Review of She Likes Girls 3

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New on DVD this week, She Likes Girls 3 is a collection of some of the past year’s best lesbian short

films.

Culled from the queer festival circuit, the eight shorts

provide a good mix of drama, comedy, and romance, with a touch of

action-adventure thrown in. On par with the recent slow-but-steady upturn in

quality of lesbian-produced films, the DVD features short films by some of the

best up-and-comers, and a couple of well-established favorites  (like Guinevere Turner), that independent

lesbian cinema has to offer.

The collection opens up with Tina

Scorzafava’s epic (even for twelve minutes) In Twilight’s Shadow, which absolutely blew festival audiences

away this year with its cool special effects and even cooler

vampires-and-mortals plot.

The story follows Carlisle,

a vampire-like creature (played by ex-model Natasha Alam) as she kicks undead

ass in order to get her girlfriend back from the fiendish Aristotle. Fans of Buffy The Vampire Slayer will instantly

fall in love with the modern-meets-gothic storyline and the awesome fight

scenes. Everyone else will likely be intrigued by the piece, which director

Scorzafava is attempting to turn into a full-length feature (or expand into a

TV series).

While it’s undeniably cool to see an effects-driven action

flick with lesbian characters, the wow-factor is somewhat dependent on the fact

that no one really expected to see sci-fi or action in a women’s shorts program

(traditionally populated with lower-budget comedies and dramas).

The film is great, but it’s clearly a giant tease — one

hopes that Scorzafava gets to do something more with the concept.

Next up are two comedies starring The Big Gay Sketch Show’s Julie Goldman.

The first is a hilarious music video/rant about queer

marriage rights, aptly titled Commitment

Ceremony
. Also starring TBGSS

Kate McKinnon, Goldman’s character proposes (sort of) and then the pair takes

off on a musical adventure, propelled by Goldman’s lyrics: “I wanna commitment

ceremony you/I wanna live my life/I wanna commitment ceremony you/say yes/say

yes and be my… domestic partner!”

Julie Goldman (left) and Kate McKinnon in Commitment Ceremony

Happy Birthday is

a bit more traditional, with Goldman and Deak Evgenikos (Itty Bitty Titty Committee) playing butch tops whose femme

girlfriends want to try a little something new in the bedroom. It’s also the

most star-studded short, with Goldman, Evgenikos, Yolanda Ross (Stranger Inside) and Lisa Branch (of Law and Order and Soul Food fame).

The piece is certainly funny, but it definitely doesn’t

contain quite the same spark of fun as the previous selection. The butch-femme

politics are pretty heavy-handed, and while hilarious, a scene involving an

uncooperative sex toy overstays its welcome.

In fact, this film and the next one — Long Ago — are among the weaker picks on the DVD. Long Ago (directed by Christy Wegener)

is the story of a cute bartender who just can’t get rid of her ridiculous

rat-tail (it’s something of a metaphor for her ex-girlfriend) no matter what

she does. It’s funny and certainly has its moments, but it really can’t hold a

candle to the stronger pieces in the collection.

Fortunately, everything following is fantastic.

Guinevere Turner’s fascinating, unconventional Late is like a breath of fresh air in a

rather stagnant field. It tells the story of a woman who is late to her

girlfriend’s birthday dinner, and hasn’t returned her best friend’s calls. By

using answering machine messages as dialogue, and slow, deliberate

cinematography to show just why she didn’t make it, the film works as a mystery

and a little slice-of-life comedy in the same stroke.

The heaviest drama on the collection is Cassandra Nicolaou’s

Congratulations Daisy Graham, which

tells the story of a deeply unhappy, ailing older woman who lives with her

longtime partner. Her partner is suffering visibly from mental illness, and

brief flashbacks to their first kiss (back in the 1960s) serve to illuminate

their unfortunate trajectory.

Congratulations Daisy Graham

The titular Daisy is about to christen a new

building (at the school she taught at for many years), named in her honor, but

the only thing she craves is peace.

It’s an incredibly poignant, well-made drama, and it feels

as gut wrenching and moving as any good feature-length film.

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