Tag: Meryl Streep


August: Osage County

December 6th, 2013 — 1:36am

*****3bf7jvekkkof_200

August: Osage County sp- Meryl Streep has done it again as she turns in what has to be a sure thing for another Oscar nomination as best actress and we wouldn’t be surprised if Julia Roberts snags one for her supporting role. These two are part of the  most dysfunctional family configurations that you can imagine as they gather in the matriarch’s (Meryl Streep) house after the patriarch(Sam Shepherd) has just killed himself. The setting is bleak but beautiful (if that is possible) Osage County in Oklahoma. The three daughters who come home, are played by Julia Roberts, Juliette Lewis and Julianne Nicholson. A husband and  boyfriend are played by Ewan McGregor and Dermot Mulroney. Margo Martindale is great as the almost equally mean sister of Steep’s character and her grown son is inhabited by none other than Benedict Cumberbatch. Her husband is wonderfully acted by Chris Cooper. The Director is John Wells who is best known for his television work on ER, West Wing, Shameless, Southland and many other shows. He certainly found the right touch to work with this all star cast as the interaction which develops over the post funeral dinner is spellbinding as are the subplots with the various family members. The screenplay is written by Tracy Letts who originally wrote it as a highly successful  Broadway play which won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Wells, in a post screening discussion, stated that he hoped the audience will find a little of their own families in this depiction which we believe is a stretch as much of the family interrelationships were horrendous although fascinating. Streep’s character is anyone’s worst nightmare as a shrew, cruel insensitive pill popping mother about whom we can only gain insight and understanding when we hear her talk about her own mother. Is it ever possible to get away from such a bad piece of luck as to be born into this family? In one sense the movie is a study of how family members might be able to escape from such a toxic environment. We can only imagine how this witch-like matriarch might feel if she is finally abandoned and left alone with her native American housekeeper (perfectly played by Misty Upham). (2013)

Comment » | 5 Stars, Drama

Hope Springs

July 28th, 2012 — 5:59am

****

Hope Springs- sp. This is the kind of movie that in addition to being quite entertaining, might very well stimulate discussion in married couples about what may have lost in their marriage over the years. Early in the movie we meet Kay (Meryl Streep) and Arnold (Tommy Lee Jones) from Omaha, Nebraska who have been married 31 years, have grown children out of the house and now sleep in separate bedrooms. Kay is not happy with this situation and she books a week of intensive couples therapy with the famous author and therapist in Maine Dr. Feld (Steve Carrell). Then the fun begins or perhaps the pain, depending how you experience this well done movie directed by David Frankel based on script by Vanessa Taylor. Producer Todd Black who spoke to the audience we were in  at the UCLA Extension Course at the Screen Writers Guild theater, noted that varying  groups previewing this movie had different reactions. The younger audiences apparently are rolling in their seats with laughter so you can’t even hear some of the lines. The older audiences laugh a lot but in different places and seem to have a different appreciation of the film. No doubt this is an entertaining movie but sometimes laughter is a cover up for anxiety that can occur when some hidden truths are exposed. Meryl Streep, we are told was one of driving forces wanting to make this movie and send a message to middle aged couples who might need some motivation to examine a marriage that has lost it’s spark. She as usual is terrific. She found a way to look and act like every woman and yet have that special desire and also show it. Tommy Lee Jones was not a bad choice for the husband that most guys wouldn’t mind identifying with as he goes about his everyday business pretending that he doesn’t miss the early days of his marriage. He comes off a little too stereotypical in this role but it works. Steve Carrell has that same bland look and tone that he conveys in the Office but his hint of a smile and his persona makes us believe that he really cares as the doctor therapist. Much of the movie is about what happens to sex in marriage. There is some practice with bananas and at least one orgasm but everybody pretty much keeps their clothes on and the movie did get a  PG 13 rating. If the star power of the movie works and the hype doesn’t scare off the guys, this should be a successful film. All the adults should be in for an enjoyable movie with the possibility of some good repercussions for many.(2012) 

Comment » | 4 Stars, Comedy, Drama, Romance

The Iron Lady

January 22nd, 2012 — 6:42pm

 

