May 23
2020

A deeply personal story from America’s funniest director sheds light on a family’s struggle with a child’s epilepsy and the American healthcare system. In one of her rare appearances on television, Meryl Streep plays a tiger mother going to lenghts to find a miracle that can cure her sick child.

I don’t think any director has made us laugh more in the 1980s and 1990s than Jim Abrahams, best known as a member of Zucker, Abrahams and Zucker team that brought us “Airplane”, “Top Secret”, “Ruthless People” and “The Naked Gun” series. But Abrahams’ private life took a serious turn when his young son was diagnosed with epilepsy. Charlie would convulse and lose consciousness. Medications didn’t help. As his seizures continued, his cognitive abilities slowly deteriorated. Jim, who wasn’t a medical doctor, decided to start investigating alternative treatments. After days in the library looking through books and medical journals, he found a book on childhood epilepsy written by Dr. John Freeman, the director of the Pediatric Epilepsy Center at Johns Hopkins Hospital. The book described that a diet that mimics the metabolism of starvation by cutting most dietary sources of carbohydrates and proteins could in some cases cure drug-resistant childhood epilepsy. Ignoring the warnings of the staff at the boy’s hospital, Jim transferred his son to the epilepsy center in Maryland, and Charlie was started on the diet. The young boy immediately showed improvements in his condition, and a couple of years later he became seizure free. Even the mental setback turned out to be reversible.

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Apr 22
2020

According to Deadline, Meryl Streep, Bernadette Peters, Patti LuPone and Audra McDonald are set to join an all-star line-up in a special virtual concert to celebrate Stephen Sondheim’s 90th birthday. Take Me To The World: A Sondheim 90th Birthday Celebration, hosted by Raúl Esparza, will take place this Sunday, April 26, the 50th anniversary of the opening night of Sondheim’s groundbreaking musical Company. The concert kicks off at 8 pm ET, and will be available for free at Broadway.com and the Broadway.com YouTube channel. In addition to Streep, Peters, LuPone and McDonald, artists performing songs from the Sondheim catalog will include Mandy Patinkin, Christine Baranski, Donna Murphy, Kristin Chenoweth, Sutton Foster, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Kelli O’Hara, Aaron Tveit, Maria Friedman, Iain Armitage, Katrina Lenk, Michael Cerveris, Brandon Uranowitz, Stephen Schwartz, Elizabeth Stanley, Chip Zien, Alexander Gemignani and, from the cast of Pacific Overtures at Classic Stage Company, Ann Harada, Austin Ku, Kelvin Moon Loh and Thom Sesma. Host Esparza starred as Bobby in the 2006 Tony Award-winning revival of Company and in the Kennedy Center Sondheim Celebration productions of Sunday in the Park With George and Merrily We Roll Along in 2002, as well as the City Center Encores! production of Anyone Can Whistle and in last year’s Road Show. “The world is in a hard place,” Esparza said in a statement, “and we are all searching for something great. Well, Stephen Sondheim is greatness personified.” Mary-Mitchell Campbell will be the music director, with Paul Wontorek serving as director. This online event will act as a fundraiser for ASTEP (Artists Striving to End Poverty), the organization conceived by Campbell and Juilliard students to transform the lives of youth through art. Many thanks to Glenn for the heads-up!

Feb 11
2020

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has announced the Little Women Digital and Blu-ray release dates. Nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Greta Gerwig’s adaptation of the timeless Louisa May Alcott masterpiece comes home on Digital March 10th and Blu-ray and DVD April 7th. The Blu-ray, DVD and Digital releases will take viewers even deeper into the beloved story of Jo, Meg, Amy and Beth with over 45 minutes of bonus features. In addition to earning the praise of critics worldwide with a Rotten Tomatoes “Certified Fresh” rating of 95%, the film has been honored with an Academy Award for Best Costume Design plus five nominations including Best Picture, Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay), and Best Music (Original Score).

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Feb 06
2020

Once again, according to The Hollywood Reporter, Meryl Streep has jumped aboard Rachel Feldman’s Lilly Ledbetter fair pay movie, Lilly. Streep has brought her backing to Feldman and fellow producers to bring the long-gestating feature based on the life of the equal pay icon to production. The Hollywood actress earlier lent her support to calls for equal pay for women in the U.S., including raising the issue while promoting her star turn in Suffragette, in which she played the iconic political activist Emmeline Pankhurst. Feldman will direct Lilly, which earlier had the working title Ledbetter, as it portrays Ledbetter inspiring the Fair Pay Restoration Act, the first piece of legislation President Barack Obama signed after his inauguration. J. Todd Harris (The Kids Are All Right) has also joined Feldman as a producing partner on the project. Ledbetter gained attention by fighting The Goodyear Tire Company for her right to pay equal to that of her male counterparts. She was a pioneer in putting a name to the issue, before Megan Rapinoe energized the fight for equal pay in sports and Michelle Williams spotlighted the pay gap for female actors in Hollywood. “Historic dramas often chronicle the external forces of politics, but Lilly tells the story of what happens to a woman’s inner life when patriarchal injustice overwhelms every aspect of her existence. Lilly is the perfect film for this moment in time,” Feldman, a director, screenwriter and activist and the former chair of the DGA Women’s Steering Committee, said in a statement.

