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Bound - God Save the Gouine*

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By Moira Sullivan 


The Wachowskis'Bound (USA 1996) is a cult noir thriller that is so technically well made that years later, the timing and precision of the film is still captivating. The story about two women who dupe the mob and make off with 2 million dollars has gone down in history as a classic positive lesbian film where the girl gets the girl. Caesar played by Joe Pantoliano is Violet's creepy boyfriend prone to rage attacks, and she wants out. Along comes Corky (Gina Gershon) and it’s all over. Corky and Violet (Jennifer Tilly) still have a cult following today for being the coolest lesbians in cinema history. Of course these two women operate outside of the law, as the mob operates outside of the law. When someone steals or murders the mob takes care of it. So when Corky and Violent screw over the mob they have not really stood up to the way lesbians are conditioned in society, they just make up the rules as they go along. Which is why the film works. Thelma and Louise

22:e Cineffable Festival International du Film Lesbien et Féministe de Paris

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By Moira Sullivan

In a special limited edition the 22:e Cineffable Festival International du Film Lesbien et Féministe de Paris took place on Toussaint, the All Saints Day holiday. Due to repairs at the Trianon Theatre at Montmartre, which has been the home of the festival for several years, the volunteer staff quickly found a suitable location at Espace Reuilly. Though the festival was shortened by two days, Cineffable sold 3000 tickets to the screenings as many tickets as it does at Trianon proving that this festival has a dedicated following no matter what.
In fact the Cineffable festival may well be the only one of its kind in the world where a political lesbian public is able to see the best in lesbian films from around the world. It is also rare to have a feminist venue without compromise. Some of the highlights of the festival this year included an homage to the late Swiss documentary filmmaker Carole Roussopoulos who began making video film’s in the 70s using the camera as a p…

Mill Valley Film Festival Oct. 7-17, 2010 - Movie Reviews

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By Jonathan W. Wind



The 33rd Mill Valley Film Festival begins October 7 and ends October 17. These are a few of the finer offerings of the festival.




Child of Giants

Narrated by Daniel Rhodes Dixon, eldest son of depression era photographer Dorothea Lange (1895-1965) and painter Maynard Dixon (1875-1946) Child of Giants tells the story of Daniel's disenchantment with his parents, icons of the American art world and residents of San Francisco. Dorothea, famous for her b&w photography and Maynard for his desert art and folk paintings were ruthless in their raising of their two sons, who loved them but could not seem to obtain their love in return. Much of the film, sorrowfully, is a gripefest of how he and his brother were not loved but instead sent to foster homes while Dorothea and Maynard developed their impressive careers. Daniel rebelled and became a thorn in their sides until he finally reconciled with them and matured without the crushing weight of his parents' fame.





67th Venice Film Festival Part 2

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By Moira Sullivan 

So much can be said about the Venice Film Festival which ran from 1-11 September. Besides the official competition are several parallel events.
The section Orizzonti, or Horizons presents the best in innovative work with boundary breaking in film.  One film in particular that stands out from the crowd EL SICARIO ROOM 164 by Gianfranco Rosi was filmed inside a hotel room. The subject wears a black mask as he tells the story of being a corrupt policeman in Mexico that worked for a drug cartel. As he tells the story, he draws on a large artist’s pad, sketching the people places and things that he encountered as a man who roughed up and murdered hundreds of people for the crime of owing or stealing money or not fulfilling their duties for the cartel.
The ORIZZONTI AWARD (for SHORT FILMS) Went to COMING ATTRACTIONS by Peter TSCHERKASSKY (from Austria) This was a short film of images with a smooth cadence that captures the feel of early cinema, the 1950’s er…

67th Venice International Film Festival

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By Moira Sullivan

The 67th Venice International Film Festival ran from 1 -11 September. Sofia Coppola took home the highest award, the Golden Lion for her film Somewhere. It stars Stephen Dorff as an errant and popular film director Johnny Marco who spends his time on partying and women. When his13 year old girl Cleo played by Elle Fanning shows up he is forced to look as his life. The film is set in a series of hotels, which Coppola said were common dwellings when she was on the road with her father Francis Ford Coppola. Family friend and director/actor Vincent Gallo didn't provide any pre-publicity for his new film Promises Written in Water, in the official competition along with Sofia’s film but it certainly fulfills this festival’s vision for innovative and genre breaking cinema. This new film stands out from the crowd for the official competition and is an achievement that lingers for a long time. It should encourage young filmmakers to do something different, not something t…

Satoshi Kon - Tribute

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By Moira Sullivan

It is with great sadness to hear the news that the Japanese anime director Satoshi Kon passed away on August 24 at the age of 46.  Kon received the diagnosis that he had pancreatic cancer on May 18 with little time left to live. In a blog written to his fans Satoshi Kon during this time he remarkably shared with us how dishonorable he felt it was to leave the world before his parents, and humbly admitted to other shortcomings.  He repeatedly used the expression “Sorry to leave before you “ in his endearing testimony. This was an incredible opportunity to share in not only the life but also the reality of Mr. Kon in his final days. He leaves several memorable films in his legacy. Kon began his career as a manga artist and later worked with anime. He never made a live action film and preferred to draw his films. His debut film was Perfect Blue, in 1997, followed by Millennium Actress in 2001, Tokyo Godfathers in 2003 Paprika in 2006 and the television series Paranoia Ag…

