Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A movie of our own

Yesterday, I asked my fellow tweetbians to help me brainstorm successful lesbian movies for Melissa over at the wonderful Women & Hollywood blog. And, thanks to our collective lesbo hive mind I both helped and bummed myself out. Wanna take a gander at the biggest lesbo box office hits? Brace yourself, you might be a little surprised.

The Top Ten

  1. Fried Green Tomatoes ($82.4 million)
  2. The Hours ($41.7 million)
  3. Monster ($34.5 million)
  4. Frida ($25.9 million)
  5. Chasing Amy ($12 million)
  6. Boys Don’t Cry ($11.5 million)
  7. Mulholland Drive ($11.2 million)
  8. Kissing Jessica Stein ($7m)
  9. The Hunger ($6 million)
  10. Personal Best ($5.7 million)

Um, wow. Now, granted many of these aren’t exclusively or even explicitly lesbian films (and, yes, “Boys Don’t Cry” is actually trans, but I’m going big umbrella here). In fact, I think “Monster” is the first film with a full-ahead lesbian lead, and she happens to be a serial killer. So, yeah, fantastic. In fact, I was sure “Bound” would be in at least the top 5. But it’s No. 11, taking in only $3.8 million domestically.

And, if you really want to get depressed consider that “Paul Blart: Mall Cop” made $146.3 million. Yeah, that many more people lined up to watch Kevin James on a Segway than Gina Gershon and Jennifer Tilly on each other.

We are a stupid, stupid country.

But what is really says is how far we still have to go as lesbians and bisexual women in finding our place in mainstream cinema. I mean, we’ve all seen the movies. But the rest of the world, not so much. And we have yet to have our “Brokeback Moutain.” Out great, marquee, acclaimed film that brings even grandma and grandpa in Idaho out to the cineplex to find out if those two nice cowgirls can make it work.

Still, hope springs eternal. Each year I hope against hope for the elusive one. The one great lesbian film to rule them all. A movie where our heroines aren’t killers or suicidal or actually straight or vampires. This year, I’m pinning my hopes on “The Kids Are All Right.”

Described as a “scenes-from-a-lesbian-marriage comedy” from veteran filmmaker Lisa Cholodenko (“High Art,” “Laurel Canyon”) debuted at Sundance this week and has already received glowing reviews and heated interest from distributors. And it has stars with name we recognize, with Oscar nominations even. Julianne Moore, Annette Bening, Mark Ruffalo and up-and-comer Mia Wasikowska (Alice in Tim Burton’s new take on Wonderland).

Julianne and Annette play the married (well, if they live in Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut and Iowa married) couple “hitting one of those slippery, middle-age danger zones.” Ruffalo’s character happens to be the biological father of the couple’s children, and it seems some flirting with Julianne’s character. But the Salon reviewer calls the film “ranks with the most compelling portraits of an American marriage, regardless of sexuality, in film history.”

Like I was saying, the one. Fingers crossed. Now who wants to go halfsies on popcorn with me?


sara said...

I agree that "The Kids are all Right" could be a great lezzie movie. In fact, I agree with most of your post.

I gotta say, though, that I absolutely don't want to see a lesbian Brokeback Mountain. I understand that Brokeback Mountain was groundbreaking in that it showed two gay men in love in a mainstream movie. But at the end of the day, the movie reaffirmed every 'phobe's wet dream: the two guys got what they deserved. One got killed, the other finished out his miserable life as a pauper and an outcast. So fuck Brokeback Mountain. If those two boys had lived happily ever after, then yes I would consider the movie groundbreaking. As it was, we don't need a movie like that.

Norma Desmond said...

Yes, it's sad that the movies haven't made as much as Brokeback or Mall Cop, but, well... I would be interested to see numbers for rentals for these movies, too. I feel like these movies are just as widely seen, if not more so, than the other movies outside the lezzie genre that you mentioned. Everyone's seen Fried Green... and if you ask people at small, liberal arts colleges, well, every single one of them has seen - and loved - Kissing Jessica Stein!

Allison said...

Bound is super hot. One of my favorite movies ever. O.o

Anonymous said...

Im a little concerned that Julianne Moore's character more than flirts with Mark Ruffalos. Im not sure how this will play out in the movie or the angle they will take with it, but its kind of annoying that in a film about LESBIANS she cheats with a man.

