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THE IRON LADY Pt 2

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  • Scottferguson
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    #47581

    No, not the sequel, but a second thread on a movie that has yet to open….
    (continuing the discussion, prompted by James Gray’s response as a Streep fan about his concerns over her films and others saying there is not a lot available for a woman of her age):

    Meryl Streep is a huge box office draw. The Iron Lady, though not going
    to be a $100 million movie, will do whatever business it does because
    she is in it.

    All she needs to do is tell her powerful agency –
    CAA – that she only wants to do (or even every other movie wants to do)
    something with a great director, or else she won’t accept the role. Its
    the agency’s job to make this happen. Yes, that she is over 60 and
    female means it’s more difficult – but she has the power, alone among
    actresses of her age.

    They might not be huge hits. She might need
    to take a salary cut (although supposedly her upfront fee for TIL was
    only $1 million, with obviously a huge back end for her, which is
    reasonably part of why she is promoting the film so hard).

    Someone
    of her draw and talent of course can get great roles and great
    directors. They have to adjust their vision to what would accomodate her
    age and gender, but I don’t believe that among the range of top
    directors, she can’t do this.

    In France, Catherine Deneuve – somewhat similar in position to Streep – does this all the time.

    It
    may be that her talent and her stated preference for only one or two
    takes puts off some top directors. She did clash with Shanley on the set
    of Doubt – maybe she prefers directors who aren’t as powerful and
    experienced as she is. Maybe she prefers to collaborate on the directing
    of her scenes (which if she can get away with and thinks is best for
    her is her right to do).

    But she has the power to change her situation. It will be more difficult because of her age, but she can be a game-changer.

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    Scottferguson
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    #47583

    Lengthy NYTimes review, mostly about the film’s problems, devotes one paragraph to Streep, says it is a technically flawless impersonation but limited by the film’s flaws:

    Movie Review
    A Polarizing Leader Fades Into Twilight
    By A. O. SCOTT

    The best thing about “The Iron Lady” may be that viewers going into the
    theater with strong views, pro or con, about its subject, the former British
    prime minister Margaret
    Thatcher
    , are likely to emerge in a state of greater ambivalence, even
    confusion. Those who know or care little about her will also be confused, but
    for different reasons.

    Let’s stick with the first group for the moment. Nearly anyone who was alive
    and reading newspapers — or listening to English-language pop music — in the
    Western world in the 1980s probably has an opinion about Mrs. Thatcher. To the
    ideological right she was a hero, even more than her friend Ronald Reagan,
    whereas the left saw her as a monster. There may have been some mixed feelings
    in the middle, but she herself had little use for such wishy-washiness,
    reserving special scorn for the “wet” and the “wobbly” on her own side.

    Nor, if the film is to be believed — and it is, in its way, a credible enough
    portrait — did she have much patience for the discussion or display of feelings
    of any kind. When a doctor asks the aging Thatcher (played with brilliant
    slyness and sly brilliance by Meryl
    Streep
    ) how she is feeling, he is answered with an impromptu lecture on the
    over-emotionalism of modern culture and a stout defense of the supreme
    importance of thinking. Ideas are what matter, she insists, and I suspect that a
    great many people of various ages and political inclinations would agree.

    But it does not seem that Phyllida Lloyd, who directed “The Iron Lady,” and
    Abi Morgan, who wrote the screenplay, are among them. Though the film pays lip
    service to Mrs. Thatcher’s analytic intelligence and tactical shrewdness, its
    focus is on the drama and pathos of her personal life. In her dotage, watched
    over by professionally cheery minders, she putters about in a haze of
    half-senile nostalgia, occasionally drawn back into the glory and pain of the
    past.

    Between flashbacks that trace her journey from modest beginnings — the phrase
    “grocer’s daughter from Grantham” is attached to her like a Homeric epithet —
    through the leadership of the Conservative Party and beyond, Thatcher is visited
    by the ghost of her husband, Denis (Jim Broadbent), and by her daughter, Carol
    (Olivia Colman). Carol’s twin brother, Mark, unseen in the film, is far away in
    South Africa, his distance emphasizing his mother’s loneliness and isolation.
    Denis’s shade is genial, mischievous company, but also a reminder of what has
    been lost and what might have been.

    All of this is touching to witness. Stiff legged and slow moving, behind a
    discreetly applied ton of geriatric makeup, Ms. Streep provides, once again, a
    technically flawless impersonation that also seems to reveal the inner essence
    of a well-known person. Her portrayal of Mrs. Thatcher in power, while equally
    impeccable, is limited by the film’s vague and cursory treatment of her
    political career. “The Iron Lady” is, above all, the story of a widow and a
    half-abandoned mother who happened — didn’t
    you know?
    — to have been one of the most powerful and consequential women of
    the 20th century.

