You could always count on Meryl Streep to give a great performance, but now the 60-year-old’s become a bankable movie star, too.
The transition began with The Devil Wears Prada which earned Streep another Oscar nomination and the attention of Hollywood after the comedy scooped up an unexpected $327 million US globally.
Her follow up as the headliner in the film version of the popular musical Mamma Mia! was the mega-hit that made the difference. While Streep missed out on an Academy Award nomination, she shared the glory of the picture’s bountiful box office of $603 million US world wide.
Even last year’s Doubt, featuring Streep as a stern nun, managed to attract $51 million worth of business and win her another Oscar nod.
So writer-director Nora Ephron couldn’t believe her good fortune when Streep agreed to play celebrated cookbook author and TV icon Julia Child in her film Julie & Julia which opens on Aug. 7.
Not only did the filmmaker get the best person for the job, she also received a green light for the movie when Streep came on board.
“It’s always hard to make a movie that isn’t about a video game,” notes Ephron, “but Meryl’s the hottest actor in America right now so that was very helpful to me.”
The peculiar thing is that Streep’s in only half of the comedy, which is adapted from two books. One is Child’s autobiography, co-written with Alex Prud’homme, recalling her time in Paris during the 1950s with husband Paul (Stanley Tucci from The Devil Wears Prada). The other portion is Julie Powell’s modern-day memoir and blog Julie & Julia which outlined how Powell (played by Streep’s Doubt co-star Amy Adams) became obsessed with Child when she decided to cook, in 365 days, each of Child’s 524 recipes from her famous book Mastering the Art of French Cooking.
The movie, written by Ephron, interweaves both stories but, as usual, it is Streep who stands out by recalling Child’s distinctively chirpy voice and rambunctious behaviour without lampooning it.
And that’s good news for Streep fans. Despite her new position as a commercial powerhouse, her craft hasn’t suffered.
“I seem to have more choices in the last five years than in the previous five years,” notes Streep while smiling bashfully during a recent interview. “Part of me thinks it has to do with the fact that there are more women executives making decisions because everything starts with what gets made.”
It helped, too, that the obsessive foodie Ephron has a decent track record in the romantic comedy department, with gems such as When Harry Met Sally and Sleepless in Seattle, to her credit.
But she didn’t write the script with Streep in mind because she didn’t want to be disappointed if she didn’t get her.
For her part, Streep had more than just the challenge of doing Child on her mind.
“I’m doing an idealized version of Julia,” admits the actress. “But I was also doing a version of my mother who had a similar joie de vivre, an undeniable sense of how to enjoy her life. Every room she walked into she made brighter.”
On the other hand, Streep’s mother didn’t have an interest in cooking – at all. Born and raised in Summit, N. J., Streep had a middle class childhood. Her mother Mary was a liberal and lively commercial artist while father Harry William was a more conservative dad and pharmaceutical executive.
Yet home-cooking didn’t exist in the Streep household.
“I remember when I was ten going to a little girl’s house, and she and her mother were sitting at the table and they were doing something to tennis balls, ” says Streep chuckling at the memory.
“And I said, ‘What are you doing?’” she continues. “And they said, ‘Making mash potatoes.’ I said, ‘What do you mean? Mash potatoes come in a box.’”
Yes, they were peeling potatoes. “And I had never seen a real potato,” she says. “My mother’s motto was, ‘If it’s not done in 20 minutes, it’s not dinner. ‘”
Streep can cook “although I wouldn’t call myself a chef.”
And if she needed support and encouragement, she was surrounded by it on set. Ephron and co-star Tucci are above average in the kitchen.
And the Oscar-honoured actress had a long list of Child things to reference, including her TV show The French Chef.
“Julia’s so vivid and she left behind such an articulate trail of her journey in the book that she wrote with Alex (Prud’Homme) and in her cook books, ” Streep says. “Her voice really comes through.”
So does Streep – again – doing what she’s always loved doing. That’s why her recent box office success is unexpected.
“I still feel I am like every other actor,” says Streep matter-of-factly. “I’ve been unemployed more than I’ve worked because of the nature of what I do. So I’ve never gotten used to either working or being out of work.
“It’s a very uncertain life and there are only a few people that would sign up to be married to someone doing that,” she says. “My husband (Don Gummer) is an artist and he understands. So I’m just really glad people aren’t sick of me. ”
She thinks about that for a second. “Even I’m sick of me a little bit,” Streep adds giggling.
But how could that be? You have all those awards and accolades.
“Well, fortunately, the ‘blogosphere’ supplies you with the other side of all the accolades,” she confesses smirking. “Just sign on and get humble.”
Thousands of wanna-bes are planning to risk long lines, heat exhaustion and thunderstorms – not to mention broken ankles from their 6-inch heels – for a bit part in the “Sex and the City” movie sequel.
“Think you’ve got the look? Show off your sense of style in the newest Sex and the City movie!” gushes one of the ads for next Tuesday’s open audition for extras in Chelsea.
