Sad news today. A spokeswoman for the family of Misty Upham has confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter that actress Misty Upham, who was first reported missing on Oct. 6, has been found dead. The Hollywood Reporter has obtained a comment from Meryl Streep, who co-starred with Upham in “August”: “So so sad to hear this news — all our thoughts are with her family and with her beautiful spirit.” Melissa Leo, whose character collaborated with Upham’s to smuggle illegal immigrants from Canada into America in Frozen River, wrote, “Such a loss… so sad, so so sad. I hope to that her talent is remembered more than any troubles we surely will never understand. She was a smart, delightful actor, a spirit wild and hungry. I know I and others are honored to have had Misty in our lives.”
According to the Daily Mail, Meryl Streep is in negotiations to star in a film about an opera singer who couldn’t hit a note. American-born Florence Foster Jenkins had legions of fans who filled her concerts, but it was never clear whether they genuinely enjoyed her piercing screeches — or were just going along for a laugh. Streep, who can carry a tune, has been talking to director Stephen Frears about making the movie about the lady with the variable tempo and less than perfect pitch. Maureen Lipman appeared in a play several years ago about Jenkins called Glorious, and there was a line in it about what the great Caruso said when he heard her sing. ‘I’ve never heard anything like it!’ he apparently told her, though she took it as a compliment. Hugh Grant is also in talks to play Jenkins’s manager, who may well have been more to her than that. Frears works well with women. Look at The Queen with Helen Mirren, or the movies he’s made with Judi Dench (the recent Philomena is a particular stand-out). His work is being celebrated during the BFI London Film Festival, when he will be awarded a BFI Fellowship. At least Meryl won’t need any singing lessons for this latest role. Many thanks to Frank for the heads-up.
According to Awardsdaily, Meryl Streep will be run in Supporting, not lead, while Emily Blunt will be the lead actress contender for Into the Woods, a rep from Disney confirmed. In this case, both Meryl Streep and Anna Kendrick will be in supporting for Into the Woods, which could also be in line for a SAG ensemble nod given the talent involved. The complete article can be read over at Awardsdaily.
As previously mentioned, “The Homesman” has been released on DVD and Blu-Ray in France, yesterday. The Western drama, directed by Tommy Lee Jones and starring Jones, Hilary Swank, James Spader, John Lithgow and Meryl Streep in a cameo performance, had its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival this Spring and released French theaters shortly after – hence the early home media release. You can order both the DVD and Blu-Ray at Amazon in France (if you’re living outside of Europe, please inform yourself about region codes). The Blu-Ray includes a lengthy featurette, but sadly no footage with Meryl. Screencaptures from the film have been added to the image library.
The US theatrical trailer for “The Homesman” has been released, showing lots of new footage, especially on Tommy Lee Jones and Hilary Swank, whose performance received quite some positive buzz after the film’s festival premieres. The rest, however, remains mysterious to me. While “The Homesman” has already received a theatrical release in some European countries back in May, this trailer states the US release as “Coming Soon”, while the IMDb lists a limited theatrical release for November 14, 2014. We’ll see how this one continues.
The new issue of Empire has a fresh look at Meryl Streep in Rob Marshall’s film adaptation of Into The Woods. This still comes from the scene, glimpsed in the trailer, where Streep bursts in on the baker and his wife – wait, does that make no sense as a pairing to anyone else?). They wished to have children, but a curse was laid on the baker’s father by the witch decades before, and the only way she’s willing to lift it is if they find her four ingredients for a potion. Cue a quest that brings them into conflict with other fairytale characters, some of them rather different to how you remember.
Most publications have released their reviews for “The Giver” in time for the film’s theatrical release. Unfortunately, the film is not a favorite with critics. Most compare it to other recent YA movie adaptations, whose books have been inspired by “The Giver”, while the novel’s adaptation does not hold up compared with its successors. But here’s the good thing about critics: They give you a chance to see the film and make your own opinion. A new production still, featuring Meryl Streep and Jeff Bridges, has been added to the gallery. Below’s a selection of reviews.
Entertainment Weekly (Jeff Labreque, August 15, 2014)
Bridges, who spent nearly 20 years trying to bring the novel to the screen, seems trapped playing the passive seer, and Meryl Streep’s villainous turn as the Jane Campion-haired Chief Elder will test the blind devotion of Golden Globe voters. In the end, the film practically collapses under its own…hmm, what’s the opposite of ‘weight’? In any case, it falls apart with a slapdash final act that doesn’t work as drama or action and only serves to undermine Jonas’s heroics. It’s treated as a quest so non-Herculean that you wonder why the Giver didn’t do the job himself years ago. Maybe he just lost interest too.
Variety (Scott Foundas, August 11, 2014)
Sameness, the conformist plague that afflicts the futuristic citizens of Lois Lowry’s celebrated and scorned YA novel, The Giver, might also be the name given to what ails the movie adaptation—the latest in a seemingly endless line of teen-centric dystopian fantasies that have become all but indistinguishable from one another. A longtime passion project for producer/star Jeff Bridges, The Giver reaches the screen in a version that captures the essence of Lowry’s affecting allegory but little of its mythic pull—a recipe likely to disappoint fans while leaving others to wonder what all the fuss was about.
The Hollywood Reporter (John DeFore, August 11, 2014)
The changes, which include making the book’s 12 year-old hero old enough to make tween viewers swoon (he’s played by 25 year-old Aussie Brenton Thwaites), surely enhance marketability, even if they sand some edges off a tale that has won many hearts over the years. The presence of Jeff Bridges and Meryl Streep in supporting roles will help draw some attention from grown-ups who don’t know the book, but while the film may see enough success to justify follow-ups (Lowry has written three sequels), this franchise won’t come close to competing with The Hunger Games and other more epic series.
The Washington Post (Ann Hornaday, August 12, 2014)
In its own way, the movie version—handsomely directed by Phillip Noyce and featuring an appealing, sure-footed cast of emerging and veteran actors—aptly reflects The Giver’s pride of place as the one that started it all, or at least the latest wave. Ironically, it wasn’t until its imitators became box office bonanzas that The Giver was seen potentially profitable enough to produce for the big screen. Far less noisy and graphically violent than those films, this mournful coming-of-age tale feels like their more subdued and introspective older sibling, even as it trafficks in the self-dramatizing emotionalism and simplistic philosophizing that are so recognizably symptomatic of the YA genre.
The Wrap (Inkoo Kang, August 11, 2014)
If the film aces its depiction of the dawning horror and social alienation that comes with studying yesteryear, the rest is largely a failure. The Giver is an anti-totalitarian allegory so farcically hyperbolic it feels like only a teenager could have come up with it… [It] feels pinned and tucked into place, evincing a too-smooth surface with all the standard narrative folds and corners. The picture is more human than the people it depicts, but it merely goes and ends where you’d expect it to, save for a gruesomely stupid final two minutes that surprises only with its laziness.
Many thanks to Claudia for sending in two scans from this and last week’s issue of Entertainment Weekly, covering the recent theatrical release of “The Giver” (check the following update for a selection of reviews) as as well as the upcoming Christmas release of “Into the Woods” among their anticipated films of 2014.