Lesbian movies that don't suck
August 21, 2015 4:00 PM   Subscribe

This makes a great list, given that I have seen exactly one of these movies!

And it was Bound, which I think is completely wonderful, but I'm not sure I could defend. It is what we now recognize as a Wachowski film.
posted by selfnoise at 4:26 PM on August 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

I'd add Fire, Lianna, Pariah, and, yes, Blue Is the Warmest Color for starters (though the last two came out after these lists). I'm glad to see If These Walls Could Talk 2 especially because butch and genderqueer women are underrepresented onscreen (though Orange Is the New Black is certainly making for lost time).
posted by thetortoise at 4:30 PM on August 21, 2015 [2 favorites]

Oh good - they give props to "Desert Hearts", which is (imao) substantially responsible for the sudden popularity of Patsy Cline in the queer community in the late 1980's. And "Incredibly True Adventures of Two Girls in Love" was SO ADORABLE.

I'm a little surprised to not see "Go Fish" on the list.
posted by rmd1023 at 4:31 PM on August 21, 2015 [3 favorites]

Oh! And Maedchen in Uniform and Times Square (not explicitly queer, but whatever). The Killing of Sister George is worth watching for Beryl Reid's performance but also painfully homophobic.
posted by thetortoise at 4:34 PM on August 21, 2015 [2 favorites]

Hah! I helped with the home video releases of one of the best films (But I'm a Cheerleader) and one of the worst (Lost and Delirious—a film so bad the second link takes several paragraphs to explain why it will never be on a best-of list).

I highly recommend But I'm a Cheerleader—who knew RuPaul could act? Who knew Julie Delpy was so damn cool? Who knew deconstructing gender roles in society could be so easy and fun? I don't have kids, but if I did I'd show them this movie when they were teenagers.
posted by infinitewindow at 4:41 PM on August 21, 2015 [5 favorites]

But I'm a Cheerleader is such a great movie! Most people who've seen it know this, the list knows this, but nonetheless it bears repeating. So over the top and funny and sweet. Check out the ratings page on Rotten Tomatoes for a bunch of yahoos who hated the movie so much they couldn't even bother to spell the actresses' names right.
posted by phunniemee at 4:43 PM on August 21, 2015 [5 favorites]

Yey, Desert Hearts.
posted by Hicksu at 4:44 PM on August 21, 2015

p.s. If you're wondering why Lloyd Morgan-Gordon looks so familiar it's because he was the wallet guy in Back to the Future!
posted by phunniemee at 4:46 PM on August 21, 2015

I was curious if the Swedish teen lesbian romance (Show Me Love/Fucking Amal) was included - #1. Nice one.

I just saw the same director's We Are The Best, which is fully enjoyable.
posted by vunder at 4:46 PM on August 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

Aww, my whole friend group in high school was really into But I'm a Cheerleader, so I will forever associate it with fond memories of being 16 and awkwardly cuddling with friends in front of someone's mom's TV.
posted by teponaztli at 4:48 PM on August 21, 2015

Show Me Love is one of the best, most life-affirming films ever - especially if you grew up in a town EXACTLY like Åmål (which I did). God, it's one of my all-time favourite films and more people should know about it. It's wonderful.

On the other hand, I never got on with Bound.
posted by kariebookish at 4:54 PM on August 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

Shout out for the love for Saving Face!
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:57 PM on August 21, 2015 [3 favorites]

No Better Than Chocolate on either list? For shame!