The call from New York casting company Grant Wilfley is expected to attract record crowds.
Hopefuls do not have to be members of the Screen Actor’s Guild but are asked to show up looking “Sex and the City fabulous.”
Producers say they need to cast a variety of non-speaking “fashionistas” and “chic New Yorkers” for the movie, which is reported to start shooting soon.
The ads call specifically for: “models, celebrity types, upscale socialites, urban clubgoers, gays and lesbians, international types (Middle Eastern, Arabic, Asian, European, British) and professional soccer players.”
Competition will be tough: There is a lot of interest in appearing – no matter how fleetingly – in the sequel to Sarah Jessica Parker’s 2008 box office smash.
If you think you have the look but can’t make the casting call at the Metropolitan Pavilion at 125 W. 18th St., e-mail a headshot to firstname.lastname@example.org
That might be the safest option. Back in March, the casting call for “America’s Next Top Model” was far from pretty.
A bevy of beauties launched a mini-riot on the sidewalk after waiting on line for hours without food or restrooms.
If the same thing happens at the “Sex and the City” auditions, beware: Those stilettoes could prove lethal.
Release date: Friday October 16, 2009 Genre: Family, Adventure, Drama, Fantasy Director: Spike Jonze Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures Screenplay: Spike Jonze, Dave Eggers Producer(s): Gary Goetzman, John B. Carls, Maurice Sendak, Tom Hanks, Vincent Landay Cast: Catherine Keener, Max Records, Mark Ruffalo, Lauren Ambrose, James Gandolfini, Catherine O’Hara, Forest Whitaker, Michelle Williams, Michael Berry, Jr., Paul Dano, Tom Noonan Official Site:wherethewildthingsare.com Rating:PG for mild thematic elements, some adventure action and brief language Available film art:Where the Wild Things Are movie posters
Synopsis This adaptation of the classic 1963 children’s book concerns a restless little boy, Max, who is banished to his room for prancing about dressed like a wolf. He eventually sneaks out into a world created by his own imagination, which is populated by massive furry beasts who make him the king of their world.
Star Trek screenwriter Roberto Orci revealed that the next Trek movie might be the first instalment of a two-part story.
Speaking to io9 at Comic-Con, he was asked if they had any further meetings about the sequel, and he replied: “Nothing was decided [at the last meeting]. It was really about… [They said to us] ‘We thought maybe you could do that as like 2 and 3.’”
It’s a fairly vague quote, but it does raise all kinds of possibilities as to the future of Trek. Will they film parts two and three back-to-back like Pirates of the Caribbean? Will part two end on a cliff-hanger a la The Matrix Reloaded?
Obviously we don’t know, but after the great job done by Abrams and Co. on the first Trek we’re looking forward to finding out.
Length: 85 minutes theatrical version 100 minutes uncut version MPAA Rating: Rated PG for intense sequences of action/violence and brief mild language
Based on the Japanese manga series, this live-action movie is a martial-arts fantasy. On his 18th birthday, the film’s hero, Goku (Justin Chatwin), is given a Dragonball, a mystical shiny sphere, by his grandfather. Whoever unites this Dragonball with six others will be granted a wish. It turns out the evil Lord Piccolo (James Marsters) is trying to obtain all seven spheres and destroy the world. The only way to stop Piccolo is to get the Dragonballs before a solar eclipse, and Goku sets out on that quest, assisted by characters played by Chow-Yun Fat and Emmy Rossum.
Cast: Justin Chatwin, Joon Park, Christopher Sabat, Jamie Chung; Directed by: James Wong
Selected DVD Special Features:
Also Available on Blu-ray Disc
Watch a deleted scene trailer:
Fast & Furious
Length: 107 minutes MPAA Rating: PG-13 for for intense sequences of violence and action, some sexual content, language and drug references
This actioner is the follow-up to The Fast and the Furious (2001), 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003) and The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006), and Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Michelle Rodriguez and Jordana Brewster reprise their characters from the initial movie. The 2009 film opens with Dom (Diesel) and Letty (Rodriguez), still a couple, hijacking a huge truck in the Dominican Republic. Then Dom heads back to L.A., where he reunites with Brian (Walker), now an FBI agent trying to bring down a drug kingpin. Soon the romance between Brian and Dom’s sister Mia (Brewster) gets rekindled.
Cast: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, John Ortiz, Laz Alonso, Gal Gadot, Shea Whigham, Tego Calderon, Liza Lapira; Directed by: Justin Lin
Selected Two-Disc Special Edition DVD Special Features:
Selected Single-Disc DVD Special Features:
Also Available on Blu-ray Disc
Watch the “Shooting the Big Rig Heist Bonus Feature Clip”:
Length: 90 minutes MPAA Rating: R for strong crude and sexual content, nudity, pervasive language and some drug use
A young man (Zach Cregger) awakens from a four-year coma to hear that his once virginal high school sweetheart (Raquel Alessi) has since become a centerfold in one of the world’s most famous men’s magazines. He and his sex-crazed best friend (Trevor Moore) decide to take a cross-country road trip in order to crash a party at the magazine’s legendary mansion headquarters and win back the girl.
