Sunday, December 26, 2021

"Don't Look Up" tops streaming lists

Two days after its release to Netflix, Don't Look Up is the most-streamed movie in the world, according to Flix Patrol.  

It's great to see the film hitting the ground running. After so many tepid reviews from critics, the buzz seemed to take a pretty big hit. Now, it seems to be everywhere you look on social media. My husband and I watched it together last night. He doesn't really like most movies, but he was laughing regularly and thought it was "good."  Trust me, he wouldn't spare my feelings just because Meryl's in it. 

The positive audience reactions make me think this will do much better with televised awards bodies than it did with critics. I still don't think Meryl's going to make the cut for Supporting Actress, but Picture seems very realistic. I really hope the film snags that top nod, as it would make it three of the last five years that Meryl has been in a film nominated for Best Picture. 

We'll get more definitive numbers on the movies streaming performance in a couple days. Hope everyone had a good Christmas!

Sunday, December 19, 2021

Results of Poll #12

It's been three weeks since I posted the poll asking which nominations folks thought Don't Look Up might snag at the Oscars. Well, things have changed a bit since that post...namely, the film was seen by a lot of people. Were I to create the same poll now, I expect the results would be much different. At the time, most people (myself included) thought Meryl stood a decent chance at a nomination for Actress in a Supporting Role. That just happened to be the number-one selection in the poll at 14%. After the film's tepid reviews, I think her chances are extremely thin. But after the Golden Globe and Critics Choice nominations, it's not wild to think the film itself, Leonardo DiCaprio, and original song might crack their respective categories. Full results are as below:

Monday, December 13, 2021

"Don't Look Up" nabs nominations for Golden Globes, Critics Choice Awards. No Meryl.

The newly "revamped" Hollywood Foreign Press Association announced its nominations for the Golden Globe Awards this morning. While Meryl was left off the list, it was nice to see that Don't Look Up managed to snag four nods:

Best Motion Picture-Musical or Comedy
Best Screenplay
Best Actress-Musical or Comedy (Jennifer Lawrence)
Best Actor-Musical or Comedy (Leonardo DiCaprio)

The Critics Choice Awards sort of feels like it wants to take the Globes' place, and even though the Globes won't have their show televised this year, they still feel more important. Regardless, Don't Look Up is up for six there:

Best Picture
Best Acting Ensemble (so Meryl's kind of nominated here ha)
Best Original Screenplay
Best Comedy
Best Song
Best Score

I was surprised to see DiCaprio not make it for Actor with Critics Choice, considering they have six nominees. Nicholas Cage was a surprise there for Pig. They're going to hold their ceremony on January 9, the same day the Globes will announce their winners. There is no confirmation yet on exactly how the Hollywood Foreign Press plans to do that. 

Despite the mixed reviews, it's nice to see that the film looks like it'll be a contender at the Oscars for some of the major categories, particularly Best Picture, Original Screenplay, and Original Song. SAG nominations don't come out for another month (January 12), and Oscar nominations will be announced February 8. 

The full list of Globe nominees can be seen here, with Critics Choice here

Sunday, December 12, 2021

Film review: "Don't Look Up" (2021)

After the less than stellar reviews that have been piling up this week for Don't Look Up, I went into the theater Friday afternoon a little concerned that I'd have a hard time objectively assessing my reaction to it. I had such optimistic expectations as recently as Tuesday. But I didn't want to let that get in the way, so I weathered a snowstorm to and from the theater and did my best to pretend it was just any other movie. I'm pretty sure I succeeded. 

By now most of us know that the story follows astronomers Kate Dibiasky (Jennifer Lawrence) and Dr. Randall Mindy (Leonardo DiCaprio) as they attempt to warn the world that the comet they discovered is going to collide with Earth. Meryl plays the president of the United States, whose preoccupation with polls, appearances, and power screen her from reacting with the urgency and intelligence necessary to save the planet. 

I'll admit that the first twenty to thirty minutes of the movie felt a little hectic (not just because the plot involved a hectic and stressful discovery), in that the scenes seemed to shift tone a little too rapidly, and the editing didn't give me a chance to appreciate any kind of real feeling for what the main characters were up against. This cooled down a little when I settled into a sense of irritation at how much of a blockade there was to simply explaining to the people in power what was going on. This was a combination of the inability of the scientists to concisely explain things in laymen's terms, as well as the government officials' banal approach to listening. It was eerily and maddeningly representative of what the onset of the pandemic felt like every time I read or watched the news (I know, first mistake). I realize that this script was originally intended to parallel the climate crisis (and it still is), but the parallels with Covid felt particularly prescient, even now. Especially now. 

Cate Blanchett plays TV host Bree Evante, a Fox News-like android of a person with her blazingly white teeth, blonde hair, and hot bod. She sparks an affair with Dr. Mindy, and pretty much becomes an easy character to despise. She did a great job. As did Mark Rylance as the tech CEO at superdonor to President Orlean. His bleaty voice was super creepy and effective, and I thought he was second-best in show. Tops for me was DiCaprio, whom we never get to see play the anxious nerd. He always comes across as such a cool guy, and his characters are typically important, or suave, or unflappable. Not so with the pill-popping Dr. Mindy, who absolutely made me anxious with his hand-wringing and panting whenever things got heavy. DiCaprio's negotiation of those behaviors was far more nuanced than how I'm explaining them I'm sure, but suffice it to say that he nailed the role and manged to keep me in his corner despite his off-putting idiosyncrasies and poor personal choices. I think he might get nominated. 

Let's chat a bit about Meryl. She's been in the conversation for recognition in the Best Supporting Actress race. Those chances drastically went down following this week's tepid critical reviews. I actually feel a little less bad about the reviews after seeing the movie because, while Meryl is of course excellent, the role doesn't really pack the kind of punch I would expect for her usual nominations. We all know that her role as president Orlean is sort of an amalgam of the last five or six presidents. It's probably disingenuous to suggest that the majority of the traits don't most resemble Trump, but I did appreciate the whole "I need to hide my smoking or it'll hurt me in the polls" thing (which I think was something taken from Obama). Streep's character definitely pissed me off, with her cavalier disregard (thank you, Prada) for the safety of American and world citizens. She and Jonah Hill play off each other pretty well. He plays her son and chief of staff, Jason, whom Hill accurately describes as "if Fyre Festival were a person." His character also awkwardly sexualizes his commander-in-chief mother, something Hill has explained he pulled from Donald Trump's creepy tendency to do so with his own daughter. You can tell Hill and Meryl had a good time with each other, and while not all of the comedy landed for me, I found myself giggling regularly. 


Not my favorite scene but there aren't many out there yet. I told my friend Scooter that I thought the movie improved as it went on. Kate and Dr. Mindy sort of give up on trying to convince the powers that be of the gravity of the situation, and they sort of go rogue in their attempts to warm the world. I don't want to give away any major spoilers, but by the last quarter of the movie, I actually started to feel a bit sad for the characters. Say what you will about some of the unevenness of the screenplay, the dinner table scene with Lawrence, DiCaprio (and his character's wife and sons), Timothée Chalamet and Rob Morgan, was touching, and seemed particularly effective during the holiday season. 

I didn't really have a problem with some of the political bent being a bit on the nose. I suspect there are going to be people who see this film who actually do not realize how it's meant to be an allegory for climate change. It seems like it should be obvious, but sadly, that's the nature of the American movie-goer. Others will bemoan being hit over the head by the film's message of overt inaction on the part of lawmakers. I, for one, don't see much wrong with smugness on the part of a filmmaker when the stakes and level of willful ignorance are equally and dangerously high.

It'll be a toss up whether or not this film sneaks into the top ten for Best Picture. I think director is out of the question. DiCaprio may still has a chance, as mentioned. I'll be interested to see happens with the Golden Globe and Critics Choice nominations Monday morning.  

