Saturday, October 19, 2019

Film review: "The Laundromat" (2019)

Netflix released The Laundromat to streaming yesterday, and I got the chance to watch it last night. There's been a bit of controversy around it, and as recently as a couple days ago, the two men on whom much of the film is based, filed a lawsuit to prevent Netflix from releasing the it. After its Venice premiere in late August, dozens of reviews have trickled in. I can't avoid taking notice of course, and it's difficult not to get a biased view of what to expect, considering it hasn't exactly received universal acclaim. In fact, it's been fairly poorly reviewed. I tried to put that aside and watch the movie with an open mind.

It's a pretty fast run, at only 96 minutes. The film opens with Ellen Martin (Meryl) on a trip with her husband in New York, where their boat capsizes, killing her husband and many others. The attempt to secure an insurance settlement leaves Ellen out of luck, as she learns that the company that was supposed to handle the restitution has essentially been able to weasel out of it...through convoluted, but not necessarily illegal, channels.

Ellen tries to track down the company, leading her as far as the Caribbean, but to no avail. Along the way, we're treated to behind the scenes explanations from Gary Oldman and Antonio Banderas, who portray the real-life lawyers Jürgen Mossack and Ramón Fonseca (of the infamous Panama Papers law firm Mossack Fonseca), describing step by step how the rich are basically screwing the little guy and getting away with it.

The film jumps around a lot, including side stories of wealthy African and Chinese families, conveying the nature of the often cruel and even murderous lengths individuals went to protect their astronomical assets. I tend to agree with many of the reviews that suggest that the film might not always know where it's going, or that it simply would be better to more closely follow Ellen's story. I realize I'm biased toward Meryl, but Ellen is really the one person we're meant to care about in the film, and I believe the film would be stronger with a little more length to follow Ellen's story a bit more closely.

Now to the controversy. There are a handful of viewers who accuse Streep of engaging in "brownface," in the film, in that she is attempting to portray a woman of color. Meryl plays a dual role, the second being a Panamanian office worker. On paper it totally sounds like "what the f*ck are you thinking?" but in the context of the film, there really isn't anything overtly offensive about it. I'm not going to get into a long-winded narrative about what constitutes blatant disregard for racial inequality, or insensitive depictions of minorities on screen. Suffice it to say, I, like the vast majority of folks who have posted online reviews, find little to no real issue with it.

Steven Soderbergh addressed the concern, which he anticipated, in a recent interview. I'm satisified with his explanation. I just wish I were a little more satisfied with the film. Since it's on Netflix, we're not concerned about box office, but I think if we're going to hope for any awards attention this upcoming season, it'll definitely be for Big Little Lies.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Sizing up Best Supporting Actress...for TV

Things are looking pretty bleak in regard to Meryl's awards chances for The Laundromat. I'll write more about my thoughts when I'm able to post a review after it's released to Netflix Friday, but I thought it would be a good idea to touch on what her chances are for recognition for her television performance this year: Big Little Lies. I'll still keep track of her chances in the film department, hopefully commenting on my thoughts of other actresses in the hunt. After all, if anyone has the chance to be a spoiler or surprise nominee, it's Meryl.

I've tended to sort of forget already that she has a very good shot of seeing some love at the Golden Globes, SAGs, and eventually the Emmys for her role as Mary Louise Wright. The interesting thing, of course, is that we won't get nominations for the Emmys until next summer. The timeline for eligibility is not the calendar year, rather June 1-May 31 of any given year. Since BLL was not released until June, it was not eligible for last month's Emmys. It will, however, be eligible for both the Globes and SAGs, as they, like the Oscars, are based on calendar-year eligibility.

With that in mind, we should identify who the likely candidates are for recognition this upcoming winter awards season. Globe and SAG nominations are already going to come out in early December. We need to be aware that Meryl will likely fall into a different category next year in each of the Globes, SAGs and Emmys. This is due to how they group performers. For example, the Globes clump all supporting roles together (regardless if they're from a drama, comedy, miniseries or television movie). The SAGs don't have supporting categories for TV at all, which may give us a Meryl nom essentially in lead. And the Emmys have about a trillion categories, of which Meryl will no doubt fall into Supporting Actress in a Drama series. BLL will have to compete in drama series, unlike last year when we all thought it was only going to be a limited series. But after a second season, that was no longer possible.

So...we're going to see Meryl potentially "competing" against different groups of actresses in each of the three awards bodies! I'm exhausted just thinking about all the permutations of different performers and categories, but I think I'm going to just start (in this post at least) with the Golden Globes.

Gold Derby has predictions for both the "experts" and "editors" which pretty much have Meryl ranked #1 or #2 across the board.  Helena Bonham Carter is going to pose a big challenge, as next month we will see her as the latest iteration of Princess Margaret in Netflix's The Crown. Patricia Arquette has already won an Emmy for her role in the limited series The Act (which was horrifying and amazing at the same time), and is sure to be in the running. Laura Dern won pretty much everything for her supporting role in BLL the first time around, and she's got a lot of buzz this year for her film role in Marriage Story, so we can't leave her out--but I honestly think Shailene Woodley was the best of the Monterey Five in season two. Chernobyl was a huge success for HBO, and Emily Watson already scored a nom with the Television Academy. And Jessica Lange (The Politician) is a perennial television favorite these days. I'd love to see one of the ladies form When They See Us make it in. I personally thought Niecy Nash was great in that limited series.

This is going to be a fun season. 

Friday, October 11, 2019

Kerry Washington joins "The Prom"

Multiple sources are reporting that Kerry Washington (Scandal, Shadow Force) has joined Ryan Murphy's upcoming film adaptation of the Broadway musical The Prom. There is no word yet on what role Washington will play. I'm not sure if she can sing or not, but I'm guessing there are plenty of non-singing roles in the film, regardless. 

Early reports had indicated the film would begin filming in December, with a late-summer 2020 release planned.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Sizing up supporting actress: Margot Robbie in "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood"

When I posted my thoughts on a pair of contenders in the Best Supporting Actress category last week, I totally forgot that I saw Once Upon a Time in Hollywood in early August. Margot Robbie is getting some buzz for her role as slain actress Sharon Tate

Directed by Quentin Tarantino, the film is a sort of reimagining of characters and events surrounding the Manson Family murders, which took place in the summer of 1969. I actually really enjoyed the movie, and thought Robbie did a fine job. The only problem is that she's barely in it. I get that the character is historically well-known, and that the Academy tends to wet themselves over films depicting their industry. But there just isn't enough for Robbie to do here.