Anonymous said...

Kids Are All Right has been on my looking forward to list for a while, so maybe I'll see you at the show. I have to agree with Sara's assessment of Brokeback, which as beautifully filmed as it was also deployed every aspect of the tragic homosexual plot. Sad to say, familiarity sells tickets as does wallowing in melodramatic angsty-ness, how else to explain three versions of Stella Dallas. Box office successes is lovely, but I was much happier with the charming romance Imagine Me & You as opposed to its box office competition, Brokeback.

Bent said...

My lesbian partner cheated on me with a man, so it does happen. Kinsey had it right on the grey scale even though most will classify themselves on one of the extreme measures of gay/straight. At one time I had bi tendencies myself, but would never identify myself as one. I figured out the confusion and have had no attractions to men for many years now. Big topic for so early in the morning....sorry about that.
Yes, Dorothy, let's share some popcorn and watch this film together. I do wish that were possible. I love your voice, and would love to hear what it sounds like to the ear.

sugababe said...

I wanted to watch this until I found out certain plot details. Ugh. Ughhh!

spoilerish review:

I'd rather watch "imagine me and you" again!

tlsintx said...

Junior Mints are on me!

And i just watched Brokeback Mountain again last night..i really wish Heath had won an oscar for that's a beautiful story and movie and to me, it's more about love than anything else. i like that.

Miss J said...

Who even put Fried Green Tomatoes in the running? Aside from Mary Stuart Masterson being obviously butch, the book version of the lesbian duo was completely wiped out of the movie. The film came closer to a sordid tale of a Boston Marriage than a gay relationship...grrr whatever

Looking forward to TKAAR though

Estela Rengel said...

Fingers crossed. And thanks for some new titles to my lesbomovies collection.

Anonymous said...

Wow, IMHO, most of those films are borderline lesbian at best.

Don't be comparing apples with oranges though: Paul Blart or The Hangover or (insert blockbuster here) opened on hundreds of screens with major marketing in the age of the Internets vs. a very little indie like BOUND?

I think it's the 'long tail' of those movies which gives them lasting capital. Video or DVD means many many of these pop up on "my fav. grrl films" lists again and again.

And sure, the studios are going to be trying to repeat Paul Blart's success, cos for them it's all about bottom line, but is anyone going to talk about it 14 years later as we are with BOUND?

Anonymous said...

Chasing Amy? That is definitely not a lesbian movie. She turns straigt at the end of it, and that totally sucked. Besides, none of my lesbian friends have seen it, so I guess it isn't a really important movie.

Personally, I really love Imagine me and You. It's really, really cute and, unlike other lesbian films, none of the characters die, turn straight, or are psycho's. So my vote is for Imagine me and You.

Sarah from Chicago said...

Honestly, DS, spend $10 for a flick where a lesbian at least flirts with a man, and maybe more? If I want to see that kind of straight boy fantasy I'll go see any lesbian representation on TV, or hell, just turn up at any sports bar and spend the evening fending off pick-up lines.

Sorry DS as much as I would adore to go to the movies with you, you're going to have to eat that popcorn by yourself hon.

If what it takes for a lesbian film to hit the big time is for it to confirm the old homophobic bigoted fantasies about us just needing the "right man", then I'll pass on the mainstream hit and go enjoy REAL lesbian love stories like "Saving Face" and "I Can't Think Straight" at the smaller cinemas.

Anonymous said...

i read the review posted above and yeah, this does not bode well.

watch universal soldier 3 movie free said...

I found your blog on Google and read a few of your other posts. I just added you to my Google News Reader. Keep up the good work. Look forward to reading more from you in the future.

Fannie Wolfe said...

Jennifer Tilly's fingernails scare me.

Polly said...

I am haunting your site hourly to see your review of The Kids Are All Right, since it just opened tonight in Hollywood (& NY & SF & Chicago).

As you may notice on other lesbian culture blogs elsewhere, there's much afoot and interesting debate/speculation/advance judgement, etc. about plot/subplot etc. Not that you're going to check comments on way, way old posts, but if you do, for the love of your readers, see this film and tell us what you think!

What I thought, by the way, was this. But I want to know what YOU thought.