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

First reviews in for "Don't Look Up"

Welp, this isn't exactly what I expected. Following a handful of screenings and Q&As with the cast over the past couple of weeks, first reactions seemed to be pretty positive for Don't Look Up. I came home from work last night excited to check out the first reviews. Not great. As this goes to post, the film sits at a dismal 51 on Metacritic (22 reviews) and 60% on Rotten Tomatoes (55 reviews). It's possible that the Rotten Tomatoes score will creep up closer to 70% when all is said and done, but either way, these critical reactions don't bode well for it's reward prospects.  

I'd been hoping that Meryl might sneak into the top five of Best Supporting Actress. Now I really don't seen that happening. Even Leonardo DiCaprio is going to struggle to crack the Best Actor race, and what had felt like a foregone conclusion in Best Picture, is now very much in question. Not that it can't still get handful of noms. Director Adam McKay has never been a critical darling, yet has enjoyed great success with Academy voters (see Vice). 

We'll have to wait a while to see how this all pans out. It's a bit of a bummer to say the least. But that's certainly not going to stop me from seeing in the theater Friday!  

Sunday, December 5, 2021

New "Don't Look Up" feature

CBS Sunday Morning released a feature on the upcoming Don't Look Up. Meryl and Leonardo DiCaprio, and separately director Adam McKay, sat down to share some thoughts on the film and its focus on our looming climate crisis. 

Couple of new snippets that I think we haven't seen yet. Meryl's doing a fair amount of campaigning press for this. I think she's doing another Q&A after the film's premiere in New York City today. Love when she's out their promoting her films. And I happened to realize last night, that assuming this film cracks the top ten for a Best Picture Oscar nomination, this will be the third film in the last five years to have done that with Meryl in the cast (after The Post and Little Women). That's a pretty big deal for an actor, regardless of one's age or résumé. 

I believe the review embargo lifts on Tuesday. 

Sunday, November 28, 2021

Poll #12: What Oscar nominations will "Don't Look Up" receive?

We're going to start getting some official reviews of Don't Look Up the first week of December. Early notices look positive, and momentum seems to be building that this could be a serious contender at the Academy Awards. I realize this may be a little early, as most, if not all of us have not yet seen the movie. But part of the fun of awards season is speculation! With that in mind, I'm curious to see where people think this has the best chance for nominations. Early buzz indicates Picture, Director and Actor in a Leading Role (Leonardo DiCaprio) are good bets, with Meryl in Supporting Actress, Mark Rylance or Jonah Hill in Supporting Actor, and Original Song as possibilities as well. 

Would love to see Meryl get nominated in another film that's nominated for Best Picture. Christmas can't come soon enough!

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Positive early reactions to "Don't Look Up"

After a pair of screenings in Los Angeles just before the weekend, we've gotten the first "social media sentiments" about Don't Look Up. There are a lot of tweets I could post, and I don't want to be biased, so I'll just toss out a few that I feel generally represent the reactions from film pundits:

Of course there are a few out there that basically insist that the film is complete trash, but like I said, I think the above handful of reactions is a fair representation of what's out there. Leonardo DiCaprio has the greatest praise as far as the cast. He'll likely be a strong (if somewhat unexpected) contender in Best Actor race. Jennifer Lawrence doesn't get as many positive mentions, but nothing bad. Meryl is getting generally good notices, but nothing earth-shattering. She's got a "decent" chance in this I think for an Oscar nomination. She's certainly going to be in the conversation, especially if once full reviews come out the film is lauded and her performance gets some more specific praise.

I can picture the film landing somewhere in the low 80s on Rotten Tomatoes and low to mid 70s on Metacritic, which should indicate generally positive reviews. If memory serves, the embargo ends on December 7. 

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Full trailer released for "Don't Look Up"

Without further ado:

I found the trailer to be entertaining and a good representation of what me can likely expect the tone of the film to be. Some humorous parts as well, although nothing I found myself laughing out loud at. Jonah Hill's character is going to bug the hell out of me. 

Meryl doesn't actually feature too much in it, and she receives the "...and Meryl Streep" notice at the end of the trailer and new poster (which is pretty good I'd have to say): 

Overall the trailer is strong, and along with the star-studded cast, it should serve the movie well in regard to buzz leading up to the holidays. I'm really looking forward to some critics reactions following screenings later this week. 

Sunday, November 14, 2021

New clip from "Don't Look Up"

There are rumblings that the full trailer for Don't Look Up is going to be released this week. It makes sense considering they're having two well-publicized screenings with Q&As afterward on Wednesday and Thursday. And now we also have an extended clip (sorry, no Meryl):

Jennifer Lawrence comes off a bit camp here, but having read the script, I think that her character's words are used as a sort of meme, and her reaction needed to be pretty over the top. Cate Blanchett is perfectly excruciating as the very done-up anchor, alongside Tyler Perry with their obtuse and rosy spin on what is utterly catastrophic news. 

Looking forward to more soon!


Wednesday, November 10, 2021

New stills of Streep from "Don't Look Up"

There were a handful of new still released today from Don't Look Up, three of which include Meryl:

Meryl with Mark Rylance

Leonardo DiCaprio

Jennifer Lawrence & Dicaprio

It's also been announced that the film will have two separate screenings next week: Wednesday for BAFTA and Thursday for a Netflix event. Both will be in L.A. with Q&As with director Adam McKay, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence and Meryl afterward (Thursday's will also include Jonah Hill apparently). I love these types of panel discussions and I really hope they get posted to video as well!

I have to expect there's going to be a full trailer any day now. 

Monday, November 8, 2021

"Extrapolations" adds five more names to the cast

It just keeps getting bigger and better. Of course I have no idea to what extent all these actors are going to interact with each other, but I've thought for a long time how great it would be if Meryl could work with Edward Norton. Now she may get that chance. Deadline is reporting that Norton, along with Cherry Jones, Keri Russell, Michael Gandolfini and Indira Varma have joined the cast of the Apple TV+ series Extrapoloations. 

All of the new members have a brief character description in the article, which continues to leave Meryl as the only one about whose role we have zero details. Would love if we could get a snippet soon of what we might be able to expect from her character. 

The climate change anthology series is currently in production. 

Norton, Varma, Russell, Jones & Gandolfini

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Snubs #5: "Let Them All Talk"

I can't believe it's been over five years since I've done a post in this tag! Probably a good sign...Meryl usually makes it into the top five for high-profile projects. But thinking about how Golden Globe nominations are now just a week away, it got me to thinking about how little love she was was shown from awards bodies last year with TWO lead roles in contention. 

This post could realistically be about either of the two films in question. Let Them All Talk was a Steven Soderbergh film for HBO which followed a pretentious Pulitzer Prize-winning author as she makes a crossing of the Atlantic with her two college buddies, played by Dianne Wiest and Candice Bergen. The film did well with critics, but of course we don't have box office returns to show because it wasn't really released in theaters. And despite it not perhaps having as large of a platform for getting the most eyeballs on it, I'm fairly shocked it didn't get more traction. 

There was a fair amount of buzz early on about Candice Bergen, as she ended up being a bit of a scene-stealer in the film. That obviously never panned out. Meryl never really got mentioned much for her role. I happen to think it absolutely deserved at least a Golden Globe nomination. last year. It's a subtle, funny, and exquisitely acted part. As usual, Streep does a nice job of making it difficult to remember it's her--which in this case is particularly hard to do, as it might not be difficult to see how she'd conjure up the behavior a pretentious artist. But it's like no other character we've really seen her play, which after forty years isn't easy. And they ad-libbed a lot of their lines!


