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What I've Been Watching: May 2023
Judy Bloom, Sports, and TV Aplenty
Before I start the newsletter in earnest, I’d like to express my support for the members of the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and their fight for fair wages. Our favorite movies and shows would not be possible without the talented writers behind the scenes. If you’re interested in supporting the WGA, visit this website and learn about the strike.
While I saw a few new releases, the month was mostly dedicated to television. Not only was I reviewing two news shows—Apple TV+’s Silo and Paramount+’s Fatal Attraction, but Boston sports teams started their playoff run. Now that our hockey team has been shocked out of the playoffs, I’ll only feel committed to watching Boston Celtics games. This is good because May is going to be another packed month for entertainment releases.
Mini-Review: Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret
I was never a big reader during my youth. I attributed reading to homework, not to pleasure. That was probably instilled in me by my teachers, so most of my reading was either entertainment reviews or Japanese RPGs. It’s not fair to say that I didn’t read Judy Bloom’s novels because they were aimed at young women. After watching the new Amazon Prime Video documentary Judy Bloom Forever, I discovered that she wrote plenty of novels I could’ve been interested in.
Young Max would’ve likely turned his nose up at Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.
Maybe that’s not surprising because the opening weekend for Margaret was skewed toward older women. From Deadline:
Margaret‘s prime demo this weekend were older Caucasian women. Per Comscore/Screen Engine exits, 55% of Margaret ticket buyers were women over the age of 45, 70% Caucasian. That’s been a sluggish audience coming out of the pandemic.
Further complicating Margaret’s draw was the pic’s heavy young female topics, i.e. menstruation — not exactly the type of movie that’s easy to pull a boyfriend or husband into: Only 4% of the audience came with a boyfriend, while 14% brought their spouse per PostTrak.
I’m here to tell you that although I’m not a Caucasian woman over the age of 45, I found plenty to love in Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.
Directed by Kelly Fremon Craig (The Edge of Seventeen) and adapted from the 1970 novel by Judy Bloom, Margaret is about a very difficult period of adolescence. Being twelve years old can be a frightening experience by itself, but discussions about puberty weren’t talked about in the ‘70s (and I imagine many families still avoid these conversations.) It was important to the success of this movie to be in the ‘70s and that’s the first thing that Margaret does well. From the music to how the children interact, a lot of this movie would be very different if you threw 2023 into the mix.
Margaret (Abby Ryder Fortson) is facing all these changes, but add moving to a new school into the mix, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. That’s what happens when Margaret’s family moves to New Jersey and tries to settle into a new community. Margaret quickly gets involved in an exclusive club of girls that are obsessed with growing up. Whether it’s increasing their bust size or experiencing their first period, it’s a race to be an adult first. Everybody can relate to those complicated emotions and body changes that come from being twelve years old, and it’s what makes this movie feel timeless.
Another subplot in the movie felt like it was written directly to me. Margaret is the daughter of a Christian mother Barbara (Rachel McAdams) and a Jewish father Herb (Benny Safdie). Religion proved to be a difficult part of Barbara and Herb’s marriage so they decide that Margaret will be born without a specific religion—She’ll be able to choose herself. My family is also of mixed faith and I could see myself in how Margaret questions which religion she should ultimately follow.
Despite not ever being a young woman, I could relate to many of the situations that Margaret faces. The cast is uniformly excellent with the aforementioned McAdams and Safdie making a perfect pair, Kathy Bates as Grandma Sylvia stealing scenes, and Fortson easily carrying the challenging emotions. Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret is an exceptional adaptation of a literary classic, one that I believe audiences will discover and cherish forever. [A-]
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What I’ve Been Watching on TV:
As I shared previously I reviewed the first season of Apple TV+’s new show, Silo, which premiers on May 5th. Read the review below:
For The Playlist, I reviewed the upcoming Apple TV+ series, Silo. This Sci-Fi Mystery series comes highly recommended. Check out the full review at The Playlist.
I also reviewed Paramount+’s adaptation of Fatal Attraction. Please skip it, but read the review anyways.
The only other show I’ve been keeping up with through April is Succession and that show is still amazing. A lot of credit needs to go to the writers since each episode is filled to the brim with amazing quotes. After the newest season surprised everyone, the show transformed but is still impressive. Every cast member is exceptional and I absolutely expect the show to clean up at the Emmys later this year. Too bad there are only four episodes left as I’ll miss this cast and their chemistry. I hope they stick the landing with a memorable finale.
Ted Lasso only has a few episodes left, but I’ve been less excited to watch it this year. David Sims of The Atlantic explains why this season has been less than great.
If you want to read more on the WGA strike, I recommendand as both newsletters have detailed information about it. Writer Charles Bramesco detailed what happened during the last strike for The Guardian. If you remember the TV show Friday Night Lights or the James Bond movie Quantum of Solace, they were some examples of projects that didn’t have WGA members on board. has a newsletter up about the new social media platform Bluesky and how it can succeed.
Vice Media is considering bankruptcy, but before they do they decided to shut down their video game vertical, Waypoint. I loved the work the team did there and it’s a real loss for the Games Media world.wrote about Waypoint in her newest newsletter.
For Paste Magazine, Lucy Baugher Milas reviewed the new Bridgerton Prequel, Queen Charlotte, and says that it “often surpasses the original.”
Happy Star Wars Day! David Edelstein has a newly updated ranking for Vulture on the Star Wars movies.