Wednesday, April 21, 2010

5 GLBT-Themed Movies

I actually wrote the following reviews in 2008, when I was on one of my "lesbian movie" binges. I originally posted them on my now-abandoned (mostly) Livejournal, so I thought I'd re-post them here. 
                                                                   Do I Love You?, 2002 -- (1 hour and 30 min.) - directed by Lisa Gornick, who also stars as the main character, Marina. After much consideration, I've decided that I really liked this movie, and it’s not just the cute girls with sexy British accents. Why so much inner debate, though? Well, at times, it hits a little too close to home for comfort. Then again, the realism is part of the charm that led me to my final conclusion. Marina is a 30-ish lesbian who is uncomfortable with her body and her sexuality. After living with her girlfriend, Romy for awhile, she is considering breaking up with her. This leads Marina on a philosophical quest for answers, which she seeks from friends, ex-lovers and even a therapist. In one scene, she tells her therapist that she feels gross when her breasts are touched or sucked by a lover, reminding her of when she once slept with men. Despite this discomfort, we see Marina question whether she'd like to pursue sex with men again. Sometimes Marina's quest is actual and at other times, it is merely via observation and her voice over account. "Do I Love You?" is part documentary-esque philosophical drama, part love story. Some of the dialogue is awkward and occasionally actors trip over lines, but there’s an honesty here that’s hard to come by in some American movies.  The close-ups of realistic relationships are in turns lovely, sad, funny and poignant: friendships with exes, live-in lovers, drama with insane and clingy girlfriends. In the end, Marina and Romy are a confused but adorable couple that you want to stay together. 

The Watermelon Woman, 1996 – Low-budget (and fairly well-known cult classic) movie about a young black woman filmmaker attempting to get the story on a long forgotten black actress from the classic age of cinema. Due to the inexperience of some of the actors, this movie falters in some ways. However, on the whole I found it funny and worth another viewing. Guinevere Turner guest stars, which IMHO always makes a movie worth watching, 

A Family Affair, 2003 – I was a little worried about seeing this one for a few reasons. For one, a lot of the user reviews on Netflix were unforgiving. For another, I recognized one of the women leads as the woman from countless commercials – most notably, the KY Jelly commercial. I’m totally not kidding, folks. Nevertheless, I had to see it since one of my absolute favorite comedians, Suzanne Westenhoefer has a small role. I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised. 

The movie’s main character is Rachel, who has just left New York and a cheating ex-girlfriend to rebuild her life in California. There, she meets and falls in love with the KY Jelly woman. Sorry, it’s the only way I can refer to her forever and ever, amen. Anyway, they decide to have a commitment ceremony, but just beforehand, the ex shows up and makes an emotional mess of everyone.

Admittedly, I had some issues with this movie. For one, the KY chick was actually pretty annoying: overly sincere to the point of seeming insincere, very whiny and somewhat psycho in her clinginess. Plus, she was wearing what had to be a wig, because it looked completely wrong on her head. And of course, there was the fact that Westenhoefer had such a tiny role. Despite the flaws, though, I found comedian Helen Lesnick’s character, Rachel likeable and her sarcasm hilarious. 

When Night Is Falling, 1995 – Very strange movie in which a circus performer falls for a lit professor from a Christian college after meeting her one night at a laundromat. Hmn. I think this movie certainly had its charming aspects. Rachel Crawford who plays Petra, the circus performer, was supremely sexy and both actresses did excellent jobs with the material. Still, there were some hard-to-miss and somewhat inexcusable faults I found. For instance, sure Petra is beautiful and exciting, but it seems a little nonsensical the way she and Camille are brought together time and again. We’re expected to believe that Camille falls in love with someone who is basically following her and won’t leave her alone. Yeah, because we women love a stalker. Don’t even get me started on the dead dog that spends most of the movie in the refridgerator. Now I’ve got you curious, eh? 

Shortbus, 2006 – I don't have a real review for this one, just two words: Simply amazing. John Cameron Mitchell is a genius and his second feature is a sexy, smart and often humorous romp. I’m going to own this one, I think. Warning, though: It’s the first American movie that isn’t porn to use real sex and it’s not for the faint of heart. 

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