January 2010


It’s So Gay: The Pride Film Festival Friday Steers Queer

I’m about to make a claim that may or may not be true, but from my perspective the vast majority of lesbian films are awful.

I’ve suffered through Go Fish and The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant, to name two of the worst. Lesbian films are filled with women sitting around and talking with very little movement. In the case of Go Fish, the women sat in circles. In The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant the women had to stand in front of cameras that were apparently so heavy and so difficult to move that if it was an actresses turn on screen she walked in front of the camera while it stayed focused on the legs of the sofa. (At least that’s how I remember it.)

Last night there were several lesbian shorts shown at the Pride Film Festival here in Bloomington, and they were, for the most part, not good. Evelyn Everyone, from Australia, was ok—a story about a woman realizing she liked women in SecondLife and then moves into reality. The Girl Bunnies, an animated short about dating pink bunnies resonated with the audience but was sort of stupid. Tools 4 Fools was a spoof of loud late night television commercials, only hawking used dildos—cute but perhaps too over the top and a tad too long. Falling for Caroline, was about two girls falling in love with some moments of humor but it felt too forced for me.

Which brings me to the two last lesbian films of the evening: Back to Life and Butthole Lickin’. One of these two was just right addressing an awkward sexual issue. The other was painful. One’s director was at the festival to answer questions, the other’s was not.

The good one: Butthole Lickin’ – long enough to completely point out the awkwardness of kissing after rimming, but not so long that it became completely awkward. About the only thing that wasn’t convincing was that one of the lesbians ate the other’s ass while wearing her glasses. I don’t know about you but I find wearing my glasses while having my face pressed to other people’s flesh to be incredibly uncomfortable.

The bad one: Back to Life – and it’s badness was made all the more awkward by the presence of the director who (didn’t) answer audience questions. She carefully stepped around the first one and when answering the second question, did so incompletely. For some reason the audience treated her like a professional director—but in the cold harsh light of day I might point out that by her own admission this was her second film—the first filmed more than 15 years ago—and that she doesn’t have plans to make another. The film itself featured two women talking and not moving a lot, a lesbian sleeping with a (straight) woman after the loss of her partner. Maybe there’s no good way to dramatize this kind of situation. Maybe it involves people not moving around and talking. Ultimately it bored me: I was counting the seconds for the 12 minutes to be over.

On the gay side, the shorts were adequate addressing themes that seem to come up a lot in gay films: boys in toilets, seducing high school studs (at reunions), and the awkwardness of a “straight” guy realizing he enjoyed having sex and a relationship with another guy.

James was the high school boy in the toilets movie—perhaps capturing Ireland’s social conservativeness and the importance of having reputable and decent resources available in public schools because when it doesn’t happen, boys get their information from the men in the toilets.

Reunion, for what it’s worth, was amusing: a gay couple goes to one man’s 20th high school reunion, is kissed by the (hetero) married football team star and, ultimately, has a pleasant three-way back in the hotel room. All too often monogamy is seen as an end in and of itself, but as this film coyly points out, maybe monogamy isn’t right for everybody. It was filmed as a comedy, but it could have been a drama.

Thirteen or So Minutes was about two men in the aftermath of an unexpected sexual relationship after a night of drinking beer while on the road at some anonymous bar. In many respects it’s an important topic, but one that I’ve personally moved beyond: I know that men sleeping with men is right so I don’t need two dudes talking about how much they like pussy fucking each other.

Finally, there were two feature films: Prodigal Sons and Hollywood je t’aime.

Prodigal Sons was an excellent documentary about a trans-woman who returns home to Helena, Montana, to make peace with her male childhood and her older (adopted) brother. I found it to be, for the most part, excellent. There was, perhaps, too much emphasis on the older brother’s mental health issues—but that may have well been emphasized so much in order to point out how scared it made the rest of the family feel. There are some unexpected plot points in the film that makes it all the more engaging.

Hollywood je t’aime was a bit more awkward. It’s a gay drama in which a Frenchman travels to Hollywood for the vacation of his dreams. Unfortunately for the man, the vacation of his dreams remains exactly that: in his dreams. The story did move along, but it felt a bit too rough around the edges for me—a bit too forced. Perhaps that is more of a reflection of me: the concept of going to Hollywood on vacation sounds like pure torture to me. It ranks right up there with Orlando as one of those places where even if I won an all-expenses paid with $1,000 spending money (per day) I would probably not go. (And yet the idea of going back to Armenia where one works for one’s vacation excites me.)

5 comments to It’s So Gay: The Pride Film Festival Friday Steers Queer

  • Reko

    I would just like to go on record as stating that Adamo ROCKS and that he is da MAN.
    P.S. Butthole Lickin’ is, IMHO, easily as disturbing, disgusting, and revolting as Pasolini’s “Salo”, in fact, probably worse, and it lacks Pasolini’s anti-fascist, anti-capitalist social critique.

  • interesting- i never thought of lesbians rimming before.

    • Reko

      I hope that I never have to think about it again.

      • I don’t need to think about it explicitly, but I assume that lesbians engage in a wide variety of sexual acts that are enjoyable to them. I also assume heterosexuals engage in a variety of sexual acts that they find enjoyable.

        I, however, believe that only man on man sex is actually enjoyable.

        I suspect that I am being myopic and self-centered and, consequently, am wrong.

  • […] writing this post about the film Prodigal Sons, which also deals with Transgender issues. As I previously noted, I found the film […]