as all recollections of history have been wiped out and contained in one man's mind, the Giver (Jeff Bridges).

Once Jonas begins his training however, he quickly realizes that he, his family and entire community are being done a disservice by having so many experiences withheld.  The last straw is when Jonas learns that a baby his parents have been taking care of temporarily is scheduled to be "released" (essentially euthanized) because he is not gaining weight quickly enough.  Jonas decides to take off with the child (Gabriel) and attempt to reach the outer boundaries of his community.

Meryl plays the Chief Elder, one of society's members who's responsible for behavioral restrictions placed on everyone.  After Jonas flees, she ultimately asks one of his friends, Asher (Cameron Monaghan), now a drone pilot, to "lose him."  Jonas eventually escapes with Gabriel to "Elsewhere", which releases all memories back to his community.

I came away from the theater being entertained, feeling drawn in by the suspense of the last act of the film.  Scooter and I both agreed however that there was insufficient background on what events lead to the creation of this communities.  The book itself is rather short and the events of the film seemed to progress a bit too quickly to seem plausible.  I understand the likely economic reasons the filmmakers made this into an almost science fiction-like young adult flick, but I would've been totally fine without the high-tech environment in which the characters existed.

Meryl does a great job at being a creepy authoritarian, and her role is greatly expanded from the book. With Jonas's growing awareness, the themes of individualism and the importance of free will are sharply contrasted with the Chief Elder's drive to maintain "order."  I enjoy the attempt to focus on these ideas, particularly for the tween generation, although like many other reviewers have already mentioned, I feel it may be a less resounding call to attention twenty years after the book's very popular debut.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Friday wrap-up

Joe and I are happy to have survived a three-day wilderness adventure in the Boundary Waters. A quintessential Minnesota experience that was beautiful but a LOT of work.  Needless to say, I was completely cut off from all "web" exposure, and of course there are several things to cover in regard to Meryl news.

Firstly, The Giver has arrived in theaters nationwide.  Rotten Tomatoes currently has it at an awful 29% based on 97 reviews.  I can't say that I thought would be a critical hit, but I didn't expect it to to be received quite this poorly.  The real story will be told by box-office returns, and early estimates have it grossing around $12-15 million for its opening weekend.  Not bad, but not great.  I'm seeing it with Scooter tomorrow evening and I'll report back Sunday with my review.  

Secondly, Rob Marshall has answered some long-standing questions from concerned fans of the upcoming Into the Woods.  Big take aways: it sounds like they may actually be keeping the true adult, dark themes intact.  The Baker's Wife still has a tryst with Cinderella's Prince, and Rapunzel, although it appears that she does not die, still has a dubious end.

More specifically, the new song Stephen Sondheim wrote for Meryl as the Witch has been cut from the film. I originally had a disappointed reaction to this, but I feel that if deleting the song improves on the film as a whole...ditch it.  Reports from early screenings were that it was a bit slow, so whatever it was probably natural do excise new material, especially when the original is so close to perfect.

To accompany the news from Marshall, a new still of the Witch and Rapunzel (likely from the Stay With Me scene) was revealed.

Finally, upon reentering cellular service this morning, I was shocked and excited to see that Meryl was attached to a film involving former Indian Prime minister Indira Gandhi.  Turns out the role was not Indira, and the article was from the "Mocktale" section of The Times of India, which are "works of fiction intended to bring a smile to your face." Wrong.  

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Three years of Word on the Streep!

Hard to believe that it's been three years and almost 400 posts!  Maintaining this blog continues to be thoroughly enjoyable for me.  I'm happy that I managed to complete my re-imagined history earlier this year and that over the next 365 days, I'll likely see five new Streep films (The Giver, The Homesman, Into the Woods, Suffragette and Ricki and the Flash).  Very much looking forward to her filming Master Class and hopefully The Good House in 2015.

