Concussion—-Lesbian sex, it’s so HOT right now!!

Concussion headlined many Queer film festivals this year.  With it’s high-production values, pretty star and fantasy plot of a lesbian who decides to become a high-priced call girl after a knock on the head; it’s easy to see why it is a popular film.  The sets are all beautifully-furnished suburban homes or artfully-decorated city apartments that our star spends all her time and money upgrading.  It’s a sex-film for upper-middle class lesbians who may be finding marriage, kids and a house in the suburbs more bland and less-fulfilling then they anticipated.

If it’s seems a tad unrealistic to think that there might be a market for Abby’s (Robin Weigert) services, or that leading a double-life would be so easy to keep from the kids and the wife…well, at least it’s an interesting film.  And don’t we all need a little wish fulfillment now a days? The fact that Abby’s escapades involve parading around in expensive lingerie, mentoring a young college student with feminist literature as well as sexual gratification and rough sex with another suburban housewife is about as reasonable as the assumption that getting hit by a baseball would lead to this new lifestyle.

Having won a Teddy Jury award at the Berlin Film Festival for writer/director Stacie Passon and a Best First Feature award at Frameline Film Festival in San Francisco, I wish this director and this film continued success.  The many soft-core porn sex scenes are pretty and not exploitative, and if they feel unrealistic; at least they were directed by a woman from a screenplay written by the same woman.  Thus dodging the controversy surrounding the OTHER lesbian film currently playing in LA and New York….

Concussion

Blue is the Warmest Color is generating controversy and discussion of female sexuality and male gaze.   A three-hour film about a young girl’s coming-of-age journey, “La vie d’Adèle” was directed by Abdellatif Kechiche and stars the two young actresses, Léa Seydoux and Adèle Exarchopoulos.  In an unusual and remarkable move, the Cannes jury awarded the Palm d’Or to not just the director, but also, for the first time ever, the actors as well!  Having not seen the film myself, I can easily predict that the length of the film will be more of an issue for me personally, than the six and a half minute-long sex scene.  Rarely do I find that the bloated Hollywood films need their 2-hour running time and though I tend to be more forgiving of non-traditional films from independent filmmakers, three hours speaks to a director who is too precious with his or her work.

I do enjoy reading all the press that this film is inspiring.  Any film that can incite writers to discuss female sexuality and representation is a winner in my book!   Here’s a quote from Matthew Hammett Knott that I rather liked:

“It all comes back to Robert Bresson’s inspiring maxim – “make visible that which, without you, might never be seen”.  In this respect, Manohla Dargis’s criticism that Kechiche “seems so unaware or maybe just uninterested in the tough questions about the representation of the female body that feminists have engaged for decades” seems less pertinent to “Blue is the Warmest Color” than with regard to the wider picture. All perspectives are limited, including Dargis’, including Kechiche’s, including mine. It doesn’t mean we have to reject any in particular. That is our prerogative. What is essential is to recognize the limitations of each, and most importantly, recognize those that are missing entirely from our cultural landscape, and seek them out. ”

Blue is the Warmest Color

http://whttp://www.indiewire.com/article/heroines-of-cinema-blue-is-the-warmest-color-and-the-real-problem-with-male-filmmakers-and-female-sexuality

So seek out queer cinema if you can!  Support all films that support women-driven narratives because they are few and far between!

http://www.indiewire.com/article/what-do-we-expect-from-lesbian-films

Rating: 3 soy lattes in an arty cafe while scheduling play dates, a Pilates session and waiting for your paid date to arrive…

Fond Farewell to the Bay Area

drinks with filmsYes, the time has come for me to take a hiatus from my beloved Bay Area and continue my job search somewhere less distracting…look out Boulder, CO!

Big thanks to my friends in the publicity biz who’ve been big supporters: Steve Indig at Landmark Theatres and Karen Larsen and staff at Larsen and Associates.  And to all the gals at Bay Area Women in Film and Media — thank you for your friendship and keep up the good work!

I’m really going to miss living in a city that has such a wealth of art-house and foreign films screening in so many theaters, often opening here right after New York and Los Angeles!  San Francisco has more film festivals than any other city–and I’ve attended or worked at most of them!!  I’ll miss all my dear film festival friends.   A big hug of gratitude to the staffs at Frameline and CAAMFest and SF Green Film Festival, cheers to Jeff Ross for his dedication to independent film and music in the Bay Area with Indiefest, Docfest and Another Hole in the Head and to my dear friends at the SF Film Society presenting fabulous programming and events while struggling with a lack of leadership.  Hurrah for fabulous film curation all around the Bay Area!  To all my festival gypsy friends traveling from festival to festival, I salute you!  I’m there in spirit even if I’m not working at your side!

