Hello, I’m a Lesbian

27 12 2011

…film reviewer. I review lesbian films! Or is that films with lesbians in them? Or, as Coupling would have us believe, do I just enjoy porn? After all, as Coupling also tells us, it’s sex with a greater… density… of women! Brilliant!

I suppose some context and back story is in order. It all started when /harp music

It all started when I got my new Blu-ray player. Not only was I enjoying movies again in stunning hiiiiigh definition™ but the player itself was loaded with extras like Amazon Video on Demand and Vudu. I got tired of spending money on a per-film basis and decided to give Netflix another try, streaming only. Despite the fact I was a former subscriber to the DVD service (back when that was the only real option) they granted me a free trial. Score! And since that day I have apparently been on a mission to watch all of Netflix’s online catalog.

Other than the Occam’s Razor version of why I would have dialed up lesbian romances (single guy, home alone, do the math, yes you’re welcome to that image, enjoy), in truth I hadn’t really seen any and wondered what they were like. I truly wasn’t expecting lots of “girl on girl” action and little else. Actually, I figured if The L-Word was any guide I expected lots of jangly solo guitar stuff from female singers (Sarah McLachlin comes to mind but she plays piano, yes? So, Shawn Colvin then?), lots of Birkenstocks, lots of “making a connection”, and maybe some kissing. Lots of “bringing the crazy” too, again, if The L-Word is the blueprint.

Well.

/pulls up chair

Listen, son, assuming you’re a male reader who fell into reading this and is looking around nervously in case you’re spotted getting the dirt on lesbian-themed movies on Netflix, here’s what the internet is for: Free access to megatons of porn. No, no, I mean the internet is for finding out the dirt on lesbian-themed movies on Netflix in total privacy. You know, learning about things you’re embarrassed to ask your friends about, amirite? Hey, I learned to use cold water while shaving from watching Good Morning, Vietnam, okay? We all learn things from diverse places. Or we ought to.

So without further ado, here are some reviews of the Sapphic romances I have been observing of late. You might be pleasantly surprised.

Show Me Love (1998): ZOMG this is by far the best one of the bunch that I have seen lately. I was worried about what might be up with this film because the characters are ~14 years old, but “hot girl on girl action” soooo isn’t the point. It’s about human nature, and how high school angst happens in Sweden too, not just to you personally, anywhere else. Brilliant dialogue, brilliant exploration of the highs and lows of high school (albeit the Swedish version) and how literally everyone will just die unless… nevermind, over it, on to the next crisis. This movie had me at “I saw ‘raves’ on an ‘out list’ somewhere.” Just watch the scene and revel in the truth. 5/5 stars.

Secret Things (2002): Not a “lesbian” film as such, but wow what an amazing movie. I was absolutely riveted from the get-go and the movie never lets go until the very end. “Let’s use men to get what we want,” Nathalie tells Sandrine, and the rest is holy crap amazing. This movie is a master class on how to be “erotic” and yet have a story worth sitting through for 90 minutes. 5/5 stars.

Elena Undone (2010): Back to the pure lesbian stuff. Well, from here on out we have movies that were “okay” but lacked something. This was the movie that started this binge of sorts for me and while the story kept me interested enough to hang around for the end, I kept reminding myself that Director Schecter was probably behind this caper and as a result expect EVERY lesbian cliche to be used… in abundance. Let’s see if I can rattle them off: 1) woman thinks she’s “straight” (enough to get married and have a child with a man) but discovers she isn’t, 2) actual lesbian wears flannel shirts and listens to jangly guitar and female singers in her “artsy” home, 3) long press-and-hold female kissing, 4) one woman holds the other woman’s wrists down and kisses her, 5) somebody makes the other climax using a) her hand (invariably shown) or b) her mouth (never shown but like duh), 6) the straight woman is all confused and shit, 7) the lesbian has about had it with this confusion and shit, 8) drama happens, 9) happy Sapphic ending. Did I miss any? 3/5 stars only because it was my first time. LOGO TV probably has this on a loop.

High Art (1998): If you saw that one (points up), you’ve seen this one. Mostly. 3/5 stars only because Syd really sold it about being conflicted about her sexuality.

Room in Rome (2010): As a red-blooded yee-haw NASCAR dang-ol big-ol apple pie and baseball American male, ya’d think I’d give this 30 stars and build a shrine to it. What’s not to like? Check the cover art out. See the naked chicks? That’s the movie. The whole thing is one gigantic nude scene. Not that I have a problem with that. I watched the movie with an air of refined detachment, wearing a smoking jacket and drinking fine port with a raised pinkie. But two things drove me absolutely batty: 1) If I never hear the song “Loving Strangers” it’ll be too soon (whatever that means?) and 2) I don’t think there was a script so much as there was an outline. And that outline reads something like this:

I. They meet
1. Urging to go to hotel room (it’s in the title, like duh)
2. Resistance
3. Okay fine
II. They go at it
1. Hubba
2. Yowza
3. Booooooiiiinnng
III. They talk about ridiculous crap
1. Natacha’s Made-up back story
2. Alba’s, um, oh yeah totally made up back story too
3. Well Natacha had better get going
IV. SPOILER ALERT: They go at it
1. Mmmhmm
2. Yes dear
3. Fantastic then
V. Wait… who’s Dirk Diggler?
1. That new kid
2. Oh. Nice name!
3. More sitting around threatening to go home
4. Oh come on staaaaaay

Prove me wrong, whoever “wrote” this movie. 3/5 stars because Natacha’s hotness > Alba’s annoyingness. But she heeass to, how you say, work on Rah-shun ehhhccent, maybe with Moose and Squirrel.

Loving Annabelle (2006): Warning, warning! As if it’s not painfully obvious about 5 minutes into the movie, this ship is headed right for the you-could-totally-get-busted-for-kiddie-porn rocks, as the love interests are 40-ish teacher and 17 (!) year-old student. Again with the sophistication over here, I was giving this movie some leeway as Annabelle is a senior in high school and could be 18 (she isn’t), however I wondered if consent laws apply to teacher/student shenanigans (all signs point to no). Just the same, one thing I haven’t touched on yet is that as I watch such fare what I am wanting to do is suspend the window of disbelief and empathize with the main characters. By “disbelief” I mean it’s a movie, right? Make me feel like I’m eavesdropping on someone, not watching a line reading. I’d imagine that it’s very difficult growing up gay/lesbian and not only coming to terms with that, but navigating the relationship waters has to be somewhat challenging as well. This applies in spades to Show Me Love but does to a somewhat lesser extent here. The conflict in Annabelle isn’t who is a lesbian and who isn’t, but how both women approach the topic of a teacher/student relationship. There could have been so much more “there” there, but it’s probably on the cutting room floor somewhere. 3/5 stars and MOAR ERIN KELLY KTHXBAI

If anyone is still speaking to me after this, I’m interested to know what other films I ought to be watching.

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