If you haven't caught Mamma Mia yet, I'm betting you'd be spending time bopping to Abba at the cineplex this weekend. After all, how can you call yourself a movie buff (and who isn't, aver?) if you won't go see the greatest actress--EVAR--in her first official movie musical?
The Inquirer's Hollywood correspondent, Ruben Nepales, has a delightful interview with Meryl Streep featured in yesterday's issue--and held in Greece yet, location site for the movie.
As Ruben notes, “Meryl is not entirely a neophyte when it comes to crooning--she has sung in three previous movies, 'A Prairie Home Companion,' 'Postcards from the Edge' and 'Silkwood' (listen to her touching version of 'Amazing Grace' in the end credits). And much earlier, she disclosed: 'When I was in high school, I started doing musicals. I hadn’t gotten back to doing that since my very first play on Broadway, which was a musical. So it was like a dream come true to do it again.'”
Before She-Devil in 1989, I had only seen Meryl play complex, inscrutable women characters onscreen, often with exotic accents (The French Lieutenant's Woman, Plenty, Sophie's Choice, Out of Africa). Then, just by curling her eyebrows in that movie with Roseanne Barr she tickled me silly, and the following year, at the end of Postcards From the Edge, dressed in a cowboy jacket and looking blowsily all-American (she was playing a reformed junkie), she belted out a soulful, rockin' rendition of “I'm Checkin' Out” that left my high-school jaw on the floor. Was there anything the woman couldn't do?
Even musical theater seems hers for the taking. “With every song she sings, Ms. Streep suggests that, in addition to endorsing vitamins, she could become a queen of the Broadway musical, should she ever choose,” declared Ben Brantley in his otherwise grudging review of Mother Courage and Her Children in 2006.
Now, Ruben quotes the Hollywood Reporter as saying Meryl's performance in Mamma Mia ranks “with such previous musical winners as Liza Minnelli, Barbra Streisand and Catherine Zeta-Jones.” Much as I adore Meryl, di kaya OA naman 'to? I have to find out--this weekend!
Anyway, even before the movie's release, an advance album of six songs from the movie's soundtrack has been making the rounds online. It's been playing in my iPod for weeks now. I'm sharing four tracks below:
1. “Mamma Mia” (Lola Meryl)
2. “Dancing Queen” (Meryl, Christine Baranski, Julie Walters)
3. “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!” (Amanda Seyfried)
4. “The Winner Takes It All,” which Meryl doesn't sing so much as “act” out. The phrasing is rich, emotional--even if her voice sounds a bit ragged.
About the last track: “[Meryl] talked specifically about recording 'The Winner Takes it All,' which she began with a gently plaintive 'I don’t want to talk,' built up to a powerful, belting roar and then ended on a tender note: “We were in the recording studio where ABBA recorded that song in the ’70s. I was standing before the same microphone that Agnetha (Faltskog, the ABBA member who originally sang the ballad) had... 'I was overcome because of the responsibility to the song. I knew that Bjorn had written the lyrics which were meaningful to everyone in the band. There was a feeling, an emotion that was present. It’s a long song and after we went through it, I felt pretty good. I’d taken a journey. Benny told me later about ABBA’s drummer, Ola Brunkert, who was there during the original recording (and who has since died). Benny said he looked at him and [Ola] had tears running down his face. It was an emotional thing.' Meryl modestly failed to mention that she did it all in one take, according to Benny in a separate interview.”
NEXT: Symphonic Abba!