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Entries in Meryl Streep (126)

Thursday
Nov202014

Mike Nichols (1931-2014)

Elaine May & Mike Nichols in the 50s"The Great Work begins..." that's a line from Angels in America but someone should've said it in the 1950s when one of the greatest figures in modern showbusiness began his career on Chicago stages as a university student. Mike Nichols, who died yesterday at 83, first gained fame as half of a celebrated comic duo "Nichols & May" with actress/director Elaine May but comedy sketches were only the beginning. He'd eventually conquer all realms of showbusiness winning a Grammy with May for a comedy album in 1961, the first of several Tony Awards for directing Barefoot in the Park on Broadway (1964), an Oscar for directing The Graduate (1967) which was only his second film, and in the last decade of his career, two Emmys for television triumphs with Wit and the aforementioned Angels.

Because I came of age in the 1980s, the Nichols collaboration that defined the director for me was with Meryl Streep who he directed four times for the camera. They were both Oscar winners before their first duet Silkwood (1983) which is, not coincidentally, my favorite Streep performance. Streep was worshipped and mythologized very early in her career but he brought her down to earth while still helping her ascend. Under his his guidance she was instantly more earthy and relatable, less the iconic mannered star than a goddamn amazing (and relaxed) genius of the craft. They made two more feature films together within a decade's span (Heartburn, Postcards from the Edge).

Gene Hackman as a director and Meryl Streep as an actress in Postcards from the Edge (1990)

In fact, whenever I watch Postcardsand marvel at that beautiful scene between director and actress that marks its emotional pivot point, it's easy to imagine Gene Hackman's patient benevolent director as the Nichols stand-in with Meryl representing for all actors struggling with inner demons, doubting their gift, or struggling with a particular performance. It's easy to imagine because Nichols was particularly great with actors directing several of them -- not just Streep -- to their all time best work.

As if aware that he directed three of Streep's least glamorous acting triumphs, his last gift to her was Angels in America (2003) in which they left the ground and transcended into the ghostly, the spiritual... the ecstatic.

Ectastic. That's a good work for his great work. Nichols left us with 22 films, three of which are largely undisputed masterpieces (Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, The Graduate, Angels in America), many of which are exemplary and perhaps still undervalued classics of their particular genres (Gilda Live, Silkwood, Postcards from the Edge) or just, you know, extremely popular entertainments (Working Girl, The Birdcage). Through it all, though this is not often true of mainstream-embraced prestigious entertainers, he rarely forgot the zeitgeist-capturing envelope-pushing us his handful of first films from Woolf through Carnal Knowledge and was still pushing movie stars into transcendence with newly revealing, riskier emotional terrain almost until the very end (Wit, Angels in America, Closer).

He will be missed but his work has more than earned its immortality.

 

Thursday
Nov062014

Yes No Maybe So: Into the Woods

After a number of official still images, a lovely teaser, rumblings of behind-the-scenes drama, an extended featurette, a bunch of EW covers, and plenty of anticip... ation, the trailer for Rob Marshall's take on Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine's classic musical, Into the Woods is here! More so than the teaser, this trailer introduces us to the main conceit that brings all these characters together: the search for a way to have a curse reversed, something that can only be accomplished by, as the Witch tells us, going into the woods and getting,

One: the cow as white as milk,
Two: the cape as red as blood,
Three: the hair as yellow as corn,
Four: the slipper as pure as gold.

Will the Baker and his Wife (the lowly, unfairy-tale couple at the heart of the show) be able to break the curse and survive the treacherous woods? If you've seen the show, you know "happily ever after" only takes you to the end of Act 1. But enough exposition, here's Manuel playing YES NO MAYBE SO, trying to keep our excitement for this Disney property in order.

