Tag Archives: Meryl Streep

“Hope Springs”: Yes, It Does!

Arnold and Kay show their dysfunction by how they sit on a couch.

This has been a banner year for movies that are targeted for the oldies but goodies set (which includes the Mister and I). First, there was “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” in May.

The newest flick aimed at us aging baby boomers is “Hope Springs,” which the Mister and I saw last Saturday morning. At an early matinee where we (just above and below age 60) were among the youngest in the audience. This definitely was the canes and walkers group. In fact, it seemed like we were at a nursing home’s movie of the week.

“Hope Springs” is billed as a comedy. While there were many funny lines and lots of laughter from the white-haired crowd, this really is more of a dramedy.

Kay (the incomparable Meryl Streep) and Arnold (Tommy Lee Jones, who can play curmudgeons in his sleep) have been married 31 years and are stuck in a rut with a dysfunctional, noncommunicating marriage. Kay timidly tries to relight the spark, but Arnold has blocked all his emotions. So Kay pays for them to go to a week-long intensive couples counseling in Maine.

Steve Carell is out of the “Office.”

Steve Carell ably plays Dr. Bernie Feld, the counselor who tries to help Kay and Arnold remember why they fell in love in the first place and push them out of their rut. As you can imagine, there’s plenty of awkwardness and cringeworthy moments with the couple trying to complete their intimacy lessons. Even though all of it is tastefully done, this PG-13 flick is not for younger teens.

In fact, “Hope Springs” might not appeal to anyone who hasn’t hit age 45 or so. But it really is great to have movies that explore themes interesting to those of us who are older and have been married a long time . . . without any swearing.

Hope springs that we’ll see more of these and less of the awful Seth Rogen f-bomb-fests and Adam Sandler idiot-of-the-year excuses for films.

“The Artist”: Well-deserving of Its Oscars

Not only is “The Artist” in black and white, but it’s mostly silent, too.

Back in 1983 (pre-the Mister), I couldn’t believe that “Gandhi” had beaten out “Tootsie” and “E.T.” for the Academy Award for best picture.

Then I saw it. Yep, it was totally deserving, as was Ben Kingsley as best actor.

I wasn’t about to make another Gandhian (well, it’s in MY dictionary) mistake this year. Which is why I made sure the Mister and I saw “The Artist” just hours before last night’s 84th annual Academy Awards telecast.

After we walked out of the theater (along with the rest of the early-matinee, senior-citizen crowd), three thoughts came to mind:

1) What an amazing movie! So glad we saw it.

2) “The Artist” definitely would win best picture, along with Jean Dujardin in the best-actor category.

3) Too bad the dog, Uggy, wasn’t eligible to win. He was wonderful!

Peppy Miller sticks by George Valentin.

When I explained to the Mister that “The Artist” was a silent movie, he, of course, didn’t want to see it. Perhaps he was afraid that there wouldn’t be enough noise to mask his snoring when he fell asleep during it. But he became just as big a fan of the movie as I did. As he said, it takes a lot of skill to make this kind of film so interesting. Not only was there virtually no talking, but it also was in black and white.

Fortunately, the story about a silent film star (Dujardin as George Valentin) who sees his stock plunge with the advent of talkies in the late 1920s and early ’30s kept our interest from start to finish. You couldn’t help but cheer for George and the perky starlet who not only becomes a megahit but always looks out for George, Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo).

The music, which won a well-deserved Oscar for original score, was inspiring. And Uggy, a Jack Russell terrier, was awfully cute.

“The Artist” won’t be to everyone’s taste, but it’s one of the best movies I’ve every seen. Maybe as good as “Gandhi.”

The Oscars

Octavia Spencer poses with Oscar.

There weren’t too many surprises during last night’s Oscar show . . . including that Billy Crystal can’t sing anymore. Remember that 1983 “Gandhi” win? That was the last time that the magnificent Meryl Streep won the golden statuette (“Sophie’s Choice”).

I was torn between Streep and Viola Davis (“The Help”) for best actress. I felt that Davis carried her movie, but Streep was hers (“The Iron Lady”). They were equally deserving; I wish it had been a tie vote. There was no question in my mind, of course, that Dujardin earned his best-acting award. And “The Artist” as best picture? Slam dunk!