    Would the life of a male politician be rendered this way? Is this an unfair
    question? It seems to me that Ms. Lloyd and Ms. Morgan try to have it both ways,
    to celebrate their heroine as a feminist pioneer while showing her to be
    tragically unfulfilled according to traditional standards of feminine
    accomplishment. On her first day as a member of Parliament, Margaret (played in
    those early years by Alexandra Roach, with Harry Lloyd as a smiling young Denis)
    pulls out of the driveway as her children chase after her car, begging her not
    to leave them. Later she announces her intention to seek the party leadership on
    the day that Carol has passed her driving test, earning a rare rebuke from her
    husband for putting herself first.

    As a young woman she faces down the condescension of powerful and entitled
    Tories with a mixture of charm and steel, communicating her acute awareness of
    sexism and class prejudice in a way that makes her eventual triumph inspiring.
    But as the film reckons the cost of this triumph to Mrs. Thatcher and her
    family, it suggests that the double standards she fought against still flourish.
    In trying to make her more human, more sympathetic, the filmmakers turn a
    self-made, highly original woman into something of a cliché.

    They also manage to push the great passion and distinction of her life — her
    pursuit and exercise of power — into the background. This is not unusual in
    biopics, which frequently turn artists into substance abusers and sexual
    adventurers who just happened to cut a few records or paint a few pictures on
    their way to redemption. “The Iron Lady,” following this template, makes a
    particular hash of British history, compressing social and economic turmoil into
    a shorthand that resembles a chronologically scrambled British version of Billy Joel’s
    “We Didn’t Start the Fire.”
    (Miners’ strike/Falklands War/I can’t take it
    any more … .)

    In general the film is more attuned to process than to policy, which is
    conveyed by means of a few catch phrases and snippets of archival news footage.
    We learn that Mrs. Thatcher took on the unions, the I.R.A., the Argentine junta
    and more than a few of her allies, at times angering segments of the public to
    the point of insurrection while winning three consecutive elections, a modern
    record. The cabinet meetings and backroom dealings are quite entertaining.
    Richard E. Grant as Michael Heseltine and Anthony Head as Geoffrey Howe stand
    out from the crowd of grousing toffs in chalk-striped suits, though of course
    not as much as Ms. Streep. But it will be hard for anyone not familiar with the
    story to have much sense of what is at stake.

    As for “The Iron Lady” itself, beyond the challenge it poses for Ms. Streep,
    its own reason for being is a bit obscure. It is likely to be the definitive
    screen treatment of Mrs. Thatcher, at least for a while, and yet it does not
    really define her in any surprising or trenchant way. You are left with the
    impression of an old woman who can’t quite remember who she used to be and of a
    movie that is not so sure either.

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    allabout oscars
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    #47584

    I think I was at the same screening with Tony Scott….

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    Scottferguson
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    #47585

    That would be a bit surprising – he did his year-end round up a couple weeks ago, almost certainly is taking some time off over the holidays – most critics were offered the chance to see it in early December, unless that’s when you saw it.

    Maybe he might have gone to see it a second time – the review is detailed enough to suggest he gave it a lot of consideration (although he also likely has a screener).

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    Anonymous
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    #47586

    I don’t think she has that much power to get the material created. Quality material versus seasoned director are two different monsters. 

    More reviews. As totally expected, the film itself is polarizing, but the concensus(except for a few critics who continue their pattern of carrying their distaste for the film through ALL areas of the film..acting, writing, cinematography)is that Streep is great and the redeeming quality. THE READER ended at 62% and BLIND SIDE 66%. This film could fall in the middle with final rating. I expect the US box office to be minor and the oversea intake to be the bread n butter. 

    Pete Travers Rolling Stone, good on film(3.5/4) rave on Streep”acting of the highest order”
    http://movies.nytimes.com/2011/12/30/movies/the-iron-lady-about-margaret-thatcher-review.html?partner=rss&emc=rss 

    Time-loved the film all out rave for Streep-they named her top performance of the year
    http://entertainment.time.com/2011/12/29/meryl-as-maggie-in-the-iron-lady-a-stunt-of-genius/ 

    NY Daily, no-no on film, strong on Streep
    http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/movies/meryl-streep-shines-iron-lady-ll-hard-find-margaret-thatcher-life-article-1.998409?localLinksEnabled=false 

    The Wrap Leah Rozen(formerly of People) fine on film, great on Streep
    http://www.thewrap.com/movies/article/review-iron-lady-33969?page=0,0 

    Cinespect fair on film, rave on Streep
    http://cinespect.com/?p=2683 

    NY Magazine, good on film, great on Streep
    http://nymag.com/daily/entertainment/2011/12/the-iron-lady-review-meryl-streep-david-edelstein.html?mid=twitter_vulture 

    NY Time AO Scott-bad on film, good on Streep
    http://movies.nytimes.com/2011/12/30/movies/the-iron-lady-about-margaret-thatcher-review.html?partner=rss&emc=rss 

    Based on the reviews, if this were any other actress besides Streep, the Oscar could be engraved now. But we all know she is held to a different standard with regard to Oscar. I still say she is the frontrunner due to not having a clear alternate. 

