Classic Lesbian Films of the ’90s

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Classic Lesbian Films of the ’90s

better. Gangster moll lesbianism attempts butch-femme realism. It’s lesbian MacGyver movie making at its finest: all those crazy Wakowski brothers needed was an elevator, a mouth harp and an anal bead light cord to make lesbian movie magic and to turn film noir a lovely shade of lavender. Eat that, The Matrix! Thanks to Susie Bright's abstract expressionist sex scene, we’re all in for a bumpy ride. But don't worry, it's 1996 and we all have black leather jackets and know how to “pretend smoke” in that expensive "Chicago bar." Plus, that stock "plumbing snake scene" in the bathroom gave us a gritty new euphemism for lesbian sex.

bound.jpg

Lesbians are only interested in one thing: boobs and money.

Watermelon Woman (1997)

Thank you director Cheryl Dunye for making a thoughtful film challenging young lesbians in libraries everywhere to embrace the critical process of “archival research.” I think we all learned how important it is to think of ourselves as both historical subjects and sexual objects, and to consider the ways that race and ethnicity inform our personal lives. If it wasn’t for you, racism and ethnicity in the lesbian community would still exist!

Better Than Chocolate (1999)

This movie has always confounded me. While in graduate school, I received a VHS copy as a gift for letting an out-of-town dyke stranger descend on my pad. At the time, this was akin to getting a sweater from my mom or a handbag from my sister. After repeated, distracted viewings, I finally realized BTC offers an array of assertive lesbian hairstyles and demonstrates that all lesbian art — be it plant life, body painting or horrid DVD cover art — has the potential to be mildly expressive, at best. An unrequited tranny lesbian plotline never looked so good — or Canadian. Ever!

Better Than Chocolate

Eat your heart out, Swoosie Kurtz.

As you can see, the '90s were a critical decade for the formation of a lesbian North American cinema, and for the formation of a lesbian North American identity. Is this "too real" for you? Sorry, but I'm not apologizing. We lesbians like our movies hard-hitting, politically charged and erotically vacant, so you're just gonna have to deal! As we continue to search for our "realistic representations of lesbianism," why don't we just relax and have some fun with our bodies, our past selves? And in the meantime, can someone please tell me — realistically — why it is that I can't ever find a femme with the voice of Jennifer Tilly, the scholastic achievement of Cheryl Dunye and the alcoholic tolerance of an early Guinevere Turner?

Oh, wait… Have I?

 



Comments [100]

Revue de web: L’affaire Cluzel vue des États-Unis, la LGP Bi's picture

[...] 1990. Go Fish, Bound,

[...] 1990. Go Fish, Bound, The Incredibly True Story of Two Girls in Love (avec Laurel Holloman)… Sur Velvetpark [...]

yonks's picture

So there's secret around you?

So there's secret around you? now i want know everything.

Nice try but we all know that the truth is you don't want your lover being too close to an irresistible seducer such as pepe... i can't blame you, you'r cleaver.
Wink

-Do not follow me, I'M LOST-

Sabrina's picture

Hi there PK, Perhaps we can

Hi there PK,

Perhaps we can rendezvous in Ithaca for a meal at Moosewood when you're in the hood? I'm a couple of hours from Ithaca which in these parts isn't too far. Contact me through my site(www.trailertalk.net) so we can make plans.

Did you find me in the movie?

xoxo, S

Steph H's picture

Yeah - that's a cute film!

Yeah - that's a cute film! And it has Lena Heady!!!

Smile

Steph H's picture

Don't mind the subtitles

Don't mind the subtitles (some of my fave films are subtitled). I just found it very dark and sad (and real, I suppose). So, I am glad I have seen it but wouldn't rush to watch it again.

Erin Blackwell's picture

how do you define "hard

how do you define "hard going"? i find *mindlessness* hard going. superficial, trivial, wanton, soulless. zzzzzzzzzzzzz... bring on the subtitles!

Steph H's picture

And it has Lena Heady

And it has Lena Heady too!!!!

Hi! Smile

Steph H's picture

LOL!! I think it is

LOL!!

I think it is important to keep a certain air of mystery n'est-ce pas??

Professor C's picture

YES!! Thanks for the

YES!! Thanks for the invitation, RR!

yonks's picture

so you have a GF? why don't

so you have a GF? why don't you invite her here? so we can learn everything on your secrets...

-Do not follow me, I'M LOST-

Robin Rigby's picture

2002. Though it took awhile

2002. Though it took awhile to make it stateside unedited.

Steph H's picture

Hey EB - I am BritInvading as

Hey EB - I am BritInvading as usual here!

My GF made me watch A&J - I found it hard going (isn't every film about that time?) but it's a very well done film IMHO.

Steph H's picture

Agree on both counts!!

Agree on both counts!!

Xanadu's picture

Hey there! I remember

Hey there!

I remember looking at Personal Best in the video store, back in the 80's and thinking "why would I want to watch a film about running?" ... God, if I'd only known! LOL

Must see The Hunger as well ...