I have to expect that it's possible that Meryl's better chance with Globe voters might have been with Netflix's The Prom. It wasn't a critics darling, but it was more greatly anticipated considering its star-studded cast and with a director, Ryan Murphy, who's had a lot of success in recent years. Plus, it was a musical! That in itself sometimes feels like it'll be a no-brainer...especially for Meryl. I really thought she was going to get in for it. When I saw that Kate Hudson made it for Music, I honestly wondered if the Hollywood Foreign Press was trying to make some kind of statement by leaving Streep out. 

Alas, she got zilch last year. While The Prom may have been expected to garner the greater batch of nods (for crying out loud even James Corden got nominated at the Globes), I maintain that Streep's greater work was as Alice in Let Them All Talk. Either were deserving for recognition in the Musical/Comedy category, and if she had had only one or the other for voters to choose from, I wonder if she would've been able to secure a greater number of votes.   

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Casting update for "Extrapolations"

This cast just keeps getting more spectatular. Deadline is reporting that four additional members have been added to the roster of Scott Z. Burns's upcoming climate change anthology Extrapolations. Oscar winners Forest Whitaker and Marion Cotillard will be joined by Tobey Maguire and Eiza González in the drama series for Apple TV+.

It was reiterated in the article that production is already underway. The roles of the four new cast members were described as well, but still no info on Meryl's character. I'm hoping it's not a simple little cameo or something. I tend to think that's unlikely if her name was at the top of the list when the news broke last week (even though she's the biggest name).  

With this type of cast assembled, one has to expect that that either the script is incredible, or that there's something important about it that has drawn such big names. It might be a combination of both. Here's hoping in ends up being a big hit. 

Gonzalez, Maguire, Cotillard, Whitaker
Gonzalez, Maguire, Cotillard, Whitaker

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

The state of the race: Supporting Actress

We're heading into November. That means prime Oscar buzz season. All the films have release dates, some are already in theaters (remember those?), and most have had either a full trailer or even clips and reviews released. We're still waiting for a full trailer for Don't Look Up, but considering it's set for a limited theater release in early December prior to its Netflix release on Christmas Eve, I expect it could any time now. 

Which leads me to sizing up Meryl's chances at awards recognition this year. She's almost always in the conversation regardless of the film she's in, but this film has a stellar cast with a director whom the Academy has generally seemed to enjoy. There's been some buzz recently that recent screenings resulted in very positive reactions from critics, but considering no one will be allowed to write official reviews for several weeks, it's hard to know what's true and what's not. 

I tend to think that Don't Look Up could really end up on either end of the spectrum, as far as critical response. If the film is received very well, it could reasonably contend for a Best Picture nomination. I could also see screenplay, as well well as Lead Actor and Actress. Some are saying Jonah Hill and Mark Rylance might challenge for Supporting Actor. One can't help but wonder or even expect that if all goes well, Meryl might enter the top five for Supporting Actress. We haven't seen a lot of the role, but it seems a foregone conclusion at this point that her character of President Orlean is going to channel Donald Trump in some way. This might be a harmful thing for her chances, or potentially her best way forward for a nomination. There are also going to be a ton of other worthy contenders. 

Awards Worthy currently has the following top five in its predictions:

1. Caitriona Balfe (Belfast)

2. Kirsten Dunst (The Power of the Dog)

3. Aunjanue Ellis (King Richard)

4. Ruth Negga (Passing)

5. Judi Dench (Belfast)

While the "experts" at Gold Derby include these:

1. Kirsten Dunst (The Power of the Dog)

2. Ann Dowd (Mass)

3. Aunjanue Ellis (King Richard)

4. Caitriona Balfe (Belfast)

5. Marlee Matlin (CODA)

It's natural to think that Meryl has little to no chance, seeing how she's not even cracking the top five in these rankings. But there's some pretty glaring disparity here, and it's worth noting that she's standing at sixth over at Awards Worthy, and all it's going to take is a handful of stellar reviews to solidly skyrocket her into the top five. People love it when someone swoops in to shake up the race. This year, it might as well be our girl. 

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Streep cast in "Extrapolations" for Apple TV+

Multiple sources are reporting that Meryl has been cast in Scott Z. Burns's upcoming anthology series on climate change, Extrapolations for Apple TV+.  The drama series consists of eight interconnected episodes and is apparently in production. Burns (a fellow University of Minnesota alumnus--go Gophers!) has assembled a wonderful and diverse cast for his series, including Sienna Miller, Matthew Rhys, Kit Harrington, Tahar Rahim, Gemma Chan, Adarsh Gourav, David Schwimmer and Daveed Diggs. Burns is best known for his writing, which include the screenplays to The Bourne Ultimatum, The Informant!, Contagion, The Report (also director), and The Laundromt (which of course starred Meryl in 2019). 

I have to wonder if this is the reason that Places, Please hasn't filmed yet. Or has it? Considering this series might actually already be filming, who knows if Places, Please didn't quietly film in New York this summer? While I think that's unlikely, it makes me think that the project isn't dead, only on pause until Meryl's available. 

Her role in Extrapolations is the only one of the nine cast members' that is listed as "undisclosed." No fair! Everyone else has a little bio blurb but we're left guessing the character we'll get to see Meryl play. I'm guessing that each episode might focus mainly on a single character, with some minor connections to a couple of others. So it's tough to tell exactly how much of Meryl we'll get to see over the course of the series. Regardless, it's very much "on brand" for her to involve herself in a project that is timely and environmentally conscious. 

No word on when we can expect to see this, but I'd wager the second half of 2022 is likely for airing. More to come. 

Streep, Harrington, Miller

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Results of poll #11

The results are in, and Elizabeth Moss topped the (very non-exhaustive) list of whom people would like to see portray Meryl's daughter if when Places, Please films. Moss had double the votes of the next closest vote-getters, Emma Stone and Michelle Williams (both with six). 

I think Moss would be a great choice, and she has a bit of resemblance to Streep as well. She's a big TV star, less so a movie star, but absolutely has the chops to hold her own with Meryl on the big screen. 

I'd be curious to know what others' choices were for anyone who selected "other" on the poll. As mentioned, the list was simply actresses who came to mind for me, and there are likely countless others out there who would be excellent options. 

Fingers still crossed that this gets underway soon so that we have something new to see Meryl in next year!

Saturday, October 9, 2021

Streep described as the film's "Godmother" in upcoming Ledbetter biopic

Considering this info is coming from Page Six, a bit of salt might need to be taken with it. But there was an article the other day with a few quotes from Fair Pay activist Lilly Ledbetter about Meryl's involvement in her upcoming biopic, Lilly. I'll paraphrase the parts that would likely be of interest to Streepers. 

The first item is that Meryl reportedly passed on starring in the role because she felt she was "too old." That's reasonable, considering the actor who was eventually cast, Patricia Clarkson, is ten years younger than Meryl. I've mentioned many times how Meryl can convincingly play characters ten to fifteen years younger than she is, so it's interesting that she'd say this about this particular role. Perhaps there are scenes with flashbacks where Ledbetter is meant to be depicted as someone in her forties, for example. She was hired by Goodyear around the age of forty, and noticed her pay discrepancy around the age of sixty, from what I understand. Fifty to sixty for brief portions is very passable for Meryl. Forty might be pushing it at 72. 

The other thing I took note of was when Ledbetter mentioned that Streep was "also booked up for two years." Who knows when this 'two year' time period started. But considering that the film is set to begin filming this month in Georgia (under the direction of Rachel Feldman, who also wrote the script), and that the filmmakers would've been "willing to wait" for Streep had she accepted the role, I wonder if Meryl already has projects in the pipeline with which she expects to be occupied over the next two to three years. I certainly hope that's the case. And if we're being real, it's probably always been the case. We devotees are just often left in the dark unfortunately about what's really churning behind the scenes. These quotes from Ledbetter make me optimistic that we'll see some concrete info about future filming plans (I'm looking at you, Places, Please). 