It's not great cinema, and it has a problematic man-playing-a-trans-woman thing going on. That said, I will bet that the number of people at my (women's) college who realized they were queer after seeing the scene where the two women paint each other is significant. You had to act fast to get that DVD out of the library.
posted by ActionPopulated at 4:58 PM on August 21, 2015 [3 favorites]

I want to put a plug in too for 52 Tuesdays, which got some attention for its great depiction of a FTM parent in the process of transitioning but also deserves notice for the film's co-protagonist, his queer teenage daughter. Such a great movie!
posted by thetortoise at 4:58 PM on August 21, 2015

My reaction to the first list went something like this:

Oh, I've been meaning to see Show Me Love ... But I'm A Cheerleader, yes of course, and Boys Don't Cry, both great movies ... Oh, never even heard of Saving Face, I'll add that to the to-see list! ... Bound, great movie ... Gia and All Over Me, two more I haven't heard of, I'll have to jot these down ... Never got around to seeing High Art, I really should ...

Wait, D.E.B.S.! D.E.B.S. is on the list! I love D.E.B.S.! I thought I was the only one! I own the *soundtrack* to D.E.B.S.! Yay D.E.B.S.! Wooo!

I ... may have strong feelings about D.E.B.S.
posted by kyrademon at 5:09 PM on August 21, 2015 [6 favorites]

Oh, Saving Face! I love Saving Face so much. It's so funny and warm and the family stuff and everyone is imperfect and human and real and just. My god.

I would also like to recommend Cloudburst for those of you who haven't seen it--you guys, it's amazing, and it's on Netflix right now.
posted by sciatrix at 5:11 PM on August 21, 2015 [4 favorites]

actually I have nothing going on and if anyone wants to watch Cloudburst via rabb.it let me know because I will totally fucking watch it again
posted by sciatrix at 5:13 PM on August 21, 2015

I love D.E.B.S. and yes I goddamn well paid money to see it in the theater.
posted by Kitteh at 5:16 PM on August 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

I have seen Gia, or at least I have seen enough parts of it to make a whole viewing - I had a lesbian friend in high-school who had it on pretty much constantly at her place.
posted by the uncomplicated soups of my childhood at 5:29 PM on August 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

Saving Face was the last film I saw before I discovered that brain surgery was in my future. Maybe this has skewed my judgement, but it makes me melt every time. I gave my mom a copy, because it's so great. I love that you can hear the romantic theme being played badly on a hello by a neighbor while the romantic leads are arguing. It's so good.

Also, I am a little drunk, and I want to run home and watch Daving Face again.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:42 PM on August 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

I think I've Heard the Mermaids Singing should be on one of these.

D.E.B.S. is a total delight, as is But I'm A Cheerleader!
posted by rtha at 5:47 PM on August 21, 2015 [3 favorites]

I've seen and liked most of these (But I'm a Cheerleader is the BEST), but I walked out of Bound. (I would like to say that I like Lianna but... John Sayles is sometimes amazing and sometimes just polemical.)

posted by latkes at 5:48 PM on August 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

Reading this list made me wonder what Alex and Sylvia Sichel, who made All Over Me, eventually did. Sadly, a casual googling led to her obituary. It looks like she has a second film in the can, which is cold comfort.
posted by pxe2000 at 5:49 PM on August 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

I adore Saving Face! It's worth it for the the Chinese stereotypes alone.

One of my favorite bits doesn't even involve the two lesbian ladies -- it's the montage of horrible dates that Wil's mother is subjected to. Joan Chen (*swoon*) is being spun around on the dance floor by a greasy Chinese fellow, who loudly bellows the advice of his dance instructor, "Alan! More hip action!", which he punctuates with appropriately lewd pelvic thrusts.

It's become a favorite phrase around my house, always announced loudly and with a Chinese accent.
posted by gox3r at 6:02 PM on August 21, 2015 [3 favorites]

I just came here to recommend "When Night is Falling". The Iron Dance alone is worth the price of admission.
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 6:36 PM on August 21, 2015 [2 favorites]

I'm so fond of the movies I have seen on this list that it makes me want to see all the other ones, but one thing holds me back: Joan Chen will always be Josie Packard to me, I'm not sure I can handle her being someone's divorced mom.
posted by Diablevert at 6:41 PM on August 21, 2015 [3 favorites]

I really loved the soundtrack from But I'm a Cheerleader. Guaranteed to make me smile even now.
posted by nat at 7:41 PM on August 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

I'm a little surprised to not see "Go Fish" on the list.

