5 Highly Recommended Female-led Films

Thanks to the unreliability of movie marketing, our understanding of what ticks our proverbial boxes is often unreliable. How many times have you thought you’d love a film because it has X Y & Z, only to walk out feeling short-changed? Or dismissed a perfectly good comedy the first time around because the pink colour-blocking and female strong cast made you believe it was a cliched rom-com? (I’m almost exclusively thinking of Bridesmaids here).

This is where I come in. A long time believer that women are just people, I’ve compiled a list of female-led films anyone can and probably should watch, since well-rounded characters are infinitely more interesting than reinforcing stereotypes. Plus, the imaginative process inspires our empathy in a way that factual storytelling simply cannot. Please be aware the main criteria is ‘films that are good and happen to have women in them’. If it’s not got credentials, it’s not getting in.

Most of these I saw as a teen’ but still consider timeless for the screen.

Thelma and Louise

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Ridley Scott directed this early ’90s classic. Sociopolitical and visually stunning, with an ending so iconic it still gets referenced in popular culture today. Mix with ingredients like Susan Sarandon, 1/4 of the cast of Resevoir Dogs and a shirtless Brad Pitt, and you’ve got a hearty 130 mins of craft mastery in front of your peepers. Essentially a road trip gone wrong, two women grow tired of their suburban housewife roles so escape in search of freedom, only to be met with the inevitable misogyny they sought relief from. Its tone varies from light-hearted sentimentality to heavy-hitting wisdom, mostly from the wise Louise, so you learn as you laugh.

Erin Brokovich

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Based on the true story of an ordinary woman who managed to build a legal case in protest against contaminated Californian drinking water without any technical expertise, this is a rags to riches story where success stems from one woman’s compassion rather than self-serving greed. History was made thanks to Erin’s courage and resourcefulness. It’s inspirational to watch a person succeed despite the odds in a noble crusade because her goals are philanthropic and really, what’s more badass than defying expectation to fight for what’s right?

Mermaids

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Fun and frollocks. That’s the perfect way to describe this flick. Superstar Cher plays the effervescent Mrs Flax, while a young Winona Ryder and Christina Ricci entertain alongside her wily ways. It’s a defiant nod in the direction of independence juxtaposed with the coming-of-age need to fit in. The dialogue and direction of this film is whimsical and yet entwined with a wholesome aura that says ‘accept yourself for who you are’.

Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion

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Off the walls (but firmly on the ceiling), Romy & Michelle’s High School Reunion is the zany 90s comedy we don’t get blessed with enough nowadays. If I wrote the copy to advertise it, I’d convey the central message: it doesn’t take itself too seriously. One of my favourite elements is the use of flashbacks because character backstory gives us a chance to vicariously cringe at universal high school experiences. Afterwards we’re left with the maturity of realising our enemies are “a bad person with an ugly heart and we don’t give a flying fuck what you think.” That’s about as deep as the film gets since it’s mostly silly irreverence and flat-out fun.

Heathers

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The original Mean Girls but with black humour and a young Christian Slater. Veronica is the part-time badass you identify with as she navigates tricky high school dynamics and the allure of sociopathic men with dimples…we’ve all been there. Every line is memorable and you’ll be saying ‘fuck me with a chainsaw’ in the face of crisis for decades afterwards. ‘Sass’ levels are off the charts so if you want more savage insults at your disposal, Heathers has got you covered.

How To Be A Better Writer: Edition One

Nobody’s perfect; I’m sure even the Dalai Lama himself has a few character flaws left to work on before 2k18 rolls around. Improvement is always possible, no matter how skilled you are in a particular field. If you feel your way with words needs a tweak or two, here are some morsels of wisdom I’ve picked up as the years have ticked by and my pen has evolved into a QWERTY keyboard.

Let it flow. Like a menstrual cycle or a riverbank, your words should ooze out as organically as possible. Have you ever noticed how easy it is to pen something for somebody else? Naturally this is because you’re not invested in the results. Even if you care second-hand, if the words aren’t a reflection of you than the pressure is no way near your shoulders. Relax into your writing. Remove your judgement. Ignore the outcome. I guess I’m advocating ‘mindfulness’ here, which is just a buzzword way of saying ‘be in the moment’. A lifelong battle for all adults but one that pays off, particularly in the realm of wordplay.