Feb 06
2020

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Greta Gerwig’s Little Women has strolled past the $100 million mark at the domestic box office in another win for the Oscar-nominated film. The milestone comes on the eve of Sunday’s Academy Awards ceremony, for which the Sony movie is nominated in six top categories, including best picture, as well as for best actress (Saoirse Ronan) and best supporting actress (Florence Pugh). While Gerwig is up for best adapted screenplay, the filmmaker was shut out of the directors’ race. Little Women, opening Christmas Day, cost roughly $40 million to produce before marketing and will be nicely profitable for Sony and producer Amy Pascal after continuing to exceed expectations. The movie has grossed more than $64 million to date overseas for a global tally of $165 million. The latest adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel about the March sisters also stars Emma Watson, Eliza Scanlen, Laura Dern, Timothée Chalamet, Tracy Letts, Meryl Streep, Bob Odenkirk, James Norton, Louis Garrel and Chris Cooper.

Jan 18
2020

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Meryl Streep will lend her voice to Apple TV+ in an animated short film celebrating Earth Day. The three-time Oscar winner will star with Chris O’Dowd (Sundance’s State of the Union), Ruth Negga (Preacher) and Jacob Tremblay (Doctor Sleep) in Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth. The 36-minute film is based on Oliver Jeffers’ best-selling 2017 children’s book. It’s set to premiere April 17 on the tech giant’s streaming platform, five days before the 50th anniversary of the first Earth Day celebration. Here We Are will follow a precocious 7-year-old (voiced by Tremblay) who over the course of Earth Day learns about the wonders of the planet from his parents (Negga and O’Dowd) – and from a mysterious exhibit at the Museum of Everything. Streep will narrate the film. The project comes from independent animation house Studio AKA (Hey Duggee, Oscar-nominated short A Morning Stroll). Philip Hunt directed the film and co-wrote it with Luke Matheny (God of Love, Maron). Hunt, Sue Goffe and Jeffers executive produce. Alex Somers (How to Train Your Dragon) composed the music. Hunt and Jeffers previously collaborated on the BAFTA-winning animated short Lost and Found, also from Studio AKA, based on the author’s 2005 book. Here We Are joins a lineup of kids and family programming on the two-and-a-half-month-old Apple TV+ that also includes the animated Snoopy in Space – part of a deal between Apple and DHX Media for Peanuts-related content — live-action show Ghostwriter and educational series Helpsters. The latter is from Sesame Workshop, which has a content deal with Apple.

Nov 25
2019

The initial batch of all very positive reviews are in for Greta Gerwig’s “Little Women”. The adaptation had a 96 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes as of Monday morning. The Hollywood Reporter‘s David Rooney wrote that the film is “gratifying.” He added that Gerwig brings “freshness, vitality and emotional nuance to source material” that has been adapted multiple times. “Gerwig skillfully navigates the line between respecting the story’s old-fashioned bones while illuminating the modernity of its proto-feminist perspective, only occasionally leaning into speechy advocacy of a woman’s right to self-actualization beyond marriage,” Rooney wrote. He added that the cast “may be slightly bound by their canonical character types, but there’s lovely ensemble work here.” After praising the individual performances, specifically Ronan and Pugh, Rooney added that the film is “pleasingly paced.” He concluded, “Gerwig has taken a treasured perennial of popular American literature and reshaped it for a new generation, which should give the captivating film a long shelf life.”

Kate Erbland of IndieWire also gave Little Women a positive review. The critic noted that while Gerwig “modernized the book’s timeless story in unexpected ways,” it’s clear the director has “affection for the original, and keenly aware of how the concerns of Alcott and the March sisters (loosely based on the author’s own family) have never quite abated, no matter the time.” Erbland wrote that Ronan’s performance was “vibrant,” while Pugh’s interpretation of Amy “has more dimension than we’ve seen in previous cinematic adaptations of Alcott’s book.” She added that Little Women has its flaws, including when Watson speaks with an American accent and that “a handful of characters aren’t given nearly as much dimension as the sisters.” Erbland concluded,”Gerwig’s Little Women offers its own delightful storybook polish, in its own unique terms, and what a comfort that is.”

