Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Lists Are Hot: 11 Great lesBian movies you should watch

Lists Are Hot is a monthly column for all those that love lists. This month I want to share with you some of my favourite lesBian movies.

After talking about the worst lesBian movies last month, I thought I'd look on the positive side this time and tell you which lesBian movies I think are really great.

Over the years I have seen many, many lesBian movies and even though some might have been bad, boring or in other ways disappointing, some were actually really enjoyable to watch.

This is a very subjective list, so feel free to disagree. In no particular order, here are 11 lesBian movies (11, because I couldn't decide which one to leave out) I think you should watch:

11. Itty Bitty Titty Committee (US, 2007)

I really like Itty Bitty Titty Committee, because it's just a nice, fun lesbian movie. There's not nearly enough lesbian movies out there that are just fun. It has a great plot, likeable characters, great acting, a fun soundtrack and it stars lots of actors that I like (Carly Pope, Clea Duvall, Melanie Lynskey).

It tells the story of Anna, a young, shy girl who doesn’t really know what kind of excitement life has to offer. She comes into contact with a group of radical feminist women who run a little guerrilla group called Clits in Action (CIA).

They try to show everything that is wrong (read women unfriendly) with the world by sneaking around at night and defacing public and private property with spray painted messages against the established. It really changes her life in the way that you can only be changed when you are still young.

Even though the topic of the movie is rather serious and perhaps the message a little heavy handed, I thought IBTC was a fun watch. It is a great portrayal of what it must be like to be part of a movement like this.


10. All over me (US, 1997)

A movie that definitely cannot be described as light and fun is All over me. This teen movie from the 1990's shows the harsh and depressing reality of being a gay teen, including one gay boy actually getting killed.

What I love about this movie, is that amidst all that homophobia and hard life stuff, there's a beautiful, realistic love story. Or not even a love story, just two young girls realising they really like each other. Claude is madly in love with her straight, best friend Ellen, but throughout the movie she ends up falling for a girl who actually likes her back, Lucy (played by a much younger, very cute Leisha Hailey).


9. Heavenly creatures (New Zealand, 1994)

Heavenly Creatures tells the story of two teenage girls who live in a kind of fantasy world and have a very close friendship. Slowly this friendship evolves in something more.

Their parents aren't two pleased about their relationship, and in order to be able to stay together they decide to kill one of their mothers. It's kind of creepy, even more so if you realize this film is based on a true story.

The main characters are played by Kate Winslet and Melanie Lynsky, when they were still young and innocent looking, and the movie is directed by Peter Jackson (from Lord of the Rings). It's a really good movie that I recommend you check out, unless the murder part puts you off.


8. The Edge of Heaven (Auf der anderen Seite) (Germany, 2007)

My next pick is not a typical lesbian movie, but it does feature a prominent, but matter of fact, lesbian relationship. Auf der anderen Seite (the Edge of heaven) is about the differences between everyday life in Germany and Turkey. It tells the story of Nejat who after his father dies, goes to Turkey to search for Ayten, the daughter of his father’s prostitute girlfriend.

What he doesn’t know is that Ayten is a political activist who has already left Turkey and is currently in Germany. In Germany Ayten meets Lotte, a lovely German do-gooder, who after discovering Ayten has no money or a place to stay, offers her to move in with her and her mother. Lotte’s mother isn’t too pleased by this, and I cannot really blame her.

Quickly a strong bond forms between Lotte and Ayten and the two of them embark on a relationship. Then Ayten is arrested and deported back to Turkey where she ends up in prison. Lotte decides to follow her to Turkey and try to get her released.

This is a really good quality movie that just happens to have a lesbian plotline. An added bonus if you will, as Auf der anderen Seite is a great and interesting movie even without the lesbian storyline. It’s not a light movie and it might make you want to shout at your screen a few times, but I promise it will not leave you indifferent.


7. Chutney Popcorn (US, 1999)

As much as I complain about the lesbian pregnancy storylines in movies, there is actually one movie on the subject I really like.

Chutney Popcorn tells the story about lesbian Reena, who's sister Rita can't have children and she then offers to have a baby for her. Of course her girlfriend isn't very happy about this, especially when the sister decides she no longer wants a baby.

To make the story a little more interesting, the Indian background of Reena and Rita plays a big part in this film, including specific traditions and lots of yummy food. It nicely shows that no matter what your family is like, we all want the same thing; for us and our loved ones to be happy.

What I like most about this movie is that it's just a really nice movie and even though the subject might seem a little far fetched, the relationships portrayed in the movie seem very realistic.


6. But I'm a Cheerleader (US, 1999)

This movie is a parody on so-called sexual reorientation camps and is probably not everyone's cup of tea. It is at times all a bit much, but I really like the idea behind it and, more importantly, I think the love story between Megan and Graham is very cute.

