Thursday, March 07, 2013


It's Thursday, which means I get to present to you another five films to add to your Netflix queue!  Before we get to the films, however, I want to acknowledge a great resource I found while doing my research this past week-- the women-centric Netflix film finder That's right, it pretty much makes this weekly post of mine obsolete!  Oh well, it was nice knowing you all...

I kid, it does make it a whole lot easier for you to find women-directed movies on your own, but I'm going to continue to spoon-feed those of you in Species Lazy Bones for a while longer.  Plus, I can't blame you for wanting to hang out here with us broads on the Broad Humor bloggerwebs a few minutes more!  Now that I think about it, I take back what I said about you being a lazy bones, you're actually quite smart...and I like that lip gloss you're wearing...

Alright, onto the movies. To keep it a little more interesting, I've decided to group my picks into themes (see, I make such an effort for you, you really should keep coming back). This week, the theme is Films-Destri-Learned-About-In-Film-And-Womens-Studies-Class; or, Important Films!  No seriously, these are some really great films.  You have to give Netflix credit for making them available to a wider audience.  It wasn't that long ago that I was working on my MSc dissertation and could only find Working Girls at the ONE specialty video store left in LA.*  Now I can watch it on Netflix in the comfort of my rundown "Eastside" apartment and never be forced to venture past La Brea again!     

Working Girls (dir Lizzie Borden, 1986) - Netflix says: "Winner of a Special Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival, director Lizzie Borden's gritty drama depicts a day in the lives of several prostitutes working in an upscale Manhattan whorehouse. Told largely through the eyes of one of the girls -- a lesbian prostitute (Louise Smith) whose partner has no idea what she does for a living -- the film provides a no-holds-barred portrayal of the world's oldest profession."  Although it says, "no-holds-barred," I don't remember this being super sexual, considering its subject matter, so I have to believe it has more to do with the portrayal of women's lived experiences in this line of work-- like, SPOILER ALERT, the scene with the woman adjusting her diaphragm while casually talking to a co-worker.  I guess women's regular bodily functions are considered pretty wild when you don't see them on the screen very much, eh Netflix?  

Desperately Seeking Susan (dir Susan Seidelman, 1985, DVD) - Netflix says: "Roberta (Rosanna Arquette) seeks vicarious thrills through other people's personal ads. But via a jacket, amnesia and mistaken identity, Roberta comes to believe she's Susan (Madonna), a wild Soho vamp wanted by the mob. Dez (Aidan Quinn) falls for "Susan" (Roberta); the real Susan has no idea she has a double; and Roberta's husband, Jim (Mark Blum), is thrown for a loop."  Volumes of feminist theory have been written about this film and there's no way I'm going to try encapsulate it in a single sentence.  Really, only four words are needed:  Madonna in the 80's!

Paris Is Burning (dir Jennie Livingston, 1990) - Netflix says: "Penetrating the tight-knit community of minority drag queens living in New York City, Jennie Livingston's acclaimed documentary offers an early glimpse at the art of "voguing," the underground dance style later popularized by Madonna in her hit song. The film also explores issues such as racism, homophobia and AIDS, while offering a detailed examination of the intricate Ball culture, in which queens are judged for their style and expression."  This film is about some of the biggest issues of the era and it received a huge number of awards when it debuted, yet somehow it didn't get an Oscar nom.  So yes, The Academy has been behind the curve for quite some time...

The Watermelon Woman (dir Cheryl Dunye, 1996) - Netflix says: "While researching a forgotten African-American actress, black video-store clerk Cheryl discovers that her subject had an affair with a white female director. In a stroke of intergenerational coincidence, Cheryl soon falls in love with a white woman."  It's super low budget which sometimes shows on the screen, but I challenge you not to be charmed by the great Cheryl Dunye (who stars AND directs).  Also, can you believe this was the first feature film directed by a black lesbian? 1996 wasn't THAT long ago!  

Gas Food Lodging (dir Allison Anders, 1992, DVD) -  Netflix says: "A hardworking, blue-collar mother (Brooke Adams) and her two diametrically opposed daughters, Shade (Fairuza Balk) and Trudi (Ione Skye), try to live a normal life in their whistle-stop desert town in New Mexico. Melancholy Shade escapes via the romantic melodramas at the local Mexican cinema, while Trudi throws herself into meaningless sexual relationships with men."  This was probably one of the first "indie" films I watched and I'm sure I didn't appreciate it as much as I should have at the time-- you see, there is nobody running from a boulder or any sort of big bad villain in this film.  I read somewhere recently that it was one of the first times the word "tampon" was mentioned in an American film.  There go those crazy girls and their bodily functions again!

*There might have been more than one specialty video store at that time, maybe I was being a bit dramatic.

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