Julia Watson's picture

Speak for yourself! Subtitles

Speak for yourself! Subtitles give me hives.

Erin Blackwell's picture

that sounds like GM in LOM is

that sounds like GM in LOM is TV? no do TV, me.

sorry not to pick up the irony re germans. i took it sooooo literally & was even bemoaning americans' inability to engage with metaphors outside their demographic!

Robin Rigby's picture

I wasn't being literal (if I

I wasn't being literal (if I were I'd point out that I do have some German ancestors. I'm from PA, it's a given.), more being facetious I suppose it's just hard to get that across in print.

Don't watch "Bettie Page" unless you like movies with absolutely no conflict. Ridiculous to imagine that Bettie's life could have had no conflict and that even a courtroom battle with censors could be dull and lacking in drama. Instead watch Gretchen Mol in "Life on Mars". Last week she even got to do a little Bettie style bondage scene (so fun).

Erin Blackwell's picture

you needn't be *literally*

you needn't be *literally* german or jewish to get in on that action, it's basically the master/slave thingy invented by Hegel, another example might be gay vs. homophobe, but what german jews have is HIGH CULTURE, which for some of us is an irresistible turnon.

there's a BIT more at stake (civilization) in A&J than in TNBP which i alas missed

i take that back. civilization *does* seem to be at stake in TNBP:

Robin Rigby's picture

Julia and I are hardly

Julia and I are hardly allergic to subtitles and neither one of us is German or Jewish. I just prefer a little quicker pacing in my films. Though I can tolerate a slower pace if there's something else to keep my attention.

As for the true story stuff, that alone is not enough to make me watch a movie. If it's compellingly told or gorgeous to behold maybe... But for an example of a crap ass movie that was based on a true story one need look no further than the recent and awful "The Notorious Bettie Page". I'll give "Aimee and Jaguar" credit for being better than that at least.

Erin Blackwell's picture

are you girls allergic to

are you girls allergic to subtitles?

A&J was the hottest, hot'n'bothered high-melodrama verging on high-camp lesbo nazi flick ever imagined let alone actually filmed & it's BASED ON A "TRUE" STORY. it got the german oscar for best film.

it's been a while but the two of them sitting in a packed auditorium sucking up Beethoven as bombs fell *alone* was worth the price of dvd rental: what a fab metaphor for trying to live life as usual while all-hell-of-your-own-government's-making is breaking loose. if anything that fuckin film is TOO EXCITING.

geat production values (RARE for lezzie movies) & that beautiful blonde actress Juliane Köhler who went on to play eva braun in bruno ganz's hitler-bonkers-in-bunker film i didn't go see.
http://www.imdb.com/video/screenplay/vi277610777/

maybe you chicks lack historical hysterical herstorical imagination or luxuriate outside the German-Jew erotic continuum... you don't know what you're missing... TANGO for chrissake

Robin Rigby's picture

Professor, this has been such

Professor, this has been such a popular topic, you may need to expand it beyond the 1990's.

Erin Blackwell's picture

it might be the ideal dyke

it might be the ideal dyke date flick, attraction/repulsion being such a fine line + the imperative to rinse the psyche after sitting through it.

so you waited til AFTER the credits...

TheInsomniac's picture

Who me? Had some of that

Who me?
Had some of that pesky work I need to do to pay rent.
In the meanwhile, there are some very nice new G/G World TV character developments and a couple of extremely hot new girls on the international block. Smile

Insomniac

Grace Moon's picture

by the way where the hell you

by the way where the hell you been?
Wink

tweet tweet @gracemoon

peacekitty's picture

Hey Sabrina I didn't know you

Hey Sabrina I didn't know you were in that movie...now i'm going to have to go watch it again to find you. Smile

I've got my travel plans for Ithaca and Watkins Glen around May 7 - 10. I'm looking forward to getting back there and hiking the gorges. I'll go to the farm sanctuary too.

xoxo - PK

"Fight Prime Time. Read a Book"

Not2Taem's picture

I like how you pretended you

I like how you pretended you didn't remember that your name was in the title. Laughing out loud

Not2Taem's picture

That's so sad its funny.

That's so sad its funny. Laughing out loud

TheInsomniac's picture

Hi Sweetie :)

Hi Sweetie Smile

Insomniac

TheInsomniac's picture

CanNOT wait for that!!!

CanNOT wait for that!!!

Insomniac

mysticsmb's picture

Mm...I liked that one more

Mm...I liked that one more than LOST AND DELIRIOUS, which was rather tragic.

Anyone know off-hand what year TIPPING THE VELVET was?

peacekitty's picture

Oh me too! I liked her

Oh me too! I liked her other, sweet lesbian film "Imagine Me and You" from 2005. If you haven't seen that one don't miss it.

"Fight Prime Time. Read a Book"

peacekitty's picture

Hi Lezbeth, I saw "Sirens"

Hi Lezbeth, I saw "Sirens" while I was living in England and liked it a lot. There are definitely lesbians undertones in it.

I rented it for some friends and they all thought it was too "artsy" and "corny" and couldn't relate well with it but I love Independent and European films and thought it was entertaining.

