Wednesday, May 27, 2015

"Africa" film scrapped

 A couple of months ago I had reported that Meryl was mentioned to be attached to the Angelina Jolie project about paleoanthropologist Richard Leakey.  The film, entitled Africa, was tentatively scheduled to begin shooting later this summer.  Today, the would-be cinematographer Roger Deakins, who worked with Jolie on Unbroken, indicated that the film will not be happening.  In a French interview for Premiere magazine, he states on page 16:

"Invincible was a good experience, and when Angelina announced she wanted to do this film about Richard Leakey , I jumped at the chance. Not only because I had worked with her, but because I wanted to return to Africa , where I went often. Especially for Mountains of the Moon in Kenya. I not only admired as director Bob Rafelson , but humanly , it was adorable. Unfortunately, Africa will not take place . This is a big disappointment."

Earlier this month it was revealed that Jolie was having trouble securing funding for the film's ballooning budget.  Not a huge surprise that they've passed on this one.  Too bad, as it sounded like a very interesting subject.  I guess this just opens up more time for Meryl to film The Good House!

Friday, May 22, 2015

First pic of Streep in "Florence Foster Jenkins"

Pathé has released the first production still from the set of Florence Foster Jenkins: 

Hugh Grant plays her partner and manager St. Clair Bayfield.  The film, directed by Stephen Frears is currently filming around London.  

With the first official pic released already in May, it begs the question of whether they'll try to push this into cinemas by the end of the year.  I still think it would fit perfectly in late summer 2016 as a comedy, but even some of the blogs I've been reading have inquired about the same thing.  As usual, time will tell.  Looking forward to this film regardless of when it's released.  

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Preview of new song from "Ricki and the Flash"

A preview of the original song "Cold One" has been posted to the Ricki and the Flash website.  Penned by Jenny Lewis and Jonathan Rice, we get to hear Meryl with the lead vocals. She provides a nice folk-rock sound to it..even a bit of gravel in her voice.  I think what I'm most looking forward to in this movie is the music.  The film opens nationwide August 7.  

Monday, May 18, 2015

Shoulds Coulda Wouldas #12: "Dirty Tricks"

I'm a bad Meryl fan.  Here I thought I was all done with the Shoulda Coulda Woulda section, but a couple of weeks ago while doing a little research for my "predicting the next five years" post, I realized something.  We already know that Ryan Murphy has been interested in filming Best Actress, the behind-the-scenes look at the making of Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? for HBO.  I was unaware however that it was him who in 2005 was announced to write and direct Meryl in the film version of John Jeter's play Dirty Tricks.  

I had been fully aware of this project dating back to 2005, but was under the impression that the part of Martha Mitchell would've been a supporting role, along with Annette Bening as Helen Thomas, Jill Clayburgh as Pat Nixon and Gwyneth Paltrow as Maureen Dean.  Upon learning that it was indeed Murphy behind this project, with a little investigation I also realized that this was likely going to be a lead role for Meryl.  Martha Mitchell was deemed "the mouth of the South" for her whistleblowing in the aftermath of the Watergate scandal in early 70's.  The outspoken, Arkansan wife of Nixon's attorney general John Mitchell became famous after her frequent phone calls to members of the press, detailing political shenanigans that took place under the corrupt Republican administration.  

The news of this project broke in August of 2005, with Murphy hoping to begin filming by spring 2006.  If we consider the possibility that this came together for production at some point in 2006, we could've expected a release sometime in 2007, and as is usual with Streep's starring roles, likely fourth quarter for awards placement.  This idea created a predicament for me, as I've already completed my reimagined history, which included 2007 of course.  But consider if Meryl had a lead role in a politically-themed movie in place of the two supporting roles in the poorly-received Rendition and Lions for Lambs.  Plus it's a fairly baity character...alcoholic, eccentric, heavy Arkansan accent. Seems a better project than either of the aforementioned films.  

