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Pop Culture Happy Hour watches ‘Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret’ : NPR

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SARAH MCCAMMON, HOST:

Judy Blume’s 1970 novel, “Are You There God? It is Me, Margaret,” tells the story of a preteen woman who strikes to New Jersey together with her household, makes new associates, and awaits the arrival of her interval. It was a staple for a lot of childhood readers, together with my co-host, Mary Louise Kelly. Just lately, she spoke with Judy Blume in regards to the many letters Blume has obtained from followers and readers over time.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

MARY LOUISE KELLY: Properly, Judy, I didn’t write you a letter. If I had, amongst different issues, I may need complained that the bosom-increasing train that Margaret does fervently doesn’t work as a result of I attempted. My associates and I attempted.

JUDY BLUME: And do not I do know it. And after I discuss to children, I inform them it would not work. It would not matter. And sooner or later, if you’re as previous as I’m, you would possibly even be glad.

(LAUGHTER)

KELLY: We should always, for individuals who do not know what we’re speaking about, would you simply say that – what we’re speaking about right here?

BLUME: We’re speaking about I need to, I need to, I need to improve my bust with the right accompanying arm actions.

KELLY: Like rooster wings flapping as we’re – Yeah.

MCCAMMON: Writing truthfully for adolescent readers about puberty and intercourse shouldn’t be so uncommon in 2023, however at the moment, within the Nineteen Seventies, it was revolutionary. And it is a story that also resonates with audiences immediately. A film adaptation of “Are You There God? It is Me, Margaret” is out now and getting some rave critiques. Earlier this week, the NPR podcast Pop Tradition Comfortable Hour targeted on the film. Listed here are co-hosts Stephen Thompson and Linda Holmes talking with NPR senior editor Barrie Hardymon and Monica Castillo, senior movie programmer on the Jacob Burns Movie Heart.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

STEPHEN THOMPSON: Monica Castillo, I’ll begin with you. What did you consider “Are You There God? It is Me, Margaret”?

MONICA CASTILLO: So I am a part of this in-between technology the place we weren’t allowed to learn it. Judy Blume was form of banned from my library rising up in Florida, so this was one in every of my first actual experiences of attending to see any of her tales. And I used to be so charmed. It’s so darling. The solid is so spectacular. And the story remains to be painfully related and relatable, despite the fact that it takes place within the Nineteen Seventies. I liked it, and I am so glad that it is on the large display for a complete new technology to find.

THOMPSON: Good. How about you, Barrie?

BARRIE HARDYMON: I’m a part of the phase of the inhabitants that owns my copy nonetheless of “Are You There God? It is Me, Margaret.” And so I went in with very excessive expectations and ready to be dissatisfied. And boy, was I shocked as a result of I completely liked this movie. It did a wonderful job at correcting a few issues within the e-book that would stand to be corrected. It really softened out among the edges.

The kids on this movie have been masterful. There was not one youngster actor on the display. It was all youngsters. Rachel McAdams is so heat and beautiful. I wished her to be my mother. And Kathy Bates steals each scene that she’s in. She simply runs away with it.

Once more, this little woman taking part in Margaret is simply beautiful. What she’s doing together with her eyebrows and her shoulders is encompassing a whole world of sixth grade that – I’ve a sixth grader. I see sixth-grade women and boys loads. This was essentially the most genuine factor I’ve ever seen.

THOMPSON: Wow. All proper. How about you, Linda?

LINDA HOLMES, HOST:

Yeah. I am afraid I’ve to only preserve the practice rolling.

(LAUGHTER)

HOLMES: I additionally actually liked this. I used to be any person who learn “Margaret” after I was younger. It was already form of a longtime traditional e-book by the point I learn it. What I actually preferred in regards to the movie is, simply as Barrie stated, I believe it maintains the integrity of the e-book, but additionally form of provides to the e-book in some attention-grabbing methods. The building-out of the character of Margaret’s mom, performed once more by Rachel McAdams, who’s so good, I believe does such a beautiful job of explaining that in 1970, grownup ladies have been additionally on this place of…

CASTILLO: Yeah.

HOLMES: …You understand, eager about who they wished to be and the way they wished to suit into the world. And I believe creating that parallel permits for some completely beautiful scenes between Abby Ryder Fortson taking part in Margaret and Rachel McAdams. There is a scene late within the movie the place they’re on the sofa collectively that I simply suppose is such a – there’s so little dialogue. They belief these actors a lot to only be in that second. And it’s – it felt so real to me as a second of bonding between Margaret and her mom. The opposite factor I might say is I am so glad that they set it in 1970.

HARDYMON: Oh, me too.

HOLMES: As a result of I believe there’s at all times a danger of attempting to contemplate a narrative like this common. And it is essential to deal with it as a narrative that is not common. It is broadly relatable in sure methods. However that is one story of 1 woman in a single place in a single neighborhood. And I believe leaving it in its second fairly than being like, Margaret with a smartphone, Margaret with entry to the web…

THOMPSON: Oh, for certain.

