Jean's Take

A blog about words, women, & whimsy

Tag: Meryl Streep

HOMESMAN: Surrealism on the Barren Plain.

cowboy-brown-horseshoe-hiI like Westerns; I like Hillary Swank and Tommy Lee Jones.  They are good at what they do, so I settled back with a smile to spend the evening with them in the Wild West.  It didn’t take long to realize that something was wrong–the land was too barren, the town too small and the settlers too few.  Swank plays, Mary Bee Cuddy, a strong, stalwart, spinster tilling her own land and wanting more than anything a man, for various reasons.  Jones plays, George Briggs, a good-for-nothing drifter whom Cuddy finds hanging from a tree (the only tree I believe within a hundred miles) getting ready to offer up his last breath.  (I know what you’re thinking, but forget it.) As the story proceeds, Cuddy has volunteered–for want of a valiant ‘Townsman’ to do so–to take three immigrant women who had become quite mad, across the barren plain to get help.   Briggs comes along—not because he feels any debt to Cuddy for saving his life but because she agrees to pay him.

From this point on, ‘Homesman’ makes no sense and don’t wait for it to do so.  Cuddy picks up these immigrant women, who couldn’t hack it on the barren plain, in a wood-enclosed wagon with no windows and a lock on the door.  They are handcuffed inside in their flimsy nightgowns, and at least one has no shoes.  There is no baggage and even few supplies for this barren plain adventure—I’m beginning to worry.

Along the way, they get hungry and BEHOLD! on this barren plain, with absolutely nothing around but barrenness, sits a Victorian Hotel that looks very much like a gingerbread house.  Inside is the innkeeper, James Spader, with a full staff preparing a feast and acting much like that rabbit who was always late in ‘Alice in Wonderland’.  Next, the little party arrives at a thriving Western town and Briggs delivers his looney cargo to Meryl Streep, the minister’s wife.   “Aha,” I say aloud, a smirk on my face, “You can’t fool me.  You may think you look like Meryl Streep in that bouffant black dress and pretty little black bonnet but I know you are really the Queen of Spades!”

I wait for Tommy Lee Jones, who directed the film, to put everything aright as he has so many times, but no, the movie ends as he dances a macabre jig and a wooden grave marker floats down the river.

 

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Would Margaret Thatcher have liked ‘The Iron Lady’?

I’m surprised that women have not questioned the substance of the film, The Iron LadyAll we’ve done is gush and goo over how well Meryl Streep plays an old woman with Alzheimers, how good the make-up is and how much Meryl Streep looks and acts like Margaret Thatcher.  Yes, ladies, Margaret Thatcher, one of the most prominent ‘one of us’ in the 20th Century.

The Margaret Thatcher I knew was a gutsy lady who took on one of the biggest and surely the oldest ‘old boys’ clubs, the British Parliament, to become the first female Prime Minister and then serve in that post for over eleven years.  She never backed down to the IRA who tried to assasinate her or even on the Falkland Islands whom many thought were hardly worth the effort.  She was a good friend of Ronald Reagan and the USA during the Cold War, and earned the title, The Iron Lady, because of her fortitude and uncompromising attitude.

But that woman isn’t in this film.  In her rare flashes of lucidity, she seems to question her earlier decisions–the IRA, the Falklands–is she really doing that?  How do they know?   Makes you wonder if IRA sympathizers wrote this, thinking they can get even because now she’s old and sick and can’t fight back . . . .

On top of all this, her dead husband is walking around reminding her that she was an MIA wife and mother, and her son won’t talk to her and her daughter is angry.  I’m angry too, we should all be angry that women are judged, even now, in the 21st century because we didn’t stay home with the kids.

I’m concerned too.  I’m concerned that no one has tried to set the record straight.  That the film has not caused an unprecedented amount of writing about the real Margaret Thatcher.  Perhaps we should be mindful of Thatcher’s own words . . . .

In February 2007, when she was already ill, she was honoured with a statue in the Houses of Parliament.   In a brief speech she said, “I might have preferred iron – but bronze will do … It won’t rust.”

 

 

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