I expect there have been plenty of pundits out there who've broken down why and how Robbie might get the nod. What Robbie does she does well. It would be very difficult to convince me, however, that it's a worthy performance. Not that screen time is the only thing that constitutes a good role.  But this is not Judi Dench in Shakespeare in Love or Viola Davis in Doubt. There is so little interesting or difficult in Robbie's portrayal. No arc. No big speech or super emotional moment. That, coupled with low screen time, does not an Oscar role make.

If she gets in, I expect it to be more understandable if its for Bombshell, which opens December 20 (and I cannot wait to see).

My ranking of the performances I've seen thus far:

1. Jennifer Lopez (Hustlers)
2. Maggie Smith (Downton Abbey)
3. Margot Robbie (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood)

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Sizing up supporting actress

Meryl is possibly in the hunt for awards recognition this season for The Laundromat. Her chances have seemed to dwindle a bit in recent weeks. While the film isn't getting great reviews, Streep is getting good notices, often described as the best thing in the movie. I haven't seen it yet (it's only in limited theaters), and I'm guessing that I'll ultimately first see it when it's released to Netflix on on October 18.

As I've tended to do in other years, I like to comment on where I think Meryl is in the running compared to other ladies in contention. With that in mind, I got the chance to see two movies this weekend, and am going to give my thoughts on two of the contenders.

The first film I saw was Downton Abbey. Full disclosure, I loved the series, but I'm not sure I would have made the point to see the film version in the theater had I not wanted to get a head start on Oscar-watching. The movie was actually great, and Maggie Smith is getting some buzz for reprising her role as the Dowager Countess. She was very well-rewarded for her role in the series iteration, so it's not surprising that many are touting her chances with this feature film. Her performance wasn't really anything special. It's certainly not any different than what we've seen for years on the series, and it's pretty much a ho-hum "Maggie Smith" role. She does a lovely job I'm sure, but nothing we haven't seen before, no particular stretch for her. All that said, I wouldn't be at all surprised if she gets nominated for an Oscar. People LOVE her in this role. A huge box-office haul is not going to hurt either.

The more interesting of the two roles I watched was Jennifer Lopez in Hustlers. I'm just as surprised as the next person that J Lo is in the conversation for Oscar at all. But after seeing the movie, I can sort of understand why. First off, it's a borderline lead role, which certainly helps in regard to screen time. She has a lot to do, and a lot of moments to shine. She plays a stripper who ends up corralling a group of her co-workers to drug men and steal their money. Not unlike Maggie Smith, however, I don't think this role is like wildly outside of something I could normally expect to see J Lo in, but she was pretty convincing at Ramona. She looked amazing, did some incredible pole dancing, had emotional scenes and went on a journey as a character. The film, while disturbing at times, is overall very well done, and I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. It's getting great reviews, as is she, so she's shot up toward the top of many people's lists.

Of the two contenders I've seen so far this year, my rankings go:

1. Jennifer Lopez (Hustlers)
2. Maggie Smith (Downton Abbey)

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Shoulda Coulda Wouldas #16: "The Good House"

Multiple sources revealed yesterday that Sigourney Weaver and Kevin Kline have been tapped to star in the film adaptation of Ann Leary's 2013 novel, The Good House. For regular readers of this blog, you probably know that I've been holding a bit of a candle for this project for six years now, ever since it was announced that Streep was set to start alongside Robert De Niro. I had pretty much given up hope of ever seeing this story reach the screen, and when I woke up this morning to an alert on my blog that it had been recast, I wasn't really sure what to think.

My first thought was how out of the blue this seemed. I'd assumed this film had died and gone to development hell. But from what I understand, filming is already underway in Canada. The film will be directed by married couple Maya Forbes and Wally Wolodarsky (I know, who?!)--there never had been a previous director attached. Amblin Partners is producing, with Universal handling distribution. Michael Cunningham had been reportedly working on the adaptation in 2013, but the articles I've read suggest that Forbes and Wolordarsky wrote the script. My guess is that the director pair revised Cunningham's original adaptation. 

While I'm excited to see this story brought to the screen, I feel it's an unfortunate missed opportunity for Meryl. Nobody knows how the film is ultimately going to pan out, but I'm very familiar with the book, and have for years now found is protagonist, Hildy Good, a fascinating character. Shes a 60-something realtor on Boston's North Shore: successful, strident, a mother, grandmother, divorced from a gay husband, descended from Salem witches, purportedly psychic, and desperately trying to hide her love affair with alcohol. Imagine Meryl negotiating this woman!

After reading the novel when it was announced Meryl was attached to the film adaptation, I've regularly revisited parts of the story, thanks to the amazing audible version narrated by the great Mary Beth Hurt. It's become a nostalgic story for me. With its historic town, numerous fall and winter scenes, witty dialogue, and comprehensive characterizations, it's a setting that's become  entrenched in my mind.

My hope is that the film does the story justice. I remember hearing Ann Leary in an interview a couple years ago saying that it was still in the development process, and that the producer, Jane Rosenthal, really wanted the script and characters to be as perfect as possible. It'd be great if the reason it's taken six years to go into production was because they were doing just that. Weaver is of course a brilliant actress, so I look forward to her interpretation of the role. On paper, it seems the type of project and character that would garner a lot of attention.
Sadly, The Good House has gone the way of other projects from the not-so-distant past for which Meryl was originally attached. The Last Station, Saving Mr. Banks, and Julieta all ended up being made with other actors in the main roles. In recent years, I had expected The Good House to fall more along the lines of Daughter of the Queen of Sheba, Dirty Tricks and Master Class, all of which have never reached the screen. 

I hope Let Them All Talk and The Prom end up being worth Meryl missing out this fall. Lord knows there are a thousand possible reasons why she never stuck with the project (see The Last Station et al.). Regardless, when The Good House hits theaters in 2020, I'll be one of the first in line.  

