‘Penelope’ film review

Penelope is a wonderful movie; you should watch it immediately. Here’s why.

  • The heroine narrates her own story, from a place of power, ownership, and strength.
  • The plot-line elicits compassion, and while it is fantasy-based, it is highly symbolic and meaningful to any of us who have ever struggled to love ourselves as we are.
  • It is not your typical romantic comedy… to say the least.
  • Christina Ricci is awesome, and she carries off the lead role incomparably well.
  • If you want to be cheered-up about leading men. Typically I find them pathetically immoral, asinine, rude, unkind, dishonest, selfish… and just generally unworthy. You might understand more fully my meaning as you get to know the leading male character of Penelope, and see how he is an appropriate foil to most leading men in modern films.

Please enjoy it. And if you fancy, submit it to the Bechdel test. Penelope is available to stream from Amazon Prime and Netflix.

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Deconstructing Selective Blindness

I read an article today titled ‘The Kissing Sailor, or “The Selective Blindness of Rape Culture“‘ and I am satisfied that the truth is coming to light. The voice of Greta is getting heard.

Let’s analyze the image discussed:

Is it about the kissing, the being kissed, or neither? or both?

Look for a few signs that she does not want to be kissed:

  • Her chin position shows that her mouth is being forced open
  • Her body is stiff and awkward, rather than relaxed
  • Her fist is clenched
  • His left arm is braced around her head, as if to block her from pulling away. How many couples do you know who kiss like that?

A few things to think about if you were to see this scene, even on a crowded street… attend to your first instinct- does this look a little off to you? To me, it always has, especially BEFORE anyone explained or captioned that this was when World War Two was officially over in Japan. To me, it never looked quite right.

The evidence is in the words of Greta, captioned within the article at the above link, that it was not her choice to be kissed, he surprised her and grabbed her in a vise grip (which is certainly what it looks like), and that she was not kissing him- he was kissing her.

What strikes me even more is that the article by cbs news states that the man claiming to be the sailor is trying to prove it’s him in the photo. He seems particularly proud of it. Personally, I’d be quite embarrassed that I’d grabbed a strange woman without her consent. Then again, Greta has attempted to prove that it’s her in the photo, as well. Does that make it ok for a man to force himself on a woman? Not at all, and I’d take the clenched fist in the photo as a warning. Because nothing resulted from this particular grab (other than fame and generally good wishes surrounding this photo) the two don’t seem to mind being recognized for it. This is a rare and strange case, unlike most sexual assault which often harbors consequences of trauma and more.

If you see a couple like this, and something does not look right to you, interrupt and ask for directions. Seriously. You might end up saving someone’s life just by figuring out what is going on.

I’m feeling good about reality rather than romanticizing.

Un-gendering Commercials

Couple of things to think about:

a) “Kid-tested, parent approved.”

b) “Choosy Parents Choose Jiff.”

c) “Strong enough for You.”

d) “You’re definitely born with it.”

Can you think of more ways to market items without pointing fingers to gender? I’m feeling good about thinking creatively.

The Hills Are Alive!

The Sound of Music is one of my favorite films because it lovingly portrays a strong woman, independent for her time, on a journey of self-discovery. It is a musical, and I have included some quotes of lyrics that inspire me and remind me it’s ok to be a bit different and spirited, to be terrified and confident all at once, and to accept life as the grand adventure it truly is.

Julie Andrews portrays a spunky, unapologetic young woman named Maria who has decided to become a nun, but is a bit animated for the abbey. In the words of the other sisters, “She climbs a tree and scrapes her knee, her dress has got a tear. She waltzes on the way to mass, and whistles on the stair.”

She is sent to work as a governess for the large family of a widower. Because it is outside the abbey and somewhat removed from the town she has known her whole life, she is apprehensive about the change. Yet she bolsters her confidence, reflecting and singing;

“What will this day be like? I wonder.
What will my future be? I wonder.
It could be so exciting to be out in the world, to be free
My heart should be wildly rejoicing
Oh, what’s the matter with me?

I’ve always longed for adventure
To do the things I’ve never dared
And here I’m facing adventure
Then why am I so scared

A captain with seven children
What’s so fearsome about that?

Oh, I must stop these doubts, all these worries
If I don’t I just know I’ll turn back
I must dream of the things I am seeking
I am seeking the courage I lack

The courage to serve them with reliance
Face my mistakes without defiance
Show them I’m worthy
And while I show them 
I’ll show me

So, let them bring on all their problems
I’ll do better than my best
I have confidence they’ll put me to the test
But I’ll make them see I have confidence in me

Somehow I will impress them
I will be firm but kind
And all those children (Heaven bless them!)
They will look up to me

And mind me with each step I am more certain
Everything will turn out fine
I have confidence the world can all be mine
They’ll have to agree I have confidence in me

I have confidence in sunshine
I have confidence in rain
I have confidence that spring will come again
Besides which you see I have confidence in me

Strength doesn’t lie in numbers
Strength doesn’t lie in wealth
Strength lies in nights of peaceful slumbers
When you wake up — Wake Up!