This of course would alter my reimagined history, something I thought was completely set in stone.  But I'm strongly considering addending it to replace both Rendition and Lions for Lambs with Dirty Tricks.  With the same rationale in mind, I'm also considering altering 2014's filmography, but I'm not giving away those exact details quite yet.  Regardless of what I decide, this was a fun discovery and yet another fun speculation of what could've been.  

Monday, May 11, 2015

Production begins on "Florence Foster Jenkins"

It was reported this morning that Meryl is in the UK to begin filming Florence Foster Jenkins. We've been expecting a May start, so this seems to confirm that.  The article also reports that the shooting schedule is expected to last ten weeks.  If filming is actually beginning this week, we could expect it to wrap by mid July.  It would be quick, but five months is absolutely possible to complete post-production on a film like this.  I still think it's unlikely, but Frears pics have tended to be end-of-the-year fare, a la The Queen and Philomena.  It doesn't seem as likely that they would push a release all the way to the end of 2016.  If it's released  next year, I would guess another late summer release.  I'll be very interested to learn when they officially plan for it to premiere.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Trailer for "Ricki and the Flash"

As usual, without further ado...

First thoughts were that I wanted more music!  Meryl of course looks amazing, and it definitely seems to be marketed as a comedy.  I was thrilled to see so much of Audra McDonald.  I have to watch it a few more times to get a full, honest reaction.  I'll add more thoughts later.  Hope everyone enjoys!

Monday, May 4, 2015

First trailer for Ricki and the Flash arriving May 6

Two days!  About time considering the film will be released in three months.  I'm hoping we get a good sample of Meryl playing the guitar and singing.  Also interested to see how they are going to market this, meaning whether or not the trailer will make it seem like a full-on comedy.  I have a feeling it will.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

The impossible task of predicting the next five years

As many of you probably know, being predictive is one of my favorite aspects of this blog.  I also tend to obsess think about Meryl's filming schedule and legacy.  I've already laid out some suggestions in the epilogue to my reimagined history as to which projects would be fun to see her do, and of course I have my wish list section.   I'm going to update some of these suggestions, mostly because really I want them to happen, and partly because if any of them actually come to fruition it'll be gratifying to know I predicted them "way back when."

Obviously we know that Ricki and the Flash is being released in August and Suffragette in October this year.  Later this month Meryl will begin filming Florence Foster Jenkins, with no official release date yet designated.  I've given up on the possibility of Master Class (crying face emoticon).  If it happens it'll be gravy, but it likely wouldn't be this calendar year, so I'm not including it on my list.  You'll see reasonable filming and release dates after each title.  I realize that two lead roles annually over the next five to six years is highly unlikely, but the more films I suggest, the greater the likelihood that I'll get a couple of them right.  I'd also expect that she'll do a handful of bit roles in other films, but I'm going to focus on only lead roles.  For the most part, I'm listing one biopic and one non-biopic per year.  Here goes...

2016  Florence Foster Jenkins (May-Jul 2015) release Aug 2016
         The Good House (Oct-Dec 2015) release Dec 2016

2017  Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? (Sep-Nov 2016) release Aug 2017
         Best Actress (TV) (Apr-Jun 2017) release Dec 2017

2018  The Senator’s Wife (Aug-Oct 2017) release Oct 2018
         Follies (Dec 2017-Mar 2018) release Dec 2018

2019  The Testament of Mary (TV) (Aug-Oct 2018) release Easter 2019
         Indira Gandhi biopic (Feb-Apr 2019) release Dec 2019 

2020  Xavier Dolan film (Dec 2019-Feb 2020) release Dec 2020
         Susan B. Anthony Biopic (Jun-Sep 2019) release Oct 2020 

2021  Pedro Almodóvar film (Sep-Nov 2020) release Aug 2021
         Ruth Bader Ginsburg biopic (Feb-Apr 2021) release Dec 2021

Ok, the first thing most people will likely think after reading this is some version of "not a fucking chance."  I realize this list is beyond wishful thinking, but it's meant to be more of a template of possibilities.  It's more than likely that Florence will be released in the second half of 2016.  I've suggested in the past that it's not out of realm of possibility that they'd have it ready by December of this year, assuming filming wraps by July.  Unlikely, however.  And despite Streep saying she'd be taking a break after this film, we know FilmNation announced in December that under its new financing structure, The Good House was set for production in 2015.  Therefore, you see it listed as beginning filming in the fall.  It's a fantastic book and character in Hildy Good, so I hope it's made.

