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!