HOLMES: …Retains the concentrate on the truth that that is what it appeared like for one child, you realize, in this type of household. And I believe doing that preserves in quite a lot of methods the specificity of the story in a means that’s extra real than if they’d tried to make it like everybody all over the place can perceive this expertise as a result of, you realize, children all over the place wait for his or her intervals and fear about their our bodies. Like, proper, however that is one woman and one woman’s story.

THOMPSON: Yeah. I additionally liked this film. And I am so glad I liked this film as a result of if I did not, I might out of the blue be the man who’s coming in, being like, properly, let me let you know, girls…

(LAUGHTER)

THOMPSON: …Why this story of a woman getting her interval is unsuitable, unsuitable, unsuitable.

HOLMES: Yeah, however you have raised a teenage daughter.

THOMPSON: I certain have. I certain have. And I additionally – I liked this e-book as a child, and I associated to this e-book as a child, clearly from a distinct perspective. However I used to be a child who was raised with out faith and form of went by means of a few of this technique of questioning form of the place I match into the religious world. I didn’t give it some thought as deeply as Margaret does and didn’t handle it as thoughtfully as she does.

However I did – I completely agree with the whole lot all of you’ve got stated. I believe, Linda, what you have been saying about – that nice specificity creates a common story actually, actually comes by means of right here. I really like how small this story is, how the stakes are actually contained, and but it’s as massive as any coming-of-age story. And I believe that is actually lovely. I liked what Barrie stated about Abby Ryder Fortson’s efficiency right here and the way a lot work she’s doing together with her shoulders. It rang a bell in my memory of how a lot I liked the film “Eighth Grade,” which is form of the same form of storytelling – made me take into consideration how “Eighth Grade” actually has a debt to Judy Blume in ways in which I assume I hadn’t actually considered earlier than.

I liked this movie. I assume my subsequent query is form of how and why Judy Blume’s tales have not been translated into motion pictures extra usually. It is kind of surprising – is not it? – that this e-book that got here out 50 years in the past is simply getting its first display adaptation now.

CASTILLO: I believe that is one thing that is considerably lined within the new documentary “Judy Blume Eternally.” And it does discuss a bit of bit about that. I believe she was protecting of Margaret, and he or she did not need, you realize, a number of TV variations. There have been earlier variations right here and there over time of various books. I believe “Eternally” had one.

HOLMES: I believe “Tiger Eyes” had one perhaps.

CASTILLO: “Tiger Eyes” had one. Yeah.

HARDYMON: Oh, I really like “Tiger Eyes.”

THOMPSON: “Fudge” had a TV present.

CASTILLO: Oh, “Fudge.” That was the one. However, yeah, I get the sense that this one, which was, I believe, one in every of her first breakout, if not her first breakout, she wished to carry on a bit of bit longer. After which now there looks like a bit of Judy Blume revival. And it particularly form of stands out to me as a result of within the documentary, she additionally talks about, like, the e-book censorship and the way that is come again round. And particularly, you realize, somebody who did develop up in Florida and wasn’t allowed to learn her books as a result of the college librarian deemed it too grownup for us – that’s persevering with, that factor that she’s been combating for many years now. And that is form of attention-grabbing that different types of media are form of combating that in a means between the documentary and between this film adaptation – makes it extra accessible for folks.

HARDYMON: You understand, I additionally suppose, you realize, all of that’s true, however we even have actually targeted on the sorts of coming-of-age tales which can be extra harmful than this one. Have you learnt what I imply? Like those the place there perhaps is not a loving household. And people are, by the best way, necessary variations as properly. However I believe that what usually – you realize, I am considering of the film “13,” you realize, with Evan Rachel Wooden, and there is a form of, like, you-don’t-know-how-bad-it-is movie that form of rose to the forefront. And in some methods, it kind of squeezed out what one hopes is the perfect, actually, expertise for younger women.

Nevertheless it additionally – I believe a few of it’s that, you realize, not a lot occurs on this movie. I imply, one factor – like, you take a look at the plot structure. Not a lot occurs. You understand – spoiler alert – she does, you realize, get her interval. However, you realize, it is a sequence of kind of smaller tales about relationships with God, relationships with your loved ones, relationships with your mates.

And aside from “The Child-Sitters Membership” – which, by the best way, this has loads in frequent with the variation of “The Child-Sitters Membership” on tv, which was canceled for – I will by no means recover from it. However, you realize, I believe, once more, like, it is a small story. And, you realize, there’s nonetheless a lot kind of hyperventilating and, in some methods, with good purpose, about how harmful it’s to be a child. There’s much more warning than there’s than celebrating. And it is a celebrator, you realize?

HOLMES: Yeah. I additionally suppose that one factor about this movie is that Abby Ryder Fortson simply turned 15, so she was 14 once they filmed this, which is way nearer to an precise turning-12-year-old than Hollywood will usually offer you.