Perhaps the nicest bit in the article is Ledbetter describing Streep as the "godmother" of the film. We know that Feldman had sent Streep a letter attached with the script, and that while Meryl passed on the role, she offered to help out in any way she could, apparently opening the necessary doors for the film to find the light of day. I'll be curious to see if there are future mentions of Meryl's involvement when press junkets take place around the time of the film's release, likely toward the end of next year. Until then, hoping the best for Lilly's production and finish. 

Saturday, October 2, 2021

Poll #11: Who should play Meryl's daughter when (and if?) "Places, Please" is cast?

I had mentioned in my last post that I might do a poll of whom people think should be cast as Meryl's daughter in the (hopefully) upcoming film, Places, Please. This is by no means an exhaustive list, and I've commented below the poll on a couple to which I might be partial. I figure it's likely to not be a HUGE name, as the role is probably more a supporting one. But you never is a chance to work with Meryl, after all.  

For whatever reason, Phoebe Waller-Bridge seems like a good choice. I've never actually seen Fleabag, but she seems really cool on awards shows and it well-respected as far as I know. And I had no idea she was in The Iron Lady AND Albert Nobbs in the same year! I've currently been watching the 2013 limited series The White Queen (I have a bit of an obsession with the history of the English monarchy and particularly the Wars of the Roses), and I think Rebecca Ferguson is great. Both she and Waller-Bridge seem good from a resemblance standpoint too. With that in mind, I realize I've chosen all white actresses in this list. I expect that the casting won't be "outside of the box" in that they'd cast a person of color (not that Lillian Hall couldn't have had a child with a non-white gentleman or have adopted a child outside her own race). I tend to think that some might find that a bit contrived, but regardless, I'd be here for it. 

I'm hoping this poll wills this film (or any new project) into existence. For all we know, they're already shooting. 

Saturday, September 25, 2021

New clip from "Don't Look Up"

Netflix has released a new clip from Don't Look Up, with new footage of Meryl:

I'm not sure if that music is in the actual film, or if it was simply added as part of this scene for marketing purposes. In general, the clip does a decent job of showcasing the premise of the film; there's an asteroid heading towards Earth, and the scientists can't get the politicians to take it seriously.

Meryl's lines were pretty uneventful, but we get a glimpse of the sort of Trumpish disregard for facts that I'm guessing she'll channel throughout much of the film. Leo made me anxious, which he was supposed to do. Jennifer Lawrence had a fun back-and-forth with Jonah Hill (whom I wanted to punch, so kudos to him and his characterization). 

Looking forward to a full trailer soon. 

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Where is "Places, Please"?

It has now been seven months since we first learned that Meryl was going to star in the feature film, Places, Please. Set to be directed by Michael Christopher, early reports claimed that filming was to begin this "summer." I posted about two months ago how it was strange that we still hadn't heard any further casting news for this project. I tried to be rational in remembering that there was plenty of summer left, and that lots of things get done in Hollywood without us ever realizing they're taking place. 

Well, it's officially fall now, and there has still been zip announced on this production. And there's nothing else out there in terms of other projects that we can even anticipate from a rumors standpoint at this point either.  Yes, yes, it's possible we'll get an announcement any time now that filming is set to get underway. Or that the daughter of Meryl's character has been cast (ooo! I should do a poll to see who people think it should be!), and it's even possible that production could get pushed to spring, and still release it by next fall. I expect that a lot of the scenes will be interiors anyway, so it probably doesn't matter much what time of year they shoot in New York. 

Regardless, I hope this gets going soon. Hell, maybe soon we'll even get some news on a brand new project Streep hopes to shoot next year!

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

My debut novel, "The Cypress Club"

Four years ago, I decided "for fun" to begin writing a work of fiction. I'd toyed with the idea for a while, having maintained this blog for close to six years by that point. There's no question I'd been influenced by my staunch attention to Meryl's film career, and to the characters she so poignantly portrayed. It was with this fascination that I set out on what I first expected to be a short story. Fast forward to today, and I'm thrilled to share that I've published my first novel, The Cypress Club. 

I'm sharing it on my blog because (aside from it being a great venue to shamelessly plug the book), like so many other stories on which I've speculated over the years, The Cypress Club includes a main character whom I'd love to see portrayed onscreen. Having dissected so many of Meryl and her contemporaries' performances over the past decade, I feel like I was armed with an understanding of how to portray a believable character from a certain generation. Betsy was fun to write about, as was the setting that surrounds her and the rest of her family. A brief synopsis:

Ben Apt has given up on the relationship his mother, Betsy, has never allowed them to have. School, career, his choice in boyfriends--she's always found an excuse to pull away. Pushed to reconcile by a deathbed request from his beloved grandmother, Ben accepts an invitation to visit his parents for their fortieth anniversary party. Destination: their new retirement home in the tony Cypress Club community of Palm Beach. 

Ben's efforts to reconnect are quickly tested when Betsy greets him. She's gone platinum. Her face looks. . . new. And instead of hashing things out with her son, she spends the weekend going to deceptive lengths to impress the other nouveau-riche Boomers in residence--whose greatest concern is where to enjoy a mimosa-soaked brunch after their first eighteen holes. 

As Ben struggles to navigate the minefield of the club's peculiar culture, greater secrets are revealed, until he's no longer sure whether reconciling with his mother will provide the peace he'd been seeking, or only serve to destroy the Apt family completely. 

The Cypress Club is by turns funny, irreverent, and heartbreaking. An often-satirical tale that explores the painful prospect of severing ties with a parent and invites readers to rethink what it means to live the American dream.

I'm not ashamed to admit that an early driving motivation to continue the drudgery required to actually complete, edit, and revise a novel was helped by the fantasy of it getting optioned for a film. If you can't dream it, no way it'll happen, right? That idea sort of waned as I got further into the process, and I was able to simply enjoy the craft, and the fun of daydreaming. Through all the work, I've gained a better understanding of how to go about writing quality future stories (which I've already begun). It's been a rewarding process beyond my expectations. I hope folks feel inclined to take a look. 

The novel is currently available pretty much anywhere books are sold online, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Target, and many more. Enjoy. 

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Netflix releases teaser for "Don't Look Up"

 Netflix released its first official teaser for Adam McKay's upcoming film, Don't Look Up.

I told a friend I thought it was a bit underwhelming. I was hoping for a tad more of Meryl, and even the clip she was in was pretty basic, as if her character is mostly just going to be in the background. I don't believe that's the case. The editors likely just need to make this seem to people like something they'll want to see more of. Simply having all the cast members given a small chunk of screen time should be a good draw. 

Jonah Hill is sort of playing himself it seems, although that's not necessarily a bad thing. Looks funny. Cate Blanchett has perfectly channeled the creepy blonde conservative cable news anchor. Leo made me a little anxious too with the panting. Not a type of character we see from him often, so might end up being a nice vehicle for him. I don't see this being something Jennifer Lawrence gets a lot of critical praise for. Her role is just fine, not super interesting. Anxious to watch Mark Rylance. He's almost unrecognizable with the coiffed white hair and blazing teeth! Some additional stills released as well:

Looking forward to seeing more!

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Results of poll #10

The results are in from last week's poll which asked "which Streep film or performance left you particularly disappointed." Below are the results:  

Not super surprising that The Prom came in #1. I think many of use were excited to see Meryl team up with Ryan Murphy. Her singing and acting were wonderful, and I still really like the soundtrack, but it just didn't pack the kind of punch we were hoping for. 