In But I"m a cheerleader, Megan gets send to a sexual reorientation camp by her friends and parents to be made "normal". Of course, the sexual reorientation camp is the gayest thing you have ever seen. Even if she wasn't convinced yet she's a lesbian, the cute Graham (played by Clea Duvall) soon makes her realise she's never going to be straight.

This movie was produced by Jamie Babbitt, who also worked on Itty Bitty Titty Committee.


5. If these walls could talk 2 (US, 2000)

If these walls could talk 2 consists of 3 different 30 minute stories about being a lesbian, each in a different time. The first is set in the fifties, the second in the seventies and the final part is set in the nineties.

It shows very nicely how far we've come, and also how lesbianism is something of all times, but each time has it's specific struggles and themes.

I have watched the DVD of If these walls could talk many times and I have to say I love all parts for different reasons. The first part is heart breaking, the second part is very hot and the third part paints a great pictures of a modern lesbian couple.

Here's a scene from the second part, starring Michelle Williams and Cloe Sevigny:


4. Unveiled (Fremde Haut) (Germany, 2005)

Unveiled is about an Iranian woman named Fariba who has to flee her country to avoid prosecution. Fariba tries to seek asylum in Germany, but she is denied residency. To avoid being send back to Iran and risk being killed for being a lesbian, she takes on the identity of an Iranian man from the refugee camp.

Now Fariba finds herself living as a man in a small town in Germany. She knows the only way she will be able to stay in the country long term is if she can arrange for some fake identity papers. Fake papers cost a lot of money and therefore she finds herself a job in a cabbage factory.

It is here where she meets Anne, a beautiful blonde German woman who catches her eye from day one. They get on famously and slowly fall for each other. Of course, it is only a matter of time until Anne will find out Fariba’s true identity.

Fremde Haut is about the harsh reality of life as a queer Iranian, as well as the hard life of asylum seekers in general. Yet at the same time, it is also a love story. It makes you think, about life and about how we as a society decide to treat other people. Bust most of all, it makes you realize that love is love no matter what form it takes.


3. Tipping the velvet (UK, 2002)

What can I say about Tipping the velvet that hasn't been said before? I discovered the adaptation of Sarah Waters' novel of the same name by accident one night on the BBC back in 2002. It was a very pleasant surprise.

Tipping the Velvet makes historic dramas fun, for me mainly because of the lesbian element. Tipping the velvet tells the interesting life story of Nan King, from Oyster girl to rent boy to theatre star. More importantly, it has some really hot sex scenes.


2. Imagine me and you (UK, 2005)

Imagine me and you tells the story of Rachel (played by Piper Perabo) who is about to marry her long term boyfriend Heck, whom she has always thought of as the love of her life. That’s when she meets Luce (played by the lovely Lena Heady) and everything changes.

Rachel and Luce immediately hit it off and become really good friends. Soon it becomes clear that their feelings for one another go much deeper than mere friendship.

Rachel starts to question her sexuality and soon she will have to make some tough choices between her familiar life with her husband and a chance of happiness with Luce.

What I love about this film, besides that it’s just a really good romantic comedy, is that it has a very prominent lesbian storyline, yet the storyline is treated as part of the movie and it’s not the entire movie. Moreover, I like that the subject of being gay isn’t treated as something awful or problematic.


1. Show me love (Fucking Amal) (Sweden, 1998)

My number one pick has to be Show me love, simply because it's such a cute teen love story. This Swedish film is about two seemingly different teenage girls who go to the same high school in a little town called Amal and end up falling in love with each other. Agnes is a shy girl with not many friends and a huge crush on Elin the most popular girl in school.

Elin gets dared into kissing Agnes, then runs off laughing, leaving Agnes both humiliated and heartbroken. In fact, in true dramatic lesbian teen fashion she decides things are so bad that she is going to kill herself.

She is all set with a set of razors in her hand and depressing music playing in the background, when Elin shows up again to apologize for kissing her.

Soon the girls realize that they quite like each other, but before they are ready to openly admit this to each other, themselves, and to the world, they have to overcome a few obstacles, including boys, family members and the nightmare that is called high school.

Fucking Amal is not just a love story, even though watching these girls figuring out they like each other is one of the cutest things I have ever seen. It’s a movie about finding out you are queer in high school, or perhaps it’s just a movie about what it’s like to be in high school: trying to fit in, trying to figure out who you are, and of course there is lots of self-created drama.


So what do you think of my favourite lesBian movies? Do you like my choices or not at all? Which movies are missing from the list?

This post was first published on eurOut.


Hannah said...

"Show me love" aka "Fucking Åmål" is certainly one of my favorite lesbian movies. Recently I discovered another Swedish movie I really liked "Kyss mig".

Natazzz said...

I'm not familiar with that movie, but I'll be sure to check it out.

Hannah said...

So, finally I managed to post a comment but not through WordPress.
Do check the movie it's great. They even have a FB page.