Streep plays Thatcher

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Streep plays Thatcher

Post  eddie on Thu Dec 01, 2011 5:21 pm

Meryl Streep wins award for Margaret Thatcher biopic The Iron Lady

High hopes for Oscar as New York Critics Circle's best actress prize seen as first of many for the veteran film star

Catherine Shoard
guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 30 November 2011 22.15 GMT


Meryl Streep’s role as Margaret Thatcher could see her extend her record of 16 Oscar nominations Photograph: Larry French/Getty Images North America

Meryl Streep's much lauded performance in Margaret Thatcher biopic The Iron Lady won her the best actress award from the New York Critics Circle on Tuesday. And it looks set to be the first of many prizes.

The Iron Lady
Production year: 2011
Country: UK
Directors: Phyllida Lloyd
Cast: Jim Broadbent, Meryl Streep, Olivia Coleman, Richard E Grant
More on this film

Streep, 62, holds the record for the most acting Oscar nominations – she has so far clocked up 16, but has not managed a win since Sophie's Choice 30 years ago. Not only is she perceived as overdue the honour, but her performance in Phyllida Lloyd's film, which shows the former prime minister looking back over her career as she struggles with dementia and bereavement, has been praised even by those uncertain about the movie's politics. The Guardian's Xan Brooks called Streep's turn "astonishing and all but flawless; a masterpiece of mimicry which re-imagines Thatcher in all her half-forgotten glory. Streep has the basilisk stare; the tilted, faintly predatory posture. Her delivery, too, is eerily good – a show of demure solicitude, invariably overtaken by steely, wild-eyed stridency".

William Hill quotes odds of 6/5 against a Streep Oscar, although there have been questions about how well the film will play outside the UK. Trailing her are Viola Davis, for her incendiary performance in civil rights drama The Help; Michelle Williams, for another biopic, My Week with Marilyn, and Glen Close, whose turn as a cross-dressing 19th century Irish butler in Albert Nobbs is currently quoted at 6/1.

The New York critics awarded the best actor prize to Brad Pitt, who played a disciplinarian father in Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life. Another film which premiered at Cannes this year, The Artist, which is set during the advent of the talkies, picked up the best picture award. Should it repeat the trick at the Oscars in February will be the first silent film to win since Wings at the inaugural ceremony in 1929.

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Re: Streep plays Thatcher

Post  eddie on Tue Dec 20, 2011 9:12 pm

Thatcher biographer says The Iron Lady is inaccurate

Biopic starring Meryl Streep has been criticised by John Campbell, who wrote the book on which the film is based

Ben Child

guardian.co.uk, Friday 16 December 2011 16.37 GMT


Exaggerated role? Meryl Streep plays Margaret Thatcher in Phyllida Lloyd's biopic The Iron Lady. Photograph: Alex Bailey/Pathe Productions Ltd/PA

It has already been dismissed by Norman Tebbit, despite Meryl Streep being discussed as a shoo-in for an Oscar for her portrayal of Margaret Thatcher. Now The Iron Lady, Phyllida Lloyd's much-discussed biopic of Britain's first female prime minister, has been criticised for inaccuracy by Thatcher biographer John Campbell.

The Iron Lady
Production year: 2011
Country: UK
Directors: Phyllida Lloyd
Cast: Jim Broadbent, Meryl Streep, Olivia Coleman, Richard E Grant

The accusation holds some weight because Campbell's book, also titled The Iron Lady, was used as the basis for Lloyd's film. The author is concerned that screenwriters chose to enhance the prime minister's role in important affairs of the 1980s at the expense of other key figures, such as her foreign secretary Geoffrey Howe.

"Like any film of that sort, it simplifies and it dramatises her as a great individual, fighting against all these things as if it was just her on her own," Campbell tells the Daily Telegraph. "It does not credit her colleagues like Geoffrey Howe, or anybody else. The other politicians are made to look wet – she bashes them.

"There aren't many males in the film, so you don't get a real sense of the truth. Instead, it suggests that it was just her that brought the Soviet Union down. It's over-simplified history and there is too much concentration on her. There is a lot of poetic licence going on, including Meryl's way of talking to colleagues.

"The men aren't given important roles, particularly Howe. He isn't viewed as important and is presented as a bit of a caricature, like a weak teddy bear. He is given no credit for his work as chancellor of the exchequer and he really deserves a great deal of the credit. It does over-egg Thatcher's role, it's not that accurate a historical representation."

Campbell, who acted as a consultant on the film and was even given a cameo role as the manager of an ice-cream company visited by Thatcher, has written two books about the former premier, 2000's Margaret Thatcher: The Grocer's Daughter and 2003's Margaret Thatcher: The Iron Lady, along with biographies of Edward Heath, Roy Jenkins and Aneurin Bevan. Despite his misgivings, he conceded that Lloyd's film remained "a remarkable piece of work and a remarkable portrayal by Meryl Streep". The latter was nominated yesterday for a Golden Globe as best actress in a drama, the latest in a steady flow of garlands from various critics bodies over the past month.