YES

- Meryl Streep.
- Meryl Streep. Singing. Sondheim. Need we say more?
- Meryl Streep looking amazing..
- (I can’t help it, she’s front and center in the marketing material. They know what they’re selling and what we’ll be buying; I appreciate the pandering, embrace it, even!)
- Can we talk about how lush and gorgeous Sondheim’s score sounds?
- “I was raised to be charming, not sincere.” Chris Pine, delivering the line of his life.
- “Oh dear, how uneasy I feel.” Runner-up for best line reading in the trailer; Lila Crawford nails the droll delivery (both wistful and jaded) required for this piece to work.
- There's music! Finally a musical billing itself as a musical and not playing the bait-and-switch game (remember Sweeney Todd?)
- Colleen Atwood and Dion Beebe are definitely bringing the pretty (in another version of this post I would merely put up hundres of screengrabs: That popping red cape! Those thorny branches! That golden Cinderella dress! Those amazing step-sister outfits/hairstyles! The Witch’s makeover look! Kendrick on the steps of the castle! Wet princes running our way!)


- I actually love the ethereally earthy (can I trademark that?) look of the piece, at once grounded in the grime and mud of the woods while also using metallics to connote the necessary element of fantasy that pervades this world.
- I love so many of these ladies (Kendrick! Baranski! Ullman! Blunt!), but then we probably all said the same about Marshall’s last musical. Indeed, I’m crazy about the entire cast except for...

 

NO

- ...Johnny Depp. Obviously the biggest deterrent (and that costume isn’t helping matters, is it?) The Red/Wolf scene is going to be particularly hard to pull off; has it been defanged by Disney execs and/or by Depp’s cartooney take on the Big Bad Wolf?
- The CGI-ness of it all gives me pause; might it overwhelm the material?
- I can’t decide if “Be careful what you wish for” is barely serviceable or merely uninspired.
- I promise I'm trying to find other things to notch as NOs, but I'm afraid I'm besotted by this trailer.

 

MAYBE SO

- Whither be our Billy Magnussen? (get out of the way, bushes!) I know he can’t get any type of billing, but there’s not enough of that big hunk of man in this trailer. #Agony
- I’m curious and hesitant about Blunt; this is a tricky part (one which fellow Streep co-star Amy Adams had trouble with a couple of years ago in Shakespeare in the Park)
- Am I the only one noticing that Meryl may not be the best at lip-syncing?
- That giant is… giving me Bryan Singer's Jack the Vampire Giant Slayer vibes.
- It’s still unclear how the numbers will be staged (thankfully away from Marshall’s tried and true stage-as-fantasy conceit) and whether Marshall & co. have managed to ‘open up’ the musical without sacrificing the dramatic beats that make Sondheim and Lapine’s piece work so well on stage. We get a glimpse of Meryl’s number but I’m more curious to see that first ensemble piece play out; the proximity of all these characters is what makes those group numbers sing; can it be replicated on screen?

Ed. Note: Watch it below (and thanks to Anonny for reminding me that in my stupor I'd forgotten to include the trailer itself!)

Unsurprisingly, I’m a "YES! I wish I could have this film in front of me now!" (Though maybe I should be careful what I wish for?) I love the material and this trailer shows there’s potential for greatness. Am I blinded by my love for Streep? By my obsession with Sondheim? By the pretty pretty pictures? Chime in! Calling all the Sondheim purists, the Marshall skeptics and the “I’m over Meryl”s, bring me down from my Into the Woods-induced high! Point me to things that should temper my giddy excitement!

Thursday
Oct302014

Set Photos of Punk-Rock Meryl Streep 

Margaret here, trying not to freak out about these set photos of Meryl Streep. Pretend for a moment that the magic of internet reporting hasn't told us exactly what she's filming right now. (It's the Diablo Cody-penned, Jonathan Demme-directed dramedy Ricki and the Flash, wherein La Streep plays an aging rock star.)

This is so full of possibility. As long as she's in this getup, let's indulge in some fantasizing...

 

She wears motorcycle boots! She sports extensions! She makes out with Rick Springfield!

