Female-Directed Films I Love

I started this on International Women’s Day, but procrastination is a thing. Better late than never, right? So here’s a list of films directed by women that I enjoy.

(Note that it’s been a while since I watched some of them, and thus there may be content I’ve forgotten about. Watch at your own risk.)

 

Little Women – Greta Gerwig

This is the first movie I’ve seen twice in theatres. And it’s the third movie to ever make me cry. I adore this film, how it’s full of life and affection and kinetic energy. Greta takes a familiar story and makes it fresh, a period piece that is oh-so-relevant to today. Little Women inspired me to go out and make my art, which is something that the best films do.

Lady Bird – Greta Gerwig

My acting teacher would say over and over again, “Every scene is a love scene.” Never have I seen this more clearly than I have in Lady Bird. It oozes love for and between the characters, romantic, familial, platonic. The love for place is striking. Lady Bird also gave me the freedom to tell my own story. Gerwig said that everything in this film is true, though not everything actually happened (but it could have). And that’s what I want my films to do.

Also. Greta wore dresses while directing Lady Bird which is basically LIFE GOALS.

Awakenings – Penny Marshall

Why don’t more people know about Awakenings?! It’s an absolutely gorgeous story, about a doctor working to find a cure for patients with a mysterious locked-in syndrome. It features Robert DeNiro and Robin Williams.

Awakenings will make you love humanity all over again.

The Farewell – Lulu Wang

Poignant, funny and beautiful. Seriously, the cinematography and soundtrack are gorgeous. I also love the window into another culture. And the ending! I’m not going to spoil it, but it was great.

Belle – Amma Asante

I love Belle for two main reasons: First of all, the costumes. 18th century is one of my favourite eras. And secondly, as a sort of third-culture kid, I really relate to Belle’s story of not fitting into either the culture of your mother or father. (I also like to think of this as a prequel to Amazing Grace, which is another movie I love.)

And if you like Belle, be sure to check out A United Kingdom, also directed by Amma Asante.

Carrie Pilby – Susan Johnson

Whimsical, fresh and fun. Carrie Pilby is such a charming protagonist. Also. William Moseley. It’s a really sweet indie film.

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before – Susan Johnson

I didn’t realize that Susan Johnson had also directed Carrie Pilby when I watched this film. This teen rom-com has all the cute comedic romance without excessive amounts of angst or dumb conversations where people don’t communicate properly. It’s also really pretty to look at, thanks to great cinematography and production design.

Band Aid – Zoe Lister-Jones

A couple works to save their marriage by starting a band and putting all their arguments into song. (But this is not a musical.) I love seeing a movie about a marriage, because so many romance movies are about dating relationships. This movie is offbeat but humourous and poignant.

Another fun thing about Band Aid: It’s one of the first films with an all-female crew.

Aquamarine – Elizabeth Allen Rosenbaum

The perfect sleepover movie. There’s depth to each of the characters, the plot is magnificently constructed, and the acting is on point. And it’s super fun to have the Male Gaze flipped on its head. Plus. . . MERMAIDS!

Selma – Ava DuVernay

Not an easy story to watch, but a good and important one. It’s been a while since I watched so I can’t comment in more detail, except to say that the song Glory from this movie’s soundtrack is AWESOME and should be listened to with the dial turned up.

Mamma Mia! – Phyllida Lloyd

Amanda Seyfried, Colin Firth, Meryl Streep and more singing and dancing to ABBA songs in Greece? HECK YEAH!

Rip Tide – Rhiannon Bannenberg

Rip Tide is close to my heart, because it was filmed in the area where I grew up. I discovered it through a serendipitous Netflix scroll, and confirmed the filming location through IMDB research.

