Call for Essays About Any Aspect of Popular Culture, Present or Past

DVDs
cover art

She Likes Girls: 6 Romantic and Sexy Lesbian Short Films

Director: Abbe Robinson, Louise Runge, Tamika Miller, Amy Burt, Meredyth Wilson, Fiona Mackenzie
Cast: Ruth Baldwin, Rebecca Kenyon, Katie Boyle, Heidi Sulzman, Lalanya Masters, Caryn Ward, Leah Ostry, Leah Fassett, Kestrin Pantera, Caroline Macey, Alexie Gilmore, Stephanie Szostak

(Wolfe Video; US DVD: 6 Feb 2007)

Curlicue

She Likes Girls: 6 Romantic and Sexy Lesbian Short Films delivers on its title, at least the “romantic” part. Though, to be fair, several of the shorts are pretty “sexy” too, for the most part they’re oh-so-girly, like someone wrote “lesbian” in curlicue pre-teen doodle and dotted the “I” with a heart.


This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, considering the ways lesbian romance is alternately pathologized and fetishized in mainstream media and politics. She Likes Girls—which comes without extras—is a welcome antidote to common, overly serious lesbian drama, and quite refreshing in its light-heartedness (even when individual shorts take on racism and radical black politics [Sarang Song] or stalking [The Uninvited]). Nonetheless, the films avoid slipping into romance-novel treacle through their various and revisionary mythologies and nostalgia.


The first three films in the collection address modern and historical mythos in order to reimagine social and political histories that aren’t antipathetic to lesbians. Abbe Robinson’s The Piper, billed on the DVD box as a “magical modern lesbian fairy tale,” retells the story of the Pied Piper of Hamelin for a dyke audience. Amy (Ruth Baldwin) is plagued in her London flat by cockroaches (and the creepy close-ups of the bugs are all squirmy, recalling Guillermo del Toro’s Mimic [1997]). Her friend Alex (Elliot Hill) says maybe she should call a Pied Piper. Miraculously the Piper (Rebecca Kenyon) appears to help a “damsel in distress.” Cute and baby-butchy, the Piper explains that the major rule for Pipers is not to fall in love with mortals. After the two have sex, that rule is broken, and the Piper’s last act before passing on the flute is to conjure British pounds out of thin air. Their love cemented and their financial future secure, the couple walks off hand-in-hand into the night, a nice alternative to usual folkloric proto-lesbians cast as witches and spinsters.


Louise Runge’s The Uninvited isn’t so rose-tinted in it reformulating urban legend of the stalker variety. Single girl Maddie (Katie Boyle) spends her free time sneaking into neighboring apartment complexes to take illicit dips in their pools. So when her mail is mixed up with her neighbor Shelly’s (Heidi Sulzman), it’s a small step to her sneaking into Shelly’s apartment. She hides in the closet (metaphor!?) when Shelly unexpectedly returns, conveniently, as Shelly chokes on a piece of candy. Afterwards, Shelly, so appreciative, seems to be there every time Maddie turns around, to “thank” her. Maddie begins to sneak in and out of her own apartment, suggesting the kinds of threats women might feel being stalked.


By far the best of this first triptych is Tamika Miller’s Sarang Song. Set in Los Angeles 1972, it focuses on Black Power organizer Simone (Lalanya Masters) and her troubled relationship to her less-dedicated girlfriend Nessa (Caryn Ward). After L.A. cops beat a pair of students at their college, Simone quickly abandons the couple’s plan for a weekender to San Francisco in order to organize a protest rally. Questions of peaceful protest, police brutality, and institutional racism are all raised and given rather sophisticated treatment for a 23-minute film. Sarang Song reimagines righteous and loving black lesbianism as central to civil rights struggle, which wasn’t exactly welcoming to black lesbians back in the day.


This Boy, directed by Amy Burt, follows a day in the crush of tomboy Kit (Leah Ostry) on classmate Holly (Leah Fassett). When Kit and her pal Mike (Neil Matheson) break into Holly’s house, Kit explores Holly’s room while Mike vandalizes the downstairs. Before the police come to interrogate her, Kit gets a chaste kiss from Holly, who believes Kit that she had nothing to do with the destruction. That kiss is worth all the risk, and Kit happily lip-synchs and air-guitars to the Beatles’ ditty about heterosexual romance that she so loves, all shag-haired in her black suit, skinny tie, and pointy boots, as the cops arrive.


Similar crushing is chronicled in Meredyth Wilson’s Shugar Shank. Teen-butch Matt (Kestrin Pantera) longs for fellow punk-band mate Robin (Caroline Macey), and a bit of that desire is reciprocated in some weed-fueled making out. Robin is quickly smitten with lead singer Evan (Matt Dallas), leaving Matt briefly disgruntled about her unrequited love. Fiona Mackenzie’s Cosa Bella takes place a few years after from Shugar Shank. Belle (Alexie Gilmore) is a young interior designer trying to establish her independence and reputation, only to be dragged back into personal turmoil by college lover Delphine (Stephanie Szostak). Though Steph is married, she keeps running back to Belle for some booty. Try as she might, Belle just can’t quite Stephanie.


“Happily ever after,” despite some pitfalls and sticking points, is the general theme of this set of shorts. Yet, She Likes Girls offers some surprisingly complex and socially pointed rearticulations of lesbian life, politics, and romance.

Rating:

Comments
Now on PopMatters
PM Picks
Announcements

© 1999-2014 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters.com™ and PopMatters™ are trademarks
of PopMatters Media, Inc.

PopMatters is wholly independently owned and operated.