Tebbit, who was a member of Thatcher's cabinet between 1981 and 1987, was not so impressed by the US actor's performance. Writing in the Telegraph earlier this year, he said: "She was never, in my experience, the half-hysterical, over-emotional, over-acting woman portrayed by Meryl Streep."

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Re: Streep plays Thatcher

Post  eddie on Tue Dec 20, 2011 9:16 pm

The Iron Lady returns to Commons – in possible debate over film's 'good taste'

Tory complaints over 'intrusive and unfair' nature of Oscar-tipped Margaret Thatcher biopic lead to calls for Commons debate

Ben Child

guardian.co.uk, Monday 19 December 2011 12.26 GMT


Headspin ... MP Rob Wilson criticised the film for dwelling too much on Margaret Thatcher's mental illness. Photograph: Allstar/Cinetext/Film4

Conservative MPs have called for a House of Commons debate over The Iron Lady, the Oscar-tipped film about Margaret Thatcher which stars Meryl Streep as Britain's formidable first female PM.

The Iron Lady
Production year: 2011
Country: UK
Directors: Phyllida Lloyd
Cast: Jim Broadbent, Meryl Streep, Olivia Coleman, Richard E Grant

Ahead of the movie's release in UK cinemas next month, Tory MP for Reading East Rob Wilson said Phyllida Lloyd's biopic presented an "intrusive and unfair" picture of Thatcher, having chosen to depict her as "old, lonely, fragile and suffering from dementia" in some segments. He argued that Lloyd and screenwriter Abi Morgan ought to have focused more closely on the younger years of the Lincolnshire-born grocer's daughter, who became the UK's longest-serving 20th century leader.

Wilson, a parliamentary private secretary to the culture secretary, Jeremy Hunt, called for a Commons debate on "respect, good manners and good taste". While accepting that The Iron Lady was "well made" and "brilliantly acted", he said: "I just wonder why the film-makers had to go so heavily on the mental illness, the dementia side, when Baroness Thatcher has had a very important life in the politics of this country and the world. It left me wondering about the humanity of the film-makers who are very subtly denigrating someone who was a great prime minister." Wilson said Thatcher was not so frail, having sat in the House of Lords, where she holds a life peerage, and attended events such as Liam Fox's 50th birthday party this year.

Commons leader Sir George Young said he welcomed a debate on The Iron Lady, adding that he had heard "conflicting views" about the film. Other Conservative figures such as Thatcher's former right-hand man Norman Tebbit have also been less than positive about the movie. Writing in the Telegraph earlier this year, he said: "She was never, in my experience, the half-hysterical, over-emotional, over-acting woman portrayed by Meryl Streep." Thatcher's biographer, John Campbell, has expressed irritation at what he said was the film's tendency to enhance the prime minister's role in important affairs of the 1980s at the expense of other key figures, such as her foreign secretary Geoffrey Howe.

Tory grumbles have so far failed to dent Streep's prospects of picking up her third Oscar at February's Academy Awards. The American actor was nominated for a Golden Globe for best actress in a drama last week and won a best actress prize from the New York Film Critics Circle earlier in the year.

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Re: Streep plays Thatcher

Post  eddie on Wed Feb 15, 2012 10:29 pm

The Iron Lady's Meryl Streep says Thatcher 'was a feminist'

Oscar-nominated actor says former British prime minister 'was a feminist, whether she likes it or not', as she picks up lifetime achievement award at the Berlin film festival

Ben Child

guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 15 February 2012 10.25 GMT


Feminist icon? ... Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady. Photograph: Weinstein/Everett/Rex Features

Oscars frontrunner Meryl Streep described Margaret Thatcher, who she portrays in the Bafta-winning The Iron Lady, as a "feminist, whether she likes it or not" and labelled awards season "a sporting event … you haven't signed up for", as she picked up a lifetime achievement award at the Berlin film festival.

The Iron Lady
Production year: 2011
Country: UK
Cert (UK): 12A
Runtime: 104 mins
Directors: Phyllida Lloyd
Cast: Alexandra Roach, Anthony Head, Harry Lloyd, Jim Broadbent, Meryl Streep, Olivia Coleman, Olivia Colman, Richard E Grant, Roger Allam

Streep, 62, said most people had more in common with Thatcher than they would care to admit, pointing out that the former premier was in favour of abortion and was well aware of the dangers of global warming before it was a fashionable topic.

"She would have been kicking and screaming the entire way to the feminist altar, but she was a feminist, whether she likes it or not," added Streep, describing Thatcher as incredibly "brave" for her time. "A lot surprised me," she said.

Streep, who is neck and neck with Screen Actors Guild (SAG) prize winner Viola Davis (The Help) in the race for the best actress Oscar following victories at the Golden Globes and Baftas, picked up an honorary Golden Bear at Berlin. Her portrayal of the former British prime minister brought her a record 17th Oscar nomination earlier this year – though she has actually won only twice, for 1979's Kramer vs Kramer (best supporting actress) and 1982's Sophie's Choice (best actress). Both films are being screened in Berlin, along with The Iron Lady and four other Streep movies as part of the festival's celebration of the New Jersey-born actor's work.

