Friday, May 29, 2015

My Weekend Crush

Well, since I committed to this music thing this week might as well see it all the way through. In honor of a) my new limited-edition music blog, b) Dave Letterman’s retirement last week, c) the Indigo Girls new album coming out next week, here is a throwback Friday. I don’t think you can call yourself a proper gay lady if you don’t sing along when “Closer to Fine” comes on. Plus, you've got to admire their beautiful late 80s, early 90s dyke style. Much lesbian. So G-A-Y. Though, considering the New York Times recently declared that Tevas are back I’d say they’re perfectly on fleek. I think. I’m not sure I used that right. Whatever, bottom line – we still heart them Girls. Happy weekend, all.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

The Readers Beneath My Wings

Hey, so I wrote another column for Women and Hollywood. This time it’s on “7 Queer Female Filmmakers to Watch in 2015.” Besides “Carol” and “Freeheld,” which both feature lesbian storylines, there are a bunch of talented out female directors helming projects being released this year. So go check it out, if you’d be so kind. Leave a comment if you like it and all that jazzercise.

Since this is apparently my music week, I’ll leave you with a song. I was gifted with some tickets to see The Divine Miss M this week. They came entirely out of the blue and were entirely enjoyable. If you have a chance to see Bette Midler live, do it. That broad knows how to put on a show. Great voice, great humor, great night. I mean, she came out like the witch from Hocus Pocus at one point. Full hair, teeth and bustle. Come on, how can you not like that?

And, of course, there was this. Yes, you’ve heard it a million times. But, it’s still a damn good song. Think of it as my thanks for clicking over to read my latest column. (Apologies for the shakey camera work of whoever shot that video – it’s the best I could find as I did not film because I’m a rule follower…sometimes.)

p.s. As a California, I actually saw Bette here in the Bay Area. But, I am sure, no matter the show, she put on a good one.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

She's Totally Me

So apparently this week Surrenders is a music blog. Who knew? Hey, remember Jenny Lewis? Of course you do, because that glorious “Just One of the Guys” gender-swap video is seared permanently into the pleasure center of your brain. Well she’s back again to bring joy and merriment to your occipital lobe. Her video for “She’s Not Me” is all over the interwebs this morning for good reason. It’s a fantastic poking fun at Jenny’s child actress (“Golden Girls!” “Troop Beverly Hills!” “The Wizard!”) past complete with some equally fantastic guest stars like Zosia Mamet, Vanessa Bayer and Feist (Feist!) as the priest. My only regret, she didn’t reenact the zucchini scene from “Foxfire.” Next time, Jenny, next time.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Back to Black

Damn. Damn, damn, damn, damn. Oh, Amy Winehouse. Damn. It still seems unfathomable that we lost her four years ago. Cruel even. Of course, that’s the selfish part of me talking. I’m mad we lost her music. But the greater loss, of course, is the human one. This woman, this all-too-human woman became lost in the blinding, relentless spotlight that is fame. And we saw it all happening, yet could do nothing to stop it.

Seeing the trailer for her new documentary, “Amy,” brings it all rushing back. Her meteoric rise. Her magnetic charisma. Her undeniable artistry. Her seemingly inevitable fall. The first time around it seemed to be happening in slow motion. This time around it’s happening at the speed of tragedy. The “if onlys” of Amy Winehouse’s life will forever be a part of her legacy. But her talent is still one that should shine through the ages. And that, that certainly deserve to be remembered.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Monday Music

And now, for your moment of Zen. I’ve been a fan of Tracy Chapman forever. And she was among the ladies I featured in the first year of doing My Weekend Crushes. So here she paying (inadvertent) tribute to the late Ben E. King (who passed away after this appearance) and the beautiful “Stand By Me.” Lovely doesn’t even cover it. Now that’s how you start off your week right.

Friday, May 22, 2015

My Weekend (Irish) Crush

By the time you read this (given time zones and such) Ireland may have – hopefully – voted for marriage equality. The country could soon become the very first on the entire planet to grant same-sex couples the right to marry via popular vote. And, as much as I think civil rights should not be selected via a court of popular opinion, I feel confident that we have progressed to a point that the hearts and ballots of the majority of people will do the right thing. So in honor of this auspicious moment in history, let us celebrate the best way possible. With 10 lovely Irish lasses. Happy weekend, all. Fingers crossed, Ireland.

