As Meryl Streep starts her jury duties at the Berlinale, Murtada has news about her next film.
Gird your loins! There must be a rupture in the movie universe because we might not get the new Meryl Streep movie when we usually do. Since 2008's Mamma Mia, movies led by Streep have had only 2 release dates. The December prestige slot (Doubt, The Iron Lady, August Osage County, Into the Woods). Or late summer blockbuster comedy counter programming (Julie and Julia, Hope Springs, Ricki and the Flash). Plus one anomaly with the comedy It's Complicated inexplicably slotted into the December prestige date. Yes comedies get released year round, but not Meryl comedies!
2016 is changing all that. Pathe have announced a May 6 UK release of Streep's latest, Florence Foster Jenkins. Directed by Stephen Frears and also starring Hugh Grant and Rebecca Ferguson, the film is based on the true life story of the titular character, who was an amateur opera singer, known and ridiculed for her very bad singing and her complete delusion about her abilities. A US release date is expected soon and will probably be around the same time. Ater Ricki fizzled at the box office, it looks like Spring is now the best time for adult oriented female driven counter programming. Specially with the success last year of Woman in Gold and Far From the Madding Crowd.
Meanwhile in Berlin, Streep started her jury duties with a bit of a controversy. At a press conference on Thursday, she began her remarks well talking about how she would give each film careful consideration because she's been on the other side, “a compassionate heart is important as an actress”. When she was asked about diversity, Streep applauded the gender diversity within her jury group.
“This jury is evidence that at least women are included and in fact dominate this jury, and that’s an unusual situation in bodies of people who make decisions. So I think the Berlinale is ahead of the game.”
But then she delved into murkier depths when addressing the lack of racial diversity within the same group:
“There is a core of humanity that travels right through every culture, and after all we’re all from Africa originally. Berliners, we’re all Africans really.”
The quote sounds like a riff on JFK’s famous “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech but when taken out of context reads clueless and clumsy. Maybe first acknowledge the omission of people of color before deflecting the question with humor.
How excited are you for Florence? Do you think the May release date is significant in anyway?