I started out with low expectations. It looks like a cheesy teen movie about a model who moves to Australia and discovers herself. But this movie is far more emotionally resonant and beautiful than I expected. I especially loved the focus on women and their relationships. Also the inevitable romance was the least contrived and most convincing I’ve ever seen in a teen-centred movie. And I ADORED all the little Australian things like the morning bird warbles and the Norfolk Island Pine and “How ya goin?”

There are a lot of surfing montages, but strangely I didn’t mind. It’s a lovely film, and worth the watch. Thematically this movie resonates with me a LOT, even months after watching it.

 

A Sad Story ft. My Old Church

Some important background before I begin my story:

  • I love it when people make a big deal out of my birthday
  • I love having people pray for me or “get a word from God” for me
  • I HATE not being seen or heard

It was November of 2013. We were at our small country church for a usual Sunday service, and this time it was exciting because a family with ties to YWAM was visiting. They were friends of the pastor (who shall hereafter be called Mr. P because he doesn’t deserve the name pastor). Thus, we had solid professional music, and fiery preaching with great stories from one of the YWAMers.

As was our usual tradition, we had testimony time near the beginning of the service. I shared my testimony of the gifts God had given me for my birthday earlier that week. My family had surprised me at college with a party, and God had healed my cold.

At the end of the testimony time, Mr. P mentioned that it was J’s birthday that day. J was the adult daughter of the visiting family, and the sister of the guy who preached. He asked everyone to take some time to listen to God for words for J, and then they would take time to encourage her and pray for her.

There was no mention of my birthday. Which I had OBVIOUSLY talked about ten minutes earlier.

It felt like a slap in the face.

I spent the time feeling sad and angry and betrayed, and asking God not to let me become bitter. (Nowadays I would have said something, but I was young and entrenched in submissive femininity that doesn’t allow you to speak up.)

Everyone prayed beautiful things for J, and I felt my face burn and tried desperately not to be jealous.

And then an older gentleman, also a visitor to our church that Sunday, spoke up. He pointed out that it was my birthday earlier that week, and that the church should pray for me too. I was flooded with gratitude toward the older gentleman.

So the church did pray for me and encourage me.

But.

Even now, six years later, I’m still pretty darn angry that it took an outsider to see me, still angry that this church I had been part of for about five years at that point completely ignored me. It felt like a deliberate snub then, and it feels like a deliberate snub now as I think about it, even with time and distance and perspective.

Such love. Such encouragement. Such attentive care for each member of the congregation. This is why I love church.

(In case you didn’t catch it, that last paragraph was sarcasm.)

And thus ends one of the sad stories featuring my former church.

 

Breakup Songs for the Church

I’m really really mad at the church tonight.

By church I mean the conservative(ish) North American Evangelical church. And all fundamentalist streams thereof.

I’m mad at churches that preach theology that hurts human beings, like complementarianism and “faith over fear” and other forms of Christian self-flagellation.

I’m so DONE with all of it.

500% done. FIVE MILLION PERCENT DONE.

 

So I like to play angry breakup music and dedicate it to different aspects of Christian religiosity.

For Those Books, Purity Culture and Fundamentalism in general:
Since U Been Gone by Kelly Clarkson

 

For the North American church preaching self-flagellation and other messages:
You Give Love A Bad Name by Bon Jovi

 

For religiosity and harmful theology:
We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together by Taylor Swift

 

I feel better now. Marginally.

Noisy Grief

In Ancient Egypt, wealthy families who were grieving hired professional mourners for the funeral procession. They would yell and wail for the dead person as they proceeded through town.

Ancient Hebrews would tear their garments, beat their chest and sit in a pile of ashes. 

Nowadays in Western culture, we grieve in more quiet ways. Crying. Hugging. Putting on black. A loud wail of anguish may be permitted occasionally, if the grief is particularly deep or remarkable. 

But I long for more dramatic, loud and messy ways to grieve. (And to grieve this way with people.)

