Tag: meryl streep

MOVIE REVIEW | Manhattan (1979)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: Allen has spent the majority of his long career trying to get his version of New York city onto the big screen, and none of his work does it better than this.

Manhattan 1
“He adored New York City. He idolized it all out of proportion. Eh uh, no, make that he, he romanticized it all out of proportion.”

Woody Allen made slapstick comedies in the late 60s and early 70s. He made deadpan, Swedish inspired dramas in 80s. And he’s spent the last 30 years oscillating from beloved “returns to form” and supposed “pale imitations of his former greatness”. But in over half a century of film making, it’s amazing to me that he made what are commonly regarded has his two absolute masterpieces in such close proximity to each other. There was Annie Hall in 1977, then, just two years later, he blew everyone away even more, with Manhattan.

Struggling with writers block, the voiceover of Isaac (Allen) tries to define his love for the titular city and his place in it. Cut to the 42 year old Isaac having dinner with 17 year old, high school student and girlfriend, Tracy (Mariel Hemingway), along with best friend couple, Yale (Michael Murphy) and Connie (Karol Ludwig). When Tracy goes to the bathroom, the other middle agers at the table are quick to let Isaac know that they think dating a teenager probably isn’t a great idea. Isaac agrees, and has no good reason to stay with Tracy. He even actively tries to convince her to move on to someone closer to her own age. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | Postcards From the Edge (1990)

Original Cinema Quad Poster - Movie Film Posters
Original Cinema Quad Poster – Movie Film Posters

“I want you to deal with your feelings, Suzanne, before they deal with you.”

Stories of Hollywood excess are nothing new or novel. Even a quarter of a century ago, stories of Hollywood excess were nothing new or novel. What made me think this movie about Hollywood excess might have something new and novel to offer, was Carrie Fisher. Officially fiction, but heavily based on Fischer’s real life, Postcards From the Edge seemed like a sure thing. Fisher is so funny and self deprecating in interviews, and she’s had a long career behind the scenes as one of Hollywood’s best script doctors. So, combining her crazy real life, her sardonic humour and her technical skill as a writer, meant I went in expecting a lot.

After ruining a long take on the set of a movie, actress Suzanne Vale (Meryl Streep) is read the riot act by her director (Gene Hackman as Lowell Kolchack) for being high. Instead of hearing his criticism and getting her act together, Suzanne goes home with a stranger (Dennis Quade as Jack Faulkner) and proceeds to overdose on pills and cocaine in his bed. Waking up in a hospital bed, all the doctors can tell Suzanne is that a man abandoned her in an emergency room, and that she has been checked into rehab. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | ***AFI WEEKEND*** #53. The Deer Hunter (1978)

“The American Film Institute’s list of the 100 Greatest Movies was selected by AFI’s blue-ribbon panel of more than 1,500 leaders of the American movie community to commemorate 100 Years of Movies”. Every weekend(ish) during 2015, I’ll review two(ish), counting them down from 100 to 1.

 Deer Hunter

“I feel a lot of distance, and I feel far away.”

In 1980, Michael Cimino made Heaven’s Gate, a movie that flopped so hard, it eventually bankrupted the studio that made it.  But a director can only hang himself, and his studio, to such a degree if he’s given enough rope.  So, why would United Artists give Michael Cimino that much rope?  Because only two years earlier, he’d won a Best Director Oscar and a Best Picture Oscar, among half a dozen others, for The Deer hunter.

Michael (Robert De Niro), Stan (John Cazale), Steven (John Savage) and Nick (Christopher Walken) work together in a Pennsylvania steel mill.  After Steven’s wedding, they go on a hunting trip together before Michael, Steven and Nick ship out to fight in Vietnam.  In Vietnam, they’re taken prisoner and forced to play Russian roulette while their captors bet on the outcome.  They manage to escape, but the ordeal has damaged them all in different ways.  And going home isn’t the relief it should be for any of them.  Including people who they left at home when they went to war, like Meryl Streep’s Linda. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | ***REMAKE WEEK*** The Manchurian Candidate (2004)

The_Manchurian_Candidate (2004)

“I started with nightmares. Rumors and conjecture? That’s a giant leap forward.”

