26 July 2020 02:31
Beanie Feldstein has spoken of the importance of showcasing a teenage girl's sexual awakening in her new film, saying it is still often seen as "taboo" for young women. The Booksmart actress stars in How To Build A Girl, based on Caitlin Moran's novel of the same name, and said she wanted the depiction of sexuality and exploration to be portrayed with humour and compassion. She told the PA news agency: "It's such a huge, important part of Caitlin's novel that it had to be in the film, like there just was no way we could make an adaptation of that novel and not include her sexual journey, because it's such a big part of her journey as a whole. "I think so often in the media that I was exposed to growing up, like books, television, film, anything, boys are always kind of allowed to explore. "On network television in the States, it's spoken about so freely when it comes to teenage boys, but it's never spoken about with girls.
It's still so taboo, just girls being sexual, having any sort of wants or needs or anything, is still under the rug, or quiet, or embarrassing, or shameful. "And Caitlin, the gift that she brings to the world, is just taking all of that away, and addressing something with humour and love and safety and I think so many woman, and people of all genders, just feel connected to how open she is, because it's comforting, I think, when people just speak about something directly. Los Angeles-born Feldstein added that even though the film is set in the 1990s and is about a girl growing up on a Wolverhampton council estate, her connection to her role was "instantaneous". She said: "You read Wolverhampton, England, 1993, and as someone from Los Angeles, California, who was born in 1993, there was no sort of reason that I should be instantly connected to the circumstances of the film, obviously. "I think that the most kind of pure connective tissue between us is our love of the world. I'm a very sort of optimistic, gregarious person who is bubbly and outgoing and loves people and loves this thing that we're doing in life, and I think Johanna is the same way. "She really loves the world and she's very hopeful, and I think even though we have very different life paths and circumstances and journeys and accents, obviously, the heart of where she begins is very much who I am, and so I knew our starting place was the same." Film reviews: How to Build a Girl | Parasite: Black-and-White Edition | Alice | The Traitor Beanie Feldstein is excellent as an aspiring music journalist in How to Build a Girl, but the film can't match the wit of its writer Caitlin Moran, while there are new subtleties to be found in the black and white version of Parasite. How to Build a Girl (15) ** In How to Build a Girl, Caitlin Moran's semi-autobiographical coming-of-age novel never quite comes to life with the sharpness of the columnist's own writing. Mythologising her teenage journey from Wolverhampton to London to become a music critic for Melody Maker in the early 1990s, Moran's script suffers the same problem as the film version of co-screenwriter John Niven's 1990s-set music industry novel Kill Your Friends: the caustic wit and customary warmth of her prose sounds flat and contrived coming out the mouths of the actors. That's too bad because even with a distracting Midlands accent, Booksmart star Beanie Feldstein is well-cast as Moran cypher Johanna Morrigan, an irrepressibly smart working-class girl who lands a gig writing for NME sound-alike the D&ME (short for the Disc and Music Echo) after submitting an earnest review of the Annie soundtrack that the music weekly's Oxbridge-dominated staff think is a piss-take. But whether it's allowing herself to fall for a Jeff Buckley-esque alt-folk demigod she's been sent to interview or taking responsibility for her own sexual experimentation and subsequent relationship mistakes, Feldstein's take on the character is frequently hampered by the film's eagerness to make her more likeable. It's frustrating because Moran's music criticism was often more entertaining than the bands she was writing about; in those inky pages, she was the star and her subsequent career is a testament to that. Parasite: Black-and-White Edition isn't the first major movie to get a black-and-white reissue (Mad Max: Fury Road got a "Black and Chrome" edition a couple of years back) and it's not even the first Bong Joon-ho film to undergo the process (his 2009 film Mother had one too). Parasite: Black-and-White Edition Although director Bong's jokey confession in interviews that it's partly a vanity cut is unlikely to alleviate charges of cashing in, the new colour-drained version does make the disparity between the two worlds the families at the centre of the film inhabit seem even more pronounced. What's interesting – and kind of brilliant – is that this in turn further muddies the film's many ambiguities, with the shadowy noir lighting of the new version emphasising the cockroach-like adaptability of the poorer Kim family: as they insinuate themselves into the sleek modernist home of the tech-rich Park family, their dubious means of survival – which variously involve preying on an underage girl, sabotaging the careers of low-income workers and attempted and actual murder – can't help but underscore the parasitic nature of a society that not only encourages everyone to leech off everyone else, but is also designed to keep everyone in their place while simultaneously encouraging everyone to strive for the same things. In Alice, a straight-laced Parisian mother (Emilie Piponnier) plunges down the rabbit hole of high-end prostitution after discovering her aspiring novelist husband has put their home at risk by secretly squandering their savings on the escort service she ends up working for. Bolstered by a star-making turn from Piponnier, the film also benefits from Mackerras's lightness of touch, which offsets the potential darkness of the story at crucial points to make the emotional payoff it builds towards hit home harder. Set over 30 years and boasting some dazzling set-pieces, The Traitor sees veteran Italian filmmaker Marco Bellocchio belatedly respond to the dominance of Martin Scorsese's Americanised view of the mob with this based-on-fact account of the life of mafia informant Tommaso Buscetta (Pierfrancesco Favino), whose decision to turn against the Cosa Nostra in the mid-1980s brought down many of its top lieutenants in a sensational trial. The trial itself is dramatised in lengthy scenes that are dense with information and bizarre twists, but, perhaps as a result, Bellocchio's need to jolt the film to life with technically audacious sequences – such as a stunning point-of-view shot of a Buscetta's car being flipped over the side of a cliff by the blast from a car bomb – reinforces all the ways the film fails to find a consistently engaging rhythm. How to Build a Girl is available to stream on digital platforms including Amazon and iTunes; Parasite: Black-and-White Edition is available on demand from Curzon Home Cinema and will be available in selected cinemas from 31 July; Alice is available to stream on platforms including Curzon, BFI Player and Amazon; The Traitor is available in virtual cinemas via modernfilms.com Subscribe to scotsman.com and enjoy unlimited access to Scottish news and information online and on our app. With a digital subscription, you can read more than 5 articles, see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content.