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Entries in Meryl Streep (231)

Friday
Jan062017

The Oscar Week: Palm Springs to NY to LA

In this weekly feature from Murtada we follow Oscar contender appearances and interviews.

This week Oscar contenders were very busy, making numerous appearances from Palm Springs to New York and back to California for Sunday’s Golden Globes. From the ceremonial Palm Springs International Film Festival that basically gives awards to every single contender as long as they show up to their fund raising gala, to the more discerning New York Film Critics Circle awards, people like Casey Affleck, Jeff Bridges and Amy Adams got to test out their acceptance speeches while gaining face time with media and Oscar voters... 

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Friday
Jan062017

The Wisdom of "Postcards"

We've been name dropping Postcards from the Edge a lot this past week, for obvious reasons. I caught the last half hour on accident on television tonight and every split second of it remains marvelous. By the time we get to Suzanne (Streep) reconciling with the director (Gene Hackman) whose film she nearly sabotaged, I am a mess of emotions. It's literally one of my single favorite scenes in all of cinema - so simply staged, so unfussily played by two of the best screen actors of all time, and deeply resonant every time.

Postcards is known for its endless wit but here's something that's less often discussed: even when it's not trying to be funny, it's a total winner. It's a wise compassionate movie, constantly reminding us to go a little easier on ourselves and each other.

Lowell: Growing up isn't like in a movie where you have a realization and life changes. In life, you have a realization and your life changes a month or so later.

Suzanne:  So I just have to wait a month?

Lowell: It depends on the realization. Some of them you only wait a couple weeks.

 

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...

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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...

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