IMDb pro has Meryl rumored for the remake of Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?, to be directed by Walter Hill and co-starring Sissy Spacek.  What a coup it would be if Ryan Murphy were then able to cast Meryl with Susan Sarandon (assuming Jessica Lange does in fact retire) in Best Actress for HBO, which is the behind-the-scenes look at the making of the original.  Playing Baby Jane Hudson in the first and then Joan Crawford (who played Blanche in the original) in the second could perhaps be a sort of WGAF challenge for Meryl.  The two pictures being released in relative proximity to each other would also be a very enticing character juxtaposition for fans.

Moving on to 2018, I'd like to see The Senator's Wife come together, as it's seemingly a social commentary piece in a midterm election year.  Certainly not holding my breath on that one.  On paper, a re-teaming with director Rob Marshall on a big screen version of Follies could be a potential box-office success, not to mention awards contender.

2019 is without question the most far-fetched.  If by some miracle a screen version of The Testament of Mary were made, I think it might work better as a TV film, again with HBO perhaps.  The biggest "wish" I have is for Meryl to portray former Indian prime minster Indira Gandhi.  Although it would no doubt be controversial with Meryl in the role, a look at Mrs Gandhi's actions leading up to Operation Blue Star could make for a very compelling film.  I know some may object to a white actor portraying an Indian woman, but I'm prepared to (try to) defend a scenario where the casting need not necessarily be offensive, possibly even preferable.

The next two years are not dissimilar in that both would involve making a film with a non-native English speaking auteur director, as well as a biopic on the life of a pair of feminist icons.  Both Xavier Dolan and Pedro Almodóvar have expressed interest in working with Meryl.  Almodóvar has even stated that he has the rights to a specific novel with Streep in mind, but has not made the jump to directing in English and is unsure if he ever will.

We also know that Meryl has expressed an interest in starring in a film with Kathy Bates depicting early pioneers in the American women's suffrage movement, Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.  Hey, if Suffragette is a big success, maybe one of the screenwriters Streep recently funded will create a fantastic script involving these two indelible women.  Lastly, up to this point I've secretly thought it would be great to see a biopic on Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.  The second woman ever appointed to the highest court in the U.S., she has for decades been a leading jurist on equal rights for women.  Perhaps a look at the events surrounding the hearing of the Lilly Ledbetter case, which eventually became a fair pay law, would be a suitable backdrop.  Some say Ginsburg's blistering dissent from the conservative court's majority opinion sparked congressional action on the ruling.  I have to confess it would also be fun to see Streep portray someone as diminutive as Ginsburg, who at 5'1" was over a foot shorter than Julia Child.  

I realize that the majority of biopics I've listed tend to be of famous or internationally influential individuals.   Assuming Meryl does a handful of biopics over the next several years, I concede that it's more likely that they won't all be of women in powerful positions.  After all, this is only a template.  I suppose Hillary Clinton or Angela Merkel are more reasonable possibilities than the ones I've listed, but both are currently less appealing to me.

You'll notice that I've dropped the Catherine the Great biopic from my original list, as well as a new screen version of The Corrections.  I just don't think at this point either of them seem reasonable, or perhaps even desirable in my mind.  The #1 script on 2014's blacklist just so happens to be one of Catherine and her rise to power. But considering these events would take place when the empress was in her 20s and 30s, I don't see Meryl winning the role.  However, that portion of her biography is an incredibly interesting period in world history, so I wouldn't be surprised to see that picked up within the next couple of years.

No one knows how many of the above roles will ultimately happen.  Of course I want them all, but I'd have to be happy with three...right?