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BRIAN VINER: How to build a STAR… Booksmart Beanie Feldstein takes on the Black Country 

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brian viner how to build a star booksmart beanie feldstein takes on the black country

How To Build A Girl (Amazon Prime Video, 15)

Rating: rating showbiz 3

Verdict: Determinedly quirky

Stage Mother (cinemas nationwide, 15)

Rating: rating showbiz 2

Verdict: Cliche-ridden and predictable

That Feldstein does convince is credit to her hard work tackling the dialect, which by all accounts included a couple of weeks working anonymously in a Wolverhampton gift shop

That Feldstein does convince is credit to her hard work tackling the dialect, which by all accounts included a couple of weeks working anonymously in a Wolverhampton gift shop

That Feldstein does convince is credit to her hard work tackling the dialect, which by all accounts included a couple of weeks working anonymously in a Wolverhampton gift shop

Even though she turned 27 a month ago today, the actress Beanie Feldstein can pass for a decade or more younger, which is one reason why she keeps being cast in coming-of-age films such as Lady Bird (2017) and last year’s Booksmart.

All the same, she was a bold choice to play Johanna Morrigan, the lead character in How To Build A Girl, which is based on the journalist Caitlin Moran’s semi-autobiographical novel of the same name.

Moran (who also wrote the screenplay) grew up in Wolverhampton, Feldstein in Los Angeles. And while we’re used to actors bridging that transatlantic divide in both directions, I’m struggling to think of anyone quite so Californian who’s ever had to convince us they’re the product of a Black Country council estate before.

I wish I could say Tom Hanks as Noddy Holder in the Slade biopic, but regrettably it hasn’t happened. Yet.

That Feldstein does convince is credit to her hard work tackling the dialect, which by all accounts included a couple of weeks working anonymously in a Wolverhampton gift shop. 

In truth, she doesn’t always quite nail it, but she’s no Dick Van Dyke. The accent is close enough, and in a way it also helps that Johanna’s personal horizons stretch well beyond Dudley and even Kidderminster.

She wants to grow up to be a woman of the world, a writer. In an area once famous for its industrial furnaces (an awful lot of soot, hence the Black Country), her lively imagination is stoked by pictures of role models on her bedroom wall, all of whom come alive to offer her guidance.

Moran and director Coky Giedroyc have plenty of fun with this. Michael Sheen plays Sigmund Freud, with Lily Allen as Elizabeth Taylor; Alexei Sayle as Karl Marx; Gemma Arterton as Maria Von Trapp; and as a couple of Brontes, Sue Perkins and the director’s sister Mel Giedroyc.

Inconveniently for Johanna, reality intervenes all too often, in the form of numerous siblings, her amiable but feckless dreamer of a father (Paddy Considine), a mother (Sarah Solemani) worn out by too much childcare (‘I’d kill the last panda on earth for a bit of shut-eye’), and the school bullies obligatory in all coming-of-age movies.

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31129604 8555061 image m 63 1595549735934

In an area once famous for its industrial furnaces (an awful lot of soot, hence the Black Country), her lively imagination is stoked by pictures of role models on her bedroom wall, all of whom come alive to offer her guidance

Eventually, she finds her way to London, having written to a music magazine — a thinly disguised NME — offering to contribute reviews.

The odds are strongly stacked against her. She’s only 16, the mag is run by misogynists, and she knows so little about music that she’s barely aware of The Rolling Stones.

But she powers on with charisma and chutzpah, dyeing her hair red, reinventing herself as Dolly Wilde and even becoming the protegee of a rock star (Alfie Allen) with whom she falls hopelessly in love.

She gets a column, acquires groupies of her own and becomes known for her caustic one-liners … not that I, personally, can forgive Dolly, or Johanna, or Moran, or whoever was responsible for ‘Joni Mitchell has the voice of an angel and the face of a Grand National winner’, but never mind.

With fleeting roles for Emma Thompson and Chris O’Dowd, there is no shortage of star wattage here (I can tell you, by the way, that Wolverhampton’s city motto is ‘out of darkness cometh light’, which seems an apt slogan for this film, and is also why Wolverhampton Wanderers FC wear colours of black and gold).

