No, No, No

 

At last we have a trailer for the Meryl Streep biopic of Margaret Thatcher. I’ve reserved judgment on this, figuring I’d just have to wait and watch it, but the trailer isn’t filling me with hope:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Im2UvBs_gfs

It’s not her. Meryl may be playing an interesting character, but that character isn’t Margaret Thatcher. 

This is Margaret Thatcher:

See the difference? She didn’t make jokes about her iron will at her own expense. She made them at the expense of the Soviet Union. It’s an important distinction, and if you don’t grasp that, you’re missing the point. That flirty-wincy “Aren’t I a clever girl?” expression Meryl makes? Never seen it on Margaret Thatcher, not even once. She used her femininity, for sure, but never once do you see a moment when the mask slips and she’s revealed as a cynic. That’s because it wasn’t a mask.

It’s hard to get Margaret Thatcher right, but it can be done. Janet Brown did it with much more success:

I wouldn’t say that’s side-splittingly funny, but it’s a dead-on imitation of Margaret Thatcher, performed by someone who studied Thatcher’s body language, facial expressions and diction, and who had the talent–or perhaps the will–to recreate them faithfully.

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  1. Profile Photo Inactive
    @flownover

    They ( edamame chomping studio bosses) don’t like Maggie . They don’t like Reagan either. Don’t be too disappointed . Remember her words: ” I once had a kolkhoz in Africa.”

    • #1
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    @BillMcGurn

    Amen, Claire. For filmmakers, Mrs. Thatcher is but a caricature. Ditto for Reagan. The left thought he bamboozled everyone because he was an actor. They didn’t see what the voters saw: unlike so many other pols, when Reagan expressed his convictions, he wasn’t acting.

    • #2
  3. Profile Photo Member
    @

    Did you actually expect anything different. Cheap shots at conservatives are so much easier to film than tributes to somebody whose singleminded belief in her country raised it to the economic and political prominence it enjoys today. Some subjects are truly better left to books. If it’s any consolation, Lady Thatcher probably isn’t too concerned with this portrayal of her legacy. Her legacy will live on long after this film has been forgotten.

    • #3
  4. Profile Photo Member
    @

    Chill out guys. All I saw there was a cynicism about politics, no denigration of principle and certainly no denigration of character. Give them (and her) a chance. Margaret Thatcher’s accomplishments are too manifest for them to present a caricature. Nor is it realistic to expect uncritical adulation. The movie is likely to be about character not politics and no one wins an Oscar for playing a weak or ridiculous character. And the one thing you can count on is that Ms. Meryl is playing for the Oscar.

    • #4
  5. Profile Photo Member
    @

    No, this…this does not inspire confidence.

    • #5
  6. Profile Photo Inactive
    @HumzaAhmad

    I’m with Trace. All we saw was a smirk that Claire took issue with. That may be a valid critique or it might not be, but we’ll have to see the movie in it’s entirety before we can start jumping down Hollywood’s throat on this one. Nothing to froth at the mouth over just yet. But Streep’s over-zealous acting aside, I have a feeling this will surprise some of us.

    • #6
  7. Profile Photo Inactive
    @OkanAltiparmak

    Well… here may the reason:

    Directed by Phyllida Christian Lloyd

    Leading British theatre director, particularly praised for her work in opera.

    In the Independent on Sunday 2006 Pink List – a list of the most influential gay men and women – she came no. 56, a new entry.

    • #7
  8. Profile Photo Inactive
    @CrowsNest

    Is the smirk worse, or the line that comes after it. As if the tones and postures our leaders strike are merely some sort of inside joke not to be taken seriously by the high masters of poetry….

    That said, I have found Streep to be very talented and an excellent actress in the past. I’m willing to give her a chance and willing to see the entire performance in context.

    • #8
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    @Claire

    My objection isn’t political here. I’m happy to say that Janet Brown and I aren’t of the same opinion about Thatcher politically, but that she’s captured something real about Thatcher–for which I give her credit as an actress. And it’s quite possible that Streep has created an interesting character–and if she has, I’ll give her credit for that–but from this clip, I’d guess that character isn’t Margaret Thatcher.

    • #9
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    @Grendel

    FWIW, I wondered whether “Red Star chiffon evening gown” was a reference to anything more than the color. A bazillion googlits revealed that the ‘Soviet Army newspaper Red Star labelled Thatcher “the Iron Lady”‘.

    I think Claire is right. Yes, MT’s character and achievements will defy attempts at caricature, so in the movie, we will see see Streep/Thatcher resolutely doing the “Iron Lady” schtick vis-à-vis the Reds, Al Haig, Bush-41, the Trade Union Council. But that is just it. The movie has established that it is just schtick. This clip is no different from that Monty Python sketch in which flaming poofters in the judges’ cloakroom giggle about how they put on deep, solemn tones when speaking from the bench.

