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I went to the bargain matinee of The Devil Wears Prada today, and it was indeed a bargain: apart from a few runway scenes, there were beautiful clothes worn by women who are worst are deliberately nonchalant about wearing a year's mortgage on their backs and feet to beautiful clothes worn by Anne Hathaway, who looks like she's thrilled to be wearing them and actually eats onion bagels. For $6.50, I could have bought a print edition of Vogue, to see the same clothes worn by models who look like belligerent junkies ready to stab you in the chest with their Montblanc fountain pens. I prefer the former, and for the same price, I got to see Meryl Streep!!!! Not to mention enough male eye candy to distract from the clothes: Adrian Grenier as the solid sous-chef boyfriend, Simon Baker as the non-so-solid writer/anti-boyfriend, Daniel Sunjata, who played the visiting Navy guy who tells Carrie Bradshaw he could never live in the city in an episode of Sex in the City, as a designer with a killer loft, and even a few glimpses of James Naughton as Meryl's Streep's character's husband.

Yes, it was formulaic as all get-go. Yes it was ridiculous and just as predictable that the close friend who accepts the $1900 pocketbook from her friend gets all huffy about not knowing who Anne Hathaway's Andy has become. (She'd be the friend who goes to work and brings home $1900 castaways for her friends who giddily accept them.) Yes there is the ridiculous speech about how designers are Artists and how everything on everyone's back, no matter how cheap, is determined by them, blah, blah, blah. The book itself was formulaic; what was missing from the movie was the way it competed with The Nanny Diaries in cataloging the absurd self-regard of the employers, the ridiculous demands made by them on an hourly basis, and the nervous breakdown that Andy was perpetually on the brink of for months on end. The movie gave a glimpse, and then backed off to beautiful clothes, those testy moral decisions to be made, the long-suffering boyfriend, who became cuter and cuter the sadder and sadder he got, and not enough location shots of Paris.

Stanley Tucci was perfect as Nigel, the true believer in fashion, and Emily Blunt as First Assistant Emily "I'm one stomachful away from my ideal weight" was superb. It was worth the price of admission to see the involuntary look of soul she gave to a tray of hospital food.

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.....models who look like belligerent junkies ready to stab you in the chest with their Montblanc fountain pens.

:clapping: A perfectly written description, Helene! I just love it. :(

After your breathless review I am even more eager to see this movie. Thank you for giving me this urgency! I just rewatched "The Bridges of Madison County" on TV last night, my favourite movie next to "Witness", and am so in the mood for more Streep. She and I share a birthday, she being born when I turned two!

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Thoroughly enjoyable review, Helene! Thanks. However, it convinced me that I could live without it. One thing that had interested me from Maureen Dowd's write-up the other day was that it was like 'The Best of Everything', so I think I can be happy enough remembering Suzy Parker, Hope Lange and also Joan Crawford as the dyed-in-the-wool type. Ms. Streep is endlessly fascinating for many as the ultimate chameleon, but the kinds of roles she's been using the technique on may be saying something about why she seems to paradoxically evaporate after 'being the roles.' It's bizarrely circular: I remember people saying that Audrey Hepburn always 'played herself.' She usually did, in a fairly obvious way but which worked pleasingly in its big period, and ultimately ended up with performances of nothing as in 'Love Among Thieves' and 'Bloodline' and the atrocious 'They All Laughed'. In a way, Meryl Streep, with all that stylistic technique, seems to me to play herself. It never goes as deep as Katharine Hepburn or Vanessa Redgrave because it doesn't stay with you (or rather, doesn't stay with me; I remember all the virtuoso films I've seen her in, and not a one of them do I ever ponder.*) Fans will disagree, of course, and may even think she was sometimes great, sometimes less so. Nobody could convince me to spend money on her though.

*I realized later that's not quite true. I do very often think of that part of 'Ironweed' when she thinks she has sung as if she'd gone ahead and realized her potential instead of slipped into the gutter. She hit the nail on the head in that scene--and with more than just skill.

