Tag Archives: Lesbians

Book Review: The Color Purple by Alice Walker

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Rating: B/ Celie isn’t a slave, but she might as well be. At the tender age of fourteen, Celie’s abusive father passes her off to an equally abusive man in an marriage the two have already arranged. Celie’s only joy comes from her younger sister, Nettie, so when Nettie is sent away and becomes a missionary in Africa, Celie is understandably devastated and writes her sister hundreds of letters in order to keep in touch. The Color Purple is written in epistolary format, and the narrative comes either in the form of letters Celie writes to God attempting to reconcile with her horrid living situation or notes that Celie and Nettie write back and forth to each other, attempting to provide comfort in sad and desperate times. Continue reading Book Review: The Color Purple by Alice Walker

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Book Review: Push by Sapphire

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Rating: A-/  There is occasionally something cathartic about reading books that are real downers, if they are well done. A truly bleak book does something that a funny or light book can’t, which is to put the shittiness of the reader’s life into perspective. If nothing else, Push by Sapphire, an excellent book that was also made into an excellent movie called Precious, will make you want to hug your mom and buy her flowers. Whatever issues you might have had with her at the moment, by the end of this book you’ll probably be buying her free passes to the spa so she can treat herself. Continue reading Book Review: Push by Sapphire

Movie Review: Dope (2015)

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Rating: B/ Puppy dog-eyed Shameik Moore plays geeky urban teen Malcolm, who lives in the Bottoms of Inglewood, California, where crime and desperation reign. With a setting like this, you’d expect Dope to be a depressing movie, but it’s not. It’s actually a very funny movie; not perfect by a long shot, but with some of the funniest, zaniest dialogue to come around in years. Malcolm is obsessed with 90’s Hip-Hop culture and plans to go to college, which makes him very uncool with the kids in his hood, who mostly end up joining gangs and dying young and never expect anything more of themselves. Continue reading Movie Review: Dope (2015)

Monster (2003)

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Aileen Wuornos (Charlize Theron) always knew she’d be famous for something. Who knew that her claim to fame would be as America’s first female serial killer? Life pisses all over Aileen, she’s a sexual abuse victim from a crappy home and a crappy family who turns tricks as a cheap roadside whore for a living. About as white trash as it is possible to get, Wuornos is played by Theron with prosthetic teeth and excess flab in a Academy Award-winning performance born of pure grit.

Monster is a rather eerie and disturbing movie that forces you to sympathize to some extent with a beastly human being with little to no compassion for her victims. Monsters are made, not born. I really believe that 99.9% percent of the time, that’s the case. A woman of limited resources, low intelligence, and poor self-control, Aileen’s first murder is self-defense; shooting a sexually abusive john who tries to rape her. When she gets a taste of that power, though, she embraces the life of a killer.

Aileen has a girlfriend named Selby (Christina Ricci,) a pixyish young lesbian with a crooked smile and an easy way about her. Maybe Aileen is gay. Or maybe she’s just sick of men treating her like shit. Aileen’s only friend is Thomas (Bruce Dern,) a homeless war vet who offers her half a sandwich and doesn’t ask anything in return. This is Aileen’s life. It’s not pretty, but that doesn’t mean it’s a side of America that doesn’t exist. Selby wants to be treated like a princess, and Aileen offers that in the form of murdered johns’ money. Selby doesn’t know, or pretends not to know, about Aileen’s murderous nighttime habits. Aileen wants to quit the life, but every opportunity seems to lead to a dead end for this dim, volatile nut bag of a woman.

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The first thirty minutes or so are oddly touching, a mix of hopeful and even unexpectedly sweet emotions that make the film’s plunge into the abyss of murder and misery all the more jarring. We get to see the halting baby steps in a love affair, one that is skewed but still real and heartwrenching.Theron looks like shit but this lends her some credibility as an ‘ordinary,’ ‘blue-collar’ person. She looks like one of those dodgy types lurking outside of Wal-Mart with a cigarette and a tattoo, and she sells it, too. Christina Ricci also impresses with a deft mix of vulnerability and manipulation. In the end, we don’t know which one is a more fucked-up or unlikable person; and yet we can’t dismiss them entirely. We go on a trip into utter desolation and horror with them, and we cannot hate them as much as we want to; and probably should, their descent into hell seems all too plausible.

As Aileen wreaks destruction on those around her, I admired the film’s refusal to justify or condemn, Aileen’s such a sad little creature that her descent into psychopathy doesn’t shock us as much as it probably should. This is the kind of woman we ignore. This is the kind of woman we avert her eyes from. This is the kind of woman we don’t notice until she turns up on headlines all over the country and we shake our heads in disgust and say, there are some crazy people in this world. We can’t understand Aileen unless we’ve been in her situation, but at the same time, we can’t justify her actions, especially her murder of the particularly unfortunate final victim (Scott Wilson.) This is the kind of movie you view as an outsider, and then you thank God you’re just that.