But it’s Feldstein’s show, and although at times How To Build A Girl is just too determinedly quirky, she really couldn’t be a more engaging lead. 

Stage Mother has another strong female lead, and features another transoceanic accent hop, but alas this ‘bittersweet’ comedy about the director of a Baptist church choir in small-town Texas (played by the excellent Australian actress Jacki Weaver) who inherits her late, estranged son’s drag club in San Francisco, is mostly a dud.

It’s the sort of attempted crowd-pleaser we Brits tend to do much better; I’m thinking of The Full Monty, Pride, Calendar Girls, Billy Elliot and the recent Military Wives.

Or maybe it’s just not very well-written, which makes a tried-and-tested formula look terribly stale.

Unhelpfully, there’s also some desperately clunky acting and a thudding predictability about every narrative twist that makes it fun to watch only if you like to beat characters to their own lines.

It¿s the sort of attempted crowd-pleaser we Brits tend to do much better; I¿m thinking of The Full Monty, Pride, Calendar Girls, Billy Elliot and the recent Military Wives

It¿s the sort of attempted crowd-pleaser we Brits tend to do much better; I¿m thinking of The Full Monty, Pride, Calendar Girls, Billy Elliot and the recent Military Wives

It’s the sort of attempted crowd-pleaser we Brits tend to do much better; I’m thinking of The Full Monty, Pride, Calendar Girls, Billy Elliot and the recent Military Wives

Mafia biopic is a film tip you can’t refuse

The Traitor (cinemas nationwide, 15)

Rating: rating showbiz 4

Verdict: Compelling — and true

This Italian-language film about the Cosa Nostra (the term ‘mafia’, insists the lead character, is a media construct) begins a little like The Godfather, with mutterings and machinations while others dance at a party.

But where Don Corleone in Francis Ford Coppola’s 1972 masterpiece refused to get involved in drugs, here the gangsters are grappling for control of the lucrative heroin trade, leading to an all-out war between two families. Eventually, the head of one family, arrested by the police, blows the whistle on his former associates.

What makes all this even more compelling is that it’s true. Tommaso Buscetta (Pierfrancesco Favino) was a high-ranking Sicilian mobster who was caught while lying low in Brazil and extradited to Rome, where he became a valuable informant. 

In return for information which led to no fewer than 366 arrests, he was given his freedom.

There are some unforgettable images in Marco Bellocchio’s powerful film, which flits back and forth between the early 1970s and 2000. It’s long — more than two-and-a-half hours — but if you’re a fan of films about organised crime, let’s call this a recommendation you can’t refuse.

Revenge, romance, and a tragi-comedy

Here is the second reverse-order instalment in my list of favourite foreign-language films. Thank you for your continuing feedback, both by post and at filmclassics@dailymail.co.uk.

15 Wild Tales (2014)

This wickedly hilarious Argentinian film is divided into six chapters, all unconnected except for the common theme of revenge. In one, a random case of road rage ends up in a fight to the death. In another, a bride makes her new husband pay for his infidelity. Wonderful stuff.

14 Jules And Jim (1962)

Francois Truffaut’s masterpiece, about a love triangle beginning in Paris shortly before WWI, features Jeanne Moreau at her most beguiling. It is one of the finest examples of French New Wave cinema that so influenced Hollywood and helped to shape Arthur Penn’s 1967 classic Bonnie And Clyde, as well as 1991’s Thelma And Louise.

Love triangle: Jules And Jim

Love triangle: Jules And Jim

Love triangle: Jules And Jim

13 Cold War (2018)

Exquisitely shot in black and white, and an impressively taut 88 minutes long, Cold War is a gripping drama about a love affair which unfolds over several decades in post-war Europe. 

The great Polish director Pawel Pawlikowski would surely have landed an Oscar in any other year — but his marvellous film was up against Alfonso Cuaron’s mighty (if slightly over-praised) Roma.