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

"The Laundromat" garnering tepid reviews

The Laundromat has now been shown at both the Venice and Toronto International Film Festivals. Over forty reviews have been counted, and I'm disappointed to report that most critics are giving it a thumbs-sideways. The majority of concerns seem to center on the fact that the film it disjointed and smug, does not give enough time to cover the wide swath of ground it wishes to traverse, and is wasting its impressive cast on too much frivolity for such a serious topic.

While that's disappointing to read, Meryl is generally getting best-in-show notices. There are rumblings about the fact that she portrays more than one character, one being a Panamanian woman, and how that may be a a misguided and even offensive example of "brownface."

Those detractors are few, but loud, and from what I can understand, the criticism is probably misplaced. I'll hold off on getting too into it until I see the film, but more to come on that.

The sad thing about the film not doing well is that it's likely going to cost Meryl any love come awards season. I could see it having a better chance at the Golden Globes, but and Oscar nom may be out of reach this time. 

There's always Big Little Lies. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Streep receives Actor Tribute Award at Toronto International Film Festival

Meryl was on hand in Toronto yesterday to promote The Laundromat. She and Joaquin were also both recipients of the inaugural "Actor Tribute" awards. I've been unable to find a video of her speech, but here's a snippet from The Los Angeles Times:

“Lately, I’ve been asking myself a question,” she said of picking her projects. “Does this help or does this hurt? Is this piece of material something that needs to be in the world right now, for whatever reason? And even if it doesn’t help, even if it’s just silly and fun, does it on the other hand do damage? Does it make us complacent? What is it, what is it? 

 “Every artist here has made a choice about the material that they’ve done; they’ve decided to contribute something either by default or by intention,” she continued. “This festival is moving the needle by intention. And even though we didn’t create the moment that we find ourselves in, we can’t cure it individually, we can’t control it, but we sure can contribute to its toxicity. 

 “I just want us all to be really mindful,” Streep concluded. “Time is short — as you reach a certain milestone you realize that. So we should all do the things that count, even if it’s just to get a laugh.”

Wise as always. I wish The Laundromat were getting better reviews. It's hovering around 50% on Rotten Tomatoes, with a total of 25 reviews counted. There are many more sure to come. It would be great it somehow managed to sneak past the 60% "fresh" mark. Even with that, however, this is FAR from a critical darling.  

Meryl seems to be getting pretty good individual notices, however, and it's clear she's willing to campaign for this. It'll be interesting to see how it fares from an awards standpoint. 

The film is in select theaters on September 27, preceding its release to Netflix on October 18. 

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

"Let Them All Talk" completed in thirteen days

Meryl did several interviews in Venice for the premiere of The Laundromat, and in one of them, she states that Let Them All Talk took only thirteen days to shoot.

From Deadline:

Streep marveled of upcoming Soderberg collaboration Let Them All Talk, “Steven and I just finished a film in 13 days. He’s an artist for this time.” Chimed in the director, “Advances in technology have allowed me to optimize a process that I felt wasn’t moving at the pace that was beneficial to the process. Now I can use the camera as a pen essentially and write it in real time. It’ better for me, not for everybody. I found through some unsuccessful endeavors that I work best when I have to work quickly.”

That's wild. I can't help but feel a little skeptical of quality when something that's implied to be feature length is completed so quickly. But I'm trying to keep an open mind. 

I'll be curious to see if this project gets a theatrical release. It culd be be better for Meryl's award chances if it were Emmy-bound, as she'll also have Ryan Murphy's The Prom next year. 

Monday, September 2, 2019

"The Laundromat" premieres at Venice

Yesterday, Steven Soderbergh's Panama Papers comedy The Laundromat premiered at the Venice International Film Festival, and Meryl was on hand for the event:

Looking stunning as usual. There are close to a dozen reviews for the film already counted so far, and in general, the responses are decent. Its score on Metacritic is only 59 with eleven reviews, while at 58% on Rotten Tomatoes, with twelve. Hopefully the score goes up a bit in the next few weeks. While Meryl is getting good notices, her chances for awards recognition go down if the film isn't as well-received.  

Next up is the Toronto International Film Festival later this week. The film will be in select theaters September 27, and will be available to stream on Netflix on October 18. 

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Trailer for "The Laundromat" revealed

A trailer for The Laundromat has finally been released:

My first impression is that it's even quirkier than I'd expected. When the film's festival schedule was announced, I was surprised that it was described as a comedy. Based on the story, I had expected this to be a very serious picture. But it looks like it's going to be much more along the lines of Soderbergh's other films like the Ocean trilogy and The Informant!, as the trailer notes.

It's definitely not a glamorous role for Meryl, and I'm sure we'll see some deeper scenes than the trailer suggests. It looks fun and colorful, but maybe too campy for the Academy?

It'll be very interesting when reactions come out after the Venice premiere this weekend.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Netflix nails down release dates for "The Laundromat"

Ahead of its world premiere next week at the Venice Film Festival, Netflix has solidified the theatrical and streaming release dates for the The Laundromat and other films:

I had been under the impression that the film wasn't set for release until late October or early November. Excited to learn that we can see Meryl in theaters again in just one month!

Now can we get a friggin' trailer?

Monday, August 26, 2019

Martin Scorsese film likely not a thing

Last fall, I had posted news of an interview that had come out in Marie Claire magazine, where Sharon Stone discussed an upcoming project she was doing with director Martin Scorsese and Meryl. At the time, it was a bit confusing and difficult to get a sense of whether this was actually a thing. IMDb continues to list it as an upcoming project.

Well, when we found out that Sharon Stone is also in The Laundromat, someone on Awards Watch pointed out that the project Sharon Stone was talking about with Meryl was most likely The Laundromat, while the project with Scorsese was a Bob Dylan documentary, which came out this summer.

Here's is the original quote:

Stone began by talking about her latest project, a create-your-own-murder-mystery called Mosaic with Steven Soderbergh, as well as her new secret Netflix project with Meryl Streep and Martin Scorsese. Literally, it's so secret all we know is that it's a docu-drama that's not about Stone, but not not about Stone, as she's a character. "I'm gonna blow it if I keep talking. It is about one of my favorite people, and someone who is one of your favorite people, so it's gonna be good." I have a lot of favorite people, Sharon! Give me a hint or two.