"Fight Prime Time. Read a Book"

Lezbeth's picture

One I haven't seen mentioned,

One I haven't seen mentioned, with those lezzie undertones is "Sirens". It's mostly hetero, but it's the women who bring about the preacher's wife's awakening. If anyone hasn't seen it, it's worth renting.

An added benefit is Portia making her film debut.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sirens_(film)

This is off-topic...ever the hysterian, er herstorian, I recommend watching the documentary "Word is Out" released in 1977 and a landmark film for those of us who were struggling to come out.

http://www.wordisoutmovie.com/

Lezbeth's picture

I agree, Erin. Yikes! Why

I agree, Erin. Yikes! Why was it that it turned me on? Oh, I remember...my date and anticipating what happened after the credits rolled.

Lezbeth's picture

My absolute favorite...love

My absolute favorite...love the magical realism and the film itself, the colors, the cinematography is stunning...and the women are hot.

Robin Rigby's picture

We've actually mapped that

We've actually mapped that part out. Who dies and in what order is pretty well established within the young-friends-being-killed-off-one-by-one-by-a-psycho-with-an-impenetrable-motive genre. In other words, Julia and I studied "Scream" and took notes.

TheInsomniac's picture

Are you open to suggestions

Are you open to suggestions about which ones should go first?

Insomniac

TheInsomniac's picture

Hey X! I came out to Desert

Hey X!
I came out to Desert Hearts (went wearing sunglasses to an old 2nd run art cinema about 10 times.) That scene in the rain!
I also wore out my remote control's replay button with Personal Best (1982) and The Hunger (1983.)

Insomniac

TheInsomniac's picture

Yes, and I've noticed that's

Yes, and I've noticed that's also extremely common in all of the international TV programs I've been looking at.

There's Chutney Popcorn (1999) by Nisha Ganatra with Jill Hennessey (from TV's Crossing Jordan) that does not rely on that trope.

Insomniac

Robin Rigby's picture

Watched it. Not terribly

Watched it. Not terribly surprised it didn't get picked up. Mediocre cop show with the leads being partners on and off the job. Oh, and not enough of Christina's smoking body. Did you ladies know she's a kickboxer who does a lot of body double work? She was in "Million Dollar Baby" I'm guessing as one of the boxers who gets her ass kicked by Hilary Swank. Always thought it was odd that you never see any of their faces...

So, when you see some female character kicking butt on some show it may be Christina doing the actual butt kicking.

Robin Rigby's picture

Yeah, silly movie but agreed

Yeah, silly movie but agreed that the lead actress is pretty darn hot.

Erin Blackwell's picture

"killing of sister george"

"killing of sister george" what a great fucking flick! great actresses, great script, omg hot psycho cougar action, light years ahead of its time... unless you insist on a happy ending, of course. or a happy middle or beginning. it's just smart, funny, savage.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6O7C1UMYees&feature=related

Erin Blackwell's picture

heartbreaker. shot in New

heartbreaker. shot in New Orleans, released a year before Katrina.

TheInsomniac's picture

I hesitate to admit it but I

I hesitate to admit it but I liked "It's in the Water "(1997). It's so bad it's a (a little) good, and I thought the lead was pretty hot. Kind of evidence of of Dr. C's first sentence, I guess.

Insomniac

TheInsomniac's picture

To all Christina Cox fans who

To all Christina Cox fans who didn't know:

Here's a link to the pilot of a lesbian cop show starring Christina Cox that never got picked up. Sad

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_LvJoAI1i1I

Insomniac

TheInsomniac's picture

Fire Fire Fire!!! Maybe my

Fire Fire Fire!!! Maybe my favorite movie of all time too. A very satisfying "lesbian" movie but a brilliant commentary on Indian film-making, gender, and class too. Think I'll re-watch it right now!

Insomniac

Julia Watson's picture

Yes, but I repeat! They are

Yes, but I repeat! They are IRONICALLY dead lesbians! Camp is where it's at, baby.

Robin Rigby's picture

Sure, anything is an

Sure, anything is an improvement over The Dead Lesbian Films- "The Children's Hour", "The Killing of Sister George", I'm sure there's more. Still, it's 2009 folks time to have mature lesbian films, don't ya think?

Having said that, Julia and I are working on killing off a whole cabin load of lesbians. Laughing out loud

beauty's picture

Totally agree...although

Totally agree...although that's an upward trajectory from one of the first "lesbian" movies from the 1960s, a melodrama called "The Fox" (based on a DH Lawrence novella). That was in the prehistoric days when one of the wayward women had to die to set the world straight again. In this case the male suitor of the surviving lesbian chops a huge tree down on the obstructive lesbian allowing him to subsequently wed the living, now deprogrammed delesbianized lesbian. i guess it was supposed to be a deterrent or something: if you're a lesbian, a large phallic object may fall on your head and kill ya.
sorry to spoil the ending.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ZtVrciFHLo&NR=1

Julia Watson's picture

Yeah, I was a little in love

Yeah, I was a little in love with them. <33