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