Some of these thoughts go along with the threads on technique in ballet, of course.

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Nobody could convince me to spend money on her though.

Spend your money on this one. Her b--chy scenes were hilarious, but what stayed with me were the quiet scenes that showed her vulnerability. You could see into her soul.

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David Denby's New Yorker review: Dressed to Kill.

Thanks, kfw, for pointing this out. I was perhaps more interested in the ersatz suggested by the title of the review than any of the rest of the febrile writing of one of the well-known 'Paulettes' (or he was in the 80's, as were other Pauline Kael disciples.) It made me immediately remember the long slow walk of Angie Dickinson, a far less technically skilled actress, through the museum in the de Palma film 'Dressed to Kill.' I prefer that scene to anything I've ever seen Ms. Streep do. I'm immune to movie reviews anyway, after reading Joan Didion's searing critiques of Kael and Simon way back in 'the White Album,' where you find out how little movie critics know about who did what in a Hollywood film. I just read this one as a piece of writing, and Denby does go in for a very clever hard sell--tries to work the angle of how you might not be quite safe if you don't make sure to fit this one in...

Spend your money on this one. Her b--chy scenes were hilarious, but what stayed with me were the quiet scenes that showed her vulnerability. You could see into her soul.

Well, I love the attitude, atm711, it's much better than Denby, but after 'the Manchurian Candidate' I'd had enough for awhile. Angela Lansbury had a lot more going in that part, although the reconstruction was partly at fault, I suppose. I just don't think Ms. Streep does anything but don masks superbly. You can see what she's like without make-up in 'The River Wild.'

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Well, I for one think Streep is terrific in comedic roles, probably *because* of the mask she wears. She's the only reason to see a movie like "She-Devil" or "Death Becomes Her," but I don't mind telling you that I can watch her in those over and over. She doesn't try to make the roles deep, she just has great fun using all her considerable technique to make us laugh. Something about that touches me.

Her b--chy scenes were hilarious, but what stayed with me were the quiet scenes that showed her vulnerability. You could see into her soul.

Oh no. She has a *soul* in this one? I was hoping for so much less.

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Well, I for one think Streep is terrific in comedic roles, probably *because* of the mask she wears. She's the only reason to see a movie like "She-Devil" or "Death Becomes Her," but I don't mind telling you that I can watch her in those over and over. She doesn't try to make the roles deep, she just has great fun using all her considerable technique to make us laugh. Something about that touches me.

That makes me want to see more of her films. She's sweet and touching as well as funny in "A Prairie Home Companion" as one of the singing Johnson Sisters with Lily Tomlin.

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Streep is an absolute master-class in acting. As I think most critics are saying, she is the reason to go see this (although Tucci is also quite wonderful). I was a little bummed with the major storyline changes in the latter half, although in the film medium, I suppose it works better. I remember feeling a little too stressed with the book as we experienced Andy's breakdown with her. But, at the same time, the Miranda character was unrepentently, unredeemingly negative in the book, and the film Miranda is actually more believable.

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She's sweet and touching as well as funny in "A Prairie Home Companion" as one of the singing Johnson Sisters with Lily Tomlin.

She's finally got me where she wants me. If I can find an amusing enough theater, I plan to see this, because I'll shell out for Lily Tomlin and even thoroughly enjoy Ms. Streep's fleeting temporary identity in that case. I so adored Ms. Tomlin in 'I Heart Huckabees,' one of my all-time favourite films--she was hilarious at all times, and some genius made what I call her 'circle of cleavage' dress, a revealing circle buttoned at the top. I guess Ms. Streep should do Tammy Wynette or Imelda Marcos next.

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What interesting comments! Thanks to everyone who’s contributed so far.

This really isn't a movie that can be characterized as any kind of art, however. TDWP is an improvement on its source IMO, although it lacks many of the insider details that were the sole interest of the book for this reader, and it’s superior to many recent comedies, admittedly not a large statement. The director, David Frankel, wrote and directed a movie some years ago called “Miami Rhapsody.” It was slavishly imitative of Woody Allen, but within that context was brightly written and acted, showed some directorial adroitness, and I looked forward to seeing what he would do next -- television, as it turned out, which I thought was too bad. Glad to see him back plying his trade on the big screen.

