Against The Hype

movies, criticism and their pleasures

The Movies I Love, #50: Adaptation

July 29, 2012 By: Colin Low Category: Full Essays

When I fished a video CD of Adaptation off a videostore bargain shelf circa 2005, I had no idea who Meryl Streep was. (I know, I know.) The cover lodged her squarely between Nicolas Cage, whom I vaguely knew, and Chris Cooper, whom I didn’t. At the time, what drew my eye lay above Streep’s face and name, where it proclaimed, in large font: “Academy Award Winner: Best Supporting Actor – Chris Cooper.” Ooh, I thought. An Oscar-winning performance. Might be interesting. No nominations were mentioned; the rest of the cover gave little else away.

My first Meryl
Adaptation thus holds the lone, eccentric honor of being the first and last Meryl Streep movie I’ve seen where I was not anticipating her performance. And unlike The Devil Wears Prada, which burnishes its own loin-girding introduction to Meryl for many of my generation and younger, Adaptation sneaks Meryl up on those who have yet to grasp her massive cultural chokehold over the ’80s cinema. Our initial glimpses of her typing solitarily in a high-rise office at night, slinking into a courthouse in session, or approaching Cooper’s chip-toothed hick for an interview hardly give off the vibes of a breathtaking role, even if her voiceovers of literary snatches from The Orchid Thief take on a mellifluous tone.


Trailer: It's Complicated

September 06, 2009 By: Colin Low Category: Trailer Analyses

The first movie named after a Facebook status?

—Nathaniel Rogers, The Film Experience

Evidently, this Nancy Myers-directed rom-com—set for a Christmas Day release, if you know what I mean—is about how Alec Baldwin thought he was over Meryl Streep – but whoops, isn’t. Sort of like moviegoers around the world.

— David Hudson, The Auteurs Daily

Based on the trailer, doesn’t it look like Meryl’s trying to rehabilitate her Mamma Mia character into an actual human being? Not to jinx it, of course (grin), but as a relatively young fan who discovered her wondrous gifts only three years ago in The Devil Wears Prada, I’m still not used to her newfound attempts at playing a self-confessed slut. (Sex-minded, yes—as she was in Silkwood, The Bridges of Madison County and A Prairie Home Companion—but even those characters were rather monogamous; her star persona’s always seemed too wholesome for outright “slutty”.)