THINGS MERYL STREEP COULD BE FILMING IN THAT COSTUME

1. A Freaky Friday meta-sequel where Meryl switches bodies with the real Lindsay Lohan and starts clubbing all night and missing call times while Lindsay ends up on the fast-track to an Oscar win

2. A Mike Nichols-directed commercial for Meryl's new campaign as the Spring 2015 face of Hot Topic

3. The music video for Rick Springfield's "I'm F*@#ing Matt Damon"-style parody song "Gummer's Girl"

4. HBO's new docu-series about the underground Oscar-winners' punk band where Streep plays bass alongside a be-mohawked Helen Mirren on lead guitar and a buzzcut Judi Dench on drums

5. A  prank video where unassuming Forever 21 shoppers get the shock of their life when the mannequin they're admiring reveals herself to be acting legend Mary Louise Streep

6. Bonus scenes as a fourth witch for the DVD re-release of Hocus Pocus

7. The sequence in a Boy George biopic where the famous bowler hat can't be found anywhere

8 Season three of Orphan Black, where she challenges all the Streep comparisons heaped upon Tatiana Maslany by playing the clone Sarah and daring the audience to notice the difference

9. A YouTube makeup tutorial for getting the Rebecca on How to Get Away with Murder look

I hope she does them all. Name a tenth possibility!
Wednesday
Oct222014

Meryl Streep's Set to Sing Off-Key (& Other News)

Manuel here with some Streeptastic news.

Meryl Streep has just signed on to play Florence Foster Jenkins in an upcoming Stephen Frears film. Florence will follow the eponymous protagonist, a New York heiress whose lack of musical talent didn’t stop her from pursuing a career in opera in the early twentieth century. This should be good news for us Streep fans because it means we may get three back-to-back-to-back musically-centered Meryl films in a row. Remember she’s set to play Maria Callas for Mike Nichols’ HBO adaptation of Terence McNally’s Master Class while she’s currently filming Ricky and the Flash, the Diablo Cody-penned Jonathan Demme film about an aging rock-star. More thrillingly, the Frears/Demme/Nichols triple punch is the closest we’ve gotten in a while to Streep committing to working with top-tier directing talent (no offense to David Frankel, Philippa Lloyd and Philip Noyce).

It’s as if she’s been secretly reading TFE where Nat has constantly pointed out Streep’s aversion to working with high calibre directors (give or take a Jonze or an Anderson detour). It’s thrilling stuff even if it’ll continue the “Meryl gets all the roles” narrative that’s both inescapable and inevitable; she is a bankable actress after all.

I didn’t want to just share Meryl’s news (lest we faulted for playing favorites), so let’s play a game of Six Degrees and offer some more news tidbits in the process:

Frears directed Mrs Henderson Presents which is being turned into a musical at the Theatre Royal Bath next summer. That film starred Judi Dench, who is currently filming the Sam Mendes produced The Hollow Crown, a BBC drama that’s been adapting Shakespeare’s history plays. Her co-stars for this concluding entry include Benedict Cumberbatch, Sophie Okonedo (!!) and Sally Hawkins.

Dench starred in another Shakespeare property back in 1968 (A Midsummer Night’s Dream) with the Queen herself, Helen Mirren. It has just been announced that Mirren's Stephen Daldry-directed play The Audience, a sequel of sorts to her Oscar-winning role, is making its way to Broadway next Spring.

Daldry directed not only Streep but Julianne Moore in The Hours; Moore is currently filming Freeheld alongside Ellen Page. The film, focused as it is on a lesbian couple's struggle to apply for domestic partnership, just found itself frozen out of a filming location (a Catholic school), presumably because of its subject matter.

Moore starred with in Crazy, Stupid, Love with Ryan Gosling, whose new 1970s thriller, The Nice Guys, directed by Shane Black, just added Kim Basinger to its cast. Basinger, who we haven’t seen a while, starred in Robert Altman’s Prêt-à-Porter in 1994 with none other than Julia Roberts. Once the reigning queen of romantic comedies, Roberts famously starred in Notting Hill opposite Hugh Grant... who’ll be Meryl’s co-star in Florence.

Phew! That was slightly harder than I thought.

What other renowned film directors would you like to see Streep work with? What other connections between Streep, Mirren, Dench, Moore and Basinger did I miss as I attempted to thread them all together? Are you hoping that in a couple of month’s time we’ll be able to group these women together because they’re all Oscar winners?

Wednesday
Oct082014

Beauty Break: Jessica Chastain, Sarah Paulson, and Anne Hathaway

Three of our very favorite talented beauties, two of whom we've had the pleasure to interview right here at The Film Experience (Jessica & Sarah), have new photoshoots out.

This appears to be Jess's fav picture from the Interview photoshoot since she singled it out.

