Archives for posts with tag: meryl streep

Did you see Mamma Mia and hate it? Don’t see this. Did you see Mamma Mia and sort of like it? For sure see this, it’s better. If you loved Mamma Mia in its original flavor, you will go bananas for this.

Donna (Meryl Streep) has died, unexplainedly, but probably because Meryl didn’t have a lot of time to spend on this movie. And also so people can look sad. Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) has restored the hotel, and it’s lovely, but Sky (Dominic Cooper) is in New York and might want to stay there because career or bagels or something. It storms like crazy the night before the grand opening OH NO.

Running along with this is flashbacks of Donna’s (Lily James) earlier life, where–in utter defiance of probability–she manages not to know which of Sam (Jeremy Irvine), Bill (Josh Dylan), or Harry (Hugh Skinner) is Sophie’s father and does not seem like an irresponsible tramp. This is partly because Lily James’s smile is slightly infectious and also because all of them are crazy hot and catch her at reasonable emotional states for jumping into bed with people. Richard Curtis has managed this well. They’re pretty good young Pierce Brosnan, Stellan Skarsgård, and Colin Firth, respectively, although I could ask for slightly more differentiation between the non-blondes.

BUT. The best part is her young Christine Baranski (Jessica Keenan Wynn) and Julie Walters (Alexa Davies). They’re hilarious and adorable and good matches, but still have their own personalities. They dress horribly and give slightly bad advice (as they will again when they are older) but are so cheekily supportive it’s hard to be angry. Also the constant gags with the youth of the flashbacks and the age of the original cast are wonderful.MV5BMjEwMTM3OTI1NV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNDk5NTY0NTM@._V1_UX182_CR0,0,182,268_AL_.jpg


This movie knew exactly who would see it, and catered to that mercilessly, but it was also so gleeful. I could not stop smiling. I look forward to drinking a bottle and a half of rosé and singing along to it in the future.

Stray observations:

  • Andy Garcia jumped on this bandwagon and if you think about it for a split second it’s extremely obvious why but the payoff is so good.
  • Wait for the credits sequence. It’s way better than the first one.
  • We get “Waterloo” AND “Fernando” and I could not be happier.

Director: Ol Parker
Rating: PG-13
Length: 114 minutes
Score: 5/5 and also unrateable

If you’d like to watch a romantic movie with multiple generations and Vanessa Redgrave, watch Letters to Juliet, which is silly but palatable. Do not watch Evening, which is self-serious and terrible.

Anne (Vanessa Redgrave) is dying. Her daughters, Connie (Natasha Richardson) and Nina (Toni Collette), come to stay with her, and notice that she starts mentioning names they have never heard. It goes without saying that Connie has a husband and kids and a Range Rover where Nina has a boyfriend in a band and a bad dye job (hers, not his), and that they are mutually awful to each other.

The audience sees the people behind these names in flashbacks: young Anne (Claire Danes), Harris (Patrick Wilson), and Buddy (Hugh Dancy). Anne’s friend Lila (Mamie Gummer) is getting married in Newport; Buddy is Lila’s brother and Harris is their housekeeper’s son, now a doctor. Anne is their impecunious artistic friend, as we learn because she’s not blonde and has heard of Greenwich Village, even though it’s the fifties. Since my dad sub-let a flat from a sitar player in the Village at about this time, and my dad is hardly an espadrille-wearing anarchist, this seems laid on a little thick. It can be galling and awkward to be a poor relation at a Newport wedding, but if the bride really wants you to be her maid of honor, you could maybe try to handle it with a little grace.

Buddy is…something. He’s constantly drunk and on the verge of writing a novel and has carried around a note from Anne for four years but kisses Harris and drunkenly jumps off a cliff but is fine. Constantly drunk and jumping off cliffs is standard Newport wedding behavior, as, probably, is being on the verge of writing a novel. One supposes that kissing Harris seems odd for the fifties, or would, if the movie didn’t have every single character stress that absolutely everyone was irresponsibly in love with Harris. So much for Buddy.