HARDYMON: Yeah.

HOLMES: I believe one factor that has occurred is there was extra curiosity – if you’re making coming-of-age tales, there was extra curiosity in a bit of bit later youngsters, just like the “Stranger Issues” stuff, but additionally like “Whip It” and – you realize, among the actually great stuff about rising up has been older – on the older aspect. I take into consideration one thing like – it isn’t a movie lots of people speak about, however I take into consideration one thing like “Adventureland,” which Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart…

HARDYMON: Find it irresistible.

HOLMES: …Had been in – which is, by the best way, a terrific film. It was simply – it was form of offered as a “Superbad” film…

THOMPSON: Yeah.

HOLMES: …And it isn’t a “Superbad” film. It is a actually great, attention-grabbing coming-of-age film. However once more…

HARDYMON: Yeah.

HOLMES: …Older youngsters.

HOLMES: And I believe one factor about that is, how do you inform the story of ladies who, if you take a look at them, they’re actually younger? How do you form of inform that story in a means that has sufficient attraction to, like, not simply little children? And I believe Hollywood shouldn’t be essentially nice at making these actual middle-grade-y (ph) sorts of variations.

HARDYMON: Yeah.

HOLMES: I take into consideration stuff like “Every thing Sucks,” which was a present on Netflix…

CASTILLO: Oh, yeah.

HOLMES: …That we liked. It is difficult to make these form of in-between variations. And I believe if you mix that with Judy Blume’s, as Monica was mentioning, protectiveness of Margaret, I believe which may be why you did not see it prior to now. However what a pleasure, I believe, to see it have an adaptation that’s, once more, true to the e-book and but expands upon the e-book.

THOMPSON: Linda talked about that there aren’t essentially a ton of flicks and TV exhibits that speak about this explicit age. And I think about a part of that simply comes from the challenges in casting. You understand, any time you are attempting to solid any person who’s on the verge of one thing, you run the danger of the actor crossing that verge within the time that it takes to develop and shoot a film. And I believe they did such a wonderful job in – with the casting of this movie.

I did wish to ask you guys one of many questions that I form of had going into this film, which was, who’s it for? Is that this film for youths of this age? Is that this an early train in nostalgia, you realize, like, the place youngsters would really feel nostalgia for the time they have been this age? Is that this for folks like a number of of us who grew up studying these books? Whom do you’re feeling must be most enthusiastic about this movie? I’ll begin with you, Monica.

CASTILLO: Oh, boy. I did wish to give a fast shoutout, by the best way, to the “Gordita Chronicles” ‘trigger I believe it additionally captures this time…

HOLMES: Oh, what a fantastic seize.

HARDYMON: Oh, proper, sure.

CASTILLO: …And simply that sense of all of the modifications which can be taking place in that bizarre in-between spot in folks’s lives. However by way of the viewers, my goodness, as somebody who did not have nostalgia for these tales – and I instantly, you realize, walked out of the screening beaming – I believe it’s so accessible for a number of folks. And I really like to listen to that, you realize, people are moving into teams and individuals are taking totally different generations. I believe it has the potential of connecting with quite a lot of totally different teams.

THOMPSON: All proper. So we now have given folks a suggestion for this movie. See this movie. We have given folks a suggestion for “Eighth Grade”…

HARDYMON: Sure.

THOMPSON: …”Child-Sitters Membership,” “Gordita Chronicles,” “Marvel Years.” We have set you on a path filled with wealthy suggestions. Additionally, deliver on the Judy Blume cinematic universe.

HARDYMON: Oh, please do.

CASTILLO: Sure.

THOMPSON: I joked with Linda after this was over, I wished a post-credit sequence form of organising “Eternally.”

HARDYMON: Sure. Oh, my God, sure, a stinger.

THOMPSON: Yeah.

HARDYMON: Sure. I adore it. I – you realize, I really – one factor that was so darling is, you realize, Judy Blume is definitely on this movie. She walks by.

THOMPSON: Linda and I each pointed.

HARDYMON: Yeah. And he or she – like, she makes eye contact with the digital camera on this means that form of made me suppose, like, it had a Marvel high quality to it the place she nearly breaks the fourth wall the place I used to be like, oh, we’re going to get extra.

HOLMES: She’s the Stan Lee of the JBCU.

THOMPSON: (Laughter).

CASTILLO: Yeah.

MCCAMMON: Stephen Thompson and Linda Holmes are co-hosts of our Pop Tradition Comfortable Hour podcast. They have been talking with NPR senior editor Barrie Hardymon and movie critic Monica Castillo in regards to the new film adaptation of “Are You There God? It is me, Margaret.”

Copyright © 2023 NPR. All rights reserved. Go to our web site phrases of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for additional data.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This textual content might not be in its remaining type and could also be up to date or revised sooner or later. Accuracy and availability could range. The authoritative report of NPR’s programming is the audio report.

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