Tag Archives: meryl streep

Streep Makes ‘Ricki’ Watchable

Ricki_and_the_Flash_posterWell, I’ll give Meryl Streep credit: she is definitely incapable of phoning in a bad performance.

“Ricki and the Flash” [insert long sigh at that title] stars Streep as an aging rock star who goes back home and try and make things right with her estranged family. Kevin Kline and Streep’s real-life daughter Mamie Gummer also star, as Jonathan Demme directs and Diablo Cody writes.

The trailer for this film made me roll my eyes every time I saw it (which, based on my addiction to movie theaters, means I saw it at least four times). It seemed sappy and standard and above all else cliché, but I still ended up seeing it. If you’re wondering why I saw it, it’s a combination of the aforementioned addiction and my friend and I honestly saying to one another, “hey, wouldn’t it be hilarious if we saw a 10am Friday showing of that new Meryl Streep movie? Like, as an ironic statement? Ha!” (I’m pretty sure it was a game of chicken that both of us just didn’t call the other’s bluff on). Anyways, getting off track, where was I?

Oh, right. “Ricki and the Flash” [sigh]. After seeing the film, I can confirm that it is sappy and standard and naturally clichéd, but darn it does Meryl Streep make it mostly watchable.

It is a lazy and obvious statement, but just in case you’ve lived under a rock the past 50 years: Meryl Streep is very good at acting. Had she never gotten her big break in movies, she could have become a very successful lawyer, or quarterback of the New England Patriots (Brady zing). And here she plays a role we have seen a hundred times in movies yet her dedication to the character is admirable. Ricki is the typical free spirit, “I live for rock and roll!” American gal, and while you understand her kids’ resentment towards her for never being there for them, you also empathize with her because she was doing following what she considered her dream, and only now is realizing she made the wrong decision.

If all you wanted to see from this movie was some family drama and Meryl Streep sing some cover songs, then you can stop reading now because you’ll get exactly what you desired from this experience. Anyone else, continue on with me. The biggest problem I have with “Ricki” is that almost none of the conflicts in the film are resolved, and the ones that are are done so quickly without any true effort that it is almost annoying.

The trailer paints the plot as Ricki needing to go home because her daughter’s husband left her, and that is the case; for about 40 minutes. Then Ricki leaves and goes back to LA where she has a “will they-won’t they” (they will) relationship with her band’s guitarist (Rick Springfield). I just never bought how she could constantly emasculate him on stage in front of their 12 adoring bar fans and yet he still would want her (I may have oversold how big a deal Ricki and the Flash are; they play at a bar in front of the same dozen people every night. It’s not like she left her family and sold her soul for fortune and fame).

Demme, known for other small musical comedies like “Silence of the Lambs” and “Rachel Getting Married,” sometimes makes the musical performances distracting, but overall the film is shot nice and tight and he gives the actors plenty of room to breathe and move around.

Look, my friend and I were the only people in the theater without AARP cards, so clearly this film was not made with me in mind. If you love Streep, 70’s music, and all the conflict of feuding families without any of the rewarding resolutions, then “Ricki and the Flash” (seriously, they couldn’t think of a better title?) is the film for you. Streep will get her Golden Globe nomination and the film will be forgotten by the time the leaves begin to turn orange. Everyone can go home happy.

Critics Rating: 5/10

Meryl Streep


‘The Giver’ an Interesting Adaption

The_Giver_posterAll too often when a movie is adapted from a novel, especially one that is as popular and well-known as Lois Lowry’s “The Giver”, the resulting film is a letdown, both as a film as well as to the source material. But “The Giver”, based on Lowry’s book, does a better job than most when it comes to bringing pages to the big screen.

Set in the year 2048, the world has been divided into “communities”, perfect living arrangements devoid of color, emotions or other social aspects. When a young boy named Jonas (Brenton Thwaites) is taught to see and feel all the memories lost by a man known as The Giver (Jeff Bridges), the perfect community is threatened. Meryl Streep and Katies Holmes costar as Phillip Noyce directs.

Jeff Bridges spent nearly two decades trying to get Lowry’s novel made into a film, and originally envisioned his own father, Lloyd, playing the titular character. More than 20 years and 10 million copies sold, “The Giver” is finally a major Hollywood film, and the result is a mixed bag, however an interesting one.

The concept of a “perfect society” isn’t new, and technically this film is even less original because it is based off a book. However “The Giver” still manages to keep our interest by hinting at what used to be. Unlike “The Hunger Games”, these communities, also forged because of a great war, have no recollection of the old world, and know not that the government, led by Streep, is controlling and manipulating them. This makes us root for Jonas to overthrow the system even more.

Noyce directs the film beautifully, transitioning from black-and-white to small amounts of color as Jonas becomes more and more intelligent. He infuses The Giver’s memories with lively and colorful images that make us realize how gorgeous the world we live really is, and how awful it would be to lose it.

There are some tonal and pacing issues with the film, and they are certainly its biggest flaw. Towards the film’s climax, when the energy should be racing and our hearts pumping, it is actually the driest and slowest part of the film. There is no real suspense; any suspense that should be present is replaced with walking. A lot of walking.

Not every performance is also up-to-par, however that is not entirely the actors’ fault. Because this is a world with no emotion or true expression, many characters, especially Katie Holmes’s mother character, feel more like robots than human beings, and it is at times distracting from the film, whether loyal to the book or not.

If you loved Lowry’s novel, then “The Giver” won’t disappoint. It embodies everything that has made the book so popular, even if it does shy away from some of its deeper, thought-provoking ideas. From a standalone film perspective, the film is gorgeously shot and features a few interesting aspects, almost acting as modern social commentaries. I found myself generally entertained for a majority of the film, and that is more than I can say for most non-Harry Potter adaptions.

Critics Rating: 7/10