After reading this again, and knowing that Stone was indeed involved in the Dylan project with Scorsese, it seems so obvious that it was just a reporting error, and no such project with Streep, Stone, and Scorsese was or is planned. 

Not that we'd be against there being one in the future, however. 

Monday, August 19, 2019

"Let Them All Talk" lands at HBO Max

Just a few days after it was announced that Meryl was already in the filming process of another Steven Soderbergh film, multiple sources are reporting today that the yet-to-debut streaming platform HBO Max has landed distribution rights to the film.

Let Them All Talk (which is apparently a working title) centers on a celebrated author (Streep) who goes on a trip with two girlfriends (Dianne Wiest and Candace Bergin) to have some fun and heal old wounds. Lucas Hedges apparently plays Meryl's nephew, who strikes up a relationship with Gemma Chen's character, a literary agent.

This too is listed as a comedy. My understanding is that although it is on a television streaming device, it is a feature film that would likely go the way of Netflix original films--meaning they'll have a limited release in theaters and be eligible for Academy Award consideration. Although I don't know if that is set in stone.

Filming is currently underway in New York and will then reportedly move to the Queen Mary 2 cruise ship, and then the United Kingdom. 

No release dates have yet been mentioned. 

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Streep to team with Soderbergh (again) on "Let Them All Talk"

According to The Playlist, Meryl is in the process of filming a "secret" movie with director Steven Soderbergh entitled Let Them All Talk. Very little is known as of yet, other than that the one other actor is Gemma Chan (Crazy Rich Asians), and the film is shooting for a few days in New York before setting off to a remote overseas location.

Wow, this info seems so unexpected and obscure. By the way it's reported, it sounds like it's a feature narrative film, and they're shooting it on some brand new type of digital camera called the RED Komodo Dragon. It's hard to get too excited when we don't have any idea of what type of character Meryl is playing, nor what the story is about.

Evidently they're expecting a bidding war for which studio or platform will land distribution rights.

Meryl just keeps on truckin' along.


Tuesday, August 13, 2019

First trailer for "Little Women"

Sony has released the first trailer for Greta Gerwig's upcoming adaptation of Little Women:

At first gander, the cinematography is gorgeous, and the performances seem like they're going to be strong. It's definitely got a timely bent, with a focus on the vitality and viability of women as individuals.

Meryl is featured more prominently as Aunt March than I expected, and her line "That's because I'm rich," I'm sure will have fans buzzing.

Some early reports from screenings have suggested that Timothée Chalamet's interpretation of Laurie seems too contemporary. But from what I've seen in the trailer, he didn't seem to negatively stand out in that way.

The film opens nationwide on Christmas Day.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Eight years of Word on the Streep

Hard to believe it's been eight years since my first post! As I do each year on the anniversary of the start of this blog, I'd like to give a great big thank-you to any and all readers. I hope everyone enjoys reading half as much as I enjoy the writing.

It's a been a great year to be a Meryl fan! Big Little Lies recently finished, and we have both The Laundromat and Little Women coming out in just a few months (the trailer for Little Women happens to come out tomorrow by the way). And then Meryl will begin filming The Prom around December. She's looking to be in the conversation for awards attention for both The Laundromat and Big Little Lies. It'll be a fun winter!

Thanks again, everyone!

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

David Holmes to score "The Laundromat"

It was reported yesterday that composer David Holmes will provide the score for Steven Soderbergh's upcoming Panama Papers dark comedy, The Laundromat. Holmes previously worked on Soderbergh's "Ocean Trilogy" (Ocean's Eleven, Ocean's Twelve and Ocean's Thirteen).  He also currently scores the hit BBC thriller, Killing Eve.

The Laundromat is set for its world premiere at the Venice International Film Festival in just a few short weeks, where it will be shown in competition.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Streep to go supporting for "The Laundromat" after all?

Awards prognosticator Clayton Davis from Awards Circuit tweeted this yesterday regarding Meryl's category placement for The Laundromat:

While historically Davis isn't necessarily super reliable with info such as this, some at Awards Watch are suggesting that he's correct, in that he may be privy to Netflix's official submission plans.

Supporting seems the more likely category for Meryl, considering what we've heard so far of her screen time and the overall length of the film. This placement also makes it more likely that she'll actually be nominated.

Might we see Meryl up against Laura Dern for both TV and movie awards next year (both for their work in Big Little Lies and Dern for her supporting role in Noah Baumbach's upcoming Marriage Story)?

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

"Big Little Lies" season 3?

From the moment they announced there was going to be a second season of Big Little Lies, my assumption has been that this was it. The first season was to be a limited series, as the story was based on Liane Moriarty's novel of the same name. But after the enormous success of that project, there was a call for more--from fans, and likely the actors involved as well.

I'm thrilled that (for the most part) the second season was very well-received, considering Meryl was a big part of it. But the season was an afterthought, really. Moriarty wrote a 100-page novella as the template for the second season. That was then drafted into a script which gave us the seven-episode second iteration of the series. And now we have a drama series, rather than a limited series.

HBO executives have stated that the likelihood is very low that a third season will happen, which I totally expected. There have, however, been a few blurbs recently from producers/stars Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon, stating that the they don't want to answer every question about what the cliffhanger from the season two finale means. "A little mystery," as Kidman suggests, is good, especially if they cook up that third season to answer those pesky curiosities.

I still think it's less than a 10% chance that it'll happen. Even if they have more to tell in the story and it gets green-lit (which shouldn't be a problem considering how popular the show is), the bigger obstacle would be getting all the starts on board again. And of course, we don't even know if Meryl's character would be a part of that third season story.

But you never know...

Friday, July 26, 2019

Streep to receive Tribute Actor Award at TIFF

Meryl is just always in the news these days. Several sources are reporting that she will be the recipient of Toronto International Film Festival's Tribute Actor Award.