This might surprise a few readers, but I'm one of those who chose August: Osage County. For no other film role did I get as excited for a Streep performance than I was when I learned she and Julia Roberts were going to star in it. I had seen the play and adored it. And when confirmation of the film's production was delayed by over a year, I remember pining for it's possibility, much like I eventually did for The Good HouseMaster Class and The Nix. But August actually got made (with Meryl)! It was one of the most buzzed films and performances that I can remember leading up to the film festival and awards seasons. Yes, Streep had just won her third Oscar for The Iron Lady the year prior, but even with that "overdue" status, many thought Meryl's performance in August may end up being of the "undeniable" caliber, based on the written character and pedigree of Tracy Letts's play. 

Alas, while Streep did achieve an Oscar nomination (it's a remarkable performance in its own right), she  probably just sneaked in the top five that year. Moreover, reactions to the film were rather tepid compared to expectations. I agree with CJames in the comments section on last week's post, in that this film had so much potential to be outstanding, but was instead watered down and cut down to a subpar shell of its staged glory. Meryl's role included. In the hands of a different director perhaps, or from a different studio that didn't insist in shaving down the running time, we would've gotten a more thorough and therefore more compelling examination of the mighty Weston family. It's hard to overestimate the importance a film's success (mostly critically) is for its actors' chances at recognition. Had August been a film that captured the irresistible family dynamics and emotional tone of, say, Ordinary People, we might have gotten a true American classic, as well as a performance for the ages. 

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Poll #10: Which Streep film or performance left you particularly disappointed?

Now that I've rekindled the polls, I'm adding one that at first glance might seem a bit uncharacteristic for the tone of this blog. A commenter had suggested doing a poll of where "Meryl underperformed by public opinion." I think this isn't a bad idea to explore. As much as I'm consistently astounded by Streep's performances, there are definitely films that I've gotten supper jazzed about seeing, only to have my expectations not met. Whether it be the role itself, the quality of the film, critical or box office success, or (very rarely) how Meryl approached a certain aspect of the character, there have been times I wish I'd seen a different outcome. 

The below list is obviously not exhaustive. I just chose a number of films that weren't exactly unanimous gems. I'm sure some folks may choose something not on the list, or even one of her most lauded performances, for reasons that are special to them. I just like to hear the discussion. As in the last poll, I'll leave my answer for the results post next week. 

Fire away!

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

"Don't Look Up" officially releases to Netflix on December 24

I guess we have confirmation, now that Netflix has tweeted its plan to release Adam McKay's film Don't Look Up on Christmas Eve:

The film will open its brief theatrical run on December 10, qualifying it for Oscar consideration. I'll likely try to see it in the theater if it's anywhere near Minneapolis.  If not, maybe I'll have some viewing plans to add to my busy holiday weekend. 

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Results of poll #9

Last week, I reinstated the poll tag on the blog! Folks made their choice in response to the question, "Besides 'Sophie's Choice,' what was Meryl's best screen performance?"

Below are the top five results:

1. Doubt

2. The Bridges of Madison County

3. The Devil Wears Prada

4. A Cry in the Dark

5. (tie) Adaptation, Silkwood

I have to admit, I'm a little surprised that Doubt came out on top. I'm certainly not complaining. I absolutely LOVE that movie and performance. I think a lot of people find Meryl's portrayal of Sister Aloysius a bit over the top. It might be a tad, but I think it's splendid. Bridges is an excellent choice too. I happened to select A Cry in the Dark. Her performance as a ordinary woman from Australia thrown into extraordinary circumstances was both mesmerizing and heartbreaking. And she did a wonderful job with a very difficult accent (I always love that). 

I'd be curious to know why other people chose what they did. And specifically which role those who selected "other" would've chosen?  Big Little Lies? I'm also surprised more people didn't choose Angels in America. The scenes as Ethel Rosenberg are probably top five for me in Meryl's career.

Any suggestions for the next poll?

Friday, August 13, 2021

"Don't Look Up" set to drop on Netflix on December 22

Film Updates tweeted on Wednesday that Don't Look Up is apparently going to be released to Netflix on Wednesday, December 22. 

I don't know for sure exactly how reliable this site is, but the folks on Awards Watch seem to think it might be legit. It seems like a perfectly reasonable date. I though a Wednesday may seem strange, but if they released it on the 24th instead two days later, its number would probably be lower because a lot of folks are likely going to be busy doing other things on Christmas Eve. We'll see if we get confirmation from Netflix. Knowing they're going to have a short-run theatrical release as well, it'll be interesting to see when that date is going to be, and in exactly how many cities it will actually play. 

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Ten years of Word on the Streep!

Wow. It's hard to believe it's really been this long. I can remember the summer of 2011 after the first teaser for The Iron Lady came out. So many people were abuzz with how uncanny Meryl's portrayal seemed in just a few short seconds of dialogue. 

Something about it got me more excited than I had in previous awards seasons leading up to a film's release. It probably helped that I'd been dating Joe for a year and a half by that point, and he was savvy enough with the computer to suggest putting my thoughts about all things Meryl onto a blog. Welp...ten years and over a thousand posts later, I've enjoyed perhaps the biggest deep dive into Meryl's screen career anyone has ever undertaken (at least for those of us who choose to write down their thoughts about it publicly). 

Just a quick rundown of some bigger projects Meryl has done since I started:

The Iron Lady
Hope Springs
August: Osage County
Into the Woods
Ricki and the Flash
Florence Foster Jenkins
The Post
Big Little Lies
Little Women
The Prom 
Let Them All Talk

Imagine if she could have another decade even close to the success these films have achieved for her. I suspect many out there may think her best days are far behind her. After all, she just turned 72! Who in God's name is going to have an illustrious string of performances (or even parts!) into their 80s? 

Meryl Streep. That's who. And beyond. Here's to the next ten years of her work. I hope to keep following it every step of the way. My continued gratitude to any and all readers and participants of this blog. It's been a wonderful ride, and I thank you. 

Monday, August 9, 2021

A new poll!

I've missed being able to do polls on this site. The interaction and opinions from readers are always a fun aspect. A couple of years ago, Blogger for some lame reason discontinued that widget. I tried one from a different site but didn't like it much, so I kind of just left it alone. It's been on my mind to revisit it, and I think the one I found actually seems pretty good, so I decided to give it a try. Hopefully it works out! I'll wait to divulge my choice until I close the poll in a week. 

Monday, August 2, 2021

First teaser from "Don't Look Up"

Last night during the Olympics, NBC aired a teaser for Adam McKay's upcoming Netflix film, Don't Look Up. The quality isn't great, as it wasn't officially released to YouTube, for example, and just pulled from someone's TV screen:

I've read that a lot of people are in a tizzy about Meryl's wig in this. I have to wonder if the choice is a bit tongue-in-cheek, as sort of an oblique parody of our recent former president and his bad hair life. 

Meryl's time during the teaser is extremely brief (a couple seconds). They definitely played up the humor. Jonah Hill looked effective as the sort of bro-ish clown. Leo DiCaprio certainly seems to be playing a little against type--it's not often we see him as the nerdy professor in a less than serious role. Jennifer Lawrence seemed fine. With only a thirty second spot, it's hard to glean a ton of info (the film is 145 minutes long), but it's just fun to get an early look. Hoping this means we'll see a full trailer sooner than later.  

Friday, July 30, 2021

"Don't Look Up" to have theatrical release window

There was an article in Variety a couple days ago about how Netflix's film chief, Scott Stuber, has recently forged a multiyear deal with Steven Spielberg's production company, Amblin Entertainment. It's been a turning tide in recent years, with 2020's quarantine pushing the film market's viewers even more into homes and out of the theaters. I'm not going to offer an opinion on whether or not that's a good thing (other than to say I don't really care about superhero movies anymore so I'm fine watching movies at home).