***

The Iron Lady- rm-  An alternate name for this movie might be Margaret Thatcher meets Golden Pond but more about that a little later. The take away story of this movie is that Meryl Streep turned in an unbelievable performance as the famed British Prime Minister. The strength, character and the obstinacy of this woman during the height of her career comes across as most authentic as did her  sensitivity, vulnerability and reminiscences in her twilight years.  Streep once again establishes herself as one of the outstanding actresses of our time (in this case helped somewhat by a great makeup job as she ages.) The movie shows the development of the conservative philosophy of Thatcher as the young daughter of a grocer who then with an Oxford education carries forth her social and political beliefs as she becomes a Member of Parliament. We get a sense of  her determination not to be deterred as she takes her place in what is essentially an old boy’s club. The movie drops the audience in the middle of the exciting British  history as we see Thatcher stand up for her philosophical view on economic issues such as trying to balance the budget which triggered violent responses by the masses of people who felt they were being treated unfairly. We see her make the decision to go to war against Argentina in the Falkland Island incident with the loss of hundreds if not thousands of lives although nothing substantial but Britain’s pride was at stake. Certainly these depictions are quite timely as they reflect the political debate going on now as the United States Conservative and Tea Party movements demand balanced financial budgets at the expense taking away services to the needy. The movie also reminds us of the split among various factions on how our own military should react. The movie was at it’s best when it showed Thatcher carrying out her conservative philosophy and dealing with the consequences of it. We wish we could have seen more of this. Instead, a good part of the storyline dealt with the vehicle of viewing Thatcher as an older woman with memory problems who is grieving the death of her husband (Jim Broadbent) and having hallucinatory visions of him.  She is also having flashbacks of her relationship with him and her early life. It is always an unhappy story when a person’s mind fails them in later life and that certainly can happen to anyone. We don’t see how such a sad occurrence was relevant to Thatcher’s story, whether it was actually true and what was the purpose of emphasizing this in the film. There also is a vague suggestion that her dedication to her career has somehow made her distant from her children. If the writer (Abi Morgan) and director (Phyllida Lloyd) were trying to make a point about how this actually happened in Thatcher’s life, this should have been more clearly delineated. While we believe the story leaves something to be desired, the performance by Streep makes the movie quite worthwhile. (2011)

Comment » | 3 Stars, Biography, History

Julie and Julia

September 7th, 2010 — 1:22am

Julie and Julia* * * * *
Julie and Julia
– rm – Two women on separate continents also separated in time by more than a half of a century are both trying to find themselves. Once they see their goal they pursue it with dedication and determination. One of them is Julia Child (Meryl Shreep), wife of an American diplomat in Paris who becomes passionate about French cooking and becomes involved in trying to write book in English about it. The other is Julie Powell (Amy Adams), a young wife and government worker who becomes passionate about the now famous Julia Child and decides to try out all 524 recipes from her cookbook in 365 days while reporting regularly in a new blog that she has started. The film was directed and produced by Nora Ephrom who also wrote the film script based on a book recently written by Ms. Powell .It moves back and forth in time following the struggles of both of these women. The support and love of both their husbands, played by Stanley Tucci and Chris Messina are an important part of this story. We don’t usually hear the out loud laughter that we heard in the movie theatre several times during the humorous moments. We felt the tug of heart strings in the difficult trials and tribulations along the way of their journeys. The movie also conveyed the jubilation of their ultimate successes. Julia Child’s cookbook is now in its 49th printing and it has found a way on to the bookshelves of a few generations of young households. Many people have had a glimpse into Ms. Child’s personality by her pioneer TV cooking show where she showed everyone that it isn’t so terrible to pick your prize cooking off the floor when it accidentally lands there. This film will further humanize this American icon and give insight into her inspiring story. (2009)

Comment » | 5 Stars, Biography, Comedy, Drama, Romance

It’s Complicated

January 16th, 2010 — 2:55am

It's Complicated* * * *
It’s Complicated
– rm – Nancy Meyers , the writer and director of this film lives up to her reputation as the person who can connect with women over 40 and all those that know and care about her. Meryl Streep continues her streak as one of the most prolific and talented big name actresses on today’s screen , as she nails the role of a 50 something women who after 10 years of divorce has an affair with her ex-husband. She is appealing, sexy, intelligent, funny and poignant. The chemistry with her three children ( high school, graduating college and engaged to a great guy) is perfect. It is best described, as at one point she doesn’t take the suggestion to not answer her cell phone by saying, “ I have to answer the phone, I have three children.” Alec Baldwin, as the ex-husband, is a self centered successful attorney who married a young women half his age and now regrets it. His rekindled attraction to his ex-wife seems very real although he does over do it as the lout who wants one more chance. He can be funny and comedy is an important part of the film. Steve Martin who is a great comedian takes the low key role as the potential new boy friend for Streep and is much more sweet and kind than funny. The bottom line is that this movie is a great couples film especially for the over 40 crowd and deserves to be seen. (2009)

Comment » | 4 Stars, Comedy, Drama

Doubt

November 7th, 2009 — 12:49am

* * * *
Doubt
– sp – It is so remarkable that Meryl Streep can star in a musical comedy such as Mama Mia and also turn in such a perfect performance as the powerful but yet the ultimately doubting nun in this movie. Phillip Seymour Hoffman does an equally fine performance as the Priest of questionable character. Viola Davis is the supporting actress who plays the mother of a young student and matches these stars in her one moving scene. John Patrick Shanley wrote the Broadway play and the screenplay as well as directing this film version. He brings to us an ethical issue, which has relevance in many situations. 2008

Comment » | 4 Stars, Drama, Thriller

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