Harris, of course, is Anne’s great love too, but circumstances and expectations conspire against their eternal happiness. She regrets this on her deathbed, as she has evidently forgotten that Harris, as we have seen him, had approximately the personality of damp celery. But, of course, Anne’s choices are now being borne out in her daughters, somehow. They realize she was doing her best, and now they’re doing their best, and everything is fine. It’s offensively pat.

On a formal note, the flashbacks don’t mesh especially well, and it can be difficult to discern why, exactly, we have flashed back, or why, for instance, Eileen Atkins (as the night nurse) is now wearing an evening dress. It’s charming to have Meryl Streep play the older Lila, but not worth it for an unnecessary framing device. It’s not as bad as, say, The Notebook, but that’s only because it isn’t quite as cynical.

Stray observations:

  • They don’t even let Claire Danes commit to the ugly cry. They do let her slap people and over-dramatize herself, though.
  • Why did Glenn Close sign up to be Lila’s mom? Any actress could have done that part.
  • Seriously, you don’t have to be poor and artistic to have the capacity to feel. And name-checking The Great Gatsby doesn’t fix the hackneyed way you’ve dealt with class.
  • A character is hit by a car, and a bridesmaid observes, in scarily flat tones: “Oh my goodness, the blood, it’s everywhere.” That’s the worst piece of dialogue, but the rest of the movie runs a close second.

Director: Lajos Koltai
Rating: PG-13
Length: 117 minutes
Score: 2/5

People didn’t like Into the Woods, and I think I mostly agree with them. Part of this is that Stephen Sondheim isn’t my favorite (I know, I know, you’re definitely supposed to, but I just don’t really get it). But most of it is the Disneyfication. The original musical is unapologetically grown-up. Taking that away does violence to the coherence of the story, and the lame, winking attempts to minimize the problem don’t succeed.

The charm of the show is the interlocking stories:

  • Cinderella (Anna Kendrick) wants to go to the ball to meet the Prince (Chris Pine). I find Kendrick hard to root for, which was a problem, but Pine was enjoyably cheesy as the “charming but not sincere” royal.  Christine Baranski and Lucy Punch are entirely wasted as step-mother and a step-sister (Punch reprising a rôle she played in Ella Enchanted).
  • Little Red Riding Hood (Lilla Crawford) meets a wolf (Johnny Depp) in the woods. Crawford’s affect was almost unbelievably flat; Depp was atrocious in what I think was a (gratefully) curtailed version of the creepy sex-offender Mr. Wolf.
  • Rapunzel (Mackenzie Mauzy) lives in a tower, also has an attendant Prince (Billy Magnussen). Both very good-looking, their love-story is probably the most appealing.
  • Jack (Daniel Huttlestone, yes, Gavroche) sells his cow for giant-beanstalk-growing magic beans. He needs a different haircut. Tracey Ullman is great as his mom, obviously.
  • A baker (James Corden) and his wife (Emily Blunt) want a child. They play off each other well, and can both really sing.
  • A witch (Meryl Streep) has put a curse on the baker’s family, and they need to collect something from each of the four first-mentioned characters to break it. She’s Meryl, but with bluer hair.

So it’s mostly fine, but not great. The cinematography does all of that sweeping fake Disney forest nonsense, which is unnecessary and bad. There’s a blue filter most of the time, which is at odds with the general kiddification. The costumes are mostly all right except that everyone wears to the ball a dress with a mullet hemline, which looks really stupid.

I recommend just getting the Bernadette Peters one.

Stray observations:

  • James Corden’s impatience with Red is the best comic moment in the film.
  • Cinderella’s dress looks unfinished, and she wears the same one all three nights. Also the shoes are ugly! No good, guys.
  • Her birds, too, are pretty creepy. You can’t use crow-like birds to be Cinderella’s cute sidekicks, because crows are ominous and scary.

Director: Rob Marshall
Rating: PG
Length: 125 minutes
Score: 3/5