In the article, they name Don't Look Up as one of the films that'll have a short theatrical release later this year. If that release happens to be in a theater near me, and is released significantly earlier than it is on Netflix, I'll definitely be going. It may not seem like a big deal that there'll be a theatrical release, but after the rules changed for this year's Oscar eligibility requirements, one has to wonder if we have some new rules coming. The only requirement being a theatrical release seems dumb these days. What would be a more appropriate way to categorize movies that filmmakers want to be recognized by the Academy? I'm not sure what the answer is to that. I guess it doesn't really matter, as long as I get to see them and replay them as much as I want eventually. 

No word on official dates for Don't Look Up's release. 

Monday, July 26, 2021

Streep trending top three for Best Supporting Actress

Adam McKay's upcoming film Don't Look Up has apparently already had a test screening, with very positive reviews. Meryl of course plays the President of the United States in the movie, and is said to be a standout for possible awards recognition. That's all fine and well, but whenever I like to get the pulse of the race, I find that the monthly polls over at Awards Watch tend to be the most accurate assessment of who's got the best chances. 

Streep is currently polling in third place, behind Cate Blanchett for Guillermo del Toro's Nightmare Alley and Ruth Negga in Passing. Fun fact, it's now rumored that Blanchett may be pushed in the lead category by Searchlight. If that's the case, it removes a very big hurdle to Streep's chances in this category. Blanchett of course is in the running for the Don't Look Up as well, but by most accounts, Streep has the meatier role with greater screen time. 

Interesting that the run time for Don't Look Up is listed as 2 hours and 25 minutes. That's seems pretty long for a comedy/satire. But having read the script, it's not the kind of story that can unfold particularly quickly, so I'm glad they're not cutting it down much. Hoping for some production stills soon. Netflix still has no release date listed, but November or December are likely. 

Monday, July 19, 2021

Thoughts on "Places, Please"

We're already halfway through summer and nary a word has been printed about the status of Places, Please since its announcement five months ago. At the time, filming was listed as starting sometime in the summer. I thought I had read somewhere that it was supposed to be early summer, but I rechecked a few articles and cannot find where that may have been. So, I guess I shouldn't get too impatient about the possibility that it might not start until closer to September. 

That said, it's a bit strange that there's been no further casting news. With this idea, however, I should probably pause and remind myself that so much of the inner workings and dealing of film casting goes by under the radar. Look at the recent casting news of Babylon. We were all waiting with baited breath to learn whether or not Meryl would be announced in the role of Elinor Glyn, only to learn about Jean Smart's casting while filming was already underway. For all we know, Places, Please may already have its full cast assembled, and are only days away from shooting. 

One thing that I hadn't picked up on quite as closely when reading the brief character synopsis from Deadline was where they describe the character contending with "the demands of ageing, its real and perceptual debilities," and "...the betrayals of others and her own body." This makes me wonder if Lillian Hall will have some kind of illness or physical functional impairment (beyond the typical wear and tear of that goes along with ageing). If so, it's one added element to complicate the life of this woman. 

I also have to say that the idea of this film being a sort of love letter to Broadway is already resonating with me. I'm a huge fan of live theater, and having had the opportunity to see my first live opera in sixteen months last weekend, I was strongly reminded of how much I missed in-person performances. I'm taking a trip to New York this fall as well, and was surprised how scarce many online tickets were for Broadway shows. I'm just grateful that things have opened to some degree, and I pray (figuratively) that we can continue in that fashion. People are hungry for that kind of experience again. Myself included.  

Monday, July 12, 2021

No "Babylon" for Streep

Well, after more than a year of speculation that Meryl might be cast in a supporting role in Damien Chazelle's upcoming drama, Babylon, it was revealed today that Jean Smart has taken the role: 

They do not name the character, but describe her as a "journalist-critic who can make or break careers."  That's basically the role of Elinor Glyn. I have a feeling they changed the name, and that she may no longer be British. From what I understand, they changed several of the characters to only be similar to real life characters like Clara Bow and Anna May Wong, not the actual people. 

This news, coming not long after it was revealed that Patti LuPone likely took the role Meryl was rumored for in the Ari Aster film, leaves us Streepers with only Places, Please to look forward to. It was supposed to begin filming this summer, but we've heard nothing about it since it's original announcement several months ago. For wall we know, they could already be filming. Hopefully we'll get some casting news on that soon. 

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Addendum to recasting--Part V (1992): "A League of Their Own"

I 'officially' end this thirteen month-long project with the 1992 sports comedy-drama, A League of Their Own. All I seem to think about when referencing this movie is summer. It's incredibly nostalgic for me that way, as I've grown up as a fan of Major League Baseball, and this film captured the sort of old-timey and even rural appeal of America's favorite pastime. That definitely hit home for me as a twelve year-old living across the street from a corn field fifty miles outside Minneapolis. 

I've wondered for some time how Meryl would fare in a film for which she had to perform some kind of athletic event. We've seen in a physical role like The River Wild, but never in something that required the specific kind of coordination necessary for a sport like baseball. I've read that Meryl is actually very athletic. Some of her Yale classmates have remarked how she was always good at everything, including sports. I have to admit that I can kind of see it. She seems to have a great sense and control of her physicality, and that often translates into athletic performance. Director Penny Marshall specifically sought out actresses who could be passable as adept ball players. She apparently denied several very good actors roles because they simply sucked at the sport. It was a real standard she held, and it shows in the film's cast. 

The uncertainty of Meryl's baseball abilities isn't the only obstacle to picturing her potentially being suitable for the lead role originated by Geena Davis. Streep would've been 42 when this movie filmed. The majority of the remainder of the cast was a decade younger. But similar to my post last week on The Silence of the Lambs, I'd like to make a reasonable argument for how it may have worked in regard to Meryl's age--and I don't think it means ageing up the character of Dottie Hinson.  

It's widely known that Debra Winger was all set to play the role of Hinson. Some accounts attest her dropping out a couple of weeks before shooting to a back injury. But director Penny Marshall has gone on record saying that Winger didn't want to be a part of the film after Madonna was cast. She apparently thought Madonna's participation would turn the production into a circus. Incidentally, Winger was also a replacement for Demi Moore, who dropped out after she became pregnant. Geena Davis stepped in last minute, and after an audition (which was mostly about seeing whether or not Davis could "play"), was cast. She had very little time to prepare before shooting began. 

So let's imagine there had been some connection with Meryl. She had given birth to the last of her four children in early June 1991. There's no way she would've ever planned to film something that summer. But what if in this situation, she had somehow learned of Winger's departure, had been sent the script, and really felt like doing it. Something that would be a big physical challenge postpartum. A role that, on paper, was expected to go to someone in her twenties or early thirties. It would've been a fairly impulsive move at that stage. But the draw of a big hit might've been lure enough. Couple that with a shooting schedule that may have reasonably started late summer. A twelve week maternity leave would've put that at the first week of September. Not too crazy to imagine. And Winger was less than six years younger than Meryl (Davis seven), so I expect that our disbelief could probably have been suspended. 

What's interesting about the age thing is that the character of Dottie, to me, always seems so much the big sister and much more the contemporary of Tom Hanks's character. Davis of course fits that perfectly and played it well. But it might be even more believable with Meryl in that role. Perhaps more a thread of the elder sister who too has had dreams deferred on a rural farm with a husband fighting in World War II. There are some elements that could add layers to the complexity of the character. Her age, as a sort of matronly figure among the younger girls in the league, could be played up to greater contrast. And maybe near the end where Dottie mentions that she and Bob "want to have kids," what if the line were simply changed to "want to try having kids again?" There's a general undertone of melancholy enveloping Dottie's character. A mixture of her worry about the safety of her husband, and her strong, yet seemingly stifled desire to participate in the league. She's of a personality that finds it abhorrent to demonstrate any sense of vanity, even though she's both the best player and the prettiest. As a small aside, I think Streep and Lori Petty pass much more easily as sisters than do Petty and either Debra Winger or Geena Davis.


