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Entries in Meryl Streep (120)

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? 

Friday
Aug152014

Review: The Giver

Hey, folks. Michael Cusumano here fresh from having Jeff Bridges impart the wonders of humanity directly into my brain.

It’s an amusing irony that Phillip Noyce’s film of Lois Lowry’s beloved middle-school staple The Giver feels like an afterthought following the recent glut of Young Adult adaptations. It was Lowry’s vision of dystopia which helped launch the army of teenage Chosen Ones currently clogging multiplexes nationwide. Now, not only is The Giver late to the party, but the richly imagined worlds of Lowry’s literary descendants have left her story feeling undercooked. I can’t imagine teenage audiences who have spent the past few years steeped in the sprawling, detailed insanity of Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games books will be rapt with attention watching Jeff Bridges shambling around his library, triggering the occasional lame stock footage montage meant to portray humanity in all its myriad wonders.

Noyce’s film version might have had a fighting shot if it had tapped into the elemental power of the story’s spare allegory, but alas, even with a plotline of this simplicity, The Giver can’t make the pieces fit. The logic begins to fall apart right from the opening narration. We are told that this is a society where all the highs and lows of humanity have been wiped away and people live in a serene state of medicated blankness. Everyone strolls around grinning like they lost a fight with a body snatcher. We meet our hero Jonas (Brenton Thwaites, a monument to blandness) on the day of the great Ceremony where he and his two equally personality-free friends are to receive their lifetime job assignments. Yet no sooner does the narration tell us that this world is free from competition and envy than we hear the trio chatting about how they hope they get a great job, crossing their fingers that they don’t get put on the janitorial staff. Correct me if I’m wrong, but wouldn’t this indicate that they are A) competitive and B) envious.

Get used to this confusion...

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Aug142014

Oscar Rumblings, Song Cuttings, Record Breakings

don't cry Meryl, you've got plenty of songs to sing already!No sooner do we get the Oscar charts updated than everything changes. We are Sisyphus! 

I was thrilled to have a new Stephen Sondheim song to look forward to after all the build-up, but we shan't be hearing it. At least not within the context of Into the Woods since they've cut it from the movie. Sorry Meryl... but you've got other great songs to sing. That means less one Oscar nomination for the movie which could earn anywhere from 0 to, you know, 14. I should pretend to have a clue how this will be received but my own deep love of Sondheim musicals has really messed with my radar about this movie. I remain both totally elated that it will be onscreen and terrified at all the things that are sure to be wrong with it. What should we replace it with in "Best Original Song"? HELP

But while we're on the topic of Rob Marshall movies, remember Chicago (2002)? Chicago should be a perfect example to show film and stage people that film versions of stage shows do not hurt the box office so there's no reason to wait (*cough* Wicked). They help it enormously. Chicago the stage show was tapering off before the movie and moved to a smaller theater. It's been steady ever since and come November it  will surpass Cats as Broadway's longest running musical that isn't named Phantom of the Opera. It's been on the boards since 1996 and...

I lost the thread. OSCARS.

As you may have heard American Sniper, Clint Eastwood's latest - you know how he do with not one film a year but two - will open at Christmas so Oscar talks begins in 3...2... oh never mind it already began. Like clockwork. But do you think Clint still has that golden touch or do you doubt that he'll recover with this one. This film is an adaptation of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle’s memoir "American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History." That title sounds so boastful! But The Academy likes Eastwood when he's doing masculine genres... so, it's something to consider at least. 

And still more Oscar rumblings: Fury is moving up to October (smart move) and buzz is strong on Logan Lerman. You may recall I interviewed him for Perks of Being a Wallflower and they were very smart to pursue longshot awards attention for him there. Awards are so often about momentum and being perceived as worthy before a film even hints. Build a good reputation and make good films and you gather steam. And Awards Circuit talked to someone who saw a test screening of Unbroken so give that a look if you're eager for a random opinion. I never know how seriously to take test screenings since one person's "wonderful" is another person's "meh", you know?

Finally, we got the first still from P.T. Anderson's Inherent Vice, however tiny it is... via The Film Stage via EW in print

Thursday
Jul312014

Thoughts I Had... while looking at new "Into the Woods" images

If there is one thing in life that's certain at TFE beyond daily postings, Actress mania, Oscar chart delays, and time-jumping movie coverage, it's this: if Meryl Streep is featured there are a bajillion comments. And yet the last two Streep attacks, a look back at 2009 and a subliminal Hours reunion proved the exception. Is this merely summer doldrums or a sign of the Streepocalypse? Or were people just waiting for Into the Woods news? If so, it has arrived.

UPDATE: And the Teaser too!

Yesterday a bunch of new images surfaced from the movie and you know how this goes. We look at the image and we list off thoughts as they come without self-censorship to keep the brain loose and the words flowing and to not be too mundane about what this actually is - free advertising for Disney and regurgitated photo sharing.

Meet Rapunzel
• I always forget her in Into the Woods because she's immobile and shares her scenes with the Witch (Meryl Streep) who invariably steals them.
• So annoying when movie studios release one image with different proportions than the others. Rapunzel gets a vertical rectangle. Is this to show off the hair? 
• I love Tangled.
• When I was a wee boy it was my dream to make a Rapunzel movie because it was the only fairy tale I loved that DIDN'T have a Disney movie and also because my big sister had long hair and Crystal Gayle was still famous and yes that makes me an ancient - shut up! #40somethingisthenew30something
• Mackenzie Mauzy is literally the only Into the Woods cast member I don't know from anything. I guess she was on soaps? Are you familiar?

10 more photos after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Jul302014

'Mom! Streep & Julie are flirting again'

I can't resist putting these images in dialogue. Are the two esteemed actresses thinking of each other in their grey flat-ironed wigs, or is this a subliminal cry for a sequel to the sapphic wonders of The Hours? As Christian so correctly observed on Twitter, Nicole is never going to let a grey hair near her scalp. But she died in The Hours so she can't be in the sequel anyway.

This twinned image was fun to discuss on Twitter but after the fact it reminded me of an earlier conversation with Anne Thompson and Kyle Buchanan about why there are so many aged lady villains in YA adaptations. My contention is that it's their ageist way of playing both sides. So many stories about young girls that pay lipservice to "girlpower" are, just like stories centered on men and boys, still scared of the power and agency of (adult) women; these prejudices are deeply ingrained.