But before we drink in the triple gorgeousity let's look at today's kerfuffle with Jess. This very click-baity headline appeared on Page Six

Jessica Chastain: Give Anybody But Meryl Streep a Chance

It was of course a misquote. Jessica, who we all know is almost insanely positive and warm fuzzy hugs in her public persona, was just saying exactly what we're always saying right here: 'why is it only Streep?' She took to Twitter/WhoSay to clear things up:

That imaginary Jess/Streep throwdown behind us, more Chastain, Paulson, and Hathaway photos after the jump

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Oct022014

Breaking: Streep & Blunt Trading Places

Top billed but so what?!

Meryl Streep has the first poster for Christmas release Into the Woods all to herself and the Witch is always the marquee role in Stephen Sondheim's musical on stage. But Meryl will be campaigned supporting. The news isn't technically "official" but it soon will be so we're playing a little game of switcheroo on the Lead Actress and Supporting Actress Oscar Prediction Charts.

Technically this reversal (at least from our expectations) is  probably fine as categorizations go: The Witch is a showy role but it's not a huge one and The Baker's Wife (Emily Blunt) is just as much of a major focal point of the show (winning the lead actress Tony for Joanna Gleason in the first production) and the wife has the clearest arc. So Blunt is our leading contender.

The takeaway, with far less competition (as of yet) in Supporting Actress, Meryl is probably looking at her 19th Oscar nomination. If Emily Blunt doesn't thoroughly own Into the Woods she'll be left out of the very competitive leading lineup which will make it the second time co-starring with Streep where she had a plum role but voters attentions were elsewhere.

And by 'elsewhere' I mean 'where the attention always is': on MERYL STREEP. 

Silly Trivia Alert: If nominated this will not only be Meryl's Fourth nomination in the supporting category after The Deer Hunter (1978), Kramer Vs Kramer (1979), and Adaptation (2002) but her Fourth for a role with a singing solo. She sang "Amazing Grace" in Silkwood (1983), "He's Me Pal" in Ironweed (1987), and "You Don't Know Me" and "I'm Checking Out" from  Postcards from the Edge (1990). Her voice is so expressive. Can't wait to see how she interprets "Stay With Me" in particular.

Thursday
Sep042014

"Happy now and happy hence and happy ever after"?

Manuel here, to discuss some news that got lost in the shuffle last week -in an interview with EW last week, Rob Marshall confirmed that that new Stephen Sondheim-penned number for Into The Woods was cut. [Gay gasp!] Yes, that song which Meryl was so effusive about last year and which Sondheim had penned just for her (seemingly in response to certain plot strands that were left dangling by, well, Disneyfied cuts to the fairy tale musical) has found itself on the cutting room floor. In Marshall's words,

“It was beautiful and spectacular, but it was very clear, as good as the song was, that [the movie] was stronger without.”
Rumblings on the web lead me to believe there's more to the story (isn't there always?) but rather than give credence to the rumor mill, we'll at least have something to look forward to in the film's DVD/Blu-Ray bonus features (they still have those, right? I feel as though I've been streaming so many films lately, I haven't sought out or outright explored these behind the scenes featurettes unless they become viral sensations). 

 

But rather than ask that obvious question ("will the song still be featured in some way in the film and thus be eligible for the Best Original Song?") I thought I'd open it up to a more interesting, if obscure, conversation. Writing new songs for existing musicals as they make their way to the silver screen is nothing new. Written either as an Oscar-grab or as a way to solve cinematic problems when adapting stage-primed material, these songs have been just as often outright hits as they've been unmistakable misses. For every serviceable number such as "Suddenly" (Les Mis) there is a head-scratcher like "Cinema Italiano" (Nine). For every tacked on song like "Hopelessly Devoted to You" (Grease) that nevertheless finds life outside of the musical film therein, there is "Mein Herr" which is now integral to stage mountings of Cabaret

I know I'm talking to the theatre queens in the audience, but I'm sure there's plenty of you out there: If you could choose one such number to nix it from a musical film adaptation, which one would it be? Or, conversely, which numbers written specifically for the screen do you think have captured the spirit of the show and made significant contributions to its sensibility?