From TIFF:

Meryl Streep is undoubtedly one of the most talented and versatile actors of her generation,” TIFF co-head Joana Vicente said in a statement. “Her tremendous contribution to cinema, television, and the stage spans five decades; from her early roles in “The Deer Hunter,” “Kramer vs. Kramer,” and “Sophie’s Choice” to later films including “The Devil Wears Prada,” “The Iron Lady,” and “The Post,” she has portrayed characters that are as compelling as they are timeless. TIFF could not be more thrilled to honor such a skilled and exemplary artist.

The award will be given during a gala event on September 9. I'm guessing that she will be in attendance for it. The Laundromat is set for its North American premiere at the festival, which runs September 5-15. 

It seems the campaign is already on. 

Thursday, July 25, 2019

"The Laundromat" also heading to Venice

Just a couple days after the announcement that The Laundromat will be shown at the Toronto International Film Festival in September, multiple sources are reporting today that the film will also be shown in competition at the Venice Film Festival. Venice runs from August 28-September 7, so technically, the world premiere might actually be there? No word yet on which day the film will be shown for each festival. 

Also, and to my great surprise, the sources reporting this morning's news are describing The Laundromat as a "dark comedy." I was not expecting that at all. Apparently Meryl's character sort of unearths the tax-avoidance scheme of Mossack-Fonseca. The fact that it apparently will have some light-heartedness to it is actually kind of refreshing, considering how dry the tagline sort of reads.

Are we not going to get at least a teaser trailer beforehand?!

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

"The Laundromat" to premiere in Toronto

Multiple sources are reporting today that Steven Soderbergh's Netflix drama The Laundromat will premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, as one of its "Special Presentations." We also got our first official still from the movie, with Meryl in a solo pic:

We still don't really know how big Meryl's role is going to be in this film. It seems likely that it's more than a glorified cameo, considering she's always listed first when the film is discussed in print. The fact that she's also the one shown in the first official still, maybe she's actually going to be closer to lead?  That would be amazing and exciting. Regardless, it's fun to know we'll have reactions and/or reviews from the film in just about six weeks. 

TIFF runs from September 5-15, and The Laundromat is set for release in theaters and on Netflix on November 1. 

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Episode 7 of "Big Little Lies"

That's it, folks. Seven weeks never went so fast, and with it, the second season of Big Little Lies is in the history books.

They didn't waste any time getting to the scene we were all waiting for. Celeste went at Mary Louise hard on the witness stand, painting her as the genesis for why her son Perry turned into the monster he was. It was probably predictable that Celeste would get custody, but I found it nerve-wracking regardless. I have to admit that I started to feel an ounce of sympathy for Mary Louise--a credit to Meryl of course, when she started to feel the guilt of her responsibility in how she raised her son. The part where Max and Josh were sent over to give her a hug after the judgement put a little knot in my throat.

Thank God Ed and Madeline just buried the hatchet already. Glad to see that Renata dumped Gordon, and Jane looks like she might be happy to pursue things with Corey. I was totally ready to see a scene at the end where Bonnie drives herself off the road, or Mary Louise sees her in the car and runs her off the road or tries to crash into her, killing herself and Bonnie in the process. Instead, we see the Monterey Five respond to Bonnie's text and join her in walking into the police department, no doubt to confess and bring some closure to all.

The ending leaves things open for a third season, and there are reports recently of Nicole Kidman saying she'd be up for it, but I don't see it happening. HBO bosses have already gone on record saying it's unlikely. Honestly, I wouldn't mind seeing this show continue, but the cast probably just won't be able to all get together to make it happen, even if they all had interest. And Meryl likely wouldn't really be involved regardless.

Wild to think that it will be a year before we know how it fares for Emmy nominations. But there are of course the Golden Globe and SAG award noms coming up in just over four months!

I'll leave everyone with this little gem of an exchange between Meryl and the great Laura Dern:

Monday, July 15, 2019

Episode 6 of "Big Little Lies"

Only one left. The latest episode essentially revolved around the unfolding custody battle between Celeste and Mary Louise. I have to admit, I was pretty uncomfortable for much of the episode. The entire time Celeste was on the stand was a wrenching display of victim and slut-shaming, and Nicole Kidman's negotiation of those emotions and her reactions to the dick lawyer were painfully wonderful. I suspect that I'm not alone in the ever-increasing contempt I have for Meryl's character. Her smug looks and shameless exploitation of an abused woman (the mother of her grandchildren, by the way) just make me want to walk up to her and say something nasty. Jane had the same feeling, apparently, as she showed up at Mary Louise's door and basically hollered, "Call this off you crazy bitch."

I thought Zoë Kravitz did a nice job in the scene where she tells her presumably sleeping mother that she killed Perry. I'm not a big fan of the storyline with her mom, but it helps give some background on why she pushed him and why she's struggled so much with the aftermath. I'm totally bored with Madeline and Ed's marital woes. They're having the same conversation nine different ways and they're both just getting annoying. Either break up or have a crazy makeup fuck, already. And poor Renata takes another hit from her slimeball husband, who evidently forgot to mention that in addition to squandering their fortune, he was sleeping with the nanny.

Next week of course is the season (and likely series) finale, and we'll get to see Celeste scrutinize Mary Louise's fitness for custody, as she interrogates her mother-in-law on the stand. It's going to be TV gold, and hopefully it gives Meryl an opportunity to shine, as well as provide the viewers with a few more answers as to why she is the way that she is.

Six weeks has flown by!

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Positive reactions to test screenings of "Little Women"

My go-to for film news, Awards Watch, has been buzzing today with news that there have a been a couple of screenings of Greta Gerwig's upcoming adaptation of Little Women. Meryl of course has a small role in the film as Aunt March. Most recently on Monday, the film was screened in Los Angeles to favorable reactions. I found a blog called World of Reel that evidently has access to those reactions (whether they're from Twitter users or whatever, but we'll assume the people actually saw the movie).

Big takeaways for me were that Saoirse Ronan is great (shocking), Florence Pugh is best in show at Amy, and Timothée Chalamet is good, but possibly a little too modern-seeming. No word on Meryl, but again, she's got a bit part. Gerwig's direction is praised, as well as the score by frequent Oscar contender Alexandre Desplat. There are rumors that Emma Watson is the weak link, with some even going so far as to say that some of Laura Dern's scenes were cut because they were mostly with Watson. That could be hyperbole, however, and time will tell as always.