With this last film in my recasting addendum, we have seen consecutive roles in a television miniseries, a sci-fi action flick, an epic Western, a psychological horror/thriller, and a sports dramedy. Two are contemporary settings, two are period pieces, and one takes place in the future. Not a bad quintet of varied roles and genres. 

I've mentioned over the course of this project that I plan to do the same thing for supporting roles. I'm just not sure when I'll start that, exactly. I also fully expect to continue my list of recasted lead roles for each year in the future. For now, however, I look forward to focusing a bit more of the blog on Streep's upcoming project(s), and of course speculating on what else she might have in store for us in the coming months. Thanks again to everyone who's read and contributed to this very fun series over the past year!

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Addendum to recasting--Part IV (1991): "The Silence of the Lambs"

One of my all-time favorites. Thinking back, I can't believe I watched this for the first time when I was twelve years-old. Knowing my parents, if we had sat down to watch something on HBO, for example, and this movie came on, I have no doubt they would not have let me continue watching at that age. But curious kids are curious kids, and I was aware of the films box-office success even way back then. When I saw it listed in the TV guide as being broadcast on cable, you better believe I tuned in, alone in the privacy of our basement. I remember my dad eventually knew I'd seen it, as my cousin and I asked him what the c-word was. He wasn't exactly thrilled, but he didn't put up much of a fuss. I ended up recording the film on our VCR

I imagine some readers may be wondering, "Are you suggesting Meryl for the role of special agent Clarice Starling? But she's too old!" The answer is yes. As this is possibly my favorite movie, and absolutely consider it one of a handful that most shaped my love of cinema (and no doubt my morbid fascination with serial murderers), I really wanted to include it among my recasting selections. To do that, I have to suggest some changes to the iconic character originated by Jodie Foster. Namely, her age. Hear me out. 

We know that one of the main features of Clarice in The Silence of the Lambs is that she's a young FBI trainee. Someone likely in her twenties. Inexperienced. Smart, but unsure. It's an important part of the dynamic between her and the super sophisticated nuance of Dr. Hannibal Lecter (played brilliantly by the great Sir Anthony Hopkins). But what if we imagine the character was, say, 35--nearing the cutoff point at which candidates will no longer be considered for becoming an agent for the FBI. Meryl would've been 40 at the time this movie filmed in the fall of 1989 (its release was pushed to early '91, as Orion Pictures wanted to focus its awards attention on another little film they had in their quiver that year, Dances with Wolves). So, absolutely no issue with Meryl playing 35. For whatever reason, I picture her character having a ponytail and bangs. Seems like it would make her appear a bit younger. And if we consider the history we learn about from Clarice, where she becomes an orphan and runs away from a relative's ranch and is then sent to an orphanage, it might be an even more compelling history if it took longer for her to scrape up the means for college at UVA (perhaps having to work and go to night school over the course of six to eight years), to then work her way up to the training academy. That might be more of an accomplishment. The stakes would higher with her working against the clock a bit in regard to age. But not so long in the tooth that she'd lose that important sense of innocence and "greenness" Clarice needs. What a fun prospect to imagine Meryl working to convey all that. 

One of the most memorable scenes in cinematic history. And I'm not sure if Meryl has done a West Virginian accent quite like this one--always fun to consider. While this film is arguably very character-driven, the aspects of a genre film are in there. Many would classify it as a true horror film, or a psychological thriller. Meryl's never quite done something as edgy as Silence of the Lambs was for its time. The movie was an example of how a film released early in the year could actually do well at the Oscars. And that it did, winning the top five (Picture, Director, Actress, Actor, and Screenplay--only It Happened One Night and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest managed to do that previously, and none have since). It was also a major box-office success, with a worldwide gross of $273 million against only a $19 million budget. 

I will say that while I maintain that this film is brilliant, I wonder if it would be as well-received today. The character of Buffalo Bill doesn't exactly show transgender individuals in the greatest of lights. I understand that even Dr. Lecter explains that Buffalo Bill isn't a "real transsexual," yet it's a little difficult to look back on this picture and not sort of get the impression of transgender folks having been depicted as a bit crazy. Some may think it's not a great look when gender identity is obliquely utilized as a tool to showcase creepy characters. I don't tend to view it quite that severely, but it's worth mentioning the film isn't a perfect picture. Although it's nice to see a woman lead in a movie who doesn't have a romantic relationship as part of the story--hopefully that's not negated by the gruesome fact that the story follows a killer of women. But it's sort of representative of the types of films Jodie Foster seemed to gravitate toward. 

In the end, I think this could've been an incredibly exciting role and story to see interpreted through Meryl's characterization. Next week, I'll "officially" wrap up this recasting series when I take on a lighter film from the summer of 1992. 

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Addendum to recasting--Part III (1990): "Dances with Wolves"

Way back in 2012, I bemoaned in my inaugural post of the Shoulda Coulda Wouldas tag how much I wished I could've seen Meryl tackle the role of Stands with a Fist from Dances with Wolves. I ended up including this film in my Reimagined history of her career. As I've mentioned in earlier posts in this recasting project, I've realized that the Shoulda Coulda Wouldas section has turned out to be the well from which I sort of designate roles into my two 'alternative' careers I like to imagine Streep having. I think Dances with Wolves ultimately fits better into my recasting project. 

Like the two previous choices from this recasting addendum, Dances with Wolves holds a prominent place in my memory as one of the films that helped shaped my interest in cinema. It's for this reason that I didn't wait for my supporting role recasting project to include this pic. I'm not sure if I saw it for the first time today if I would regard the film as highly as I do. But it's next to impossible to accurately gauge the answer to such a question when I've held such nostalgic fondness for this film over the years.

I first saw the movie shortly after it was released to home video. I would've been around eleven or twelve at the time. It's interesting how depending on what's going on in our lives at any given point, certain experiences can have memorable impact. We may not notice or realize it at the time, but looking back, what I saw on the screen in this movie was a community I'd learned about and thought about, but never really seen depicted in such a vivid way. I'd spent a lot of time in the north woods area of Minnesota growing up, where Native American influence and culture was obvious even to my young eyes. I can remember visiting a place called Deep Portage, a wilderness learning center, and was fascinated by the stories and replicas of the indigenous peoples' way of life. The focus was more on the Ojibwe people, not the Sioux (I say "Sioux," as that it what they call themselves in the film--I suspect Lakota is a more accurate term, while Sioux includes more than one group of people and language), but regardless, when I saw Dances with Wolves, it was like my curiosity had been brought to life in the form of a sweeping epic. 

The actual role of Stands with a Fist is of course a fascinating one. Not that the idea of a white child taken in and raised by Native Americans was a brand new idea. But the position she finds herself in, having to try to translate for her tribe and adoptive father, all while still in mourning from the passing of her own husband, offers a juicy start to the character's arc.

So many emotions to convey in just this one scene. Fear, frustration, sadness, surprise. Maybe a glint of attraction. Mary McDonnell does a tremendous job here. I remember seeing an interview with director/star Kevin Costner about the movie, where he states that he specifically wanted an actress for the role who "had lines on her face." Meryl is only three years older than McDonnell, and easily could've portrayed this character form an age standpoint. Then of course there's the fun aspect of language she would've gotten to tackle. Not only having to sound like you speak fluent Lakota, but also figuring out what the character would sound like in English! She hadn't spoken it since she was a child, and I think it's so fascinating to imagine how much we would lose if we didn't use it. When we started to try to recall words, which parts would come back to us? Certainly not always automatically the first syllables. I think Meryl would've dug deep into the nature of how all that would begin to resurface. 

