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Sneak PeekThe Glass Castle Proves Just HowResilient Children Are


The Glass Castle is a study in the power of family ties—and the resilience of children to overcome even the harshest of circumstances. I had sort of a crazy childhood. Like Rex Walls in The Glass Castle, my dad was brilliant and charismatic, generous and funny. He was also a womanizing alcoholic, too proud to take a nine-to-five job and rarely able to make ends meet. But Woody Harrelson, who plays Rex in this film, based on Jeanette Walls’s best selling memoir and opening Aug. 11, makes my dad look like Father of the Year.

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Anyone who read the book knows the story of Walls and her siblings’ remarkable ability to survive a childhood of neglect, squalor, and sometimes abuse—and come out not only alive but for the most part thriving and with their parental relationships still intact. Basically, Rex and Rose Mary Walls (played by a very convincing Naomi Watts) are sadly unfit to have children. Enabling each other’s dysfunctions as they constantly uproot their family (usually to avoid paying rent or electricity bills), the couple and their children lead a hardscrabble, hand-to-mouth existence out of cars, shacks, and tents.

Played by a perfectly cast Harrelson (who could nab an awards nomination), Rex is a street-smart charmer with a major alcohol problem, distrust of authority, and paranoia. He can’t keep a job, thinks the FBI is after him, and has delusions of grandeur, believing he will one day build his family a glass castle. He even has the blue prints to “prove it.” Despite his shortcomings, his children, especially Jeanette, respect him—at least for a while, as he teaches them life lessons, stresses the importance of sticking together as a family (which, to him, includes the tradition of howling like a wolf pack), and parcels out enough affection and optimism to keep them attached.

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In one scene, lying in the snow and gazing up at the stars, Rex sweetly convinces a young Jeannette (played excellently by Ella Anderson) that he has bought her the planet Venus as a Christmas present. In another, he tells her, “We’re not like other people. We’ve got fire burning in our bellies.” And he affectionately calls her his “mountain goat.”

But then he fails to provide food, installs his children in rodent infested houses without plumbing or heat, steals money from Jeanette’s piggy bank to buy booze, forces her to sew up his cut face after a brawl, turns a blind eye when they get molested, dangles their mother out of a second-story window after a fight, and never quite gets around to building that glass castle.

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Still, his kids so deeply want to believe he’s their hero that they forgive his transgressions and buy into his assertion that they may be different from other people but it’s because they are special. He masks their misfortunes as adventures. Sleeping in tents is a fun camp out! Showering at the public pool is cool! Butter and sugar for lunch is exotic! This is both a blessing and a curse. For a while, it keeps Jeanette and her siblings sane and happy, but as they mature, they begin to feel betrayed. They realize that their father’s distrust and scorn of societal norms and what he derides as “mundane” is actually a cover-up for his own inadequacies and inability to succeed in the real world.

“They’re never going to take care of us,” a teenage Jeannette finally tells her siblings one night. “We have to go to school and start saving money so we can get out of here.” Meanwhile, her self-absorbed mother, Rose Mary, is an unfulfilled artist who loves Rex and her family but resents them for keeping her from her true calling.

JAKE GILES NETTER/LIONSGATE

In one scene, when a very young Jeanette tells her mother she’s hungry, Rose Mary replies, “Would you rather me make you lunch that will be gone in an hour? Or make this painting that will last a lifetime?” Jeannette then pulls up a stool to the stove and cooks a hot dog but burns herself so badly that she’s rushed to the hospital—where she is heartbreakingly excited to finally get three meals a day.

The film unfolds mainly through flashbacks, opening with Jeannette in 1989 as a twenty-something (played brilliantly by Brie Larson) at a fancy dinner with her fiancé David (Max Greenfield), a hot-shot entrepreneur, and his clients. We get the feeling something is up when she asks the waiter to box up her leftovers as well as the clients’. David quickly explains that she’s just kidding and tells their guests that her “dad’s an engineer and her mom’s an artist.”

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After the meal she admonishes him: “When it comes to my family, let me do the lying.” Soon, we see Jeanette passing through a sketchy neighborhood and a homeless man approach her taxi, while a woman digs through a trash bin nearby. We later find out they were her parents—at that time living as squatters in New York. And that’s when the film begins to explain how she—and they—got here.