Tipping the Velvet

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By Moira Sullivan
The most enchanting story of a young woman growing up in England and searching for her identity is the foundation for Tipping the Velvet. Based on a novel by Sarah Waters,  chosen by the New York Times as the best novel of 1998. Making this three part story telecast for the BBC in 2002 was not without problems for some of the scenes are sexually explicit, including the implications of the title itself.  Geoffrey Sax is the director of this straightforward television drama, but the story is done in a captivating way.  Rachel Stirling is Nan Astley, a young woman who falls in love with a male performance artist, Miss Kitty Butler (Keeley Hawes) who is the most exciting woman she has ever known. She eventually tours with Butler  as her sidekick, and unbeknownst to her at the time, their performances had a large fan base among London lesbians. Waters takes liberty with the historical period of the Victorian Era and surmises that there could have well been an underground l…

Life During Wartime

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By Moira Sullivan
Todd Solondz’ sequel to Happiness called Life During Wartime premiered last year at the Venice Film Festival and took home the best screenplay award. Solondz who serves as both screenwriter and director for his new film is a favorite at this festival, and four years ago he brought Palindrome together with actress Ellen Barkin. In that film several actors play the same character and in Life During Wartime, other actors than the original ones in Happiness play the main roles. The plot follows the lives of the three Jordan sisters, Trish Allison Janney, Joy Shirley Henderson, and Helen played by Alley Sheedy. The scene is Miami Florida and it's pro Israel Jewish community.

Trish raises her children alone and is on antidepressants. Her husband Bill played by Ciarán Hinds, was arrested for child molestation but is now out of jail.  She begins dating Harvey (Michael Lerner) and tries to start anew. Her son Timmy (Dylan Riley Snyder), the poster boy of the film, is a pre…

SALT is Angelina Jolie

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By Moira Sullivan
Angelina Jolie is Evelyn SALT - a CIA agent with a Russian past. The opening minutes pull us into a scene with a Russian defector who Salt speaks to in an interrogation room. Suddenly a plan to kill the Russian president is on board and Salt is implicated by the defector as a double agent just before he leaves the building. Here’s where the action begins. None other than a James Bond spider woman, Angelina Jolie jumps out of buildings, on to moving trucks, strong arms agents like they were silly putty and wrenches a motorcycle from a driver when the freeway jams. Unlike James Bond, Jolie has a husband and his safety is her MO. Here’s why James Bond never marries, pretty much through all of the film, her husband is her main concern, and why she needs to stay on the run. But at least she gets to be spider woman. Her husband is a German anachronologist that somehow sprung her from North Korea military for being a spy and afterwards she continues her domesticated life unt…

Agora and Alejandra Amenábar

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By Moira Sullivan
Agora is a beautifully filmed historical narrative by Alejandro Amenábar, set in 4th century Alexandria, in Roman Egypt. It is an English language film made in Spain that won seven national film awards or Goya. Rachel Weisz plays Hypatia, an astronomer who was convinced that the earth was round and circulated around the sun. The film shows the emergence of power hungry Christians who destroyed the ancient knowledge of Hypatia and her students by desecrating their library and burning their books.  Hypatia was so advanced for her time and threatened the new world view of one deity so much that eventually Christians called her a witch and stoned her to death. In an unusual depiction of this time, the Christians dress in black and are shown as a swarm of screaming men,  a large mob often incited to riots by ill thinking leaders. The atrocities of the time were horrible, and students are forced to either become Christians or die. The history of the time is presented in stu…

Breathless Revisited

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By Moira Sullivan
It does take your breath away to see such a pristine clear copy of Jean Luc Godard’s classic 50 years later with a new and improved translation of the French dialogue by François Truffaut, including the mysterious closing line of the film. The film that encouraged the Swiss filmmaker to later brag, "all you need is a girl and a gun". The story of small time crook Michel Poiccard, played by Jean Paul Belmondo who falls in love with Patricia Franchini, the late Jean Seberg, has gone down in film history as one of the tragic comic love tales of our time. Michel who tries to imitate Humphrey Bogart is not very good at it at all, but you have to admire his comical efforts in trying to look tough with a cigarette hanging out of his thick lips, which he often strokes with his thumb, and his lack of success as a gangster, which includes having to steal money from his girlfriend’s purse. Godard’s film is so simple that it works again and again. You never tire of hear…