The acting was mostly wonderful. Stanley Tucci was a lot of fun – an updated Franklin Pangborn with abs – and in common with Streep and Emily Blunt he makes his comic points but also shows you an actual person. (Nigel is a functionary, not his own man, and by the end of the movie we’ve seen him realize that he will never be anything more. I really felt for him.) I thought Streep deserved all the raves she’s receiving. She creates a rounded character with no help from the book and some from the script and I assume from Frankel as well. Anne Hathaway, alas, was about as plausible as Kate Hudson was in “How to Lose a Guy” etc., when Kate, whose character was similarly situated, expressed the desire to write on foreign policy. I think both of them would be better off sticking to moisturizer.

Patricia Field does a splendid job with the clothes in the movie but they’re not necessarily what you would see in the magazine. And what's with that leopardskin thingy?? It's so Bob Mackie.

David Denby could use a little febrility; I find him painfully earnest, not a bad quality, but it makes him a sucker for things like “Mystic River" et al. True, he did start out as a Paulette, but then Kael advised him, sagely, to stop writing on movies. (Denby wrote all this up a few years ago in another New Yorker article, “Pauline Told Me to Quit Writing Film Criticism and Look, Now I Have Her Job.” That’s how I remember the gist, anyway.) :beg:

Denby is correct in drawing the parallel to “Wall Street” – Streep is Michael Douglas, only better – although it is interesting to note that where women are concerned, the stakes are much smaller and so are the moral betrayals, such as they are. Charlie Sheen connives at putting his dad and thousands of others out of work; we know Anne Hathaway is on the fast track to becoming a Heartless Career Woman when she misses her boyfriend’s birthday party and accepts a plum assignment originally intended for a senior employee who has never granted her a friendly word. Gee, the ruthlessness.

Opinion tends to be divided on whether Streep is a soulless technician or a total goddess. I fall into the latter camp, but I can understand why the former sometimes feel that way. She tends to make you aware of her technique in a way that can keep her at a distance. (You find yourself thinking, That’s a nice bit of business.)

papeetepatrick writes: I just don't think Ms. Streep does anything but don masks superbly. You can see what she's like without make-up in 'The River Wild.'

She's not a personality star, and although she has charm she can’t fall back on a winning manner to bull her way through action picture silliness. (Hey, she’s not Harrison Ford.) Her natural speaking voice is not especially distinctive, and it has sometimes sounded richer and more varied with an accent (although I noticed in TDWP that she’s really gotten better in this respect with the years, and can knock you sideways with the slightest inflection; it’s worth the price of admission to hear her say, “I just don’t understand.”).

richard53dog writes: She's the only reason to see a movie like "She-Devil" or "Death Becomes Her," but I don't mind telling you that I can watch her in those over and over.

I remember what a surprise those performances were to me when those pictures were first released. They are not very good, but she is really funny. (And Sydney Pollack has a great bit in “Death Becomes Her,” too. Remember when he's checking Streep's vital signs?)

.

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Charlie Sheen connives at putting his dad and thousands of others out of work; we know Anne Hathaway is on the fast track to becoming a Heartless Career Woman when she misses her boyfriend’s birthday party and accepts a plum assignment originally intended for a senior employee who has never granted her a friendly word. Gee, the ruthlessness.
And she doesn't even orchestrate getting the assignment: Meryl Streep's character says, I made the decision, you're coming with me, or you can walk.
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Well I saw it this afternoon and it's the perfect summer film. Not a great film, but very enjoyable nonetheless. I agree that Streep is perfect, and really makes the film work. Besides being delightfully malicious I love how she also gives Miranda a hint of humanity, which makes her even more terrifying. I also enjoyed Staney Tucci a lot. I also liked Anne Hathaway. No matter that she looked absolutely chic in her supposedly horrid pre-glam clothes -- I thought she played the ingenue well. Emily Blunt was wonderful as the "first assistant" Emily. The movie of course is sort of Hollywood in that it also glamourizes the high-fashion world even while condemning the abusive and brusque Miranda. But overall I thought the movie was funny and entertaining, and a really enjoyable two hours.