When the original version of The Manchurian Candidate was made in the 60s, it was built on espionage and intrigue and undercover spy games, but in a quaint, Cold War way, it was a lot more out in the open.  Sure, everyone was trying to be covert, but it was a time, and a movie, where the sides were very easily identifiable.  And even while their actions and tactics may have been top secret, their goals were right there in the open.  So when someone (for no apparent that reason I can see) decided to remake The Manchurian Candidate, they needed to replace the Cold War with something a little more relevant to the new millennium.  And it’s those attempts at modernisation that lead to the best and worst parts of the 2004 retelling.

After single handedly saving his unit from an ambush attack in Iraq, Raymond Shaw (Liev Schreiber) is given a Congressional Medal of Honor.  Welcomed home a hero, his overbearing Senator mother (Meryl Streep as Eleanor) pulls stings to make him a vice presidential candidate.  At the same time, Shaw’s commanding officer from the Iraq incident, Ben Marco (Denzel Washington) starts to have a recurring dream.  A dream in which him and his platoon are being brain washed and hypnotised, a dream in which Shaw kills an officer who has since been remembered as a casualty of the ambush. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | August: Osage County (2013)

The later part of the year always means the release of prestige, Oscar worthy movies.  Which means Oscar bait.  Usually, Oscar bait is over earnest, over sentimental, over the top syrup.  Bur every now and again, there’s Oscar bait that subverts all that stuff and uses its prestige cast, hoity toity theatre origins and Oscar trappings to make something really affecting that hits pretty hard, like August: Osage County.

Sam Shepard is Beverly Weston, patriarch of the Weston family.  Breaking the fourth wall, he opens the movie letting us know that he’s an alcoholic and that his wife Violet (Meryl Streep) is a pill head, using cancer to justify her addiction.  Beverly hires a live in nurse to help look after his wife, then disappears.  Violet calls her sister and brother in law (Margo Martindale and Chris Copper) for support, as well has her eldest daughter, Julia Roberts’ Barbara.

Not long after, Beverly is found dead on his boat from an apparent suicide and the rest of the Westons converge on Violet’s house for the funeral and a volatile reunion in the midst of an Oklahoma heat wave.  The three Weston daughters are rounded out by introverted old made Ivy (Julianne Nicholson) and Juliette Lewis as the youngest and flightiest, Karen.

Add to that Ewan McGregor as Barbara’s estranged husband, Abigail Breslin as their daughter, Dermot Mulroney as Karen’s three times divorced, Ferrari driving fiancé and Benedict Cumberbatch as their shy, put down cousin, Little Charles.  This is a massive ensemble of A-list stars, all at the absolute top of their game.

Two hours of horrible people being horribly horrible to each other might not sound like a great way to spend your time, but somehow August: Osage County makes it work.  And while everyone does an amazing job, Streep and Roberts are the standouts.  It was a little jarring at first to see them play such hostile, low class women, but the more they sink their teeth into it, the more entertaining they become.

August: Osage County also does an amazing job of making you feel the stifling heat.  The oven like feeling of Violet’s house, the searingly blurred horizon of the endless Oklahoma plains.  The sweat almost soaks through the screen.  It also helped that   Melbourne was going through it’s own heatwave, meaning it was 40°C (104°F) in my lounge room while I watched this movie.  So I could literally feel what they were going through weather wise.  It’s the kind of heat that almost justifies every act of assholery committed by every character.  And these people are all absolute assholes.

This movie is rough going.  It’s really well made, the performances are top notch all round and the story is compelling, but t’s not a feel good movie that will leave you with a smile on your face.  It’s brutal and doesn’t hold back on letting these characters indulge in all of their worst tendencies.  I felt sorry for a couple of them, but I didn’t like a single one.  August: Osage County is the kind of movie I’ll definitely recommend to others, but I never want to see it again.  Ever.

August: Osage County
Directed By – John Wells
Written By – Tracy Letts