Monday, April 15, 2024

A Judy Blume classic makes it to the screen

Judy Blume is an author that seemed to write about girls and women and their issues.  Her books were popular and movie studios were very interested to turn that popularity to the screen.   She resisted the easy money as she felt a lot of her stories would be distorted and lack the impact that inspired them.  A combination of looser censorship rules and and the search for original material led to a script for "Are you there God?  It's me Margaret" (2023)that Judy could approve.

Essentially the story is about a teenage girl approaching puberty.  Her parents are fairly modern, but we soon learn (indeed most of us can identify that we are very influenced by our same age colleagues.  Two events are their focus:  breast enlargement and menstruation.  There is also an element of one upmanship that involves lying.

Religion plays a role.  Her father is Jewish, but the family doesn't practice any religion.  Margaret sometimes feels the need to express her feelings and talks with God.  She also decides to attend a variety of religious ceremonies including Jewish, Protestant, Catholic.   She meets her mother's evangelical parents which goes well for awhile, but when they start an effort at conversion they are asked to leave.

Margaret and her three friends achieve some of their female milestones and share their new status.  Another student who had been more developed as a woman had been ostracized until Margaret made an effort to know her better.

It is not done to titillate,  but rather to inform.  It is both realistic and tasteful.  The cast and crew deserve praise     

Judy Blume, wrote the original novel. and had refused to permit a film version until confident a film would adhere faithfully to the book.  She has written 25 books that have sold over 85 million books in 30 languages. She has been active against censorship and book bannings.  In 2023 Time magazine included her as one of the 100 most influential people in the world.  She can be seen walking a dog in the background.

Kelly Freemon Craig directed, scripted and helped produce the film.  She has an English degree from UC Irvine.  She has written sketch comedy.  She has 5 writing,directing and 1 producing credits.

James L Brooks was another producer.  He is one of only 6 directors to have won 3 Oscars for the same film; Best Picture, Best Adapted Script and Best Director.  Heavily involved with television he has also won 21 Prime Time Emmys.   He has 43 writing, 24 producer and 7 directing credits including  "Mary Tyler Moore" (1970-1977), "Rhoda" (1974-1977, "Lour Grant" (1977-1978), "Big" (1988),and  "Jerry Maguire" (1996).

Hans Zimmer wrote the music.  He is German born and trained, but got his first significant breaks in England.  His first two American films each son a Best Picture Oscar.   Has won 2 Oscars and numerous other awards. Is noted as a pioneer at combing old and new technologies.  He has 149 credits for the Music  Department and another for 245 for composing including "Rain Man" (1988), "The Lion King" (1994), "Inception" (2010), "Rush" (2013), "Interstellar"(2014),  "The Crown" (2016-2022)"Dunkirk" (2017), "Blade Runner 2049" (2017), "Dune (Part One)" (2021) and "Top Gun Maverick" (2022). 

Tim Ives was the cinematographer.  He has 32 film credits including "House of Cards" (2013).

Nick Moore was the editor.  He has 30 editing credits including "Notting Hill" (1999), ""About a Boy" (2002), "Love, Actually" (2003), "Leap Year "(2010), "The Ottoman Lieutenant" (2017) and "Burnt" (2017).

Abby Ryder Fortson played Margaret, a role that required spunkiness, and a naivety that matured.  She has 19 acting credits including "Ant-Man" (2015) and "Ant-Man and the Wasp" (2018).

Rachel McAdams, cAdams played Barbara, the mother.  Born in London, Ontario graduating from York University in Toronto.  She has 44 credits including "Time Traveler's Wife" (2005), "Midnight in Paris" (2011), "The Vow" (2012), "About Time" (2013), "A Most Wanted Man" (2014) "Spotlight" (2015),  "The Little Prince" (2015) and "Game Night" (2018).

Kathy Bate plays Margaret's grandmother.  She has played a lot on Broadway.  She has 128 acting credits, 10 for directing and 2 for producing including "Straight Time" (1978),"Come Back to the 5 & Dime, Jimmy Dean" (1982), "Fried Green Tomatoes" (1992), "Titantic" (1997), "The Blind Side" (2009), "Midnight in Paris" (2011) and "Bad Words" (2013).

Benny Safdie played Margaret's father.  He often works with his brother Josh.  Benny has 15 writing, 25 acting, 9 producing and 16 directing credits including "Uncut Gems" (2019) and "Oppenheimer" (2023). 

Although it covers heavy topics like sex and religion it is an uplifting film.  I watched it on a DVD and learned a bit on their special features.

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