Little Women opens Christmas Day.

Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Saoirse Ronan, and Eliza Scanlen

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Episode 5 of "Big Little Lies"

Ugh, I hate cliffhangers. Let's just start with that last scene. Bonnie's really struggling and we see her at the end approaching the police station. Then out comes Corey, the guy Jane is seeing, and they lock eyes. The way Corey was leaving the station, I got the impression that he was being interrogated, but he could also be undercover?

It didn't really seem like all that much happened in this episode, but it was more of a setting up week for the big drama to finally unfold. Celeste and Mary Louise are in the thick of the custody battle now, and it's looking more like grandma might have a chance at partial custody. This was probably the least screen time Meryl had in any of the episodes. I was wishing to have a better back and forth in her scene with Laura Dern (Renata), but it just turned out being Mary Louise interrupting with snide comments about Renata's lack of furniture. I hope there's another layer that Meryl is yet to show in the last two episodes.

Shailene Woodley continues to impress. Her scene with Corey where she breaks down was pretty touching, and it will make it all the more powerful if it turns out the Corey is somehow a plant for the police. And what the hell was with the scene at the bar with Ed and Tori? Are she and Joseph trying to have a threeway? Or is it just some weird revenge thing that Tori wants because Madeline slept with her husband? 

Several unanswered questions in this episode, and although I think it was my least favorite, it's the most excited I've been to see the next one, because I want some answers!

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Episode 4 of "Big Little Lies"


Nicole Kidman's left hand may be the MVP of episode four. Within the first ten minutes, Meryl's character, Mary Louise, shows up unannounced to a pumpkin-carving party and says some things that would make even Mother Teresa want to take a whack. Mary Louise continues to try to infiltrate the lives of both her daughter-in-law (Celeste) and her newly-discovered grandson (Ziggy), by renting an apartment in the same building as Ziggy's mother, Jane. Bonnie is worried that Mary Louise suspects her in Perry's death (based on a "look") and Renata and Madeline continue their seemingly losing battle within their marriages. 

"Foreplay?" What a bitch. That was a pretty quick synopsis, but the thrust of tonight's episode involves Mary Louise's machinations to secure custody of her grandchildren. Following Celeste's car accident, the discovery of multiple prescription pill bottles, the slap, and ultimately walking in on Celeste in a post-coital Ambien hangover, Mary Louise is ripe to strike. Although we realize Streep's character is a total opportunistic loon, it's difficult to disagree with her concerns for the boys when considering it from the perspective of the other characters. Her brief scene with Shailene Woodley (Jane) was again packed with a lot of dramatic punch. 

Meryl had a lot of screen time this episode. I'm still expecting her to go supporting for Emmy consideration, but at this point, I don't think it would be out of the realm of possibility to see her fielded in lead. Could that be a thing? Imagine Reese Witherspoon, Kidman and Streep all nominated in lead and Dern, Woodley and maybe Kravitz nommed in supporting.

I'm enjoying every minute of season two. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Streep to star in Ryan Murphy's "Prom"

It seemed like only a matter of time before Meryl and Ryan Murphy were able to join forces for a project. Looks like that's about to happen, as Deadline is reporting that Murphy will be producing and directing a feature film adaptation for Netflix of the Tony-nominated musical, The Prom, to be retitled simply, Prom. Streep would play the lead Dee Dee Allen and is to be joined by James Corden, Nicole Kidman, Andrew Rannells, Ariana Grande, Awkwafina, and Keegan-Michael Key.

The synopsis as described by Deadline reads:

~In Prom, Streep will play Dee Dee Allen, a two-time Tony winner who teams with Corden’s Barry Glickman in a flop musical about Eleanor Roosevelt. After career-ending reviews, they decide — along with Broadway babies Kidman as Angie Dickinson and Rannells (Book of Mormon) as Trent Oliver — to champion a cause to rehabilitate their careers. They find one in Emma, a high school senior in Indiana who isn’t allowed to take her girlfriend to the prom. A nationwide search led by casting director Alexa Fogel is on to fill the role of Emma.~

This could be good! I have to admit that I had never heard of this musical. It apparently just opened last fall but was nominated for like seven Tony Awards. Streep's role will definitely be a lead performance. The cast, as expected in any Murphy project, is diverse, and this may be the first time Meryl's love interest is a person of color (Key)?

More details are sure to come in the near future, but filming is expected to get underway this December for a late 2020 release. 

Love new project announcements!

Streep, Kidman, & Murphy

Monday, June 24, 2019

Episode 3 of "Big Little Lies"

Well, the drama continues. Tensions are running high in Monterey and few people are happy. Mary Louise is being her creepy self and going as far as to show up at Jane's (Shailene Woodley) place of work to ask about her "encounter" with her son. A paternity test?! "Take a hike, bitch!" is what I'd probably say if I were in Jane's shoes. Mary Louise's behavior is classic victim blaming, and Meryl is making it very difficult to feel sympathetic for her. But I have to say her character is showcasing an interesting history of what kind of home Perry may have grown up in.

I think the show is doing a good job of showing how moving on from an abusive relationship isn't as easy is it may seem. Celeste (Nicole Kidman) is struggling with missing Perry, and with the help of her therapist trying to get past the feelings of emptiness she has now that her husband is dead...even if he used to beat the shit out of her. Madeline (Reese Witherspoon) and Ed (Adam Scott) even get into the therapy act, after Madeline had revealed her infidelity to him last episode.

With all the grieving going on, it can get a little heavy-handed. But thanks to the spectacular Laura Dern, we're getting a bit of comic relief with how over-the-top ridiculous Renata is. From insisting her daughter be transferred to Stanford hospital for an anxiety attack, to calling someone a "pussfuck," there were several times I laughed out loud at how derailed she lets herself get. And that alligator blazer! She was my favorite this week (aside from Meryl every week. of course).

Hard to believe that after next week the season will already be more than half over!

