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Entries in Months of Meryl (52)

Jan 04 2019

Months of Meryl: An Epilogue

JohnandMatthewwatchedevery single live-action film starring Meryl Streep.

Meryl has been a superstar for 40 years now

MATTHEW: You never forget the performers who first reach out to you from an illuminated screen and lay claim to your gaze,mind,and devotion.Before I knew anything about the art of screen acting,I knew about the miraculous and almost mythic marvel that is Meryl Streep.Months of Merylwas an undertaking that exhausted and aggravated me without end: for every unparalleledSilkwoodin Streep's filmography,there are at least twoThe House of the Spirits;for every forgotten or underrecognized gem likeThe Seduction of Joe Tynan,One True Thing,orA Prairie Home Companion,there are at least threeStill of the Nights,Primes,orDark Matters.But,more importantly,this project illuminated a great deal about a veteran artist whose empathetic interest in the lives of others moved me at such an impressionable age and will never cease to do so.

Watching and writing about Streep's films side by side by side for well over a year has not taught me a single overarching lesson,but only deepened my appreciation for her mastery...

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Dec 27 2018

Months of Meryl: The Post (2017)

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

#52 — Katharine "Kay"Graham,pioneeringWashington Postpublisher who authorized the printing of the Pentagon Papers.

JOHN: Since it was first announced in March of 2017,deep into the first hundred days of the Trump presidency,The Postmoved at a breakneck speed from rewriting to shooting to post-production before it quickly arrived in theaters in December of that year.Spielberg had paused production on his historical dramaThe Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortaraand after reading a spec script by Liz Hannah,set the gears into motion onThe Post,assembling his usual team (cinematographer Janusz Kaminski,composer John Williams,editor Michael Kahn,among others),along with two screen legends who had never before shared a single frame.This urgent sense of timeliness is palpable inThe Post,which is both a riveting period piece about a landmark historical moment and a rousing paean to the free press in our distressing present...

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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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Dec 13 2018

Months of Meryl: Suffragette (2015)

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

#50 —
Emmeline Pankhurst,key leader of the women's suffrage movement in the United Kingdom.

JOHN: Vandalizing storefronts,detonating mailboxes,carrying out prison hunger strikes — these are but a few of the risky tactics employed by women in the British suffrage movement in and around London circa 1912.Sarah Gavron'sSuffragettechronicles the movement's pivot to such dangerous gambles in an effort to draw attention and spark action for the cause."Deeds,not words"became the new mantra after years of respectable yet unsuccessful solicitation of a woman's right to vote.These radical activists,led by Emmeline Pankhurst and visionaries like Emily Wilding Davison,Edith New,and scores of others,believed that civil disobedience and militant action were the only ways to disrupt the status quo and achieve women's suffrage.This crucial moment of history has rarely been represented on screen,save for glimpses of the movement inMary Poppinsor in a handful of documentaries,despite the exciting and provocative elements inherent in this important story.

Unfortunately,"Important Story"could appropriately serve as the tagline and governing principle of Gavron's misguided though well-intentioned film...

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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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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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