It's mentioned in the first sentence, "Fact: Not every lesbian movie scales the pinnacles of suckdom achieved by most lesbian movies, e.g., Go Fish‘s mind-blowingly wearisome Sapphic History seminars and Lost & Delirious‘s Bird-Metaphor Overkill. " I'm guessing they didn't like it.
posted by Margalo Epps at 9:46 PM on August 21, 2015 [2 favorites]

thetortoise: I'd add Fire...

Fire! I was so grateful for that movie because it was so joyful in the end. I had suffered through Aimee & Jaguar (saw it in a tiny crowded theater and had a full-scale panic attack at a cafe table in Union Square immediately following) and made it to the credits of the truly awful Lost & Delirious (also in a theater, alone this time, by the end with a feeling much like having been hit in the gut with a brick). High Art left me flat for days.

Fire was a huge change from all that for me. I since discovered But I'm a Cheerleader (which gets more delightful with each viewing) and Show Me Love. And Saving Face! And Imagine Me & You (in which Piper Perabo totally absolves herself for Lost & Delirious), which is wonderfully sweet -- like life, there are no true villains and everything generally works out one way or another.

I want more happy and romantic endings.
posted by mochapickle at 9:51 PM on August 21, 2015 [2 favorites]

Seconding Multicellular Exothermic's recommendation for When Night Is Falling. Surprised it didn't make the lists.
posted by bigZLiLk at 10:15 PM on August 21, 2015

Seconding (or thirding) Cloudburst. I saw it recently on the word of a former student of mine. Great fun.
posted by sic friat crustulum at 4:28 AM on August 22, 2015

Wow. Yeah, I missed the first sentence reference to Go Fish. I thought it was uneven but had enough cute quirkiness. I strongly suspect this may be a function of my age vs the ages of the folks making up the list, too. Also, it launched careers for Rose Troche and Guinivere Turner.
posted by rmd1023 at 4:54 AM on August 22, 2015 [4 favorites]

(not saying a movie is good because it launched someone's career, though.)
posted by rmd1023 at 4:58 AM on August 22, 2015

I've seen all but two of these and own mos of them but had missed Cloudburst entirely! I will be watching ASAP. Not a whisper about Concussion (which I've not seen) anywhere, is it unmentionable?
posted by Iteki at 7:31 AM on August 22, 2015

Although it's twenty years old, Antonia's Line remains one of my favorite movies. The core relationship central to the film is a lesbian one. The imagery with which the love of the two characters is celebrated is gorgeous. Ever since, I've dreamed that someone would fall in love with me over an artichoke..
posted by batbat at 8:36 AM on August 22, 2015 [2 favorites]

Great post!
I just watched "But I'm a Cheerleader" and really enjoyed that!
And then I watched "Saving Face"....and I have one question:
At about 73min, Wil says to her mother: "I love you....and I'm gay!"
But....is there really no Chinese word for "gay"?
posted by mortimore at 6:14 PM on August 22, 2015

Of these, I've only seen Fucking Åmål, which is at #1, so I guess it's all downhill from here.

But I found it a good and moving film, and liked it so much that when director Lukas Moodysson came out with Lilja 4-ever I put off seeing it knowing that it would probably push my buttons and be really heartbreaking.
posted by Harald74 at 12:02 AM on August 23, 2015

Anyone seen Carol yet? Can't wait for that one.
posted by thetortoise at 12:23 AM on August 23, 2015

Who knew Julie Delpy was so damn cool?

Just for the record, I knew that. I've known it for about 20 years now.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 5:15 AM on August 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

You guys, they just added Pariah to Netflix streaming. Hurry up and see it if you haven't, because it's fantastic.
posted by thetortoise at 9:31 PM on August 23, 2015

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