 

Yelling and screaming at the sky

Blasting heavy metal music 

Smashing old plates and glasses

Whacking punching bags with baseball bats

A chorus of loud wails and sobs

Furious dancing 

Flailing at the air

Stomping

Reciting poetry loudly

Proclaiming that which has been lost

 

Our grief, my grief, is so quiet. 

I fear that even when presented with such opportunities, I would shrink back, because I have been taught that grief should be held close, compressed, kept quiet.

I yearn for the day when I can express my grief with bombastic noise, because I’m no longer afraid, because I have found a safe place where it can be released. 

But for now, I will sob quietly in my room. 

 

Curses!

Yesterday was a long day. I woke up early, worked all morning, drove to another town and back, and worked until 8:30pm at a market. I was TIRED.

It got dark, and then I heard bass-ey thumping. Somebody in the neighbourhood was partying it up when I was getting ready to sleep. I hate it when you can hear music but kind of not really. And I especially hate it when I want to relax.

I was lying in bed trying to sleep, working hard not to think about the noise. Which only made me more and more annoyed at the thumping sub woofers. To relieve my annoyance, I started creatively cursing them in my mind. Sweet satisfaction! I soon stopped hearing the noise and drifted off.

Why use f*** you! or d**** you! when you have this lovely selection at your fingertips?

THE CURSES:

May all mosquitoes within a hundred square metres congregate on your deck.

May your toenails grow inordinately quickly.

May the soles of your feet be covered in plantar warts.

May any water you drink taste like dirt.

May you get Call Me Maybe stuck in your head on repeat forever.

May all your can openers be dull.

May your garden be invaded by cabbage flies.

May your socks always be wet inside your shoes.

May your eyebrow hairs never lie flat.

May you get static shock every time you pet your pet.

May all your fork tines be uneven.

May your teeth feel fuzzy like after eating green bananas or stewed rhubarb.

May your fruit ripen so slowly it rots before it gets ripe.

May all your elastic bands snap as soon as you stretch them.

May your cellphone battery lose its ability to hold a charge.

May the tags on your clothes be un-removable and highly itchy.

May the skin above your cuticles peel.

May you hit your funnybone repeatedly.

May you bite the inside of your cheek every time you chew.

May your showers always be cold. And not a bracing or refreshing cold. A just-not-quite-warm-enough cold.

May autocorrect always choose the most embarrassing option possible.

May the library never have the book you want.

May every DVD and CD you ever use have a scratch right at the most dramatic bit.

May Netflix or your live streaming media service freeze right at the most dramatic bit.

May every radio station you tune into be in the middle of an ad grouping.

May you lose all your pens.

May a cheerful bird make residence right outside your bedroom window and chirp loudly and incessantly at 5am.

 

 

 

The Super Film Set

Shower thought from last night: What would each film department choose for their super power? 

Sound: Telekinesis — bye bye boom poles!

Actors: Shapeshifting — why work out for the role when you can simply morph your muscles?

DoP: Weather Control — the best natural lighting all the time.

Grips: Super Strength — because duh.

Electric: Lightning — why use generators when you can BE THE POWER!

PAs: Super Speed — helpful when running all over set.

Editors: also Super Speed — for reasons.

Scripty: Cloning Self — it’s really a job for three anyway.

The Entire Art Department: Mind Reading — so they can understand exactly what the director means when s/he says “I want it to evoke feelings of majesty”.

Greens: Plant Powers — obvious

Animal Wrangler: Speak to Animals — also obvious

Producer: Turning Stuff into Gold — What “financial woes”?

1st AD: Warping Time — No more worrying about falling behind schedule.

Screenwriter: Teleportation and Time-travel — First-hand research made easy!

Director: Multilingualism — Because each department has its own language. And now the actors will finally GET what you’re asking for.

 

 

On Loneliness

I am lonely.

Oh, I have a lot of friends. Though most of them live two hours away, minimum, there’s always Skype and Facebook call. I’m part of a young adults group in town, and a mom’s group (even though I’m not a mom). I work with awesome people. I live in a small town and bump into people I know on a relatively frequent basis. The librarians know my name.

