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Entries by Matthew Eng (48)

Friday
Dec 21 2018

Months of Meryl: Florence Foster Jenkins (2016)

JohnandMattheware watching every single live-action film starring Meryl Streep.


#51 —
Florence Foster Jenkins,a socialite and opera singer of abysmal ability.

MATTHEW: Florence Foster Jenkins was an affluent New York heiress who is only remembered today for her decades-long career as a nonprofessional soprano that spurred many to label her "the world's worst opera singer."Meryl Streep is one of the most acclaimed and rewarded actresses in history,a global celebrity whose foremost attribute is talent,pure and simple.The marquee casting of Streep as Jenkins is the amusing and unignorable irony at the center of Stephen Frears'Florence Foster Jenkins,a biographical drama that narrativizes the amateur,septuagenarian chanteuse's notorious attempts to resuscitate her dormant career in the years before her death in 1944.It is nothing if not a testament to Streep's power as one of the only active,major female movie stars of a certain age that a period piece about an awful opera singer well into her 70s received a prime summer release from a major studio (Paramount) and a full-steam awards campaign that garnered the actress her 20th Oscar nomination...

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Thursday
Dec 06 2018

Months of Meryl: Ricki & The Flash (2015)

JohnandMattheware watching every single live-action film starring Meryl Streep.

#49 —Ricki Randazzo,a rock singer who returns home to the family she abandoned.

MATTHEW: Throughout his eclectic and gloriously unpredictable career,the late Jonathan Demme paved the way for peak performances from actresses as disparate as Mary Steenburgen,Melanie Griffith,Michelle Pfeiffer,Jodie Foster,Oprah Winfrey,Kimberly Elise,Thandie Newton,Anne Hathaway,Rosemarie DeWitt,and Debra Winger.Like George Cukor before him,Demme was devoted to telling stories about women,which comprise the bulk of his narrative output.The director committed to shaping these narratives with the same heady,inquisitive vigor and nonjudgmental consideration that electrified all of his subjects,from Anthony Hopkins' lip-licking Hannibal Lecter to David Byrne,who indelibly bopped around the stage in a business suit at least six sizes too big during Demme's landmark concert documentaryStop Making Sense.

Ricki and the Flash,Demme's final narrative feature,sometimes conjures the capricious,loop-the-loop feeling of a concert documentary in its depiction of the type of story that Demme loved to tell,that of an unorthodox woman shouldering her burdens and confronting any and all perils as she forges ahead with the life she has chosen to lead...

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Thursday
Nov 29 2018

Months of Meryl: Into the Woods (2014)

JohnandMattheware watching every single live-action film starring Meryl Streep.

#48 —TheWitch,a witch.

JOHN:In his reservedreviewof the original 1987 Broadway production ofInto the Woods,Frank Rich summed up the plot of Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine's beloved musical as such: "Cinderella and company travel into a dark,enchanted wilderness to discover who they are and how they might grow up and overcome the eternal,terrifying plight of being alone."Rich noted that,"in remaking Grimm stories,Mr.Sondheim's lyrics and Mr.Lapine's book tap into the psychological mother lode from which so much of life and literature spring."Sondheim and Lapine's dextrous,intertwined reimagining of classic Grimm fairy tales,from Little Red Riding Hood to Cinderella,offers a subversively adult version of these hallowed childhood fables and an artistic vision that seems fundamentally at odds with family-friendly Disney,the machine behind Rob Marshall's 2014 screen translation.

When unhappy fans pressed Sondheim upon the film's release to defend what felt like a compromised adaptation,he admitted that concessions were in fact happily made to secure a PG rating...

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Thursday
Nov 22 2018

Months of Meryl: The Giver (2014)

JohnandMattheware watching every single live-action film starring Meryl Streep.

#47 —The Chief Elder,leader of a dystopian society.

MATTHEW:In Lois Lowry's 1993 young adult novelThe Giver,a society recovering from near-ruination divides its people into communities and,in the process,mistakes sameness for equality.In the 2014 film adaptation of Lowry's Newbery Medal-winning classic,a production team looking to make a quick buck on the under-18 set mistakes glossy superficiality for storytelling simplicity and basic filmmaking competency.Despite its undeniable following and long-held status as a formative literary staple for American adolescents,The Giverwas somehow omitted from my middle school reading list.I'm positive Lowry's tale has its merits,but whatever those may be,they are almost entirely undetectable in this version from journeyman director Phillip Noyce (Rabbit-Proof Fence,The Quiet American).

Noyce's iteration centers around Jonas (Australian twink Brenton Thwaites),a 16-year-old who we are told possesses uncommon brilliance and "a capacity to see beyond,"assets that earn him the title of his community's Receiver of Memory...

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Thursday
Nov 15 2018

Months of Meryl: The Homesman (2014)

JohnandMattheware watching every single live-action film starring Meryl Streep.


#46 —Altha Carter,a minister's wife who gives comfort to three disturbed women.

JOHN:The Homesmanis one of the best films Meryl Streep has ever had the good fortune to be in,and yet,she's on screen for no more than five minutes.Set circa 1850 in the Nebraska territory,Tommy Lee Jones' adaptation of Glendon Swarthout's novel is a gorgeous and unsettling theatrical follow-up to his 2005 stunnerThe Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada.

Hilary Swank stars as Mary Bee Cuddy,a self-sufficient spinster who volunteers to transport three insane women from their town to a church in Hebron,Iowa that cares for mentally ill patients...

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