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Nov 16
2019

Alan J. Pakula, who died in 1998 at the age of 70 in an auto accident, was a most unusual filmmaker. Though his peers, including Stanley Kubrick, Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, Roman Polanski, George Lucas and William Friedkin, were as well-known as the stars of their films, Pakula stayed out of the limelight and let his films speak for themselves. And what films – some of the most memorable titles of the last half century. The AFI Fest in Hollywood is paying tribute to Pakula with free screenings of “Sterile Cuckoo,” “Klute” and “Sophie’s Choice” and a free screening Sunday evening of Matthew Miele’s thoughtful new documentary, “Alan Pakula: Going for Truth.” That film features insightful and often emotional interviews with Robert Redford, Harrison Ford, Meryl Streep, Jane Fonda and Dustin Hoffman, co-workers and family and numerous clips. Streep, Hoffman and Ford recently talked to The Los Angeles Times about what made Pakula such a powerful filmmaker and person. The quotes have been edited for clarity and brevity. You can watch the trailer for “Alan Pakula: Going for Truth” on Youtube. Many thanks to Glenn for the heads-up.

I think he really laid a map of integrity for artists, and that, more than anything, is his legacy for me. He was such a moral filmmaker. It’s like an old-fashioned idea, but he was. He was a moral man and he had a backbone. He loved women and respected them. So I mean it was that thing where you feel listened to instead of tolerated. It’s a really a great, great quality. All the best male directors have it. All the best female directors have it naturally.

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Nov 08
2019

Meryl Streep, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Emma Stone will host the 2020 Met Gala, marking Streep’s first time attending the fashion-focused event. Louis Vuitton creative director Nicolas Ghesquière will co-chair alongside the trio. Additionally, the designer brand will be sponsoring the event, taking place May 4. The theme of next year’s gala, “About Time: Fashion and Duration,” will implore attendees to “explore how clothes generate temporal associations that conflate past, present and future” by utilizing Henri Bergson’s concept of la duree, per the Met’s official statement. “Virginia Woolf will serve as the ‘ghost narrator’ of the exhibition.” With fashion aficionados like Billy Porter, Lady Gaga and Zendaya (who rocked a Cinderella ensemble for this year’s Camp theme), next year’s event will likely make for some interesting grayscale looks as the exhibition attempts to detail the “linear chronology of fashion” and focus on “the fast, fleeting rhythm of fashion.” Juxtaposed against the black ensembles will be a cluster of white outfits and accessories that “predate or postdate those in black, but relate to one another through shape, motif, material, pattern, technique, or decoration,” said the Met’s statement. The exhibition will close with a section on the future of fashion to explore the topic of longevity and sustainability.

Oct 18
2019

According to The Guardian, Netflix has moved to shut down a lawsuit from Mossack Fonseca lawyers over a film about the Panama Papers scandal that led to the closure of their firm and criminal charges, arguing the partners’ reputations were “long sullied” before the film’s release. The film, The Laundromat, is due to be released on Netflix at midnight on Friday in the US, and stars Gary Oldman and Antonio Banderas as Jurgen Mossack and Ramon Fonseca. Mossack and Fonseca sued Netflix this week alleging that the film portrayed them as “ruthless uncaring lawyers who are involved in money laundering, tax evasion, bribery and/or other criminal conduct” and sought a court ruling preventing the film being released. In a response filed to the US district court in Connecticut on Thursday, Netflix said the request was a “virtually unheard-of prior restraint on speech” and should be denied. The company said the film, although advertised as “based on some real shit”, did not try to portray itself as a non-fictional account of the Panama Papers scandal, but was instead a “comedic morality tale about a system which invites and protects abuse”. “While entertaining and largely comedic, it is intended to bring attention to the abuse of offshore shell corporations and tax shelters, and it is an indictment of the legal system that permits them,” Netflix said. Mossack and Fonseca, while given the same names in the film, are “palpably farcical characters”, Netflix said in the court filing. “They are cartoonish narrators who set up shell corporations around the world; it does not depict them as direct participants in criminal activity. “Rather, the film saves its pointed critiques for the opacity of the global banking system and the systemic corruption of wealthy individuals that permit that system to perpetuate itself.” Netflix said the film portrayed the pair as being “largely oblivious to the ways in which some of the shell entities they have set up are being abused, and it indicts the system for making such enterprises largely, if not entirely, legal”. The complete article can be read over at The Guardian.