12 Life Is Beautiful (1997)

Not everyone loved Roberto Benigni’s bold concentration camp comedy about a Jewish inmate who shields his son from the horrors of Nazism by pretending it’s all a game — but it made me laugh (and for that matter cry) like a drain. If you want to smile, take a look on YouTube at the moment Sophia Loren, at the Academy Awards, announces it as Best Foreign Language Film. It’s priceless.

11 Cinema Paradiso (1988)

This is unashamedly sentimental and perhaps overly long, but it’s a film of such enormous charm that you can forgive it all its excesses. 

There’s a lovely performance by little Salvatore Cascio as the young version of Toto, who grows up to become a famous film director after a childhood spent in thrall to a small-town cinema and its ageing projectionist. An enduring delight.

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Jedward reveal they held their mother’s hand in her final days

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jedward reveal they held their mothers hand in her final days

Jedward twins, John and Edward Grimes, have revealed how they played Fleetwood Mac and held their mother’s hand in her final days following a five-year cancer battle.

Their mother Susanna died in February 2019 and the 28-year-old twins described how they will ‘always keep her spirit alive’ on Saturday. 

The Irish pop duo also described their heartbreak at the prospect of their late mother not meeting their children or attending their weddings. 

Heartbreak: Jedward twins, John and Edward Grimes, 28, revealed on Saturday how they played Fleetwood Mac and held their mother's hand in her final days following a five-year cancer battle

Heartbreak: Jedward twins, John and Edward Grimes, 28, revealed on Saturday how they played Fleetwood Mac and held their mother's hand in her final days following a five-year cancer battle

Heartbreak: Jedward twins, John and Edward Grimes, 28, revealed on Saturday how they played Fleetwood Mac and held their mother’s hand in her final days following a five-year cancer battle

Speaking to Ryan Tubridy on The Late Late Show, Edward said: ‘We were there when she passed and we are thankful that we were there – we were able to hold her hand.

‘We had some earphones listening to some music. We listened to some Fleetwood Mac and some of her favourite songs that she liked to play.’ 

His brother John added: ‘It’s very disheartening to think that she won’t be at our weddings, she won’t be there at the birth of our kids, but we always keep her spirit alive like have pictures of her around and tell stories.’ 

Special: Their mother Susanna died following a five-year battle with cancer in February 2019 and the 28-year-old twins described how they keep 'her spirit alive' on Saturday

Special: Their mother Susanna died following a five-year battle with cancer in February 2019 and the 28-year-old twins described how they keep 'her spirit alive' on Saturday

Special: Their mother Susanna died following a five-year battle with cancer in February 2019 and the 28-year-old twins described how they keep ‘her spirit alive’ on Saturday

‘You just feel so disconnected to the world because the person that kept you anchored in the world and gave birth to you is gone and now you don’t know where you should be, what you should be doing.’   

The former X Factor stars performed a rendition of Everybody Hurts by R.E.M. dedicated to their mother. 

Fans took to Twitter to share how they were ‘in tears’ following the tribute performance. 

Emotional: Susanna passed away in February 2019 after she was diagnosed with leukaemia and kidney failure

Emotional: Susanna passed away in February 2019 after she was diagnosed with leukaemia and kidney failure

Emotional: Susanna passed away in February 2019 after she was diagnosed with leukaemia and kidney failure

One wrote: ‘Wow it was such a beautiful performance, had me in tears through it.’ 

Another penned: ‘What a great chat between John, Edward and Ryan Tubridy. I loved your version of #EverybodyHurts & the accompanying music. There were tears but very good tears here.’ 

Susanna passed away in February 2019 after she was diagnosed with leukaemia and kidney failure. 

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33687310 8778285 image a 14 1601225602291

Support: Fans took to Twitter to share how they were 'in tears' following the tribute performance

Support: Fans took to Twitter to share how they were 'in tears' following the tribute performance

Support: Fans took to Twitter to share how they were ‘in tears’ following the tribute performance

Speaking on Loose Women in April 2019, Edward said: ‘[The cancer] had been ongoing for the past five years, and I feel now mum has passed, it just feels so weird, because it’s all we’ve ever known. We want to call her and there’s no one there to call.  

