Meryl Streep and 'Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels' made movie news the week of October 2, 1998

STREEP’S AFIRE When Meryl Streep was honored at Women in Film’s annual Crystal Awards luncheon in June, she didn’t hold back. ”The lack of good female parts…[means] more time at home with my children. Of course, my kids are 18, 15, 12, and 7, and except for the 7-year-old, they don’t want to spend most of their day with me, incredibly, as gifted as I am,” she said. ”Oh, God, it really is fun and cathartic to…bitch and rail and shake our puny fists.” That ”lack” of roles hasn’t slowed down the One True Thing star: She recently signed on to do Success, with Cameron Diaz, from a script by Joan Didion and John Gregory Dunne, and Still Life, in which she and Michael Douglas are set to play an unhappily married couple raising their grandchildren. And with her fall booked with Wes Craven’s 50 Violins, Streep better invest in a nanny. ”We’d love to believe [her busy spell] was because of us,” says Beth Kennedy, a VP at Women in Film, a nonprofit advocacy group. ”But I don’t think there’s anybody in town who would believe that.”

GUN CRAZY The good news: Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, which debuted at No. 1 in the U.K. in late August, is all the rage. The bad news: Well, it’s the U.K. The low-budget gangster comedy directed by newcomer Guy Ritchie (reportedly Madonna’s man of the moment) earned just over $10 million its first three weeks. But will word of mouth translate across the Atlantic when it’s released here in 1999? ”To [borrow] an English phrase,” says Ritchie, ”I hope…we’re going to rip the ass out of the American box office. I think we’ll do okay.” Despite comparisons to Pulp Fiction and Shallow Grave, the plot — four unlucky Englishmen have a week to settle their debt with a sleazy gangster — plus the cast full of rookies (except for Sting, who cameos as a dad) don’t make it an easy sell. ”Sting, he’s a top man,” says Ritchie. ”Is he big in America?”