And yet, some days I still feel a crushing sense of isolation, because it feels like all the responsibility for social interaction is on me. I have to call up a friend for a coffee date. I send the message to organize the Skype. I drive myself to MomTime and walk to the library to see the librarians who know my name. And that young adults group? I started it with a couple friends because I didn’t have enough social interaction.

I would love, LOVE for people to reach out to me. I fantasize about getting invited to people’s houses or answering the phone to a friend who simply wants to chat.

Yes, it’s a lie that I have to do ALL the work. Last month I was spontaneously invited to a Bible study. My friend asked if I wanted to sew with her. I got some long newsy letters in the mail. And yet, it feels like I give 110% to only get 25% back. It’s exhausting. I wish I could share the weight.

Are my expectations too high? Maybe a little. I need to stop overextending myself. (110% is not healthy.) But all the same, is it too much for me to ask people to call now and then just to chat, to see how I’m doing? Or to say, “Hey, let’s go for a walk sometime”? Or to have a friend invite me over just to hang out and do nothing? If this is too much to ask, what kind of society are we living in?

Do I just not have many friends? Or is this what being an adult in modern-day Canada is like? If so, it sucks and we need to bring more of our childhood play dates back.

Now, this isn’t a plea for pity, though if you know me and genuinely want to hang out, YES PLEASE, sign me up. But I want to point out that even though many things in this world can be made better by changing our attitude or perspective, loneliness is not one of them. Curing loneliness takes multiple people. We all need to play our part. So go call a friend or invite them on a walk. And not just one time. Your lives will be better for it. I’m sure I’m not the only one who daydreams about receiving a friend’s invitation.

Not All Hard is Created Equal

There are different kinds of hard in the world.

One of them is like wading through molasses. On a cold day. Just living feels unbearably heavy. It’s that feeling you get of trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. Or wanting to eat chocolate icecream and only getting vanilla while your tastebuds scream “WANT CHOCOLATE”. It’s when you go to bed exhausted and wake up the next morning still tired, and you don’t want to get out of bed.

The other one is like that feeling when you hit the fifth kilometer running on a forest trail. (For someone who likes running.) At some point part of you is like, STOP NOW, but the other part wants to keep running and running and running. It’s going to bed exhausted, but still wanting to get up in the morning.

Because the English language doesn’t have simple phrases for these different types of hard, I’ve decided to call the first one Philbert and the second Eugenie.

I think we do a huge disservice to ourselves when we say “You need to do hard things to get anywhere in life” or “life is hard” without taking into consideration the difference between Philbert-hard and Eugenie-hard. Eugenie-hard is healthy kind of hard, where struggle is part of growth. Philbert, on the other hand, is a drag, a heavy weight, an encumbrance. I personally don’t want to put up with Philbert. I will embrace Eugenie-hard. But Philbert-hard just sucks my energy and makes me crabby. If they were people, Philbert would be a person you must deal with occasionally, but you don’t invite them home. Eugenie, on the other hand, would make a great friend.

(P.S. I also think there are other kinds of hard. Dorothea-hard is a cousin of Philbert’s, where your energy is drained, and it’s like dragging yourself across a desert. BUT you do it because of a deep love for another person. And so the pain of Dorothea-hard is worth it because there’s love. There is no love with Philbert; just shame, condemnation, exhaustion and all those nasty things.)

In Which I am Punched in the Gut (Metaphorically Speaking)

I am very hard on myself. Whether it’s because I’m a visionary and I see what could and should be better than what is, or whether it’s because of past legalism telling me I was never good enough, I struggle to see my positive qualities. I’m learning slowly to focus on what is there, not what is missing, but it’s a process.