I loved that Octavia Spencer (“The Help”) won as best supporting actress. Minny was a tough character, and Spencer played her perfectly. I’m going to Netflix “Beginners” to see if Capt. Von Trapp (aka, Christopher Plummer) deserved to be picked as best supporting actor.

Bret McKenzie (left) and Jemaine Clements during their Flight of the Conchords days.

My younger son, who pretty much ignored the telecast, was thrilled when Bret McKenzie nabbed the Oscar for best original song, “Man or Muppet?” (great tune!). My sons love “Flight of the Conchords,” McKenzie’s short-lived TV show. We just wish Bret had mentioned Jemaine (Clement) in his acceptance speech!

“Iron Lady”: A Fascinating British History Lesson

Meryl Streep IS Margaret Thatcher!

If you’d like to learn more about British history, then “Iron Lady” is a must-see. If you want to watch the most-brilliant actress of her time—Meryl Streep—absolutely transform herself into Margaret Thatcher, then this is a don’t-miss biopic. Just don’t expect this movie to be nearly as good as “The King’s Speech”; it crawls along at a very slow pace.

Sidebar: Even though I recently railed against a certain American (Robert Downey Jr.) for (poorly) playing a Brit, I can’t imagine a British actress who would’ve done a better job than Streep. No American actress nails an accent better than her (watch “Sophie’s Choice”).

The “Iron Lady” tells the story of Thatcher’s rise and fall as Great Britain’s prime minister (1979-1990) using a narrative that switches between what she might be like now—slowly losing her mind to dementia—and pivotal past events. It’s a somewhat-confusing technique that only someone with as much talent as Streep can flawlessly pull off.

The young Margaret Thatcher ponders her political future.

Helping Streep to carry the movie is Alexandra Roach, who plays the younger version of Thatcher. She and Streep look remarkably alike, thanks to prosthetics, and both did a great job executing Thatcher’s distinctive diction.

Denis (Jim Broadbent) and Margaret Thatcher celebrate her victory.

Before seeing the film, I had no idea what Thatcher was like—what motivated her to run for political office (she was greatly influenced by her father, a grocer who also was mayor of their small town); how she placed public service above her family; how her humble upbringing helped her understand what ordinary Brits were going through; and how she had to make the tough, often-hated decisions as prime minister. She obviously was a very-complex woman.

I especially liked some of her quotes. One favorite was: “If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman.” Another, which was said in the movie by young Margaret when Denis Thatcher asked her to marry him, was: “One’s life must matter!”

Yes, Margaret Thatcher, your life has mattered! And now we can see the good and the bad of it in the “Iron Lady.”

Just “In Time”

Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried star in the movie.

I was looking forward to seeing “In Time,” Justin Timberlake’s new movie, because the premise intrigued me. What if time literally was money? Could you earn enough to keep yourself alive every day?

Now that we’ve seen the flick, I can honestly say . . . meh. Just not my cup of java, I guess.

Olivia Wilde plays Timberlake’s perpetually 25-year-old mother.

“In Time” is a sci-fi film set in the future where life starts and stops at age 25: That’s when people stop physically aging, but it’s also when their “life clock” starts working. They have to earn time by working or stealing those precious minutes, hours, and years (time can be transferred by hand). People live in time zones according to their wealth . . . or lack of it.

Your time clock is permanently imprinted on your arm.

Will Salas, Timberlake’s character, lives with his mom, Rachel (Olivia Wilde), in a low-class time zone. A time millionaire, Henry Hamilton (Matt Borner), shifts a century of his life to Will because he’s 105 years old and tired of living, and then times himself out (commits suicide).

Note Seyfried’s “appropriate” running-all-over-the-country attire.

Will thinks he’s got it made, but, of course, a twist must happen: His mom tragically runs out of time before her son can give her the minutes she needs to save her life. Naturally, that makes him mad. Time to stick it to The Man!

All those transferred years mean that Will can travel through a bunch of time zones to New Greenwich where the rich live. However, Will was seen on a surveillance camera near Hamilton’s body and is accused of stealing those precious years. Soon he’s on the run from a tenacious Timekeeper (Cillian Murphy) who wants to bring Will to justice.

After the Timekeeper catches him and confiscates all but two hours of his life, Will kidnaps Sylvia (Amanda Seyfried), a mogul’s daughter, and escapes back to the ghetto. The two of them run all over tarnation . . . while Sylvia wears that ever-practical track ensemble of a short dress and three-inch heels . . . robbing her father’s Time Banks and, like Robin Hood, giving the richness of time back to the poor.