Saturday, June 22, 2019

The big 7-0

Happy birthday to our favorite! Today is a milestone for an iconic woman, who, through the sheer force of her talent, has almost single-handedly rewritten what it means to be an actress in Hollywood over the age of 40. Even twenty years ago, it seemed almost impossible that someone in her demographic could consistently be afforded the opportunity to turn out amazing performance after amazing performance. Thankfully, it's not just Meryl anymore. Ever increasingly, we are seeing women of all ages portrayed in complex roles, especially with the television renaissance of the past decade. It's fitting that as Meryl turns 70 this weekend, she's currently showcased in one of the most popular television series of the past five years, receiving some of the best reviews she has this century.

Is it wrong to think that 70 is still young? When it comes to Meryl's screen work, I hope not.

Here's to another 30 years of wowing us (I'll maybe be OK if she wants to retire at 100)!

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

First look at "Little Women"

Vanity Fair has released an article with our first look at multiple production still from the filming of Little Women. I've included some of the best below:

Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Saoirse Ronan & Eliza Scanlen

Saoirse Ronan & Timothée Chalamet

Director Greta Gerwig with Meryl Streep

Eliza Scanlen

Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Saoirse Ronan & Eliza Scanlen

The photos looks stunning, and they bode well for the film's Oscar chances in costume design and possibly production design. Looking forward to the teaser in a few weeks!

Monday, June 17, 2019

Episode 2 of "Big Little Lies"

OK, so a lot of heavy shit went down this episode. The biggest thing is probably that Jane and Celeste end up telling their kids that Perry is Ziggy's dad. Bonnie's basically suffering from post-traumatic stress, so Nathan asks her mom to come out and help. Her mom is pretty in tune with what's wrong with Bonnie, and she's apparently some kind of like witch doctor who's using crystals to help her troubled daughter. Madeline confesses to Ed that she had an affair (thanks to the second time in two days one of her daughter gets a little loose with her language). Renata's dick husband has allegedly squandered all their money on some risky business venture, and we get to see pretty clearly what's behind her motivation for success.

And then of course, there's Mary Louise. She gets creepier by the minute. She's also sort of an awful person, if we didn't already realize that. After hearing the painful revelation from Celeste that Perry was physically abusive, instead of being sympathetic, caring and a listener, Mary Louise can do nothing but deny the possibility that her son could have been that way and that he could have raped someone as well. Essentially it's an exercise in denial, and Meryl plays it well, in that I wanted to reach through my TV and slap Mary Louise into reality.

Shailene Woodley was best in show for me tonight. The scene where she's telling Ziggy the truth about his father--it was pretty easy to feel her pain, and I thought she did a wonderful job conveying that.

With all this stuff out in the open already in week two, there's a pretty solid framework for a five more episodes of conflict. Fifty minutes never went by so fast...

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Teaser for "Little Women" coming in July

Film Updates is reporting that a teaser trailer for Greta Gerwig's remake of Little Women will be attached to Quentin Tarantino's film Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. The film opens in theaters on July 26.

We can probably expect to see only a tiny snippet of Meryl, as it's just a teaser and she likely has a rather small role.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Episode 1 of "Big Little Lies"

I'm writing this literally five minutes after having watched the first episode of season 2 of HBO's Big Little Lies. Spoiler alert if you plan to watch and don't want details. Historically I'm pretty bad at accurately describing everything I think or feel about a Streep performance very shortly after seeing it, but I also think there's something good about a fresh reaction. So please bare with me and my tendency to ramble.

Suffice it to say, Meryl has done it again. She's managed to surprise me. I pictured the character of Mary Louise Wright as someone a little bit "off," and I think I'm right in that respect. But Meryl figures out a way to undermine our suspicions and expectations of who we think a character is going to be in the first few scenes. There's an unsettling quirkiness about Mary Louise as she settles in Monterey to get to the bottom of how her son died. At the same time, she's the most put-together and in control of anyone in the town. There are enough glints, however, of her own (obviously mistaken) perception of her son, and how that opinion will shape her need for answers.

Basically, the first episode showcases how Bonnie is struggling with the fact that she's killed Perry by pushing him down the stairs to save Celeste. Celeste is having nightmares, and OMG all I could think about seeing Nicole Kidman with Meryl was how fucking awkward it would be to have to be hugged by the mother of your abusive dead husband, especially when that woman happens to be a little cuckoo (see scream scene). Madeline is maddeningly able to just seemingly move on fret about forcing her daughter to go to college, while Renata is not-so-politely instructing a super sexy teacher on how to educate her daughter. Jane's got a romance brewing with a co-worker and is refusing to accept estate checks from Celeste (since Perry was Ziggy's biological father).

I like how the directing seems to be consistent with the style of the first season. It would have been strange to feel like it was a completely different mood. Andrea Arnold has done a great job of maintaining that feel, as well as fashion a sort of melancholy tone for what's supposed to be an angsty return to the first day of school for the Monterey Five--contrasting that with the necessity for the moms to put on a show of normalcy.

As it stands Sunday night, the second season is at a whopping 97% on Rotten Tomatoes and 82 on Metacritic. Both of those scores are higher than the very well-received first season, but could possibly go down a smidge as more reviews come in.

Two years ago I binge-watched the entire first season in one day on the advice of my friend Scooter. I'm mad I have to wait seven days to see episode two and six more tortuous weeks for the whole story. But it'll be fun taking in the slow burn of all the fun twists and turns that the show and Mary Louise have in store as season unfolds.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

First reviews of "Big Little Lies" cite Streep as standout

We're exactly a week away from the debut of the first episode of season 2 of Big Little Lies. A couple of days ago, reviews started to come in from critics, whom I believe were made privy to the first two episodes. The general consensus is that the second season is very good. More excitingly, Streep is being singled out for Emmy love in most accounts I've read. Not that this is particularly shocking...Meryl is usually best in show. But up alongside the likes of Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon and and Laura Dern, it's still a tall task to stand out.

There are only five official reviews on both Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic, but the season is charting at 80% on RT and whopping 81 on MC. Certainly we'll get more reviews once the show actually airs and everyone gets to see all the episodes. But so far, things look pretty promising for how viewers are going to react to the quality of round two of the series. 

Can't wait 'til next weekend!

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Streep attends premiere of season 2 of "Big Little Lies"

Along with the rest of the cast, Meryl walked the red carpet at the premiere of season 2 of Big Little Lies last night in New York City.