    • #10
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    @LeslieWatkins

    I don’t see Streep as Thatcher making fun of herself at her own expense, but I do find her flirty wink to be none too subtle, suggesting a ball breaker rather than a female politician with an iron will. However, even though I’m expecting more caricature than character, I’ve got to see the whole thing now. And Claire I can’t wait to see/hear you interviewed about it. Surely folks will be calling for your views, dontchathink?

    Trace Urdan: Chill out guys. All I saw there was a cynicism about politics, no denigration of principle and certainly no denigration of character. Give them (and her) a chance. Margaret Thatcher’s accomplishments are too manifest for them to present a caricature. Nor is it realistic to expect uncritical adulation. The movie is likely to be about character not politics and no one wins an Oscar for playing a weak or ridiculous character. And the one thing you can count on is that Ms. Meryl is playing for the Oscar. · Jul 7 at 6:45am

    • #11
  12. Profile Photo Inactive
    @Douglas

    Never, ever trust Hollywood. For every Rob Long, Kelsey Grammer, or Chuck Norris there are a hundred Martin Sheens, Norman Lears, and Alec Baldwins. And even if you become powerful, they’re waiting to pounce when you screw up. See Mel Gibson. His faults are real, but the truth is that they never forgave him for making Passion. And when it was successful they hated him even more.

    The default reaction of any conservative to anything from the Hollywood system should be deep suspicion.

    • #12
  13. Profile Photo Inactive
    @MichaelTee

    Ooh! Actual evidence Meryl Streep is an widely overrated actress! Yes!

    She’s playing the “Devil Wears Prada” character.

    • #13
  14. Profile Photo Inactive
    @HumzaAhmad
    Leslie Watkins: And Claire I can’t wait to see/hear you interviewed about it. Surely folks will be calling for your views, dontchathink?

    I certainly hope so! Rob Long and Claire Berlinski on “The Iron Lady” would make a great podcast, if you ask me.

    • #14
  15. Profile Photo Inactive
    @flownover
    Okan Altiparmak: Well… here may the reason:

    Directed by Phyllida Christian Lloyd

    Leading British theatre director, particularly praised for her work in opera.

    In the Independent on Sunday 2006 Pink List – a list of the most influential gay men and women – she came no. 56, a new entry. · Jul 7 at 7:19am

    Phyllida, is that an std or a sex act ?

    • #15
  16. Profile Photo Member
    @Misthiocracy

    The background music in this trailer is the score from Moon.

    What an odd choice.

    • #16
  17. Profile Photo Inactive
    @Talleyrand

    “I haad a farm in Surrey” … Meryl is an occasional great actress, (please no more singing in Mamma Mia), but leans toward impersonation rather than acting out a character’s basic meaning. That excerpt looks like Meryl channeling Mary Whitehouse via Imelda Staunton in Harry Potter.

    http://c0181301.cdn.cloudfiles.rackspacecloud.com/NE6Gv8a6ysVO9c_1_1.jpg

    The Artists “speaking truth to power” were never going to give Thatcher forgiveness for her “sins”. Even after all these years; she reminds them of how ugly Britain had become under the cuddly Labour and wet Torys that preceded her.

    • #17
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    @Pseudodionysius

    I’ll take a bet with Trace and back Claire that Meryl Streep blew it. And she blew it because of bad acting. There I said it. Bad acting. Not doing her homework. Meryl Streep has become a caricature of a great actress in her sunset years, which is too bad, but I’m not going to lose any sleep over it.

    • #18
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    @Alcina

    Exactly right, Pseudo-d. One of these ladies became a caricature of herself in her sunset years, and it wasn’t Mrs. Thatcher.

    • #19
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    @OttomanUmpire

    I’m inclined to agree with you, Claire. By way of calibration, what did you think of Helen Mirren as Queen Elizabeth?

    • #20
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    @user_83937

    It’s admirable that you reserved judgement, but didn’t you read Styron’s version of Sophie’s Choice? Didn’t you at least try to read (I couldn’t finish it) Bridges of Madison County? Streep has a certain luminous and emphatic quality on film that makes her very watchable, but that is her selling point. I’ve never noticed that it was related to the story being told. Without meaning to denigrate her skills, I would compare that to the “Sham Wow” guy, but I have never bought a Sham Wow.

    • #21
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    @Midge

    Hmm… er… It’s a bit like when they made Miss Marple cute.

    In defense of Streep, though, they also gave her character ickily obvious dialog:

    If such a scene should exist at all, the scene should end when the Thatcher character states that the pearls are absolutely non-negotiable, then stares — before the cute eyebrows.

    • #22
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    @WesternChauvinist

    I’m perfectly prepared to be chastised over this, but while Streep’s portrayal in this clip may be off, what I find unbelievable is the context. Maybe my vision of Thatcher is a caraciture, however I just can’t believe she would sit mildly by while two men instructed her on appearances. In fact, I have trouble believing two men who knew her would have presumed to try.

    • #23
  24. Profile Photo Inactive
    @Elena

    She looks clownish! It’s all very awkward.

    • #24
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