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Entries in Meryl Streep (229)

Monday
Dec192016

The Furniture: The Exuberant Fandom of Florence Foster Jenkins

"The Furniture" is our weekly series on Production Design. Here's Daniel Walber...

Florence's beloved Verdi sports her sensible chapeau.

Florence Foster Jenkins was a woman of grand exuberance. She’s mostly remembered for her terrible voice, which I suppose is fair. It’s worth noting, however, that she didn’t exactly intend to make comedy albums. It was her irrepressible love of music that drove her to the stage, the recording studio and, by way of generations of blithe dinner parties, into the 21st century.

With that in mind, a Meryl Streep movie seems like an inevitable conclusion. Florence Foster Jenkins’s director (Stephen Frears) and screenwriter (Nicholas Martin) clearly understand both pieces of the character, her fervent fandom and her wobbly voice. In fact, they so thoroughly embrace her passion for music that they suggest it’s what killed her.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Before Streep’s version of Florence takes her final bow, she lives her musical commitment. The design team of production designer Alan Macdonald (The Queen), supervising art director Patrick Rolfe (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) and art directors Gareth Cousins (BBC’s Jane Eyre) and Christopher Wyatt (Wuthering Heights) craft for her the most musical spaces possible without a total break from realism...

Of course, Florence herself seems determined to push that very boundary. The tableaux presented to the Verdi Club are fulfillments of fantasy. Suspended from the ceiling, the socialite silently impersonates a muse. Later, she becomes Wagner’s Brünnhilde. She stands in front of a bright and elemental backdrop, tastefully bloody corpses at her feet. The orchestra plays the Ride of the Valkyries with vigor, a musical endorsement of this charmingly absurd recreation.

After all, why should Florence obey the limits of reality? She’s an opera fan. What matters is the rush of the orchestra, the feelings that gush from the notes of the vocal line. Accordingly, Streep’s Florence is as larger-than-life as her Julia Child or her Anna Wintour. She is an icon of passion, not a citizen of the dull world that lurks outside the opera house, or the cinema.

 

The designers, therefore, elevate her period-appropriate decor with her fanatical devotion to music. Florence’s Hotel Seymour suite is only slightly less ridiculous than the ersatz Valhalla at the Verdi Club.

There are pieces of devotional memorabilia everywhere. One wall is a showcases for Florence’s collection of composer portraits. There’s Wagner, of course, and what appear to be multiple images of Liszt. The central position is reserved for Verdi.

Out in the hall, the same composers bless the apartment with their busts. They are joined by a crowd of matryoshka dolls, an elaborate lamp, and even more portraits hanging above.

Not every relic is clear to the naked eye. The hallway also features a row of chairs in which, as husband St Clair Bayfield (Hugh Grant) explains, various celebrities expired. They are, understandably, “not for practical use.”


 
Not an inch of wallspace is bare, no corner empty. One wall of the yellow music room features picturesque depictions of ruins, small paintings of what might be nymphs and a still life of flowers. The colors are doubled by the fruit display beneath and echoed by the roses of the wallpaper. It seems reasonable to assume that Florence is a great believer in the emotion evoked by sublime depictions of the natural world. The hills, if you will, are alive with the sound of music.

 

It’s easy to imagine Florence walking through her apartment, frequently stricken with sudden decorative inspirations. It’s certainly a plausible explanation for the flower and feather bouquet next to the window below, as well as the ornate doll seated in a miniature chair on the back table.

Florence’s is the exuberance of a fan who lives the art that she loves, the sumptuous musical excesses of opera. It’s no accident that the impetus for her return to singing is the Bell Song from Lakmé, an aria so extravagant that it dispenses with lyrics entirely in favor of high-flying vocal acrobatics. That same spirit runs through Florence’s apartment, her artistic career, and her joie de vivre. Every flight of fancy leads to a coloratura explosion of feathers or flowers. It’s as clear in her bathtub of potato salad as it is in her Carnegie Hall triumph.

previously on The Furniture

Saturday
Dec172016

Tweetweek: Nick in New Zealand, Amy in OscarLand and More...

Before you click ahead to see this week's collection of tweeted amusements, take a moment to appreciate the perfection of this visual postcard from our podcast mate Nick Davis. He's on vacation in New Zealand doing Holly doing The Piano on THE beach where it happened. His all time favorite film so I mean. It couldn't be more perfect, except that he neglected to contact Janet Patterson about a hoop skirt. After the jump Babs, Florence Foster Jenkins, Passengers, Jackie, Natalie Portman and more...

Click to read more ...

Monday
Dec122016

Best Tweets on the Globe Nominations

Feel free to suggest others in the comments...

BEST ACTRESS COMEDY

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Thursday
Nov032016

Cecil B DeMille 4 Meryl Streep

by Nathaniel R

For those craving their dose of La Streep this awards season, rest easy: even if she isn't Oscar nominated for Florence Foster Jenkins in an already highly competitive Best Actress race, she'll at least grace the Golden Globes. She's a shoo-in for a Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical category for her off-key diva and she'll also be this year's Cecil B DeMille Honoree. Remember that every year at some point during the broadcast they stop handing out awards and celebrate a whole career with clips and speeches. On Sunday January 8th, 2017, that section of the night belongs to Meryl...

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Nov022016

If we stare at Meryl's magnificent flag dress long enough...

...will it finally be Election Day?

Monday
Oct242016

Beauty vs Beast: My Best Friend is a Vampire

Jason from MNPP here wishing everyone a happy week's worth of Halloween fun & spooky frivolity. Now that the New York Film Festival's behind us I feel as if I can properly focus in on the reason for the season - horror movies! So let's devote this week's "Beauty vs Beast" to one of the finest examples of the genre from our young new millenium - Tomas Alfredson's 2008 Swedish stunner Let the Right One In, which tells the tale of young Oskar and the strange "girl" named Eli who moves in next door. Eli puts the "bad dream" into the term "Manic Pixie Dream Girl," but Oskar, bullied though he may be, ain't no saint himself...

PREVIOUSLY Last week we wandered into the woods with Into the Woods and the battle between the Baker's Wife and The Witch was quite the doozy, but in the end (unlike the film) it was Emily Blunt who came out singing with 52% of the vite. Said PoliVamp:

"Baker's Wife easily. I was very unhappy with Streep's nomination, as she was only the 5th best performance in the movie (and Blunt is in that top 4 group). Also, Moments is my favorite song from the musical, give or take Agony, so this was an easy pick for me."

 

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