meryl streep

The World Keeps Changing but the Importance of “Out of Africa” Does Not

The World Keeps Changing but the Importance of “Out of Africa” Does Not

In one scene, deep into the 1985 adventure romance Out of Africa, Baroness Karen von Blixen (Meryl Streep) has her dear friend Berkeley over for dinner, where he cleverly warns her: “When the old mapmaker’s got to the edge of the world, they used to write, ‘beyond this place, there’ll be dragons.’” It’s a sly warning and a great line, delivered in the setting of Blixen’s deliciously well-appointed living room.

Is Paul Ryan the new MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE?

Is Paul Ryan the new MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE?

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: A buff, young Congressman with a peninsular hairline unexpectedly earns his party’s nomination for Vice President, but he’s really just a puppet of global corporate forces who want to install him in the White House so he’ll implement their nefarious agenda. No, it’s not THE PAUL RYAN STORY—I’m talking about Jonathan Demme’s eerily prescient 2004 remake of THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE, airing on Sundance Channel tonight at 9P.

LIONS FOR LAMBS and the real cost of war

LIONS FOR LAMBS and the real cost of war

From PATHS OF GLORY to PLATOON, the best war movies bring a global conflict down to a personal level. Director-star Robert Redford takes that approach to the War on Terror — and, more specifically, the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan — with his 2007 drama LIONS FOR LAMBS (airing Thursday at 10P and all month long on Sundance Channel). With 68,000 U.S. troops still stationed in Afghanistan and the next president facing a December 2014 deadline to decide how many will stay longer, LIONS FOR LAMBS remains more relevant than ever. Clocking in at a lean 92 minutes, most of it unfolding in real time, the action takes place simultaneously on three fronts.

THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE: Jonathan Demme remakes a political thriller — and himself

THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE: Jonathan Demme remakes a political thriller — and himself

When Jonathan Demme remade THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE — airing tonight at 10P — in 2004, many people were perplexed: Why remake a film that was such a perfect time capsule of Cold War pop culture? Indeed, John Frankenheimer’s 1962 original, about a politician who has been brainwashed by the enemy, feels perfectly placed in history: It’s a film that both embraces Red Scare paranoia while satirizing McCarthyist histrionics. Demme probably felt that the post-9/11 political climate in the U.S., what with the enigmatic War on Terrorism and the controversial Patriot Act, warranted a revisitation of this premise. But the original was, in essence, a tight and effective suspense flick with political overtones — more Hitchcock than Sherwood Andersen. Demme’s politically pointed remake is darker, more modern and more despairing, with an A-List cast to match its ambitions, featuring Denzel Washington, Liev Schreiber and Meryl Streep.

THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE: Jonathan Demme remakes a political thriller — and himself

THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE: Jonathan Demme remakes a political thriller — and himself

When Jonathan Demme remade THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE — airing tonight at 10P — in 2004, many people were perplexed: Why remake a film that was such a perfect time capsule of Cold War pop culture? Indeed, John Frankenheimer’s 1962 original, about a politician who has been brainwashed by the enemy, feels perfectly placed in history: It’s a film that both embraces Red Scare paranoia while satirizing McCarthyist histrionics. Demme probably felt that the post-9/11 political climate in the U.S., what with the enigmatic War on Terrorism and the controversial Patriot Act, warranted a revisitation of this premise. But the original was, in essence, a tight and effective suspense flick with political overtones — more Hitchcock than Sherwood Andersen. Demme’s politically pointed remake is darker, more modern and more despairing, with an A-List cast to match its ambitions, featuring Denzel Washington, Liev Schreiber and Meryl Streep.

Further proof that TV is the new film

Further proof that TV is the new film

It’s old news that the increased presence of high-profile film stars in TV land is just another not-so-subtle sign of the recession in action: Those usually used to a fat paycheck from the film studios have had to think out of the box — or rather, right into it, as have 2012 Emmy nominees Glenn Close of Damages, Kathy Bates of Harry’s Law and Steve Buscemi of Boardwalk Empire, to name just a few. But their presence is also a sign of another larger shift in the entertainment media landscape, one that has also been in development for a while now: The boundaries between the kind of content on TV and in film may be disappearing altogether.

From Cannes to Hollywood: Women still shut out of film jobs that don't require cleavage

From Cannes to Hollywood: Women still shut out of film jobs that don't require cleavage

image via Slant Magazine

That springtime film festival somewhere in the south of France is now fully under way, and we’re sad to spread the word: there are no female-directed films in competition at Cannes this year. Not that things are much better here in the US. Only five percent of the past year’s big, studio films were helmed by ladies. What gives?

Julia Roberts is officially a Grand Dame

Julia Roberts is officially a Grand Dame

America’s ‘90s sweetheart, Julia Roberts is entering a sort of grand dame phase, which is interesting as she unexpectedly ages into character-actor territory.