Here’s what I’d recommend you see in San Francisco this weekend:

The World’s End–This is what I’m most excited to see because I’m a huge fan of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz and it looks like more of the same wackiness!

20 Feet From Stardom–Yes, it’s still playing (at Stonestown, but still…).  This is a great documentary about back-up singers that even non-musicians would enjoy.

Frances Ha–Again, yes, it’s still playing.  It’s at the Roxie (9pm) and is a must-see for fans of Indie films.  Written with Greta Gerwig, Noah Baumbach’s film is like a more-hip and funnier Woody Allen film!

Two coming of age films that I reviewed earlier: The Way Way Back and The Spectacular Now should also not be missed.   Both charming and with great performances; they are small films with big hearts!

Unknown Cutie and The Boxer–If there was one film that I’d encourage everyone to see, it’s this wonderful documentary!  A well-crafted first film by Zachary Heinzerling, this is an intimate portrait of an eccentric painter and sculptor, Ushio Shinohara and his supportive wife and fellow artist, Noriko Shinohara.   Ushio lives life large with a big presence and big work, while his wife, Noriko steps out of his shadow to present her own work and begins to finds her own voice.  As they struggle to find an audience (and buyers!) for their creations: towering papier mache motorcycles, paintings created by “boxing” the canvas and graphic novels depicting their own troubled relationship, we also see their struggles to be true to their art and each other.  It’s both tender and poignant.

Don’t let this one get out of town before you get to see it!!

And a quick update on this lovely film: http://www.indiewire.com/article/critics-picks-the-top-10-documentaries-released-in-2013-according-to-indiewires-film-critic

Until we meet again, I’ll be at the movies…let’s have a drink and you can tell me what YOU think!

“Cops vs Capital (Destruction), Bling vs Boys”

Ahhh, Summer-time!  As summer hits The City, with San Francisco in the 80’s this weekend, June slides into July with a big bang, and there is much to celebrate!  In case you aren’t sitting in Dolores Park with a cool beverage, marching or watching a parade or just enjoying the sun and fun…here’s my recommendation for this weekend’s films:

Save White House Down for the July Fourth weekend, when you can show your patriotism with some fun action and big screen destruction.  Instead, get your funny on, and see Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy in the cop comedy, The Heat.  We need to turn out in big numbers on this opening weekend to show the studios that Americans want more movies featuring women!  Sure, there are moments of crass humor, but nothing to rival the antics of the “boys” of This is the End.  Perhaps you could rent the men-behaving-like-boys film or wait a week instead?  Everyone should have the freedom of choose…just choose wisely!  Big Brother, the almighty studio, is counting every film dollar!

You could also bring your favorite teenager to The Bling Ring, the latest Sofia Coppola film.  Spending some time with the shallow, bland teens onscreen as they act out their sense of entitlement should give you much to discuss!  The lovely Fill The Void is also directed by a woman and a good film to catch before it leaves theaters.  Or to search out if you don’t live in the Bay Area.

This is the final weekend to see some wonderful queer films at Frameline!  The programming at Frameline 37 is very strong, plus, there’s a wealth of short films (over 50!) and a wide variety of queer Asian films.  Many of these films feature strong female roles and some films were even made with an entire female  film crew!  Huzzah!

I also highly recommend Byzantium (reviewed in an earlier post) with the fabulous Gemma Arterton and soulful Saoirse Ronan playing vampire witches traveling through the centuries.  Directed by Neil Jordan, this atmospheric thriller “isn’t a movie about male appetites. It’s about women who, with blood, power, wit and will, ably satisfy an entirely different hunger.” (http://movies.nytimes.com/2013/06/28/movies/byzantium-draws-on-caribbean-vampire-folklore.html?_r=0), Manohla Dargis

So get out there and enjoy the weekend!  If you seek the cool hush of the cinema, do so to quench the hunger for strong storytelling featuring females!

Also still playing in Bay Area Theaters and featuring women in strong roles (in front of and behind the cameras): The East, Frances Ha, 20 Feet From Stardom and Before Midnight