Kill your darlings. Egocentricity is a habit of humanity. It seems ludicrous to the self-proclaimed writer that any element of their literary alchemy should be omitted from a paragraph because it might be a mis-match in tone, intent (etc.) but sometimes this is the case. Accepting that is the first step on the road to getting over yourself and producing more coherent texts. You can always save a killer line if it’s truly too poetic to dispose of entirely. That’s the beauty of CTRL+C.

Do it. You can’t be good at it if you never do it. So do it, a lot.

Narcotic abuse ‘Worked for Bukowksi. While I think it’s crass to present an image of yourself as a drinker who writes, rather than a writer that drinks, I will acknowledge the inspiration that uninhibited thinking and serotonin-depleted pondering brings. I’ve had inebriated states that enable me to stop procrastinating and continue wording, along with morning-afters that turn me into Socrates for a few hours on account of my philosophical word-vomit. Choose your poison wisely and don’t over-indulge. I’m not going to let my flippancy take the burden of your poor willpower, reader.

 

 

 

My Brother Julius

I come from a big family. My immediate family contains several generations, ranging from my folks; born in the 1940s, to me, a 90s kid. I’m the youngest of 5, which is a fortunate position in some ways. I’ve been blessed with the wisdom and support of my older brothers and sister over the years. My eldest brother is 19 years older than me. (A crazy big age gap, I know). Like any milennial blogger, the necessity of gratitude is just as familiar a concept to me as it is to Julia Roberts in Eat Pray Love. And as such, here is a list of reasons as to why I’m grateful to Julius.

Useful and Kind things Julius has done for me

Awoke nightly to feed and comfort me when I was just a weepy baby.

Let little me watch Beavis and Butthead with him, thus making me a punk-ass metal child \m/

Took me to Elhap, an adventure playground where I could play all day with other kiddies.

– Took me on memorable trips with said adventure playground, like the time I had my face painted like a ‘multi-coloured butterfly’ and stayed on the swings for literally hours.

When I was 11, he took me to the cinema one summer to see lots of different films, including Pirates of the Caribbean, School of Rock, Lizzie McGuire movie etc. We saw LOADS of films.

He used to walk me home from school, often buying me crisps and chocolate to treat me. Some slight rule-breaking going on here as my parents weren’t as keen on the sweets.

In the 2000s, he took me to Amnesty International meetings and encouraged my empathy for those seeking asylum at a young age.

Every year he buys me extravagant birthday cards and presents. Always huge cards and thoughtful gifts.

As a young whippersnapper, he gave me books on astrology because I enjoy indulging theories about the universe and spirituality, as does he. Not many people are so open-minded so that’s a stroke of luck.

His poetry circle is vast and he invited me into his online poetry community so I can attain feedback on my words if I so wish, as well as reading other contemporary poets.

Lastly, and perhaps most cruicial of all, he tells me vital pop culture information, like the fact R.E.M refused to play ‘Shiny Happy People’ because it got too popular maaaaan, or that Elvis has the same birthday as David Bowie.

There is obviously more but I have to cut the blogpost off somewhere eh?

Thanks, bro. 

What Does Five by Five Mean, Faith?

One frosty night, not so long ago, I was scrolling upon my phone in lieu of sleep. The app was named Instagram, the posts were endless and the quotes were #deep. Upon my casual perusal I stumbled on a few words that caught my eye. ‘Five by Five’. Those 3 words stared me straight in the face as an image flashed to my frontal lobe:

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Faith Lehane

Faith! Her catchphrase has boggled our noggins for decades. I, myself, accepted it as another one of Joss Whedon’s linguistic inventions and thus questioned it no more. He likes a bit of insular lingo, and Faith has a devil-may-care demeanour. Phrases that don’t make full sense align well with a psyche that spares little thought to philosophy, I thought. Until, in my 25th year, I saw this:

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Don’t Worry, Be Happy

It’s a pretty solid perspective. I like the logical take on how pointless it is to worry because a lot of problems are inconsequential. The apathy suits Faith very well, as she puts little stock into personal relationships anyway. What if 5 by 5 made sense after all? Maybe Faith just had an idiosyncratic way of saying ‘not bad thanks mate, you?’.

