Monday, February 27, 2017

TV: The overrated

THE GOOD WIFE ran on for several seasons too long.

By the time they were killing off Will (Josh Charles), there was no doubt that the series was running on fumes.  That was during season five and, sadly, the series continued for two more seasons.


Now CBS is serving up a spin off, THE GOOD FIGHT.

They thought it would be a treat for viewers.

No surprise, last Sunday it got lousy ratings when CBS debuted it on the network.

Now it will be just a web only program, one CBS hopes people will fork over money to pay to watch.


Why do they hope that?

Because they've always over-estimated Christine Baranski.

The actress is a real piece of work.

Most learned that during her backstage backstabbing while making the sitcom CYBILL but talk to the cast of PLAYING FOR TIME and you'll learn the little princess has been stirring up s**t for decades.

On THE GOOD WIFE, she couldn't get along with Julianna Margulies and frequently whined to CBS execs who confuse her ugly face with "character."

She has none.

And CBS made a huge mistake building a show around her.

As usual, people have confused their partisan beliefs with politics and with entertainment.

So they applaud the crap that is THE GOOD FIGHT, ignoring it's never ending racist portrayals.

More Arabs as terrorists.

But, hey, they got in some cracks about Donald Trump, so that's okay, right?

Again, partisanship is not politics.

It's something the artistic community repeatedly fails to grasp.

Which is how Meryl Streep got her 20th Academy Award nomination.

She's not attractive.

Let's clear up that myth.

As a young woman, that nose did her in as did her soul dead eyes.

If your eyes don't come across onscreen you never become a film star.

And Meryl never has.

She's not box office and never has been.

She's a WASP so the Academy pretends she's talented.

But she's not really talented either.

Not enough to deserve multiple Academy Award nominations.

Jane Fonda?

She's created memorable moments.  KLUTE has the finest work done by any actor -- male or female -- in the second half of the 20th century.  Jane's also got COMING HOME, THE MORNING AFTER and JULIA among dramas.  Among comedies, her highly underrated turn in 9 TO 5 remains amazing as does her work in FUN WITH DICK AND JANE, CAT BALLOU and BAREFOOT IN THE PARK.

Jane has moments onscreen that matter.

She's also been box office.

Meryl can't point to anything.

As Pauline Kael repeatedly noted, Meryl's 'great' dramatic work was hollow and unconvincing.

SILKWOOD, for example, belongs to Kurt Russell's chest and Cher's acting.  Meryl gives a fussy and empty performance.

Her finest film is DEATH BECOMES HER and Goldie Hawn (with less screen time) still manages to steal the film from her.  Goldie's not just funny, she's real.  She's full bodied.

Meryl, in far too many films, tosses her lines into the palm of her hand, not to other actors, not off the screen.

She's a church mouse, a dowdy church mouse, whose WASPish background is mistaken for breeding.

She's made over 50 films and America really didn't need any of them.

Anne Hathaway carries THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA.  Meryl elected to play a dishy villian -- or signed up for that.  In the end, she played her usual dull WASP because she didn't see "the devil" in the title as a villain.  She's incapable of letting loose onscreen which is why her career is littered with one meaningless role after another.

Linda Hunt, for example, went for it in THE YEAR OF LIVING DANGEROUSLY, Cher went for it in MASK and MOONSTRUCK while Annette Bening's gone for it in THE GRIFTERS, AMERICAN BEAUTY, THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT, BUGSY and 20TH CENTURY WOMEN.

Debra Winger and Shirley MacLaine did the same in TERMS OF ENDEARMENT, Jodie Foster in THE ACCUSED, Whoopi Goldberg in GHOST, Ann-Margaret in CARNAL KNOWLEDGE, DIANE KEATON in ANNIE HALL, THE GOOD MOTHER, SHOOT THE MOON, REDS and many more. These are performances that haunt and resonate.

You can list several by Bette Davis, several by Anjelica Huston, Carole Lombard, etc.

Meryl has spent the last forty years delivering the same performance over and over.  It seemed fresh, to some, in the late seventies.

It's not amazing.  It's not even good.

Arguing for the most daring film performances by actresses alive today, one would easily think of Vanessa Redgraves' incredible body of work, Charlize Theron or, yes, Annette Bening.

For example, Viola Davis won the Best Supporting Actress category tonight.

The sad thing is, she deserved the award for Best Actress in THE HELP.

She didn't get that award because it instead went to Meryl that year for THE IRON LADY -- another film that no one saw and another performance that was empty and shallow.

20 nominations.

And yet Annette Bening stole POSTCARDS FROM THE EDGE from Meryl in one scene.

Great actresses leave an impression.

Diana Ross in LADY SINGS THE BLUES, Holly Hunter in THE PIANO, Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis in THELMA & LOUISE, Jessica Lange in FRANCES and TOOTSIE, Faye Dunaway in NETWORK, BONNIE & CLYDE and CHINATOWN, Barbra Streisand in THE WAY WE WERE, Liza Minnelli in CABARET, Ellen Burstyn in ALICE DOESN'T LIVE HERE ANYMORE, Glenn Close and Michelle Pfeiffer in DANGEROUS LIASONS, Glenn Close in FATAL ATTRACTION, Nicole Kidman in TO DIE FOR and MOULIN ROUGE!, Rita Moreno in WEST SIDE STORY, Halle Berry in MONSTER'S BALL, Hillary Swank in BOYS DON'T CRY, Julie Christie in DARLING, AWAY FROM HER and DOCTOR ZHIVAGO, Michelle Pfeiffer in BATMAN RETURNS and THE FABULOUS BAKER BOYS, Sigourney Weaver in ALIENS, Vanessa Redgrave in THE BOSTONIANS and JULIA, Goldie Hawn in PRIVATE BENJAMIN, SHAMPOO, and CACTUS FLOWER, Isabelle Adjani in CAMILLE CLAUDEL, Emma Stone in LA LA LAND and all the other women mentioned elsewhere and many more not noted have created moments of movie magic.

Streep's created no magic onscreen.

Meryl's been there.

Kind of.

Sort of.

She's taken up space on the screen.

But she's never inhabited it.

Or delighted.

Donald Trump called her overrated.

As much as it kills some on our side (the left) to admit, every now and then, Donald gets something right.

And 20 nominations for one actress who is neither is a star nor really a film actress (she's a stage actress posing) is overrated.

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