Why didn’t they stop to steal casual clothes and comfortable shoes from a JC Penney while they were at it?

The main reason I didn’t think “In Time” was all that and a bag of chips was because the acting was uninspiring and boring. Too bad Meryl Streep and Morgan Freeman don’t look like they’re 25!

If time truly is money, should you spend both on this movie? I’d advise waiting for the rental.

Two Thumbs Up, Two Thumbs Sideways

Meryl Streep as Julia Child cooks up a storm.

Meryl Streep as Julia Child cooks up a storm.

The Mister and I went a little movie crazy last weekend . . . without the boys. We saw two movies at our local AMC Theatre and rented another that we actually watched well before its due date.

Sidebar: Anyone else have a nasty habit of returning DVDs to the video store just before midnight on the due date? There probably are 12-step programs for people like us who need to stop procrastinating when it comes to watching rented movies on time.

By far, the top movie we saw was “Julie and Julia.” I was anxious to see it, because the same-named Julie Powell book that most of it’s based on is hilarious. And what a great premise: A 30-year-old woman in a dead-end job with a supportive husband decides to cook all 524 recipes in Julia Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” cookbook in one year and then blog about the results. Like me, Powell wasn’t the greatest cook before starting the project; I think that’s why I could relate to her so well.

What I totally disliked about the book and was glad to see wasn’t in the movie was Powell’s incessant foul language, which almost ruined the story for me. I’ve never read so many f-bombs in my life; what a turnoff.

But this is what Powell says about cussing: “I happen to believe that curse words are vital parts of language, and I write accordingly.”

I totally disagree! And I would feel the same way even if I wasn’t an old broad of 56. All cussing means is that you have a poor vocabulary. The only time cursing truly is necessary is when you’re driving without the kids and have to deal with all the idiot drivers surrounding you (it always amazes me how everyone else is such a bad driver when I’m behind the wheel!). Otherwise, as I tell my two sons, the English language is rich with descriptive words that won’t make their mother’s jaw drop in surprise and disgust. Use them!

Amy Adams celebrates her final Julia Child meal.

Amy Adams as Julie Powell celebrates her final Julia Child meal.

But I digress . . . the movie is a must-see! Two thumbs up!! It’s so funny and so delightful. Meryl Streep, one of my favorite actresses, is amazing as Julia Child.

I’m lucky to be married to a guy who is so secure in his maleness (though he doesn’t prefer pink) that he’ll willingly see chick flicks with me. After the movie, he admitted that he had had reservations about seeing it, but he loved it, too.

I do agree with the reviewers who have said that the Julia part is much more interesting than the Julie one. Julia Child was a fascinating personality, and I’m glad that Nora Ephron, who wrote and directed the movie, also used “My Life in France,” Child’s autobiography, as a basis for the film.

If you haven’t read Powell’s book, I do recommend it. Just be ready to do a lot of cringing!

“The Time Traveler’s Wife”

The time traveler (Eric Bana) and his wife (Rachel McAdams)

The time traveler (Eric Bana) and his wife (Rachel McAdams)

The “two thumbs sideways” is for “The Time Traveler’s Wife.” I haven’t read the book, and I found the movie to be a bit confusing. In the film, Chicago librarian Henry DeTamble (played by Eric Bana) has a genetic disorder that causes him to time travel, usually when he’s stressed. Putting up with all of that is a woman he’s known via time traveling since she was a little girl, artist Clare Abshire (Rachel McAdams).

It makes for an interesting story, especially to a “Lost” fan like myself. But what bothered me the most was the lack of chemistry between Bana and McAdams. I just didn’t believe the love story. The Mister agreed with me; we were disappointed. Well-acted but not a must see.

“17 Again”

Zac Efron struts his stuff.

Zac Efron struts his stuff.

Okay, no laughing! The Mister and I rented “17 Again” and really liked it. I did roll my eyes a little that Zac Efron, one of the stars of the “High School Musical” franchise, also played basketball in this movie. But I thought he did a great job as the young version of Matthew Perry, who got to be 17 once again with a chance to rewrite his life’s story. Rent it for some light humor.

Oh, and be glad that Julie Powell didn’t write the story . . . no f-bombs, thank goodness!