The Owls Raises the Bar for Queer Cinema - A Movie Review

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By Moira Sullivan

Cheryl Dunye’s latest feature The Owls is an experimental narrative that screened at Frameline June 18th. The anticipation for this film was high as information about the project has been accessible for some time including a Facebook group. Owl stands for Older Wiser Lesbian. 
The filmmakers and actors belong to the Parliament Film Collective, a matrix of lesbian and new queer cinema creativity.  The film cost 22,000 dollars to make and seems to fit in with the challenge made by Maya Deren to make good affordable films, she said her films cost what Hollywood spends on lipstick. 
The Owls should turn the way queer cinema is going in a new direction, away from big budgets, narrative construction with rising falling action and resolution, following the old Hollywood premise. Its not about coming of age stories of lesbians or coming out or first romance. It’s a more authentic look at lesbian and queer lives with an authentic form to match. The short film category is pretty …

The Secret Diaries of Miss Ann Lister... and the Silencing of the Lithuanian Lambs - A Movie Review

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By Moira Sullivan, San Francisco There cannot be anything more painful than to watch a lesbian falling in love with a woman who decides to leave her eventually for a man or for marriage. This happens to the main protagonist in the opening moments of Frameline 34's opening film: The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister, directed by James Kent. We might have said to Ann (Maxine Peak): we told you so! But such is the hardship for a "woman who likes the ladies too much" coming from a small provincial town like Yorkshire and especially at the time when Lister lived, in 1791.


Ann falls in love with a doctor's daughter, Mariana Belcombe (Anna Madeley) , who without even telling Ann decides to get married to an ugly old fart.  She promises to write but of course she doesn’t. Initially and quite wisely, Ann wonders why she should even bother.

Love between women was just something that was not supposed to exist in 1791 and few suspected it save the women surrounding two women in lo…

Roman Polanski - Special Report

By Monica Sullivan

Every time I think that the bashing of Roman Polanski has peaked, someone else emerges to punish him in print again. The man receives more hostile attention these days than the thugs who murdered his wife, son and friends in 1969.

Much of the hostile attention comes from guys who were not angels when they were younger. How do I know this? Because when they were not pontificating for the record, I would see and hear very different stuff off the record. They were clever, they were never caught, the years passed and then guess what? It never happened? They never had sex with underage kids? (They may have fooled around, but not that!) They never beat up anyone smaller than they were (slapping doesn’t count.) They never created a hostile work environment for young women with 1 % of their power. (It was okay for them to ask “You’re not going to get pregnant are you?” because business is business.) Blah. Blah. Blah. If you take guys seriously when they get sanctimonious, eve…

Karl Dane - Book Report

By Monica Sullivan

Built into the concept of stardom is the reality that, inevitably, the star will flame out, fade and die. Young actors don’t want to think about this certainty: how could they, when they’re being lionised all over the planet? Smart stars prepare for not being stars by expanding their interests, looking great in public and saying hip things about the present.

When “The Big Parade” was released in 1925, John Gilbert, Renee Adoree and Karl Dane
were the stars of the year in the picture of the year. By 1933, Renee Adoree was dead and Karl Dane had made his swan song in “The Whispering Shadow”, a Bela Lugosi serial. The following year, he died by his own hand. John Gilbert had a brief reprieve in 1934 in “Queen Christina” opposite Greta Garbo, but by 1936 he was dead.

“Karl Dane” by Laura Petersen Balogh shows the rise and fall of this unforgettable character star. In silent movies, his thick Danish accent was no handicap, but in the early sound era, film offers when they ca…

Savage Detours - Book Report

By Monica Sullivan

Ask film buffs who was the best actress of 1945 and you’ll hear names like Joan Crawford, Ingrid Bergman, Greer Garson, Jennifer Jones, Gene Tierney or newcomer Angela Lansbury. All were or are good actors who enjoyed great stardom. But many feel that the best performance by an actress that year was delivered by Ann Savage in “Detour” at lowly Producers Releasing Corporation. Recognition for her achievement was very slow in coming: forty, fifty, sixty years later, young audiences would see this unforgettable woman acting her guts out as a hard, desperate character who’d do anything for a buck, even though she knew she was doomed. When Bette Davis shocked the world with her interpretation of a “vulgar slut” like Mildred Rogers in “Of Human Bondage” she made a splash that rippled through the rest of her career. Ann Savage played Vera in “Detour”, a “B” movie (that should have been an “A”!) and went back to making more “B” movies, thirty in all.

“Savage Detours: The Life…

The Killing - Movie Review

By Monica Sullivan

After 1955's “Killer's Kiss”, Stanley Kubrick received $200,000 to make “The Killing” for United Artists. There were only two strings attached: He had to cast a star as Johnny Clay and U.A. had to like his script. Sterling Hayden turned out to be perfect as a grizzled small-time convict in hot pursuit of the big time & who WOULDN'T like the masterful screenplay by Kubrick and Jim Thompson?

“The Killing” examines crime and sexuality with a laser-like beam that looked and sounded like nothing else in the Fidgety Fifties. Listen to the dialogue between Elisha Cook and Marie Windsor as George and Sherry Peatty. Was any guy ever whipped as graphically as George was by Sherry? Watch the classic racetrack sequence with Timothy Carey as vicious hood Nikki & James Edwards as the parking attendant. Ever see racism delivered with such a startling flick of rattlesnake venom? The presence of fresh-faced Coleen Gray & the voice-of-God narration are reassurin…