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    TV12
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    #47587

    “rave on Streep”acting of the highest order”
    “all out rave for Streep-they named her top performance of the year”
    “strong on Streep”
    “great on Streep”
    “rave on Streep”
    “great on Streep”
    “great on Streep”

    And that is only a few of the many praises for Meryl this year. No other contender this year has had this much praise, let alone anyone in her category. There is no doubt in my mind she will win this, but that’s my mind…

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    Scottferguson
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    #47588

    If this were any other actress, the film would have been treated far worse, never gotten prime positioning, might not even had made it to theaters. The film is being given the benefit of the doubt because of her. Sorry, but the idea that there is a bias against her any more than there would be against any other previous lead winner or two time acting Oscar winner flies in the face of the evidence. If she wins, other than of course being in part for the performance, it will be because she is Meryl Streep, not despite her being Meryl Streep.

    What other actor or actress in a bad movie has ever gotten this sort of attention on this site or anywhere? None that I know of. The idea that there is a special bias or negative treatment for her is a phony kind of victimhood far too often believed here.

    If she doesn’t win, maybe she’ll get the hint finally – make better movies with better directors in an ensemble. That’ll likely do the trick just fine.

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    TV12
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    #47589

    If this were any other actress, the film would have been treated far worse, never gotten prime positioning, might not even had made it to theaters. The film is being given the benefit of the doubt because of her. Sorry, but the idea that there is a bias against her any more than there would be against any other previous lead winner or two time acting Oscar winner flies in the face of the evidence.

    But it this were any other actress, the performance would not have been half as good. Yes, Meryl is the reason this film is getting attention, but that is because she was epic and only she could have been epic in this role. Name another actress that could’ve pulled this off.

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    Constance
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    #47590

    At this point, I’m hoping she wins the damn thing already so that we can move on to better work.  

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    TV12
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    #47591

    At this point, I’m hoping she wins the damn thing already so that we can move on to better work.  

    I would take your comments into consideration if you ACTUALLY SEEN THE FILM. But no, so no.

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    Scottferguson
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    #47592

    I think a lot of actresses could have pulled it off, and in such a way that they disappeared into the character and didn’t dominate things to distraction the way (Phyllida Lloyd’s fault) is done here.

    Streep for me at this point is like Laurence Olivier late in his career – sure, a great actor, but when he came on screen, is was one big show where, again because it was what the directed wanted, he was let loose to do his Laurence Olivier great actor thing, usually for me disrupting the balance of the film and becoming way too much about him. Brando did this as well later in his career.

    The idea that she is the only actress capable of this level for acting I think is an insult to an awful lot of great actresses. It’s, and this will I’m sure get some reaction, sort of a cult-like reaction to her as being something above others. She’s can be very good, but she’s not much better.

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    Mary11
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    #47593

    In France, Catherine Deneuve – somewhat similar in position to Streep – does this all the time.

    So you have to go all the way to France to find an example of older women finding decent roles.

    Even  younger actresses can’t find good parts in Hollywood. Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Anne Hathaway, all struggling to find decent parts. So you have a glut of talented actresses, very few decent scripts and even fewer great directors who are interested in giving them a job.

    Out of the 5 nominees for Best Actress this year not one will be in a movie that can be classified as great. Not one with a “great director”.

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    TV12
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    #47594

    “Anne Hathaway”

    I don’t know. Anne just found an Academy Award-winning director in a role so baity as Fantine. She could win next year if that movie is good.

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    Choice Chayawat
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    #47595

    Here we go again with Streep and directors.

    I remember someone posted Streep’s interview about her wish to work with Paul Thomas Anderson and Martin Scorsese (not sure). Maybe she has already expressed her interest in working with great directors with CAA, and those directors aren’t interested in working with her for whatever reasons. One of them might be her willingness to do only a few takes per scene. To me, it seems most A-list directors likely direct the films they passionately produce and/or whose screenplay they write themselves, rather than being a director hired to do someone else’s project.

    And I don’t blame her that half her projects these days are films that are chick flicks or aim for box office glory. There’s nothing wrong with her wanting to have fun at this stage of her life and those films have no potential to be great to begin with. But for films with promising roles, it will work much better for her to be under the vision of great directors. Perhaps she should try Nicole Kidman’s route – get the film rights, produce the film, choose her costars and cherry-pick a director. She may not get the top directors, but they could be more reliable than those she has worked with lately.

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    Scottferguson
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    #47596

    (respnding to Mary 11)

    Again, this is an easily disproven excuse for her movies.

    Her movies, far more than any other actress, in recent years have grossed well, and almost entirely due to her. She has vastly more power than the other actresses, despite her age. She is in a unique position among actresses. I mentioned Deneuve only because no one else is remotely like Streep here.

    I appreciate that there are those who are bigger Streep fans than I (mainly because acting isn’t that important to me in analyzing movies; she’s a fine actress) like James Gray and Streepfan in earlier threads who do share some of this frustration.

    She is willing to work for less money than she can command; she can get a movie greenlit with her say so; and there are enough important writers and directors who would kill to work with her. She is with the most powerful agency in the business, with agencies more than anyone responsible for what movies are made.

    She has the power.

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