If you want to see Meryl Streep giving one of her signature dramatic performances this holiday season, rent "The Manchurian Candidate" -- the DVD comes out Dec. 21. The two-time Oscar-winning actress sends chills up the spine as an ambitious senator in cahoots with a ruthless corporation.
But if you'd rather see the 55-year-old actress (who has never met an accent she couldn't conquer) as a zany character, you need look no further than "Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events." Based on the children's book by Daniel Handler, the Paramount release opens Friday,
Streep resembles a demented Alice Roosevelt -- complete with vintage glasses propped askew on her distinct nose and her hair piled on top of her head in a lopsided bun -- as the paranoid, high-strung Aunt Josephine, who becomes the guardian of three orphaned children after their first caretaker, a vile ham actor who calls himself Count Olaf (Jim Carrey), tries to kill the kids for their inheritance.
Aunt Josephine, a widow who once was a great adventuress, is afraid of her own shadow. Her house perched perilously on a cliff is always cold because she's worried the radiator might explode; she doesn't want the children to get near the refrigerator because she frets it could topple and crush them; and she refuses to use the telephone for fear of being electrocuted.