Last night was rough. Self-condemnation reared its ugly head, and I felt like an unfinished mess of flaws. I was discouraged by how far I have to go. The voices, “You’re not measuring up, you’re a broken mess, you’re a pain in the butt, you’ll always struggle with this,” were loud and strong. I knew that wasn’t true, but it was so hard to see in that moment. I could only see what I was bad at, where I was failing, where I was struggling. So I reached out to my friends on Facebook with this post:

“Help. I’m really good at seeing the problems in my life and areas where I need to improve. I’m not so good at seeing my skills, talents and positive traits. I need some outside perspective. What am I GOOD at?”

And then I went to bed because everything is 300 times worse when you’re tired.

In the morning I checked my Facebook, excited and curious to see what my friends had to say. And then I read this comment:

I see many good traits in you, Lyndall, but instead of listing them I want to encourage you to look to God instead ❤️
Pray for Him to reveal what gifts He has granted you. While it can be helpful to receive the opinions of others, we cannot look to other people to affirm us. This is a beautiful time to pray, ask God what He thinks of you. Read your Bible and see what it says! And take the time to explore what you enjoy doing.

Self-confidence is found in God and His Word! And you better believe He’s given each person gifts and abilities to be used for His glory. Even if it’s the gift of being a janitor… Be a janitor to the glory of God!”

Did my friend mean well? Yes.
Did she want to be helpful? Yes.

But I felt like I had been kicked in the kidneys. I wanted to throw my phone across the room. And I started crying. Because what I heard in my friend’s post was

You’re not trying hard enough.
You’re doing it wrong.
Your needs and feelings don’t matter, just listen to the Bible.

I had asked for help, and instead I got a sermon. I’m sick and tired of hearing religiosity when I simply want love and encouragement. It’s not like I haven’t already read the Bible and asked how God sees me. But humans need affirmation from other humans too.

I’m not angry at my friend. But I am upset and angry at a system that overlooks human needs and genuine heart-cries with Bible verses and pious phrases.

Leslie Ludy: I’m No Longer a Fan

As you may have gathered so far, I have some issues with the things Leslie Ludy teaches. Prepare yourself, because this blog is going into details over the next few weeks.

I loved Leslie’s books as a teen. I was super passionate about loving God and serving Him with all my being and actions. Leslie showed me practical ways to do that. I loved her passion for Jesus, for purity, for living a set-apart life. And I wanted to do that too. I had read a lot of books about Christian femininity by other authors, but they were from the Christian Patriarchy movement, and seemed a bit too extreme or old-fashioned to be realistic. Leslie, on the other hand, was more in touch with the real world. And yet she wasn’t part of the world. In it but not of it. She was my prime example of what godly femininity could look like.

I prayed for a Christ-built warrior poet. I dressed modestly and watched how much of my heart I shared, to avoid causing my brothers in Christ to stumble. I surrendered my life to God and stayed far away from  profanity and entertainment. I spent more time praying and reading the Bible. I pored over the latest gorgeously-designed Set Apart Girl magazines, and devoted myself to the lonely but oh-so-worthwhile life of devotion to God. I traded my fantasy novels for missionary biographies, and avoided any music that wasn’t Christ-honouring. I did my best to live the life that Leslie promoted.

And I felt stressed and guilty all the time.

Which leads me to my Big Question: How did something that seems so Christ-focused bring so much anxiety, stress and heaviness into my life?

What Leslie preaches is supposed to be all about centering our life around Christ. It’s about how to make him Lord of our lives, to live with vision and hope and deep satisfaction. And yet, all I experienced was pain and frustration. Maybe I didn’t try hard enough. . . But I think if I’d tried any harder I would have killed myself. I burnt out.

Jesus said, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” And “A good tree produces good fruit”. Paul said “Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom”. I didn’t experience that from Leslie’s writings. In the last few days I’ve come across a couple other people who had similar experiences, so I know it’s not just me.

That’s why I’m reading her books again–to find out why something that would appear to bring life actually brought death to me.