ETA: I also liked the little cameos, Gisele Bundchen for example.

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I found this movie a great hour or two break from reality and a reminder that any bosses/supervisors that I have at work that are making me crazy are just crazy themselves and I shouldn't take it personally! And I loved the clothes! I want to read the book next.

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..... and Emily Blunt as First Assistant Emily "I'm one stomachful away from my ideal weight" was superb.

Since this thread just got bumped up, I wanted to thank you, Helene. I did go to see the movie a few weeks ago and enjoyed it very much, especially all the footage of New York City. Whenever I see "my" city on the big screen, I feel so at home!

Ever since seeing the film -- and for me it's a one-time deal, meaning I wouldn't want to view it a second time, unless it showed up on TV -- I wanted to amend the quote you presented in your post (see above). I was puzzled by it when I read it since it didn't make sense to me -- it seemed to go in the opposite direction of the desired result. When I heard it spoken on screen, I understood. The character of Emily, as I daresay, representing most females in her thinking, actually said "I'm one stomach flu away from my ideal weight." Is there any woman among us who does not get that, I wonder? Our weight-obsessed sex sure knows how to turn an illness into a positive thing!

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The character of Emily, as I daresay, representing most females in her thinking, actually said "I'm one stomach flu away from my ideal weight." Is there any woman among us who does not get that, I wonder? Our weight-obsessed sex sure knows how to turn an illness into a positive thing!
Thank you for clarifying this -- I thought what she meant was that if she gave up one stomachful of food (starved for one meal), she'd hit her ideal weight. (My hearing is so bad...)
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It's amusing to finally see something that's passe, that nobody is thinking about any more, especially something that's definitely passe but also relatively recent, but that nearly everybody saw when it came out.

I can't even believe they are making such straight Danielle Steel stuff, but about an hour of it at least seemed like 'American Psycho'--all style details. I suppose this was even worse. Never as funny as Morgan Fairchild's old model-agency TV soap 'Paper Dolls', but that ending here with the cellphone in the fountain in Paris was hilarious, a total sell-out in every possible way to purest corn; they stopped just short of redeeming themselves if they would have left it with Streep's 'Don't be silly. Everybody wants to be us'. Then it could have been like an ad for a luxury car. As it was, it was like some sort of love-in to replace all the 'unfeeling' belts and shoes.

Did they, I first thought when the ringing cellphone hit the water, just want an abbreviated version of Diana Ross in 'Mahogany' going back to Billy Dee Williams in drab Chicago? These cartoons about New York are quite startling, and surely must be imitated to be a part of forming new behaviour and trends, as in 'Sex in the City'--much of this kind of tough-boss-lady thing was already being done in magazine offices like Metropolitan Home in the 90s and clerical types being chained to desks, which I experienced first-hand, but I still couldn't believe how bad the dialogue was, some of it seemingly lifted from Candice Bergen's part in 'Boston Legal'. 'Mahogany' at least had some nice songs in the background, and Diana Ross was really good in it. 'The Devil Wears Prada' seemed to me to be a TV movie from the 80s or 90s, and I didn't think any of the performances were especially striking, but I couldn't see that there was any material to work with.

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My friends and I were very disappointed with this film when we saw it at the cinema when it first came out. We thought it was derivative and most of the actors used the "acting by numbers" method, with Meryl Streep blowing them all off the screen even while acting in her sleep! The pre-release trailers showed all the best bits and if we had realised that, we would not have had to sit through the whole thing!