"Suddenly you feel like you're in a sporting event and you haven't signed up for it," Streep said of her current awards season buzz. "You did some work in a film that you're proud of and you are hoping that people will go and see it, and suddenly you're doing calisthenics to get ready for [the] Super Bowl." She pointed out that many actors do not receive recognition for their strong work, singling out Margaret's Anna Paquin and Tyrannosaur's Olivia Colman as two who have been unlucky to miss out this year.

While Streep is lapping up most of the publicity in the runup to the Academy awards on 26 February at the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles, she faces an uphill struggle to convert her Bafta and Golden Globe wins into Oscars glory. Davis's SAG victory for leading female actor puts her in the driving seat because the winner of that award has gone on to take the Academy prize for best actress six times in the last eight years. The other nominees are Glenn Close for Albert Nobbs, Rooney Mara for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Michelle Williams for My Week with Marilyn.

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Re: Streep plays Thatcher

Post  pinhedz on Thu Feb 16, 2012 5:11 am

Maggie seems something like the evil cousin of the Good Woman of Szechuan.

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Re: Streep plays Thatcher

Post  pinhedz on Thu Feb 16, 2012 8:05 am

eddie wrote:"She was never, in my experience, the half-hysterical, over-emotional, over-acting woman portrayed by Meryl Streep."
That's an odd reaction; to me she seemed quite controlled throughout the film, and there is enough of Maggie on youtube to show how she laid it on to Parliament.

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Re: Streep plays Thatcher

Post  Yakima Canutt on Sat Feb 18, 2012 8:09 pm

'Iron Lady' script is made of tin, seriously
by Col. Rémy St. Beouf
El Cerrito Intelligencer-Dispatch

In most ways, this dramatization of Margaret Thatcher's life is a disappointment. Instead of an epic film about the most consequential (like her or not) prime minister since Winston Churchill, we get the story of an old lady with dementia who remembers her life in scattered flashbacks. Instead of a movie that shows what made her extraordinary, we get one that shows how she, too, is subject to illness and the ravages of age. Like anybody.

Imagine a biopic about Ronald Reagan that leaves out Gorbachev but instead dramatizes his years with Alzheimer's, and you'll get an idea of this film's misplaced focus.



Yet Streep's performance is so true and so uncannily accurate, so full and so complete in its understanding, that she is fascinating every second she is onscreen. She can't justify the strange priorities and limitations of the script, but she can make the most of every moment, and so the sight of Streep as the aged Thatcher buying milk in a grocery store becomes engrossing. Through meticulous study, Streep gets every external detail of Thatcher's expression and movement and then, through some profound gift of intuition, she gets everything else, the thoughts, the inner life, the strengths and limitations, even the unconscious motivations of the character.

When she comes home from the store, Thatcher has a conversation with her husband, Denis (Jim Broadbent), about the price of milk. For all the world, they look like a well-to-do old English couple having breakfast. But as we soon come to realize, Denis is not really there. He has been dead for several years, and Margaret is having a hallucination - one of many, as much of "The Iron Lady" will be taken up with scenes of Margaret either conversing with the impish, imaginary Denis or trying to will him to go away. We'd like him to go away, too, but he just won't do it.



What the movie cannot disguise, almost to the point of making one wonder why the filmmakers even bothered, is a certain left-wing squeamishness about a right-wing subject. Screenwriter Abi Morgan and director Phyllida Lloyd take on one of the most extraordinary women of the last century, but they can find nothing good to say about her besides that she was tough, and a woman, and that it's too bad she is suffering from dementia. Even the tragedy of the dementia is undercut by this strategy: Unless we are made to believe that this woman was remarkable - and not merely that, but a positive force in the world - the loss of her faculties is little more than a routine shame.

Fortunately, Thatcher's life is too interesting to make uninteresting, and Thatcher's feminism is something Lloyd can sink her teeth into without apology. So we get effective scenes of young Margaret (Alexandra Roach) insisting on living a life of consequence. Later, Thatcher's singularity is emphasized, with shots of her overhead, a lone woman in a sea of blue suits, or as the only pair of high heels in a row of black wingtips. Through Streep's performance, it's impossible not to feel for Thatcher in those early years, addressing the Commons and enduring the condescension of her male colleagues in the opposition party.



This being a British film, the Falklands war is presented as a close second to Churchill's stand against Hitler, while Thatcher's other accomplishments - taking Gorbachev's measure, transforming the British economy and keeping her country off the euro - are dealt with halfheartedly or in passing. But in the end, Lloyd and Morgan, with Streep's help, make the case for the kind of Margaret Thatcher biopic they chose to make.

Think of "The Iron Lady" as a mediocre strategy touched by genius, the brilliant execution of a so-so idea.


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Re: Streep plays Thatcher

Post  eddie on Fri Mar 02, 2012 11:54 am

Steve Bell on the Leveson inquiry

The police officer leading investigation into News International has spoken of a 'culture of illegal payments'

guardian.co.uk, Monday 27 February 2012 22.22 GMT


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