Katie McGrath

I’ve kinda missed her. Where’d she go? Oh, she’s in “Jurassic World?” Cool, cool.

Caitriona Balfe

You’re watching “Outlander,” right? Good, as long as that’s sorted.

Nora-Jane Noone

Hey, I remember her from “The Magdalene Sisters.”

Charlie Murphy

I still haven’t watched “Happy Valley,” but now I feel extra bad about all my procrastinating.

Ruth Negga

Is she still on “Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D?” I stopped watching last season. Shush, I know it got better.

Maria Doyle Kennedy

Granted she gave up Helena. But I’d still want Mrs. S, and her shotgun, to have my back.

Saoirse Ronan

“Hanna” was pretty fucking nuts. Just an observation.

Kelly Gough

I sincerely hope PC Hagstrom will be back for “The Fall” season 3.

Fiona Shaw

Sure, she was Mrs. Dursley. But, damn, she also got Saffron Burrows. So, no shame in that game.

Evanna Lynch

Look, if The Internet can go insane about Neville Longbottom, we can at very least give our respectful appreciation to Luna Lovegood.

p.s. Well done, Ireland. Well done, indeed.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Sapphire is a Girl's Best Friend

To quote Keanu Reeves in every movie he’s ever been in, “Whoa.” Like, “Whoa, ‘Orphan Black.’ You’re, like, blowing my damn mind.” Now I know I – and many of you – went into this season with a certain amount of trepidation. Boy clones, really? How could adding a bunch of same-faced dudes to a show that has so stalwartly been about women – sisters, at that – and their fight to determine their owns lives possibly make things better?

Well, the answer is they couldn’t. But the good news is they haven’t had to. Because the boy clones – while present – have largely been just another obstacle for our seestras to overcome. And, the even better news, is the boy clones haven’t had nearly as much screen time as I had worried. (It helps that a couple of them got killed off pretty quickly, too.) This, again, is good because Ari Millen, you’re no Tatiana Maslany. Not by a long shot.

Anyway. This was not what made me go “Whoa.” What made me go “Whoa” – or, more accurately, “Whooooooa” – was Shay. Like, “Whoooooa. Hellooooo, Shay.” If you’re a fan of Ksenia Solo (and if you’re not, what’s wrong with you) you already love her because, duh, Kenzi. But now you’ll love, love her as Shay. Granted, the whole holistic healer thing is a little too moonbeam and crystals for me. But, hey, who doesn’t love a gal who is good with her hands? Amirite? I’m right.

Granted, I have no idea where this whole Shay/Cosima thing is going. (Also is Shaysima really their portmanteau? Because, meh.) She could turn out to be yet another terrifying twist in this crazy clonespiracy. But right now, I like it. I like it a lot. They’ve got chemistry, which for both a scientist and a TV couple is key. And, damn, these two gals have it. Their chemistry is like a Bunsen burner on full boil. How many times did you rewind that scene? Come on, don’t lie. This is for science.

Look, I love Delphine, obviously. But, first and foremost, I want Cosima to be happy. And right now, this Shay girl? Whoa, does she have lots of happy, happy potential.

Also, after watching Ksenia dance (like, literally in “Black Swan”) around roles in projects with other plenty of queer female characters, it’s nice to see her play one for a chance. Like really nice. Like, whoa.

p.s. How many lesbians desperately searched the app store for Sapphire so they could find their very own Shay after this episode? Come on, don’t lie. Again, for science.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Fast & Furiosa

That’s it. I’m shaving my head and painting the top third of my face black. Damn, “Mad Max: Fury Road,” dammmmmn. So that movie was crazy. Crazy, crazy, crazzzzzy. And in all the best ways.

Advance reviews of this film all hailed it as a feminist action film. So I was both excited and a little nervous. Like, could I hope against hope that this was actually a feminist film? Could the post-apocalyptic world of dust and destruction be more than just rampaging testosterone and shit going boom?

Yes. Yes it can.

But then, in a way, this also bummed me out. It’s not because of the film’s unabashed feminism. I love, love, love that. It bummed me out because it’s so unusual to find an action movie that has lot of women in it at all. It’s so shocking to find an action movie that treats women as people instead of things. It’s so weird to find an action movie that allows women to have agency, and own their anger about having that taken away.