‘Her opinion meant everything to us, she was always there to support us. We haven’t really talking about it’s been really closed doors.’ 

The twins said it was comforting to them that they had one another to navigate their way through their grief. 

Speaking to Ryan Tubridy on The Late Late Show, Edward said: 'We were there when she passed and were thankful that we were there we were able to hold her hand'

Speaking to Ryan Tubridy on The Late Late Show, Edward said: 'We were there when she passed and were thankful that we were there we were able to hold her hand'

Speaking to Ryan Tubridy on The Late Late Show, Edward said: ‘We were there when she passed and were thankful that we were there we were able to hold her hand’

John said: ‘That has been really, really good for me and Edward because we’re so open with each other, and were weren’t bottling it in.’  

The boys paid tribute to Susanna in February, writing on Twitter: ‘Rest In Peace Mammy You live on through us We will miss you and your smile…

‘You shaped the character of who we are. Mammy lived with cancer for many years but was always full of life! You live on in our Memories and will always be alive in our Hearts’. 

Pain: The twins said it was comforting to them that they had one another to navigate their way through their grief

Pain: The twins said it was comforting to them that they had one another to navigate their way through their grief

Pain: The twins said it was comforting to them that they had one another to navigate their way through their grief

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Fighting fit Tommy Fury leaves exhausted Mark Wright in his wake as they team up for a boxercise 

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fighting fit tommy fury leaves exhausted mark wright in his wake as they team up for a

Tommy Fury demonstrated his match fitness as he became the latest guest on one of Mark Wright’s Instagram Live exercise sessions on Sunday morning.

The Love Island 2019 runner up, 21, joined Mark, 33, for an hour-long boxercise HIIT session, in which the two reality stars demonstrated boxing moves and exercises to thousands of their fans.

While professional boxer Tommy barely seemed to break a sweat, Mark quickly appeared out of breath.

Fighting fit: Tommy Fury (pictured) has become the latest guest on one of Mark Wright's Instagram Live exercise class

Fighting fit: Tommy Fury (pictured) has become the latest guest on one of Mark Wright's Instagram Live exercise class

Power stance: Tommy was a guest on Mark Wright's (pictured) Sunday morning boxercise HIIT session

Power stance: Tommy was a guest on Mark Wright's (pictured) Sunday morning boxercise HIIT session

Fighting fit: Tommy Fury (left) became the latest guest on one of Mark Wright’s (right) Instagram Live exercise class on Sunday morning

At the halfway point, the TOWIE star confided: ‘I don’t know if I can get through another half,’ to which Tommy obliviously replied that he felt like he was ‘glowing’.

Tommy gave numerous exercise tips to his fans, demonstrating how best to carry out an array of jabs and undercuts, press ups and squats. 

The two reality hunks appeared on separate screens due to logistical reasons – despite the fact that both were in fact exercising at other ends of the same field.

Toned: Both stars sported tight-fitting grey exercise gear, that emphasised their enviable physiques

Toned: Both stars sported tight-fitting grey exercise gear, that emphasised their enviable physiques

Give it some welly: Mark appeared to work extremely hard to keep up with the boxing ace

Give it some welly: Mark appeared to work extremely hard to keep up with the boxing ace

 Toned: Both Tommy and Mark sported tight-fitting grey exercise gear, that emphasised their enviable physiques

Sumo squats: The two reality stars demonstrated an array of exercises during the session

Sumo squats: The two reality stars demonstrated an array of exercises during the session

Sumo squats: The two reality stars demonstrated an array of exercises during the session

Amusingly at one point, Mark called across the field for Tommy to wave, and the myth of their separation was broken as it became clear they were just a few hundred metres away. 

Despite Mark’s visible tiredness, both he and Tommy appeared in good shape.

They each sported tight-fitting grey exercise gear that emphasised their enviable physiques. 