Dose.ca is giving away a trip for two to Paris, France!
In Nazi-occupied France during World War II, a group of Jewish-American soldiers known as “The Basterds” are chosen specifically to spread fear throughout the Third Reich by scalping and brutally killing Nazis.
The Basterds soon cross paths with a French-Jewish teenage girl who runs a movie theater in Paris which is targeted by the soldiers.
Foodtv.ca is giving away a free ticket for a gourmet getaway for one lucky winner.
Inspired by two bestselling memoirs – Julie Powell’s Julie & Julia and My Life in France, by Julia Child with Alex Prud’homme – Julie & Julia intertwines the lives of two women who, though separated by time and space, are both at loose ends… until they discover that with the right combination of passion, fearlessness and butter, anything is possible.
Tell us who inspires you for your chance to win a Gourmet Ottawa Getaway with private cooking lessons at Le Cordon Bleu Ottawa.
The Sin City helmer on what’s coming up next for him.
Filmmaker Robert Rodriguez appeared at San Diego Comic-Con today to talk about his new family film Shorts, during which time the Sin City and Planet Terror director also updated fans on what’s happening with several of his upcoming projects.
Rodriguez said that he’s producing the remake of The Creature From the Black Lagoon now, which he said was as fun as any of the family films he’s made. He is also producing Predators, which he recalled was a script that he originally wrote back in 1994. 20th Century Fox reapproached him about it recently because, as the filmmaker put it, they thought the Predator franchise had gone astray with the Alien vs. Predator movies.
Rodriguez said Fox is letting him make the movie his way at his Troublemaker Studios in Austin, Texas, and that his ’94 script will be the basis for it. K&B are already doing effects work on it for a 2010 release.
The next project that Rodriguez will helm will be Machete, based on the faux trailer he did for Grindhouse. That will start filming in the next few weeks. He recalled how he and Danny Trejo have actually been kicking the idea around since 1993. Rodriguez promised fans that Machete will be as good or better than the mock trailer, “out of control,” “crazy” and “a lot of fun.”
Rodriguez said his dance card for the next year is full so don’t expect Sin City 2 to go before cameras for at least another year.
There’s been quite a lot of talk about Spike Jonze’s long-in-development adaptation of Maurice Sendak’s classic children’s book, Where the Wild Things Are. Over the years, we’ve heard and reported on production delays, reshoots, rumors that he film simply wasn’t up to WB’s liking, and more word that the film was, quite the opposite, a hugely successful and heart-wrenchingly emotional work. Thankfully, Warner Bros. chose to open their Comic-Con panel by highlighting the film, and if the footage screened for us today is any indication, “successful and heart-wrenchingly emotional” is by far the most accurate description.
Beginning with a brief video featuring Sendak and Jonze discussing the film, the panel focused largely on the fact that this isn’t a straightforward adaptation of the material. With Sendak’s blessing, Jonze is interpreting the material in a way that is meaningful and personal to him. Sendak is, in fact, overwhelmingly supportive of Jonze’s approach, stating that it honors the intention and spirit of the book while expanding upon its themes. As the film’s lead, Max Records, quoted of Sendak, anybody who doesn’t like the film “can go to straight to Hell.”
While Jonze was not in attendance, Warner screened three scenes for Con attendees. The first was a simple sequence of Max walking through the Kingdom of the Wild Things – of which he has been named king – with the monster Carol, voiced by James Gandolfini. They stroll through a forest lit by the late-day sun as Carol tells Max that everything in the kingdom – except that hole, that stick, that rock – belongs to him now. They proceed into a vast desert in which Max spies a massive animal and seems filled with wonderment. Carol simply says, “That’s the dog. Don’t feed him or he’ll follow you everywhere.”
The second sequence is one in which the Wild Things begin to play, jumping gleefully atop one another as Max tries desperately not to be crushed. Soon, Max is encased in small dome of creatures, who each murmur about the joys of the day as the fall to sleep, and so does Max. The final scene showed the building of a giant fort, as all the Wild Things pitch in for its construction, using their massive size and strength to dig tunnels, toss rocks and heft mile-high tree trunks.
What strikes us immediately about the footage is a strange, almost melancholic mixture of wonder and sadness, joyful exploration and a deep, desperate longing. The tone is immediately striking and, at least to a sentimentalist like myself, remarkably beautiful. This is underlined by the hulking, hunched-over, droopy-eyed design of the creatures themselves, creatures which seem exceptionally stylized and yet strangely real. There’s also a great sense of danger – that these are giants playing with a small, fragile boy, however good their intentions. In just those few short clips, there was humor and drama in plenty, and we suspect that fans might just be in for a magical, fantastical treat later this year.