You’re not sold, I know. It could well just be a happy accident from the wordsmith we know to be Whedon. In any case, there’s a nugget of wisdom there that I’m content to dip into some hypothetical BBQ sauce.

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Five by Five, B.

 

How To Attract Someone Based On Their Zodiac Sign, Part 2: Scorpio – Pisces.

Scorpio

Scorpio.jpgAs a wise and noble man once said, “Oh oh oh oh oh, mysterious girl, I want to get close to you.” – This is the mating call of the Scorpio. While game-playing is a HUGE no-no, acting slightly nonchalant will intrigue them because they are natural investigators. While you’re busy socialising with friends, their piercing gaze will be sizing you up from the corner of the room. If you’re a stickler for small talk, you’d better start opening up about all things taboo – pain, sex, politics etc. Someone who displays emotional strength appeals to the sensitive Scorpio as they would like their intensity to be soothed by a reliable partner. Despite outward appearances, they are hopeless romantics who are determined to preserve love for all eternity. And they love a good shag.

Above all, have depth.

Sagittarius

SagittariusLook good. Shallow but true, physical admiration is a key ingredient in this ‘love me’ recipe. All the usual social beauty standards apply because you won’t be the only one this sign has their eyes on! That said, they’re savvy communicators who will just wander off in a daydream if you bore them with a narrow perspective. If you aren’t afraid to get philosophical when you don’t have a vodka in your hand, you’ll be entertaining enough for these wacky individuals. A sense of humour is a must because they tell jokes a lot and sometimes misjudge how appropriate they are – a non-negotiable part of their personality. Dramatics turn them off because they really don’t want to know about your problems (in fairness, they usually have enough of their own).

Above all, be carefree.

Capricorn

CapricornAre you a respected member of the community with a social conscience and a steady career? Naturally introverted and shy, you’ll have to prize them out of their protective shell gradually. The best way to do this is not with words but by showing them the receipts of your moral decisions. Rather than becoming obsessed with their hidden depths, engage them with the deep and meaningful chats you have when you first befriend somebody. Their ambition knows no bounds so they want to be partnered with the best of the best. If they can trust and respect you, not only are you a part of a select group but you are also on your way to becoming cared for by one of the most trustworthy and reliable people around. 

Above all, be accomplished.

Aquarius

Aquarius.jpgIf you want to learn 100 things you never needed to know about clean living, conspiracy theories, and why all other people are rubbish, you’ve found the right sign. Nothing inspires the Aquarian like the unconventional so make sure you let your freak flag fly and be your unique self. If you get a weird impulse then follow through with it, it’s sure to impress them! Intellectual conversation that lasts for hours is the biggest turn-on for these social scientists.

Above all, get weird.

Pisces

Pisces.jpgJon Bon Jovi is a Pisces. That gives you a clue as to how much these folks romanticise love (and everything else, actually) so I hope you’re not looking to hit it and quit it with these guys. If you have a spiritual side, let it show from time to time. Arty and imaginative types attract these daydreamers because they’re feelers more than they are thinkers. Opening up to them is not only easy due to their empathetic conversational skills, it’s recommended as a surefire way to have them hooked. Unless they’re evolved beings, they also treat people as projects who need to be fixed or changed so if you’re worried about your emotional baggage, rest assured that it matters not. 

Above all, brood in front of them.

How To Attract Someone Based On Their Zodiac Sign, Part 1: Aries – Libra.

Let’s jump straight into the tips and tricks of what makes each sign tick. Applicable to any gender. As Oscar Wilde once said, “If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they’ll kill you.” 

Aries

Aries

The warrior of the zodiac needs a challenge to sink their teeth into so your best bet is to tease them playfully and debate with them. Opinionated and bold, they need someone to spar with intellectually. CAUTION – the fragility of their ego means you need to counteract cheeky jibes with compliments so they know you appreciate how amazing (they believe) they are. In turn, they will shower you with affection right back and always leave you with butterflies. Very physical beings, play-fighting is also a good way to entice them. Excitement, new experiences and a high-value individual are what an Aries wants.