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I found the movie cathartic. Silly, yes, but some of what I would've, in earlier years, called the most "campy" behaviors are closer to the truth than I could have imagined years ago. I found myself quite close to that movie, in fact, having experienced firsthand some of those types of scenarios. Very little cartoon in it. :wallbash:

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I found the movie cathartic. Silly, yes, but some of what I would've, in earlier years, called the most "campy" behaviors are closer to the truth than I could have imagined years ago. I found myself quite close to that movie, in fact, having experienced firsthand some of those types of scenarios. Very little cartoon in it. :wallbash:

Thank you, vagansmom. No indeed, it's not funny at all when you're the one at the desk.

an hour of it at least seemed like 'American Psycho'--all style details.

That wouldn’t bother me, but I had the impression that many of the style details were off. There’s a montage of Anne Hathaway right after her makeover that is really quite odd – here she is looking like Ali MacGraw circa 1972, here she is again looking like an extra from Eyes of Laura Mars.

‘Devil Wears Prada' seemed to me to be a TV movie from the 80s or 90s

In another era it might have been, with Susan Anspach instead of Meryl Streep.

In the Thirties you had snappy comedies about girls on the make (The Greeks Had a Word for Them, Three on a Match, etc., later translating into How to Marry a Millionaire and so on). Eventually this material made it to television, its rightful medium, in Sex and the City, and now with movies like this one and the upcoming big screen Sex and the City (and unless Michael Patrick King has come up with a few decent ideas, of which the series had completely run out, that one is going to be like Judgment at Nuremberg), it’s returning to the multiplex. I think it’s best on television and I don’t mean that as denigrating; at its best Sex and the City was a wonderful example of, among other things, the pleasures of good ensemble acting.

The pre-release trailers showed all the best bits and if we had realised that, we would not have had to sit through the whole thing!

There are quite a few movies like that these days, especially with these very long trailers that they have taken to showing some of which pretty much give away the film, saving alert moviegoers ten or eleven dollars.

We thought it was derivative and most of the actors used the "acting by numbers" method

I thought Stanley Tucci and Emily Blunt were good, given what they had to work with.

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I found the movie cathartic. Silly, yes, but some of what I would've, in earlier years, called the most "campy" behaviors are closer to the truth than I could have imagined years ago. I found myself quite close to that movie, in fact, having experienced firsthand some of those types of scenarios. Very little cartoon in it. :wallbash:

As I mentioned, I have experienced some of those types of scenarios too--I only add this here, not to disagree with you on that point, but to say that those behaviours are equally 'cartoon-like' in the real offices as they are in the films (dirac, I have been chained to desks and told when I could not go to the bathroom, etc., that doesn't make me see any of it as any less cartoon), ads, TV shows, etc., that are shaped by them and that, in turn, shape them when the real office employers and employees work on their images from the trends displayed in a high-profile film like this. That I didn't find the film cathartic as you did, vegansmom, is based on the fact that I find it an extremely poor and coarse film, and am glad dirac mentioned 'Eyes of Laura Mars' in another context, because that is also in my Ten Worst Films List.

But the real surprise is that I don't think Meryl Streep was especially outstanding here, and I can think of several actresses who would have done it far more effectively, including some with as highly touted talents and some that don't have them. It probably should have been someone English like Helen Mirren, who could have put more daggers in the voice itself--given that there was nothing but claustrophobia going on, that would have been the secret of the role, I think, and it's possible to do daggers quietly. Glenda Jackson would have been good in it, but it hardly matters. I also think Glenn Close, not one of my great favourites, would have been better at this sort of super-low-brow thing. It needed somebody with a touch of Joan Crawford in 'Best of Everything' maybe. Those early-job scenes with the throwing-the-coat-on-Hathaway's-desk were a disgrace, and they were the ones that reminded me of 'American Psycho.' The film is for me a cartoon more because of its cheap ending than anything else--Diana Ross going back to Chicago to Billy Dee Williams was pure corn, but it worked, I thought, in 'Mahogany'. Anne Hathaway going back to her promoted sous-chef, calling up Emily to get rid of Paris clothes was sickening, and waving at Meryl so Meryl could 'not wave back' as if the Queen in 'Diamonds' (to her 'mere Prince Consort', as some BT have described it) was the worst of all.

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