When asked as to when he might next be in a boxing bout, Tommy said: ‘I’m feeling in magnificent shape – and hopefully will have some fight news for you all soon.’  

Different abilities: While Tommy barely seemed to break a sweat, Mark appeared exhausted

Different abilities: While Tommy barely seemed to break a sweat, Mark appeared exhausted

Different abilities: While Tommy barely seemed to break a sweat, Mark appeared exhausted

He later added: ‘I’m dedicating everything – I’m 21 years old, I’m living in camp, there’s no partying, there’s no drinking – I want to be a champ.’

For now though, he seemed pleased to help Mark out with his exercise business wrightfit.

He said: ‘It’s a pleasure being out today in the sun, motivating people, that’s what it’s all about.’  

Just over there: The myth of their separation was broken at one point, as it became clear they were just a few hundred metres away

Just over there: The myth of their separation was broken at one point, as it became clear they were just a few hundred metres away

Just over there: The myth of their separation was broken at one point, as it became clear they were just a few hundred metres away

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Roxy Horner wears gold ring on her wedding finger while leaving hotel with Jack Whitehall

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roxy horner wears gold ring on her wedding finger while leaving hotel with jack whitehall

They were said to have made their romance exclusive just before the UK went into lockdown in March.

And Jack Whitehall and Roxy Horner looked every inch the happy couple during an outing in Essex where Roxy could be seen wearing a gold ring on her wedding finger.

The model, 29, sported the piece of eye-catching jewellery as she and Jack, 32, departed the Roslin Beach Hotel in Southend after a romantic trip away last weekend. 

New ring: Jack Whitehall, 32, and Roxy Horner, 29, looked every inch the happy couple during an outing in Essex where Roxy could be seen wearing a gold ring on her wedding finger

New ring: Jack Whitehall, 32, and Roxy Horner, 29, looked every inch the happy couple during an outing in Essex where Roxy could be seen wearing a gold ring on her wedding finger

New ring: Jack Whitehall, 32, and Roxy Horner, 29, looked every inch the happy couple during an outing in Essex where Roxy could be seen wearing a gold ring on her wedding finger

When contacted by MailOnline, a representative for Jack said the couple are not engaged. 

Roxy cut a casual figure as she departed the hotel with her other half, wearing a black vest top with a pair of leather trousers.

The beauty also sported a gold belt along with a pair of open-toed kitten heels. 

Carrying a black handbag and a matching jacket, Roxy let her blonde locks fall loose down her shoulders for the day.

Bling: The model sported the piece of eye-catching jewellery as she and Jack, 32, departed the Roslin Beach Hotel in Southend

Bling: The model sported the piece of eye-catching jewellery as she and Jack, 32, departed the Roslin Beach Hotel in Southend

Bling: The model sported the piece of eye-catching jewellery as she and Jack, 32, departed the Roslin Beach Hotel in Southend 

Romance: The couple were said to have made their romance exclusive just before the UK went into lockdown in March

Romance: The couple were said to have made their romance exclusive just before the UK went into lockdown in March

Romance: The couple were said to have made their romance exclusive just before the UK went into lockdown in March

Relationship: When contacted by MailOnline, a representative for Jack said the couple are not engaged

Relationship: When contacted by MailOnline, a representative for Jack said the couple are not engaged

Relationship: When contacted by MailOnline, a representative for Jack said the couple are not engaged

Relationship: When contacted by MailOnline, a representative for Jack said the couple are not engaged

Relationship: When contacted by MailOnline, a representative for Jack said the couple are not engaged

Wearing a baker boy cap, the model completed her look with gold hoop earrings and a matching necklace.

Jack also opted for a low-key look as he donned a white T-shirt and dark trousers while he tied a white hoodie around his waist.

The Decline and Fall star also sported a red cap while he tucked a pair of sunglasses into his shirt.  

Roxy and Jack are said to have made their romance exclusive just before the UK-wide coronavirus lockdown.