Above all, don’t be boring.

Taurus

Taurus

Preen yourself, smell enticing and mind your manners. Ruled by Venus, a Taurus has an eye for detail when it comes to beauty and therefore appearances matter. Fortunately, you don’t really have your work cut out for you as their favourite activities are sleeping, relaxing and eating. Find out their favourite restaurant and casually mention how much you like it there; they’ll invite you to join them one evening as you clearly have good opinions ( -ones that are identical to theirs). Be sweet to them as they have a solid sense of self and yet remain somewhat mysterious so they have a reason to pursue you. When they do, you won’t get together overnight but together you might just last a lifetime.

Above all, be patient.

Gemini

Gemini

Good luck. Gemini have a reputation for being fickle and flirtatious. If you want them to like you, let them talk to/at you and ensure you snag them within the first few times you meet. If they don’t show any signs of interest straight away, you risk letting them move onto the next one. At any given moment they enjoy pressing people’s buttons so if you can match their wit you’re almost there. Most people fall prey to their charms so keep your distance from time to time. If you’re into the same films/games/books etc you already have a way in so all you need to do now is keep on top of cultural trends and remain well-read.

Above all, be talkative.

Cancer

Cancer

Help an old lady cross the road. Spend time with your grandma and send a snapchat to your Cancer crush with the caption ‘FaMiLy ❤‘. Bring them home-baked apple pie. Despite trying to appear tough (cue the laughter track), Cancerians are sentimental creatures who want to cuddle up with a blanket and stroke your face until you feel safe in their arms. The natural look will win them over and so will plenty of reassurance. They wish they were less emotional so if you convey strength and sass, you’ll have them intrigued. Just make sure you give them 90% of the attention they constantly crave because these pessimists aren’t too secure in their self-worth.

Above all, be responsive.

Leo

Leo

Make them the center of your universe. Talk about their favourite subject (them) with a sense of awe and wonder. How do they get their hair so shiny? Where do they buy their DKNY shirts? Why can’t everybody be like them? Once you have a mutual understanding of their brilliance, you’re off to a solid start. Next you need to laugh at their jokes because they are truly the life of the party; if you’re a stay-at-home type you might not be for them. Be desirable by making an effort with your appearance and laying on the charm as a Leo just wants to entertain and be entertained. When they get short-tempered with you, bite back. They’ll respect you for standing up to their royal highness. They can be cliquey too so if you’re a cool kid they’ll come a’knocking to hang out with you.

Above all, openly adore them.

Virgo

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Read a book. Then another, and then another. Once you’ve completed this process, regurgitate this information to your Virgo interest before pondering aloud “Lo, I find the assertion that cognitive dissonance unravels during adolescence to be preposterous and quite unlike most 20th century psycho-analytical studies.” There you have it, the deal is sealed. Intellectual Virgo needs to know you’ll understand the analysis they love to undertake on matters big and small as their mind is constantly judging everything. Predictably, they are picky. Flattery won’t work on them because they have an ideal lover in mind and you must live up to these expectations. Do some digging to discover the type of people they admire and then emulate the stereotype. Virgos are suckers for fixing things so tell them your boiler is broken and they’ll come around to fix it. Explain to them the pragmatic merits of a date with you so they know you won’t interfere with their busy schedule.

Above all, be smart.

Libra

Libra

Libra is the relational sign so you’ll need to compete for their attention. They spend their whole lives learning how to be well-liked because they crave external validation and this brings me onto my first tip: tell them they’re pretty. Their smile is their best feature because it can charm anyone, following on from the words that come out of it. Share ideas and exchange friendly banter when you’re in their company. It’s likely they have a creative streak so take an interest in the arts and see where you match up because a Libra is a pop culture fiend. Since they’re also naturally good-looking, it would help if you made the best of yourself for their viewing pleasure. They’re popular people who are never short of a date so you’ll need to incorporate a ‘hot and cold’ approach to pique their interest in the long term. Let them choose you…eventually.