And that’s the thing that dudebros who think feminism is anti-man just don’t get. It’s not about being anti-man. It’s about treating women equally. It’s about not making us just things to be objectified or rescued or destroyed. It’s about making our lives matter as much as the men’s. How terribly radical, right? Right.

It says something that this film so and so succinctly states, about its female characters, “We are not things.” We are not things. We are people who can kick ass and enjoy a kick-ass action movie with kick-ass characters – both male and female. And if you don’t agree with that, may I introduce you to my friend, Furiosa?

p.s. Also, this is practically perfect.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Lez Go to the Movies

They say when it rains it pours. Well, I don’t know if you can call two high-profile, high-expectations lesbian dramas a downpour, but it’s a start. This year both “Freeheld” and “Carol” could breakout to mainstream audiences. I mused last month about the powerful possibilities of “Freeheld” over at Women and Hollywood. And now, after its premiere in Cannes, critics have begun to lavish raves on “Carol” and posit it as “Hollywood's first breakthrough lesbian love story” (though, that’s coming from that Ramin guy again, so take that is you will).

From what we can tell from the first clips and reviews, it’s clearly director Todd Haynes’ lesbian counterpart to his 2002 film “Far From Heaven.” He certainly has an eye for the 1950s, and can expertly recreate the upscale ambiance and closed-off claustrophobia of the era. In short, it looks beautiful and I’m very anxious to watch, just like everyone else.

So if “Carol” becomes our big lesbian breakout, instead of “Freeheld,” it will be interesting indeed. (Though why fight, can’t both be breakthroughs?) The politics of “Freeheld” – given the current marriage equality momentum – are certainly more current. But there is a universal topicality to “Carol” as well, despite it being more of a classic period piece.

If you think about it from a cultural standpoint, it may well indeed be easier for mainstream straight audiences to connect with a story of past prejudice against the so-called “sins of homosexuality” in the 1950s than one that is less than a decade old. Dare I say it would be more comfortable to look back at that longer-ago era and say, “My haven’t we progressed,” than the uncomfortable closeness of the early 2000s and think, “My, we still have a long way to go.”

As a lesbian viewer, I’m just thrilled that 2015 is set to offer us what seems to be two strong and hopefully worthy films that tell our stories – regardless the time period. Two films isn’t exactly an embarrassment of riches. But it’s not chump change, either.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Well, Never Mind

So, turns out there was a reason Cate Blanchett was so nonchalant about her sexual otherness. It’s because she actually isn’t. Over the weekend, Cate said her Variety cover story comments about having “many times” had relationships with women were taken out of context. She clarified her quote during a press conference for “Carol” in Cannes over the weekend.
“From memory, the conversation ran: ‘Have you had relationships with women?’ And I said: ‘Yes, many times. Do you mean have I had sexual relationships with women? Then the answer is no.’ But that obviously didn’t make it.”
Well, dang. Dang, dang, dang and bummer.

Variety reporter Ramin Setoodeh has since stood by his original quote of her as accurate. Also it should be noted that Ramin Setoodeh seems to be behind every gay story controversy. But it is clear – whether she was being coy or he was being a bad reporter – that with the current back track we must now take her off the big list of “queer or other” female celebrities.

She followed up her clarification comments with this:
“In 2015, the point should be: who cares? Call me old fashioned but I thought one’s job as an actor was not to present one’s boring, small, microscopic universe but to make a psychological connection to another character’s experiences,” she said. “My own life is of no interest to anyone else. Or maybe it is. But I certainly have no interest in putting my own thoughts and opinions out there.”
Sigh. Well, here’s the problem with the whole “who cares”/whatever/no labels thing. As much as we want to live in the post-sexuality utopia where everyone accepts everyone’s everything, we simply don’t live there. Not yet, not by a long shot. Instead we live in a world that still very much classifies us, our worth, our rights and – all too often – our safety by our sexual orientation/gender identification. So when actors/actresses (and I’m not saying that’s what Cate did here, but just making a point) sidle up to us and say, “Hey, I’m like you, too” we want them to mean it. We want them to mean it because the more people who mean it, and the more people say it, the more we get closer to that idealized universe of acceptance and openness for everyone.

So, as I was saying, bummer. We want to believe Cate spent her summers partying it up at Jodie Foster’s clambake. But, alas, she did not. But hey, we’ve still got Ellen Page.