Outfit: Roxy cut a casual figure as she departed the hotel with her other half, wearing a black vest top with a pair of leather trousers

Outfit: Roxy cut a casual figure as she departed the hotel with her other half, wearing a black vest top with a pair of leather trousers

Outfit: Roxy cut a casual figure as she departed the hotel with her other half, wearing a black vest top with a pair of leather trousers

Style: The beauty also sported a gold belt along with a pair of open-toed kitten heels

Style: The beauty also sported a gold belt along with a pair of open-toed kitten heels

Style: The beauty also sported a gold belt along with a pair of open-toed kitten heels

Style: The beauty also sported a gold belt along with a pair of open-toed kitten heels

Style: The beauty also sported a gold belt along with a pair of open-toed kitten heels

Look: Carrying a black handbag and a matching coat, Roxy let her blonde locks fall loose down her shoulders for the day

Look: Carrying a black handbag and a matching coat, Roxy let her blonde locks fall loose down her shoulders for the day

Look: Carrying a black handbag and a matching coat, Roxy let her blonde locks fall loose down her shoulders for the day 

Looking good: Wearing a baker boy cap, the model completed her look with gold hoop earrings and a matching necklace

Looking good: Wearing a baker boy cap, the model completed her look with gold hoop earrings and a matching necklace

Looking good: Wearing a baker boy cap, the model completed her look with gold hoop earrings and a matching necklace

Looking good: Wearing a baker boy cap, the model completed her look with gold hoop earrings and a matching necklace

Looking good: Wearing a baker boy cap, the model completed her look with gold hoop earrings and a matching necklace

Casual: Jack also opted for a low-key look as he donned a white T-shirt and dark trousers while he tied a white hoodie around his waist

Casual: Jack also opted for a low-key look as he donned a white T-shirt and dark trousers while he tied a white hoodie around his waist

Casual: Jack also opted for a low-key look as he donned a white T-shirt and dark trousers while he tied a white hoodie around his waist 

The comedian shared his first Instagram post with the model and even posted a funny video of her giving him a quarantine haircut earlier this year.

A source told The Sun at the time: ‘Jack and Roxy are enjoying being in isolation together. It’s all very new but they’re in their own little bubble and things are perfect at the moment.

‘Being on lockdown in a honeymoon period is certainly one way to get to know each other quickly. But the more time they spend together the happier they seem.

Laid back: The Decline and Fall star also sported a red cap while he tucked a pair of sunglasses into his shirt

Laid back: The Decline and Fall star also sported a red cap while he tucked a pair of sunglasses into his shirt

Laid back: The Decline and Fall star also sported a red cap while he tucked a pair of sunglasses into his shirt

Laid back: The Decline and Fall star also sported a red cap while he tucked a pair of sunglasses into his shirt

Laid back: The Decline and Fall star also sported a red cap while he tucked a pair of sunglasses into his shirt 

Lockdown: A source previously said: 'Jack and Roxy are enjoying being in isolation together. It's all very new but they're in their own little bubble and things are perfect at the moment'

Lockdown: A source previously said: 'Jack and Roxy are enjoying being in isolation together. It's all very new but they're in their own little bubble and things are perfect at the moment'

Lockdown: A source previously said: ‘Jack and Roxy are enjoying being in isolation together. It’s all very new but they’re in their own little bubble and things are perfect at the moment’

‘Both have had their share of heartbreak and struggled a bit to find love. It’s time they had some luck.’

Roxy has a string of famous exes, having previously been linked to A-list actor Leonardo DiCaprio and singer Jake Bugg who she split from in December.

Jack has been linked to various women since calling it quits with actress Gemma Chan, 37, in December 2017 after six years together. She is now in a relationship with screen star Dominic Cooper.

They said: 'Being on lockdown in a honeymoon period is certainly one way to get to know each other quickly. But the more time they spend together the happier they seem'

They said: 'Being on lockdown in a honeymoon period is certainly one way to get to know each other quickly. But the more time they spend together the happier they seem'

They said: ‘Being on lockdown in a honeymoon period is certainly one way to get to know each other quickly. But the more time they spend together the happier they seem’

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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