Sunday Matinee #13 Lady Bird
Mary Magdalene and Lady Bird are known by their names.
Hi there, and welcome to the latest entry in the R-Rated Movie Club newsletter. Taking movies that don’t often get looked at with theology in mind has proven a fun creative exercise, and I’m grateful that you subscribed, thank you. We had a poll earlier this month, thanks for participating, and it’s time to check out the results.
March 12 was Oscar Night and we also had two polls for your pick for Best Picture. One was about the R-rated nominees, the other about the PG-13 rated nominees. Who came out on top and how does it compare with the actual winner? Let’s take a look.
Here’s what you said about your R-rated pick for Best Picture:
And in the realm of PG-13…
Paid subscribers had a bonus poll about this, here are their R-rated results:
And for PG-13:
Across four polls, we have unanimous results for free subscribers on the R-rated movie Best Picture, Everything Everywhere All at Once (which actually did win!) and for paid subscribers with The Fabelmans. Otherwise, results saw votes for 5 of the 10 nominees. Elvis has left the building. Triangle of Sadness is sad. Tár feels tárrible. The Banshees of Inisherin have something to scream about. Everybody talking about Sarah Polly winning Best Adapted Screenplay for Women Talking, however!
I must admit, I haven’t seen most of these yet. In fact, just two: Everything Everywhere All at Once and Top Gun: Maverick. Some of them just didn’t appeal to me - I’m not a tremendous Elvis fan - and some were here and gone before I knew it, like Tár. But for many that I wanted to see, one of my challenges right now is time. I do have time to go to the movies, but the movies aren’t playing at the times I can go anymore.
My local AMC used to have lots of weeknight showings at 8:00pm or 9:00pm, but lately it’s been in the 6:00pm hour for many shows. I can’t do that. I do the family dinner thing. Before, we could do family dinner, spend time together, and I could slide into my seat at 8:20pm after the trailers were over for a show. Late enough I could be with family, early enough I could get a good night’s sleep. Not now. I’m sure it’s for many reasons, including staffing, changing demographics, etc. But for me, even as an AMC A-List member, I’m just not going to the movies like I used to, unfortunately.
As for the votes, I’m not really surprised. I figured EEAaO, Top Gun, and Avatar would be big vote getters. They all won at least one Academy Award, but it’s EEAaO that took home the gold at the Oscars and here at R-Rated Movie Club!
R-Rated Movie Club is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
Quotes With Notes
Full Text: John 20:1-18 (Revised Common Lectionary)
Easter Sunday (April 9, 2023)
Sign up for a free course at EnterTheBible.org to learn more.
Context: Jesus is dead and buried. On a somber morning, Mary Magdalene discovers the tomb is empty! She tells her friends, but they don’t believe it. She returns and in grief and confusion, she weeps. Her despair is interrupted by the presence of someone behind her.
14 [...Mary] turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher).
Lady Bird (2017) | IAC Films, Scott Rudin Productions, Entertainment 360
Starring Saorise Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, Tracy Letts, Timothy Chalamet
Written and directed by Greta Gerwig
Context: A high school senior who re-named herself Lady Bird (Saorise Ronan) is constantly at odds with her high-standards mother Marion (Laurie Metcalf). After a challenging parting of ways at the airport, Lady Bird goes to college. For both mother and daughter, much is left unsaid and that fills them with regret. After a rough start to college, Lady Bird takes a risk and makes a call. It goes to voicemail, so she risks leaving a message:
Christine 'Lady Bird' McPherson: Hi Mom and Dad, it's me, Christine. It's the name you gave me. It's a good one. Dad, this is more for Mom. Hey, Mom, did you feel emotional the first time that you drove in Sacramento? I did and I wanted to tell you, but we weren't really talking when it happened. All those bends I've known my whole life, and stores, and the whole thing. But I wanted to tell you I love you. Thank you, I'm... thank you.
Forgive me, Dear Reader, for using a quote so near the end of the Gospel of John, but Easter must be spoiler-filled! This is a story worth telling! As I’ve pointed out in several Sunday Matinees, the gospels often tell a story from different angles. That’s true for the reveal of Jesus’s empty tomb on Easter morning. He was killed on the cross, buried in a tomb, the world left in shadow. Here, Mary Magdalene comes to the tomb in mourning and maybe a little hope.
So much of being a Christian is coming to a new revelation again and again of the love of God. We get it, but then later we really get it! Maybe we only get it in the looking back, like the two disciples who experienced the resurrected Jesus on the road to Emmaus in Luke 24:13-35. Or we have immediate trust in the call from God like Abraham (Genesis 12:1-4). I adore moments like this one between Jesus and Mary Magdalene. She comes to new faith when she hears her name.
Resurrection, overcoming death, is new for Mary. It’s new for all of us. If we are patient enough with the idea of resurrection over death, we do begin to see its figurative presence all around us. The changing of seasons, the changing of sports seasons and a new chance to try for the championship again, new opportunities in life when others end, the celebratory lifting up a loved one gone, putting our money and legacy to good use long after our time. Mary had likely experienced resurrection like that, too. But this new resurrection is different.
When does she get it? When she hears something familiar. Her name in her teacher’s voice.
When Jesus says, “Mary,” everything changes. Doubts melt away, despair disappears. Hope bursts forth. New possibilities emerge. Faith in the future is restored. That’s what Easter is: faith in the future restored!
Forgive me again, Dear Reader, for using dialogue from Lady Bird that is so close to the end of the movie. How close I won’t say, but if you watch the trailer or scenes from the movie, you’ll easily gather just how much guts it takes for Lady Bird (Saorise Ronan) to muster the courage to leave a message like this for her mother, Marion (Laurie Metcalf). Since long before the movie began, Lady Bird insisted everyone call her by her chosen name, Lady Bird. She chose it to be different, to find herself, to annoy her mother.
Lady Bird shows how a mother and daughter dance a very difficult dance: love. I know some make it seem effortless, but it’s a complex dance for so, so many. I know someone who said they had no interest in seeing this movie - after all, they get to live this complex dance at home! I recommended it, however, because of the resurrection at the end. It’s not that I think Lady Bird owes her parents the use of the name they gave her. I strongly believe it’s only your name if you say it’s your name. It’s that I think Lady Bird has a new revelation. She gets it. Years later, maybe she’ll really get it! In this tender moment, she leaves a voicemail saying what she couldn’t before: thank you.
When does she get it? When she says something familiar. Her given name in her own voice.
Mary thought she’d left a lot unsaid when Jesus was taken away. In resurrection, she can say what matters to her: “Rabbouni!” Marion thought she left a lot unsaid, “I love you,” and missed her chance at the airport. She’d finally called her daughter “Lady Bird” because she got it. Then later she really got it! Lady Bird thought she’d left a lot unsaid at the airport. too. In resurrection, she can say what matters to her: “Thank you.”
To be known by your name is a beautiful thing. These beautiful moments of young women named in the midst of love simply touch my heart. May you go into this world each day knowing that God knows your name. And above all names, God has a name for you: beloved. Thank you, God, we’re… thank you. Easter blessings!
Have an excellent day Dear Reader. May your life’s journey meet the heart of God in ways you can recognize and that are meaningful. And to today’s preachers, may worship be a blessing for you personally and may your sermon and prayers remind everyone that God loves all people. God’s peace and good movies to you!
Thank you for being an R-Rated Movie Club reader. Subscribers receive weekly entries plus the monthly Feature Presentation. Paid subscribers get monthly Bonus Content including bonus essays, early previews and podcast audio, the ability to leave comments, and more. Take your subscription to the next level today.