I've read some items over the years that this film is just another white savior movie. It think that's a bit of a copout. If anything, I think it's the Native Americans who save the white guy. I can remember even as child never once considering that the white folks' way of life in this film was in any way superior to that of the Sioux people. I'm also not naive to the fact that the Sioux are almost depicted as a utopian society in this movie, which certainly is not historically factual. But they're probably closer to it than any of the cities in the United States during and around the time of The Civil War. 

Regardless of any of the historical considerations, Dances with Wolves is and will remain a special movie for me. With its broad, beautiful landscape, convincing performances, and endlessly engaging musical score, I know I'll continue to revisit it in the future. 

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Looks like no Ari Aster film for Meryl

Not the kind of news I want to see on Meryl's birthday! I'm always sad to learn that fun-sounding projects she's rumored for turn out not to include her. Deadline reported some casting news for Ari Aster's film with Joaquin Phoenix, Disappointment Blvd., and Streep's name was nowhere to be found. Patti LuPone is listed as co-starring, so there's a very strong possibility that the role for which Meryl's name was floated had gone to her instead. 

It's too bad. Would've loved to see Meryl work alongside Phoenix. And Aster would likely be a departure in tone from a lot of the stuff we usually see Meryl in. Maybe she couldn't do this because she's actually going to be too busy filming Babylon or Places, Please. Either way, hopefully we get official word that she's shooting something very soon. 

Happy 72nd, Meryl! 

Monday, June 21, 2021

Filming for "Babylon" set for July

There was a tweet posted recently that Damien Chazelle's upcoming film Babylon will be filming in the Santa Clarita Valley in California in July:

I post this because we still have no confirmation of whether or not Meryl will be part of the cast. Her name was floated over a year ago, but nothing has been updated since. Considering filming is supposed to commence within the next few weeks, even if Streep is not in fact going to be in the cast, I expect there should be some news on who will be playing Elinor Glyn (unless for some reason they've cut the role, which I doubt). 

Streep is also set to film Places, Please this summer, and there was also a rumor of her joining Joaquin Phoenix in an Ari Aster film. To be honest, I'll be surprised if she ends up in even two of these projects, much less all three. But one can hope!

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

"The Devil Wears Prada" turns 15

 Fifteen years ago this month, The Devil Wears Prada was released in U.S. theaters. While the film was a great critical and commercial success, more importantly, it represented a shift in Meryl's career that many believe skyrocketed her into a level of reverence that no other actress of her generation had ever been able to achieve. She earned her fourteenth Oscar nomination, and at the age of 57 had found herself an enormous box office draw. In only the five years after the film was release, Meryl enjoyed huge hits like Mamma Mia!, Julie & Julia, and It's Complicated, as well as three additional Oscar nominations (winning of course for 2011's The Iron Lady). 

It's difficult to overstate how important the success of this film was to the next decade of Meryl's career. Her name alone got films green-lit. And not just because she was a good actor. But because studios expected that she would make them money. That success continues to this day, much in part to how well The Devil Wears Prada was received. To commemorate the film's anniversary, the cast, director David Frankel, and costume designer Patricia Field sat down over a Zoom call with Entertainment Weekly to discuss the film's legacy. Some fun stuff packed into this 30-minute video. Enjoy. 

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Addendum to recasting--Part II (1989): "The Abyss"

Meryl hasn't really done a good sci-fi pic. Yes, there's The Giver, but that ended up being kind of a stinker. I had included Close Encounters of the Third Kind in the early stages of my recasting project, but inserted her into a supporting role. I'm reminded of Sigourney Weaver's legacy as an action star, having starred in the Alien series, the second of which (Aliens) was directed by James Cameron. I never really got into that movie, but from a young age, I absolutely loved both of his Terminator films, as well as 1989's underwater flick, The Abyss. There's something about the latter film that really captures the feel of what I liked about action movies at the time. There was a fair amount of technology utilized, and the setting was something we'd never really seen before at that level. Yet at the same time, we also get some intimacy and complexity surrounding the close-knit cast of characters who are thrust into the tumultuous scenario driving the film's more entertaining scenes. 

The film follows a crew oil workers who are tasked by the government to aid a SEAL team in recovering a nuclear warhead at the bottom of the ocean. Dr. Lindsey Brigman is the designer of the drilling platform utilized as a base for the operation. It's a bit of a tired trope to have the lady professional depicted as the queen bitch of the universe. But it's probably a fun character to play. Someone who's smarter than everyone else in the room and doesn't suffer fools or a slow pace. Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio (such a name from the 80s) does a fine job in the role, if perhaps a bit one level in the first half of the film. There are some fun moments of tension and humor between her soon-to-be ex-husband, Bud (Ed Harris), who's the foreman of the rig. 

One of the most memorable moments of cinema from my childhood was watching Lindsey's drowning scene. After Lindsey and Bud are left with only one oxygen tank in a rapidly flooding sub, Lindsey insists Bud use it so he can drag her hypothermic body back to the rig and resuscitate her.

Watching it as an adult, it's a tad far-fetched. From my understanding, using an automated external defibrillator is generally only indicated when someone's heart is beating irregularly, not to "shock it back" to life. CPR would be the usual approach, which they do implement here as well. Some definite artistic license here, but played well for dramatic effect. It's a powerful scene and beautifully acted. The actors create a great sense of collegiality in their reactions to Lindsey eventually coming around. I have to imagine drowning would be one of the most horrible ways to die. The feeling of having to finally take in a breath and only having water enter your lungs? Super scary. And it feels super scary for Lindsey in this scene. Would've been fun to see how Meryl played it. I did tend to wonder why Lindsey didn't seem more affected after the fact, considering Bud was basically beating the shit out of her when she lay there on the submersible deck. Her ribs and chest would've been so sore, I imagine it would've made her ability to speak normally very difficult in the days following. Lindsey seems to have recovered pretty well when she's guiding Bud down the Cayman Trough, based on the way Mastrantonio plays it. 

This film is so stamped in my mind as sort of encapsulating the feel of several movies in the genre around the late 80s and early 90s. Terminator 2: Judgement Day is a big one, as I eluded above, Die Hard, even Rocky IV, with its capitalizing on Cold War tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union (although interesting that The Abyss is set in 1994 when there actually was no longer such a thing as the U.S.S.R.).  I don't know if it was just a style around the time, or maybe that The Abyss has so many scenes underwater, but everything has a blue-like tinge to it, particularly in scenes without natural lighting, that seem very reminiscent of the time. It's easy to forget that The Abyss isn't just an action film. There's an alien marine life that ends up saving Bud at the bottom of the ocean. Some of the greatest special effects for the time were employed for this film (it won the Oscar for it that year), particularly the face-mimicking water formation into which the alien choses to take shape. The idea of there being technology that allows humans to breathe water to minimize the effects of the oceans pressure was always a cool prospect to think about, even as an adult. 

It's interesting that in Meryl's real filmography, 1989 marked a very distinct shift in the type of movie in which we usually saw her. She-Devil may have some fun tidbits, but in general, it's not a strong movie. This was the first time Streep took on a true comedy role, which she ended up doing more of over the next few years in the early 90s. I wonder if she had taken the risk of participating in something like The Abyss, would it have resulted in a major difference in what we could've expected from her shortly afterward, or what she would've been offered? The Abyss wasn't a huge box-office success, but it did fairly well with critics, and I think it's often considered an underrated movie these days. From what I've read, filming under James Cameron was extremely difficult for the cast. But maybe it could've been the same kind of physical toil Meryl had to endure when she learned how to white water raft in 1994's The River Wild. I'd take her in The Abyss over that or She-Devil any day.