Looking lovely as always. I was also happy to find a video of a panel she was part of earlier in the day with costars Reese Witherspoon, Laura Dern and Nicole Kidman. The best I could find was the Facebook feed from The Wing's page. Nothing on YouTube I'm able to embed unfortunately, so click on the link below. Some wonderful pearls of wisdom from the ladies of Monterey. Don't worry, it's only sideways for the first couple minutes:

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

The men of "Big Little Lies" talk season 2

Jeffrey Nordling, James Tupper and Adam Scott stopped by Good Morning America the other day to discuss the upcoming season of Big Little Lies. Normally I wouldn't post a video like the one below, but they talk about Meryl a bunch, so thought I should share. My favorite little snippet comes at 1:52. Enjoy.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Streep to narrate "Charlotte's Web"

People has announced that Streep will be the first to record a narration of E.B. White's Charlotte's Web since the author did so way back in 1970. I normally don't get too into Meryl's audio work, but this book was my favorite growing up, later followed by a wonderful animated feature starring the voice talents of Debbie Reynolds.

According to the article, Streep will lead a full cast of voices for the audiobook. I didn't see why they're re-recording the novel at this point. Perhaps they thought fifty years was long enough between versions.  The book is set for release by Listening Library this October.

Friday, May 17, 2019

New look to Word on the Streep!

Happy Friday, everyone. I've been kind of itching to switch up the look of the blog a little. So as I'm sure you've noticed if you've ever visited before, the layout has changed. This is probably the third or fourth(?) iteration of the blog's background since I started it in 2011. I just chose one of the simple options Blogger has to offer, and I have to say I enjoy how clean and easy to read all the fonts are. 

You might also notice that I've added a couple of new items off to the right. There's a list of the most-visited posts from the last year, as well as a translate button for those who may prefer to read the blog in a non-English language. Blame Google if it doesn't translate well, but I expect it will be adequate. 

Hope you like the new look!

Friday, May 10, 2019

New trailer for season 2 of "Big Little Lies"

HBO has released a second, full trailer for the upcoming season of Big Little Lies:

This trailer is juicier and showcases how on edge the "Monterey Five" are following Perry's death. A detective is on the case, and more importantly of course Meryl's character is particularly skeptical of how everything went down. She gets a little prickly with Nicole Kidman and I like how she sneers "You left that out, too." We don't know where Mary Louise is getting her info (maybe the detective), but it makes for good drama. 

Can't wait for when this returns on June 9!

Monday, May 6, 2019

Meryl continues to trend top five for Best Supporting Actress predictions

Exactly two months ago, I posted that Meryl had cracked the top five for Best Supporting Actress on my go-to site for Oscar predictions, Awards Watch. Fast forward to today and she's maintained her position at #5 for her role in director Steven Soderbergh's Panama Papers drama for Netflix, The Laundromat. The entire top five is as follows:

1. Margot Robbie (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood)
2. Annette Bening (The Report)
3. Scarlett Johansson (Jojo Rabbit)
4. Laura Dern (Untitled Noah Baumbach Project)
5. Meryl Streep (The Laundromat)

The one change from two months ago is that Laura Dern was in third, but for Little Women (another Meryl movie btw).  I don't know much about the Noah Baumbach project, other than that Dern is apparently supposed to have meaty role, and that of course it's still untitled. Incidentally, her role as Marmee in Little Women is now listed in sixth place.  

I find it a little bit strange that we still don't have an official release date for The Laundromat, but I assume that will be decided within the next month or two. I feel like I read somewhere that there was to be a test screening last week, but haven't been able to find any further info on it. Perhaps after they get some early audience feedback they'll be able to figure out when best to give the film a limited release in theaters. That release will be necessary for it to be eligible at the Oscars, since its main venue for viewers will of course be Netflix.  

Monday, April 29, 2019

New pics from "Big Little Lies"

We're under the six week mark! Game of Thrones is definitely tying me over until June (OMG did you watch last night?!), but season 2 of Big Little Lies is set for its return on Sunday, June 9. A few new stills were released today. I'm only posting the one of Meryl as "Mary Louise."  Click here to check out all eleven with a little snippet from Entertainment Weekly. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Why Do We Love Meryl Streep?

The answer to the title's question could be harder to answer than you might think. When people are surprised to learn that I have a blog about Meryl Streep, the typical question is "what do you like so much about her?" It's easy to say I like her movies, or just think that she's a great actress. But of course it goes further than that. The combination of skill and being able to tap into the humanity of characters, and then somehow managing to display that in a way that draws in viewers is probably the grandest appeal for me. I love her versatility. I love her humor. I love that she's a thinker, a person of the world. I love that she doesn't always do a great job of pretending she's not the best. I love that she sees people.

So when I came across this new video that was posted Friday, I was so pleased to see someone cogently break down what it really is about Meryl that makes her such a big deal to a lot of people. You have to watch:

Kudos to 'Be Kind Rewind' for this great video. We get a good background on beginnings in the theater and how it all went back to the fact that she's just a very skilled actor. People can scoff at her frequent implementation of accents, but I agree with Meryl that if you're playing someone else, how can you do that and always sound like yourself? Also, as she says, "if you capture someone's speech, you capture them."

One other thing I really enjoyed about this video is the comparison done between Meryl and some of her peers. We all know there's is always a paucity of great roles for women, especially over the age of 40. With Meryl's versatility, she's managed to avoid being typecast. I've heard her say that this was a conscious effort on her part, so as to maintain a enduring career. Of course she first has to possess the ability to perform in a variety of roles, but she's never been boxed into "the Meryl Streep role," with maybe the exception of someone who often plays a character who doesn't sound like herself.

Overall a great take on Meryl as a person and as an actor. She's carved out a niche for herself as both a revered artist as well as a box office powerhouse. Here's hoping she's got even more up her sleeve as she enters her eighth decade!

Sunday, April 21, 2019

New footage of Meryl in "Big Little Lies"

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

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

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

Sunday, April 14, 2019

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

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

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

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

Season 2 debuts on Sunday, June 9.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Alexandre Desplat to score "Little Women"

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

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

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

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Shoulda Coulda Wouldas #15: "Feud"

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

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

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

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

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


Wednesday, March 27, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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