Friday, May 27, 2016

Accents Mastered updated

I kind of forgot about this section for a while but now that Florence Foster Jenkins has hit theaters (not near me grrr), it's time I updated the list to include Meryl's latest dialectal accomplishment.  In her most recent film, it seems apparent that she has donned what one would call a "mid-Atlantic" accent.  Wikipedia describes this as a "blend of American and British accents...not a vernacular accent typical of any location, but a consciously acquired one."  The accent was actually taught to upper middle class Americans beginning in the early 20th century.   Picture what Katharine Hepburn and Bette Davis sound like.  You wonder, "are they using a British accent?"  Nope, it's a manufactured one popular in the theater and with elites.  Florence Foster Jenkins no-doubt fit into that sub-group.  Below you'll find the updated list for Meryl's screen work (at least those I'm able to put a finger on).

The Seduction of Joe Tynan (1979)--Tennessean
The French Lieutenant's Woman (1981)--British (specifically Received Pronunciation)
Sophie's Choice (1982)--Polish (in English and German)
Silkwood (1983)--Texan
Plenty (1985)--British (I think it's also RP)
Out of Africa (1985)--Danish
Ironweed (1987)--Irish-American
A Cry in the Dark (1988)--New Zealand (with strong layers of Australian)
The Bridges of Madison County (1995)--Italian (Meryl calls it Iowatalian)
Dancing at Lughnasa (1998)--Northern Irish
Angels in America (2003)--Yiddish and Bronx (in separate roles)
A Prairie Home Companion (2006)--Midwestern
Doubt (2008)--Bronx
Julie & Julia (2009)--Boston Brahmin
The Iron Lady (2011)--British (again RP)
August: Osage County (2013)--Oklahoman
The Homesman (2014)--Central Plains Midwestern
Suffragette (2015)--British (Received Pronunciation)
Florence Foster Jenkins (2016)--Mid-Atlantic

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Update on "The Good House"

This morning, thanks to Jamie (one of our devoted readers), my attention was brought to an article that author Ann Leary gave to the Massachusetts Telegram regarding her new book, The Children.  Leary of course also penned The Good House, the novel that three years ago was announced would be turned into a feature film starring Streep and Robert De Niro.  Of interest in this article was that at the very end, Leary is quoted as saying:

It's still in the development stage.  They're really working on getting the best script they can get.  The producers have been fabulous about including me in the process of reading drafts, talking with them about the characters.  Like 'The Children,' it's a character-driven book; it's not so much the plot but the characters that drive the narrative. They are so interested in being true to the characters.

I'm at least encouraged to know that the film is still in the works, and from the context of the article, Meryl appears to remain attached to star.  Also that they're working hard to make sure the script is as good as it can be.  The interviewer suggests that Leary hopes that pre-production will begin soon.  

What concerns me, however, is that they're still not satisfied with the script.  It's been three years since Michael Cunningham began developing the screenplay.  I wonder if that's why we have never heard of a director's name attached; they perhaps want the script complete before they officially shop it around.  I imagine they have to have certain people in mind, however.  

If this gets put into pre-production by the end of the summer, could shooting begin in time for a 2017 release?  That doesn't seem impossible at this point.  Many parts of the book include events taking place around fall and winter, so perhaps filming wouldn't wrap before early next year.  Complicating things is the fact that Martin Scorsese's The Irishman, set to star De Niro, was just picked up for international distribution at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this week.  Scorsese is said to be aiming at filming beginning in early 2017.  Would this make De Niro unavailable for The Good House?  

I'm not holding my breath regardless, but I maintain that the character of Hildy Good could be a wonderful opportunity for Meryl to shine.  It would be fantastic to so see this project finally come to fruition.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Thoughts on "Her Again"

The other night I finished reading Her Again: Becoming Meryl Streep, Michael Schulman's biography of Streep and her rise to stardom.  Suffice it to say that I really enjoyed it.  Not unlike Karina Longworth's recent Anatomy of an Actor, this was one of the few attempts at a Streep biography that succeeded at effectively delving into the individual behind the Hollywood persona.  Unlike Longworth, however, I didn't notice any mistakes or inaccuracies in Shulman's book.

Her Again covers Meryl's childhood up to Kramer vs Kramer.  I had initially thought that this would be far to brief to effectively engage me.  Schulman made VERY thorough use of Streep's 2010 commencement speech at Barnard to touch on how Meryl developed a character of "soft" girl, who deferred to boys.  I pretty much have that speech memorized so it was easy to notice the excerpts.

It's been well covered how Meryl lost her boyfriend John Cazale to cancer in 1978, but in telling how the relationship developed between him and Meryl, we learn about it against the backdrop of Meryl becoming a reputable stage actress. First at Yale, then in New York.  Something that was striking to me in Streep's background was how she never really wasn't good.  The only rejection she got was when Dino De Laurentis called her ugly at her audition for King Kong (thank the lord she didn't get that role).  Other than that and a few other small reservations, her prowess was pretty much universally praised.
More interesting was how at one point it was seemingly unlikely that Meryl would ever be a film actress.  After much of her part was cut in her screen debut in Julia, she thought it wouldn't be for her.   But her undeniable talent caught up with her the more that people in high places were able to see her act.

There are so many things I could say about this book but mostly I hope this post encourages anyone who doesn't already have a copy to do so.  It's a wonderful insight into how what we see today was developed, trained, nurtured and ultimately perfected in the intense educational system that is New York theater.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Streep attends "Under the Gun" premiere in New York

I usually don't post about Meryl attending premieres for movies she's not actually in, but this most recent one warranted attention.  Katie Couric has produced and narrated the documentary Under the Gun, examining the current state of gun violence in the U.S. from the perspective of families who lost loved ones in mass shootings.

Aside from the topic being an important one, it made me wonder about whatever happened to the possibility of Meryl starring in an anti-NRA film produced by Harvey Weinstein and titled The Senator's Wife.  The film dropped off Meryl's IMDbpro page several months ago, and the title never went beyond the "pitch" stage.  I have suggested in previous posts that Jessica Chastain's Miss Sloane being greenlit likely put an end to any possibility of Streep's film, considering the storylines sound extremely similar.   Sloane evidently wrapped last month, but it doesn't look like it will be released until next year at the earliest.

Regardless of the possibilities of any film, it's not surprising to see Meryl lending support alongside Katie Couric at the New York premiere of Under the Gun last night.  I'm looking forward to watching the documentary.  It still would've been nice to see Streep star in a lead role in another 'social commentary' film, but I imagine there will be other chances.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Another clip of Grant and Helberg in "Florence Foster Jenkins"

Florence Foster Jenkins opened in cinemas in the U.K. yesterday.  I'm thrilled at not only how positive the reviews for the film are, but for its actors.  The only real negative reviews I can recall reading for Meryl in the last five years were for August: Osage County.  Even her role for Ricki and the Flash was give some praise, despite that film's tepid critical response.

In her most current film, however, many of the accolades are being placed on her two costars Hugh Grant and Simon Helberg.  Apparently for good reason, too.  A new clip of the pair was released earlier today. Enjoy, and keep on slaying, Flo Fo!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Second clip from "Florence Foster Jenkins"

Pathé UK has released another clip from Florence Foster Jenkins: 

Here we get to see our first extended clip of Simon Helberg, portraying Cosmé McMoon, the pianist hired by St. Clair Bayfield (Hugh Grant) to accompany Jenkins.  Both gentlemen are getting excellent ink thus far, and the film itself is holding strong at 89% on Rotten Tomatoes, with 19 reviews in.  The film opens wide in the UK in two days.