Above all, let them know you appreciate them.

Up next is Part 2: Scorpio-Pisces. 

Buffy Turns 20 This Year; 8 Reasons Why We Love It.

Another win for our old friend Time.

Irony aside, a Buffy birthday is something to celebrate. Why? I polled a few friends of mine to ask why the show has a special place in their hearts and came up with some pretty unaminous answers… but you can’t have a blogpost that just says ‘BECAUSE IT’S REALLY GOOD‘, so let me expand.

Buffy Summers

We love to watch Buffy because she’s a multi-faceted heroine. Joss Whedon’s empathetic depiction of a female character enabled him to create a strong woman that anybody could admire. Her physical and emotional strength coexist with her interest in beauty and relationships, she can defend herself without being portrayed as a ‘bitch’ and her quips are just as loved as her looks. She’s interesting. She’s enviable. Or as mi amigo Adam put it,

‘Buffy is a kick-ass lady. And is hot.’

Big Bads: Vamps’ and Violence

Every episode delivers some fast-paced fight scenes courtesy of Mr Pointy and the Scooby gang. Vampires are textbook cool creatures: immortal, pretty and nonchalant, however they’re the arrogant enemy in a universe where ordinary humans are heroes. The Big Bads are often disguised as harmless, like ‘the trio’, who Whedon uses to highlight the threat posed by narcissistic entitlement.

Most of the fight scenes take place in the graveyard so we get a double scoop of spook, and you can often see the microphones in shot. So ’90s.

Coming of Age: The High School Setting

It’s the perfect platform for a lot of heart-wrenching character development, as my friend Bridie pointed out, and it enables us to look at the ‘cool kids’ dynamic with a fresh pair of ambivalent eyes. We follow Buffy on the familiar journey from angsty teen to reluctantly responsible adult and we watch her grow as if we’re holding a lens up to our own past.

Life Lessons

Buffy is so beloved due to its’ thematic variety. Some episodes are non-stop comedy, some are quasi-horror shows and others simply break your heart. The wisdom sieved into the making of each story arc (beyond the first Season perhaps) is Whedon’s way of sharing his own story in a way we all find accessible. He pinpointed the more discrete feelings we bury under the surface as though he was our personal psychologists, and that’s a big part of what gives Buffy meaning.

From depression to grief to unrequited love, no avenue of human pain was off limits.

LGBTQ Representation

My friend Bridie articulated it’s importance beautifully when she said ‘the relationship between Willow and Tara was the first instance of a female same-sex relationship I’d ever seen on television. I know a lot of queer women my age credit that as something that helped them feel comfortable in their own sexualities.’ Even now, onscreen lesbian love is often sexualised. Tara and Willow were so beloved because of how tender they were to each other (we’ll glide over the obvious error he made when dealing with a certain character’s treatment).

Spike

Spike isn’t really a villain because we don’t love to hate him, – we just love him. His aesthetic is based on punk rock Londoner Billy Idol and his personality reeks of a man trapped in the toxic masculinity of pretending to be tough when all you want is to feel love. We hate the things he does but only sometimes. His backstory shows us the sensitivity his current incarnation denies him and his flawed relations with Buffy are ultimately endearing.

He’s there to remind us that nobody is entirely evil/give many fans a sexual awakening.

Five By Five

Quips and puns line the mouths of each character, whether part of the Scooby gang or not. Whedon has the talent of any hugely successful writer in that all Sunnydale residents speak with alien vernacular, where phrases like ‘totally wigging‘ and ‘five by five‘ apparently make sense. Despite this, every piece of dialogue is paced to perfection so it never feels stilted or unrealistic.

Once More With Feeling

The musical episode is one of the greatest pieces of television aired to date. Importantly, the show doesn’t take itself too seriously and thus throwaway humour and cheesiness is imbued into each installment of the chosen one. The musical episode is masterful because it gives us a dose of something different while proving that experimenting with format can pay off.

The list could go on and on….

It’s camp, dated and hugely sentimental but still it stands the test of time. Buffy is the show that inspired lots of young women and made many alienated young people feel as though they weren’t alone after all.