The most remarkable thing about this story isn’t so much the dysfunctional, narcissistic parents or Jeanette’s impoverished childhood but the fact she and her siblings were able to survive and escape, one by one winding up in New York City.

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Jeannette managed to attend Barnard College and become a successful journalist and author. In one scene, Rex, who accuses her of “selling out,” nonetheless shows up to campus and dumps $950 in cash on her bed, along with a mink coat he won in a poker game, to help her pay for tuition. Once again, just as she is ready to write him off, he does something to pull her back in.

Jake Giles Netter/Lionsgate

Part of Jeanette’s journey is learning to overcome her shame, reconcile her tumultuous past with her present and be honest about it with herself and others. Late in the film, after her dying father tells her, “You’re not like me, Mountain Goat. You’re not afraid,” she replies, “I am like you, and I’m glad.”

The fact that Jeanette continued to love her parents despite their failings, and was able to recognize how they helped shape her into the person she is, illustrates the lasting power of family—no matter how frayed the ropes may be.



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Bella Hadid Just Wants Chicken Nuggets


Bella Hadid has two seemingly attainable immediate goals: procure fast food and hang out with her friends. It’s an early July afternoon, and the 20-year-old model has just arrived in Arles, France for the opening of Dior, Art of Color. There are some minor roadblocks. We are at the secluded villa of Swiss heiress and art collector Maja Hoffmann. Lunch is a twee plant-based arrangement, garnished with edible flowers followed by a morsel of white fish. If, like me, your metabolism stopped humming at Hadid pace over a decade ago, the menu is a digestive blessing.

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“All I want is a cheeseburger and chicken nuggets,” Hadid says, nuzzling her friend, the hair guru Jen Atkin. “I don’t even know what planet I’m on right now.”

In person, all of Hadid’s Instagram attributes are exaggerated to epic proportions; unreasonably long Bambi limbs, puffy lips, and poreless skin. Her hair, cropped too-short from a recent photoshoot, is coaxed back into a ponytail with blunt clip-in bangs. She is wearing some kind of all-white, all-Dior ensemble.

“Fuck you!” she says to my too-comfortable version of an all-white outfit later that day, tracksuit pants and a T-shirt. Dress for the job you want, I guess. Hadid and I are sitting in a bungalow at Le Mas de la Fouque where we are both staying for the exhibition. Dior creative image director Peter Philips is there, as is Hadid’s French modeling agent Julien Clisson.

Renell Medrano

“In the past two months I’ve had three days off,” she tells me. “I had Margiela yesterday morning and then shot a Vogue cover and went straight to Fendi and got on a plane and came here. I had 40 minutes off yesterday. I get tired.”

Understatement of the century.

According to Clisson, Hadid has accomplished in one year what some of his more seasoned model clients have been able to do in 10. In addition to Dior makeup, she is currently under contract with Bulgari, Chrome Hearts, Nike, and Tag Heuer. In so far in 2017, Clisson estimates she has shot around 10 fashion campaigns and 40 editorials.

“I also hate saying no to things, which is my worst quality,” Hadid says, as though answering the requisite ‘what’s your biggest weakness’ job interview question. “Right now it’s hard. It’s a lot.”

Renell Medrano

The work obsession, she tells me, comes from her parents, billionaire real estate mogul Mohamed Hadid and former model and Real Housewives of Beverly Hills alum Yolanda Hadid. “I saw my dad come to America and have to start fresh and build up to what he has now. He left Palestine and came to America when he was older and started making the money he has now. People can say whatever they want about him, but I know how hard he worked to get where he is now.”

“My mom had to ride her bike to get to school every morning in Holland,” she continues. “There’s no way I can sit on my ass and do nothing. The only thing I can do to repay them is work as hard as they did. I never liked spending my parents’ money, so when I turned 17 and I was able to start having my own career, the only thing I really wanted was to be financially independent by the time I was 18, which I ended up doing.”

Eventually Hadid plans to channel her earnings into starting a charity and trading “this whole lifestyle” for mission trips. “I’ve done a lot of the goals I’ve had, but there’s always time to improve and things to do, and I won’t be done in a long time. I definitely have a lot to learn and a lot of things to move forward with.”

Photography by Renell Medrano.



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