This movie doesn’t paint a pretty picture of men, women, or society in general, it attempts less to draw a social or moral conclusion and more just to paint a character portrait of some very screwed up people; a woman ugly inside and out, and her manipulative enabler/lover. When Aileen tries to get a job, we see a woman of low morality and intelligence getting by the best way she can. You can’t spin crap into gold, but at the same time, you see a little of the girl who couldn’t do anything right in this broken woman. She wanted to be a star. She got her name out to the press in the end, but not in the way she expected. As Aileen herself says, Life’s funny. Basically, if you like dark psychological character studies starring characters with severe mental illnesses/ personality disorders, this is the movie for you. If you don’t like the idea of a disturbing movie about a sexually abused hooker waxing her johns, you’ve been warned. There’s plenty of crazy to go around here though, for fans of intense character-driven storytelling and abnormal psychology.

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Blue is the Warmest Color (2014)

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Dare I say that I didn’t quite fall in love with this film the way everyone else seemed to? I’ll be the first one to say that “Blue is the Warmest Color” is altogether a very well-made movie. But it, like anything else, has it’s faults, The first and second halves of this film seem like entirely different movies (and are individually each the length of a separate motion picture, Good God is this movie long.)
The first half is full of joy and vitality, while the second portion, the more inferior one by far, ploddingly deals with the tragedy of a doomed love affair. While Adele, the heroine, is a compelling, likable character at the beginning, by the end she is a pathetic needy husk of a woman, lacking a shred of dignity or decency. Furthermore, by the conclusion it’s hard to root for the broken lovers to reunite. Frankly, they’re toxic to one another! But I digress. I’m getting ahead of myself.

Adele (Adele Exarchopoulos), who is fifteen when this story starts,  is a voracious reader and insecure beauty who is still navigating her intrinsic passions and inner desires, Although Adele hangs with a group of friends in her local high school, she finds she cannot relate to their banter concerning boys and hookups. Adele dates a male classmate for a little while, even sleeping with him at one point, but Adele finds she desires something that young men can’t offer.

When Adele spots Emma (Lea Seydoux) in a crowded street, it’s lust at first sight. Emma awakens something in Adele that she hasn’t experienced before, a kind of intense longing. Emma, a blue-haired, charmingly tomboyish artistic type, is older and more experienced than the youthful Adele, but she takes to her from the moment they officially meet.

Emma and Adele kiss in the park, discuss art and literature, and have sex. Lots and lots of sex. In fact, for a hetero chick, the prolonged sequences of lesbian love-making seemed a little bit excessive. There was one scene in particular that seemed to go on for ages and feature about eighty different positions. “Blue is the Warmest Color” is not porn, but it does seem to cross that line disconcertingly often.

If there’s any fault to be had in this critically acclaimed movie, it’s certainly not in the acting. Both leads, especially Exarchopoulos, blew me away with their incredible performances. The script, similarly, is often exceedingly natural and compelling. However, a film should only be three hours long if not a dialogue or shot is wasted. Unfortunately, that’s not the case with “Blue is the Warmest Color.”

A passionate embrace, a mere mention of skin can say more than a handful of borderline pornographic sequences ever can. Are these scenes necessary to show the love the heroines feel for each other? No. Moreover, the realization that the actresses didn’t have a good experience with this director makes me wonder if filming this movie was awkward or degrading for them.

Mostly, though, the movie was just too long and the second half too uneven for me to give the movie more than 3.5 stars. The actresses are lovely and fiercely talented, and the film is worth your time (if you happen to have a spare three hours to watch a movie,) but I found I just didn’t love it as much as I should’ve.

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Hide and Seek (1997)

Honestly, I think they should have gone one way or another with this movie — the half documentary, half film narrative doesn’t quite work, and I’m still struggling to figure out why. “Hide and Seek,” not to be confused with the De Niro/Fanning thriller, is the story of Lou (Chelsea Holland,) a adolescent girl forging her identity as a lesbian in the 1960’s.

Interspersed with this narrative are interviews with a variety of gay women. The women courageously tell stories about their experiences with sexual awakening. Meanwhile, the child actors give brave performances in the fictional narrative.

Lou is friends with Betsy (Ariel Mara), while experiencing growing affection toward an African-American classmate. School mean girl Maureen (Alicia Manta) eyes Lou suspiciously, while spreading rumors about the alleged sexuality of her schoolteacher.

Between the documentary segments and the story of Lou’s trials of growing up, the film shows us instructional videos of that time period, in an expression of the bigotry and close-mindedness of the time.

The problem is, the portion focusing on Lou just kind of ends, with no resolution, while the transitions are fairly jarring. I think the feature could have been cut into several different films, each expanded greatly, and therefore improved upon.

I wanted to hear Lou’s story, and I wanted to hear the ladies’ memories, but both in the same movie proved to be somewhat distracting. Overall, though, “Hide and Seek” isn’t a bad film, just a little inconsistent, though I’d advise you to stay as far away as possible from the short films on the special features.

I watched one and started the other, and I have to say it was the most tedious ten minutes of my life. While this deserves to be watched, the short film deserves to rot in art-film purgatory. But if you like pointless shorts with no plot, maybe you’ll like that one. I don’t know.