It tells me all I trust I lead my heart to
All I trust becomes my own
I have confidence in confidence alone
(Oh help!)

I have confidence in confidence alone
Besides which you see I have confidence in me!”

Maria’s intention throughout the film is to follow the will of her Creator, rather than to find a husband, which is the theme of an unfortunately large number of other films. Through her search for belonging, she finds herself unexpectedly drawn to motherhood and to a man who appreciates her personality and her direct and honest approach when relating to others. As well, she proves to be a talented music teacher and seamstress.

Through a particular turn of events, Maria is in search of guidance. Mother Abbess (the ‘head nun’ at the convent) advises Maria to leave fear behind and face life for the adventure that it is;

“Climb every mountain, ford every stream, follow every rainbow, ’til you find your dream!”

I find this movie comforting and inspiring every time I watch it. I hope it can do the same for you. I’m feeling good about sharing in life’s adventures.

Trafficked Children

I know nothing about this topic except that the action is so severely wrong, that I will admit to not wanting to do research on it. Finally, I bit the bullet and read an excellent article written by a survivor of sex trafficking.

Here is her story.

Please, stop referring to children as ‘prostitutes’, implying they had choice in the matter. Please, stop shunning women who have been trafficked- you’re placing the blame on the wrong party.

Also, Project Girl Performance Collective recently put on a performance called “Trafficked” to share the stories of children sold into sex trafficking.

I’m feeling good about bravely doing the research.

Trish Dolman’s Screen Siren Pictures

I had an intuition just now to google search ‘screen siren’, and here’s what it turned up:

http://www.screensiren.ca/

and I was pleased to discover that president, founder, director and producer Trish Dolman forms part of the exception to the rule of under-represented women in the film industry.

One portion of her ‘about us’ bio states “In 2003, Trish was the youngest recipient ever of the Woman of the Year award from Women in Film and Video Vancouver.  She was also honored as Eveuve Clicquot Ponsardin La Grande Dame 2003 Woman of Distinction, and in 2010 was named one of the 100 Most Influential Women in British Columbia by the Vancouver Sun.”

Also with Screen Siren Pictures are fellow producer Christine Haebler, and the rest of the production team is ~11-10 women to men. That’s a decent ratio, considering the statistics regarding Cannes film festival this year.

I love seeing women in lead roles in the world of film and television. I look forward to delving into the work of Screen Siren Pictures, and to unearthing more notable women in film. Stay tuned!

I’m feeling good about following my intuition.

Lessons I’ve Learned From Composting

I considered titling this ‘The Best Part of Breaking Up’, but since I do not want my partner to panic (Sweetie, don’t panic- I love you.) I am going straight to the heart of the matter:

Compost.

I reinstated composting as a habit at my family’s home when I moved back in around 2009. This began as raking the leaves over to the compost, instead of toward the street for the elephant truck (they remove our leaves using a truck that has a huge hose attached).

This past… fall? late winter? early spring? I brought out the pitchfork to turn over the leaf pile. I began eating fruit and putting my banana peels, apple cores, carrot tops, tea leaves, watermelon rinds, sprouted garlic, rotten tomatoes, and strawberry leaves back in the Earth where they came from originally.

I gained an appreciation for my turning over of wet and moldy leaves, various discarded produce, and occasional compostable cup (made from corn! so cool!!) when I saw these elements succumbing to the powers of destruction. It is a great power to allow or create destruction. It takes acceptance, patience, and restraint to let go of what one can see has found its time to end. A great strength is acquired from seeing that destruction in some forms is acceptable.

With the dawning of consistent warm weather, the end to frost, I have turned over the compost pile with great surprise at the sight of *sprouts*! At first, I assumed these were ‘volunteer’ invasive species such as we’ve found in other portions of the yard. Yet under one pitchfork-full I found what seemed to be a handful of alfalfa sprouts, attached to red paper. A rotten tomato had enough power left in it to give birth. I transplanted them, as well as sprouting garlic, and carrot tops. Today I found what I hope turns out to be a watermelon.

Aguamelon Sproutling

The power to allow to die what is ready to die makes an exchange; that of conception of something new.

“When the Lord closes a door, somewhere he opens a window!” ~ Maria, The Sound of Music

I have never seen a relationship end without learning something valuable and powerful about myself. And each successive closing of a door (or window!) has led me to a more beautiful view, better suited to me. This is not to say that the apple was not healthy, that the strawberries were not delicious, that the tea did not make one warm and happy- only to say that what dies today only dies today, tomorrow something new will live.