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The Film Experience™ was created by Nathaniel R


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Entries in Meryl Streep (149)

Sunday
Jan112015

The 72nd Golden Globes

We'll discuss in greater detail tomorrow but for tonight a skeletal live blog to remind us of what happened when

8:00 An opening monologue to intimidate all future Globe hosts. Amy & Tina are on fire with just about every joke landing, some more comfortably than others. Jessica Chastain sums up the reactions to the Bill Cosby joke below. [more after the jump]

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Dec312014

Screener Adventures from American Snipers to British Painters (Pt. 2)

Previously... I shared brief thoughts about rewatches of Big Hero, Grand Budapest, Babadook well as The Homesman and Skeleton Twins.

What came next in the home-screening adventures, you ask? Here I am to answer. I haven't had as much time as I'd hope (aint that always the case) but I've been trying to cram movies in. Here are a handful of notes on movies from the screener stack.

AMERICAN SNIPER
Credit where credit is due: For once a Clint Eastwood movie is not filmed like its sinking into an inky black void where color is a total affront to sober intent. It turns out Tom Stern can make movies that take place in reasonably well lit places. Okay, okay, let's not get carried away. It's still largely colorless but this time there is daylight though the subject matter remains brutal. I'm not sure what to make of its dead-eyed killings which aren't filmed with any rah-rah glee that you'd think would accompany the movie's conservative America is #1 conservatism. Even its one note patriotism is presented rather than, I think, fully endorsed: Chris Kyle, very well played by Bradley Cooper though there isn't much in the way of an arc, memorably refuses to engage with any criticism and is all "God, Family, & Country" in each scene. But something about its very matter-of-fact presentation and inarticulate hero wore me down after awhile despite gripping action sequences. I have no idea how Oscar might respond but my hunch is it's either full hog or both sound nominations only a la Lone Survivor

Meryl's Insane Bankability Continues! Well done, diva.INTO THE WOODS
Reviewed by ranking its musical numbers here. It was the second time I'd seen it having watched it on a big screen originally. Weirdly I think the cinematography, which often looked too muddy and dark on the screen works a little better on a TV. But anyway...  let's hear it for Disney for a great opening weekend. It's important that musicals do well so that we get more of them! Into the Woods won not only the biggest opening weekend ever for a Broadway adaptation but the biggest of Meryl Streep's career, as well. I imagine we'll continue to talk about Into the Woods for a while --  multiple Oscar nominations coming -- so I'll let this be all for this post.

THE JUDGE
I already peed on that here but it keeps haunting me like bad trip flashbacks. Especially the dye job on Vera Farmiga who deserves better Hollywood, come on. Also that scene where RDJ is like superhero-lawyer and stops a bar fight with the power of his wily words!

ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE
A love letter from Tangiers & Detroit to all of you who recommended this movie throughout the year. Though I was once the type who would rush to anything vampiric, I'll readily admit that Hollywood's overuse of the bloodsuckers finally wore me out; I've been avoiding all such movies for years now. But I should have trusted Jim Jarmusch to come at it from an entirely different angle and I don't know how I missed that it was shot by Yorick Le Saux who won my silver medal for cinematography in 2010 for I Am Love. Detroit has never looked so beautifully haunted, Tilda and Tom couldn't have been a more exotically languid well-cultured pair, its slow moods weren't trying but contemplative, and the ending was pitch-perfect delayed gratification.

Excusez moi


MR TURNER
A surprise. If you only listen to this movie as opposed to watching it (which is what I sometimes do when The Boyfriend is watching TV) it sounds rather like a horror movie. I'm not kidding. There are a lot of scary animalistic noises supposedly emanating from human people (not just Spall's famed grunt speak) and the score by Gary Yershon might be the creepiest outside of Under the Skin this year.  