As always, thanks to my partner Joe for encouraging me to start this blog in 2011.  Thank you to anyone and everyone who reads and contributes to my posts with comments. And thanks, Meryl, for thrilling me in performance after performance.  

Monday, August 11, 2014

Meryl attends world premiere of "The Giver"

On none other than my 35th birthday, Meryl has been spotted on the red carpet with her daughter Louisa for tonight's world premiere of The Giver in New York City:

Lookin' good, you two.  Of course I plan to see the film when it hits theaters this weekend, providing Joe and I survive our canoe trip in the Boundary Waters.  

Friday, August 8, 2014

Ben Platt joins "Ricki and the Flash"

Pitch Perfect alumnus Ben Platt has joined that cast of Meryl's upcoming film Ricki and the Flash.  Deadline is reporting that Platt will portray barkeep Daniel, who evidently worships Streep's character. This info comes off of the recent news of Rick Springfield's official casting earlier this week.  Filming is set to begin early October.  Keep practicing that guitar, Mer.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Rick Springfield confirmed for "Ricki and the Flash"

The Hollywood Reporter is breaking the news that Rick Springfield has apparently officially joined the cast of Meryl's upcoming film Ricki and the Flash.  I had posted a couple weeks ago speculating on the possibility of his participation, and it looks like it's now a go.

Springfield will play one of Meryl's bandmates who happens to have a crush on her.  Written by Diablo Cody and directed by Jonathan Demme, the film is expected to begin shooting in October.  Streep in the meantime is diligently building her guitar-playing skills.  Ricki hits theaters next June. 

Monday, August 4, 2014

Two more videos from "The Giver"

These two vids probably came out yesterday as well but I didn't notice them.  Another creepy one of Meryl and one of Katie Holmes:

Sunday, August 3, 2014

New clip from "The Giver"

A clip from The Giver featuring Meryl and Jeff Bridges was released today:

Looks like there will be some intense moments between the pair.  The film hits theaters in less than two weeks.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

First trailer for "Into the Woods"

I've decided to break my own unwritten rule of posting a maximum of once a day, but this is a special circumstance.  The wait is over:

First reaction, like the production stills from Wednesday, is that it's beautifully shot.  As this is only a teaser, Disney has decided to leave out any singing.  For any of you who live under a rock, Into the Woods is a musical.  Meryl not surprisingly receives top billing.  It'll be a bit tough to campaign her in anything other than lead.  So excited for this!

Glimpses of teaser trailer from "Into the Woods"

Well, it's not the full trailer, but last night Entertainment Tonight showed us a few tidbits of what we can expect from the teaser.

It appears that the first trailer (which I anticipate being released online no later than Friday) won't include any singing.  Very much a teaser.  Disney has certainly been particularly stingy on how much they want to reveal. Always leave them wanting more, I guess.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

New production photos from "Into the Woods"

Walt Disney Pictures has released 10 new production stills from the upcoming Into the Woods.  With the news yesterday that a trailer is likely being released this weekend, I think we can safely say that despite the current reshoots, this film will premiere as expected at Christmas.  Check these out:

James Corden as the Baker and Meryl Streep as the Witch

Emily Blunt as the Baker's Wife and James Corden as the Baker

Chris Pine as Cinderella's Prince

Anna Kendrick as Cinderella

Johnny Depp as the Wolf

Daniel Huttlestone as Jack and Tracey Ullman
as Jack's Mother

Lucy Punch as Lucinda, Christine Baranksi as
Cinderella's Stepmother and Tammy Blanchard as Florinda

Billy Magnussen as Rapunzel's Prince

Mackenzie Mauzy as Rapunzel

James Corden as the Baker and Lilla Crawford
as Little Red Riding Hood

These photos, particularly those in the woods, are stunning.  Aside from Meryl's my favorite is Rapunzel.  I think it's so cool how they've made her hair look like a fraying rope.  Regardless of how good the film may or may not be, the set production looks absolutely beautiful.