Once the fresh-faced star of dramas and rom-coms—and the loveliest prostitute in ages in 1990’s PRETTY WOMAN—Roberts was an appealing ingénue with a smile that brightened any screen and a fascinating ability to laugh and cry at the same time. I always thought she was a good actress—not just a good movie star—and was beside myself when she won the Oscar for 2000’s ERIN BROCKOVICH, playing a fiery legal assistant with cleavage and chutzpah.

At the Oscars, it's hip to be square

At the Oscars, it's hip to be square

The Los Angeles Times just posted a massive investigation into the demographics of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the 5,765 largely anonymous voters who every year decide who will receive the highly coveted and ultra-influential Oscars. Their findings, which will come as a shock to no one who has watched the Oscars at any point in the last 25 years, revealed a membership that is very old and very uncool. 94% of Academy voters are white; 77% are male. 54% are over the age of 60; just 2% are under the age of 40.

The Review Revue: THE IRON LADY

The Review Revue: THE IRON LADY

In “The Review Revue,” we turn dozens of movie reviews from all over the Internet into one handy blog post. It’s like super-concentrated orange juice for film criticism (with less pulp and Vitamin D). This week: Meryl Streep stars as Margaret Thatcher in THE IRON LADY.

There are few metaphysical certainties in this world. I only know of three: death, taxes, and annual Oscar talk about Meryl Streep. Streep has won two Academy Awards (for KRAMER VERSUS KRAMER and SOPHIE’S CHOICE) and received a record sixteen nominations, including three in the last four years for THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA, DOUBT, and JULIE & JULIA. Her latest film, THE IRON LADY, has Streep the focus of renewed Oscar buzz, and could easily bump her career total to an even more astonishing seventeen nominations. The title of the film refers to the nickname of Streep’s character, former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. It — and its star’s incredible award track record — suggests a nickname for Streep: The Gold Lady.

But was The Gold Lady’s performance good enough to win over the critics? Or was THE IRON LADY’s reputation less than sterling? Let’s find out.

Bring on the Oscar movies! And the Oscar fatigue!

Bring on the Oscar movies! And the Oscar fatigue!

The season of grossout comedies and screechy animated romps is spewing to an end as we brace ourselves for the period when actual quality films might come out of the darkness. And these films know they’re quality.

In fact, the releases from now till December 31 have been aggressively devised to win Oscars and will be prestigiously rammed down our throats until someone votes for them!

The top choices:

* Ages ago, George Clooney went from TV star to Oscar bait, and his new one will hardly stop his pedigree parade from marching on. It’s The Ides of March, directed by Clooney (who costars with Ryan Gosling), and seeing as it examines dirty politics from the inside, it couldn’t be any more tawdrily topical. Opens October 7

* Leonardo DiCaprio gets a star role—and hopefully some nice gowns—as FBI head J. Edgar Hoover in Clint Eastwood’s J. Edgar. It doesn’t take an investigator to smell Oscar potential here. October 21

Celebrating the unsung brilliance of John Cazale

Celebrating the unsung brilliance of John Cazale

If you’ve never heard of John Cazale, let me ask you if you’ve ever heard of THE DEER HUNTER, THE CONVERSATION, DOG DAY AFTERNOON or THE GODFATHER I and II? Each film was nominated for a Best Picture Academy Award and starred actors like Al Pacino, Gene Hackman and Robert DeNiro, all of whom realize the thanks they owe Cazale for playing his smaller roles so well that he boosted the performance of every actor he worked with, not to mention the films themselves. No matter the size of his role, Cazale was a perfectionist. He was called Mr. 20 Questions on set because he wanted to know every last detail about the characters he portrayed. Seldom playing off the cuff, Cazale thought deeply about all the possible ways to act out a scene, and then chose the best approach. It’s this commitment to the craft that makes his characters ring true and elicit our sympathy, even when we know he’s a shifty, shady rat of a guy.

Spotlight on Meryl Streep

Spotlight on Meryl Streep

Sundance Channel Spotlight on Meryl Streep, Thursday starting at 8PM

Meryl Streep is one of the busiest working actresses today, starring in 3 films in the last year alone: IT’S COMPLICATED, FANTASTIC MR. FOX and JULIE & JULIA, for which her performance as the much beloved Julia Child has earned her yet another Oscar nomination. In fact, Streep has been nominated for an Academy Award nearly every year since her very first nomination in 1979 for THE DEER HUNTER. And even though her roles in films like THE FRENCH LIEUTENANT’S WOMAN (1981) and POSTCARDS FROM THE EDGE (1990) have won her much deserved critical acclaim, she’s only managed to snag two of the golden statues, the first in 1980 for her role opposite Dustin Hoffman in KRAMER VS. KRAMER, which also won in all the big categories that year (Best Actor, Director, Screenplay and Picture), and a second time in 1983 for SOPHIE’S CHOICE.

Streep continues her 17-year nomination streak at next month’s Academy Awards, and in celebration Sundance Channel is showing 3 of her perhaps not lesser-known but recent under-awarded roles all in one night.