P.S. Speaking of The Boyfriend...
This time of year chez moi he watches a ton of screeners since he doesn't go to many critics screenings with me. I usually don't watch carefully (having already seen them) and drift in and out as I'm working. He is unpredictable about movies. He loved Pride and Ida (as most sane people do), thought Mr Turner was "good. well made" but clearly had no passion for it. Cried huge apartment-flooding puddles during Still Alice and Wild, and inexplicably H-A-T-E-D both Force Majeure and A Most Violent Year (what the what??? x 2). Finally, he was paying so little attention to Love is Strange that I had to make him shut it off. That wonderful movie from Ira Sachs is too delicate for half-watching. It requires your full attention or that glorious final 15 minutes just won't resonate. 

Have you ever learned something new about a movie you loved by catching only pieces of it or hearing it in the background?

Monday
Dec292014

Reviewish: Into the Woods, Musical Numbers Ranked

This review originally appeared in Nathaniel's column at Towleroad

Once upon a time Stephen Sondheim wrote a musical classic Into the Woods. The first act brings together classic fairy tale characters into one comic misadventure and the second act debunks the “happily ever after” myth and transforms the whole play into a masterpiece about virtually all the Big Stuff: growing up, parenting, marriage, death, rebuilding after great loss.

Cinderella's family mocking our movie musical anxiety

When it comes to lines we can repurpose to talk about the prospects of a film version, Little Red said it best:

It made me feel excited. well, excited and scared.

Isn’t that how devotees of the movie musical feel each time a new one arrives? A bit of background to justify the high-anxiety. The live-action movie musical died alongside Bob Fosse's alter ego in All That Jazz (1979). The genre was six feet under for two full decades despite intermittent attempts at excavating its exquisite corpse (Annie, Little Shop of Horrors, Newsies). The Disney animation renaissance of the 1990s renewed interest and the genre was successfully reborn at the turn of the century by the one-two-three-four punch of Dancer in the Dark, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Moulin Rouge! and Chicago. That's a four consecutive high quality film run that this ancient-newborn genre has yet to match since. And why is that exactly? Some people blame the lack of strong directors who are skilled in the form, others the resistance to new blood (nearly all modern musicals are adaptations). Still more culprits are Hollywood’s frequent miscasting since musical skill is considered optional.

But The Witch (Meryl Streep) would like us to stop bitching and get on with this review...

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Dec162014

Curio: In the Kitchen with Meryl and Barbara

Alexa here. This week is cookie week in my house: the kitchen gets covered in flour and sugar in my attempt to craft cookies pretty as Martha's. I thought I'd try some new recipes this year, inspired by the world of film instead of M. Diddy. When I heard about The Dead Celebrity Cookbook Presents Christmas in Tinseltown I thought I'd check it out; I was sold when I saw it included Robert Mitchum's recipe for egg nog and Joan Crawford's recipe for angel food cake. First, though, I decided to try my hand at Barbara Stanwyck's family recipe for Christmas Kipfels during my yearly viewing of Christmas in Connecticut. With a little modification (rolling the dough instead of folding it, similar to rugelach), they were a snap.

With this recipe you won't need help from Felix

And so delicious!  So I was inspired to seek out other celebrity cookie recipes.  Another resource: Silver Screen Suppers, where you can find loads more of Joan Crawford's recipes. But when I stumbled upon Meryl Streep's family recipe for thumbprints (featured in Good Housekeeping) I knew I'd have to try it. After all, she showed some serious skills cracking those eggs in The Hours, clearly she knows her way around the kitchen. So of course, I dialed up The Hours and got to baking...

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Dec022014

Tweets o' the Week: Prada Reunion, Ill Juli, Flu Season

I have no idea if y'all like this now weeklyish roundup but I do so I'ma Keep On Keepin On. One fun thing that doesn't lend itself to highlighting elsewhere is reply conversations. So if you're interested in 'Bad Movies We Love' you should check out all the fun suggestions for favorite turkeys when I asked over Thanksgiving. I haven't seen several of the ones cited so I must get on that.

Anywhere here we go...

Tweets That Amused/Enlightened This Week, Non-Celebrity Division
Just for fun and with a smidge of Instagram...

 

LOL. "Starlog". Who is old enough to remember that magazine? Nathaniel asks while raising his hand sheepishly.

Best Broadway Trivia Ever

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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.

 

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