Reviewing Stories

What this is about

I will shortly review some stories with queer relationships here. I exclude all stories with cis male people involved in the main relationships. Apart from that I am open for suggestions. I will review different kind of media, including short stories, mangas, books, movies, short films, series, animes.

Since there is for example a lack of non-binary characters my reviews mainly contain lesbian relationships. And since I am not a fast reader there are mainly movies and series so far.

I losely tried to bring it in an order of personal taste. I also forget a lot about the media if I only read/watch it once. So, the higher the number, the more accurate my ideas.

What also is important: I am white and except for a visual impairment able bodied. I review stories where characters are included who are neither of the two. I feel a bit uncertain about my view on this movies. Often one is not sensitive enough to have an educated opinion if one is not part of the marginalized group.

If you read this and at any point feel hurt or think that it might hurt others, please tell me and I will delete it immediately without any questions. Or put it another way you would rather suggest.

I am autistic, trans non-binary, and gray ace. I feel mainly physically attracted to women and non-binary people, which might make me bisexual (I would prefer to not clearly label my sexual orientation), and I am panromantic. I have been to a lot LGBTQIA* spaces and am part of corresponding communities. This might be helpful to know with respect to my view onto the media.

My reviews are a little unstructured and maybe unconventional. I try to highlight what I found to be important, which differed a lot. I also am not the kind of person who gives a number of stars. I really dislike this one dimensional way of rating.

Attention: My uncommon reviews are full of spoilers. I do not hesitate to tell you the end, because for queer movies these are important criteria on the quality for many people.

Everything Sucks

Series
Whatched: 2x

It is a highschool dramedy thingy?, coming-of-age. The main character is Luke for quite some time who falls in love with the other main character Kate. Luke is not exactly a nice person, in fact, his actions are offending in a way that it might be a reason to not like the whole series. I also critize it in the making of the series because he as a black person is representing a marginalized group, so it might reinforce negative assoziations, probably racism. I feel not sufficiently competent to have an educated opinion on that.

On the other hand the cast is quite diverse. His mother Sherry starts a liberating relationship with Kate's father Ken, breaking stereotypes, letting feelings in, it is very wholesome.

Obviosly most important is the lesbian character Kate. Kate is quite tall and natural. With natural I mean: close to no makeup (at least not visible for the viewers), not a fancy hair style, just long hair, like she just would not put so much effort into it. There often are characters in movies where the narrative tells they were natural in that sense but they are not. Kate is. And its not a big deal. I have the urge to mention that I find it to be totally fine if characters put a lot of effort in their looks and there are also characters in this story who do. They are individually choosing how to style themselves, the movie does not put a value to it. I like that a lot. Kate also has a not exactly typical kind of facial expression, and also maybe is not the stereotypical kind of beauty. She does not talk much and has a lot of different well motivated emotions.

Luke tries to start a relationship with her and during that experiment she finds out that she might be a lesbian. I like the way she deals with it and with the reactions. From that point where she realizes it we need a while until she also has a love interest.

I like the series a lot because it shows individual, natural characters and tries not to play or show stereotypes. At least not from my point of view. I sometimes do not see it.

Magerita With A Straw

Movie
Whatched: 1x

I would be really interested in other people' opinions. It is an Indian movie with play scenes in India and the USA. The main character is Laila from India, who is a bisexual woman with celebral palsy, studying at a university and composing music. There are several important story layers, one about her sexual interests including masturbation, her relationships and her rather free or promiscous way to think about these which is not always fitting the partner's expactions and especially not the expectations by society. Again I am a little afraid that this might lead to some negative assoziations but if you read my article "I Am A Slut And I Have My Pride" you might understand why I really liked it. The message, that there is not just one correct way how sexual relationships should be, could be phrased a bit clearer but also was not judged by the movie itself. From my point of view the most important relationship is Laila's with the blind political activist Khanum.

A second really important layer of the movie is Laila's relationship with her mother. From my point of view the mother, except for one situation, always fights for the independent and self-determined life for her daughter. Autonomy is another important topic of the movie. The relationship between the two from my point of view is on eye height. But again I feel not exactly competent enough for an educated opinion. I tried to search sources but my research was unsuccessful.
Laila's mother is a fighter and at the same time more or less always calm. Then, maybe half through the story we get to know that she has cancer. The movie made me cry in several ways, not just because it was sad but especially because the love in it. I also liked that the movie does not hide the father's emotions.

The actors for Laila and Khanum are both able bodied. The preparation for the roles may be an interesting read.

Better Than Chocolate

Movie
Whatched: 3x

This is a pretty old movie from 1999. It shows love stories, struggles, more than one LGBTQIA* diversity, LGBTQIA* activism, discrimination and violence. The movie features quite a lot interesting characters and pairings, two lesbian pairings in the main roles. Each of the characters has major flaws that from my point of view are not phrased as problematic enough. The most ambivalent character for me is Judy. I really like her, anyway. She is in most aspects a sensitive and understanding trans woman, who listens to the others and supports them. She falls in love with Frances, a rather old fashioned lesbian woman, and there is my problem: She shows her affections in a rather intrusive way, being physically very close without clear consent and pushy. One could read that Frances is hesistant because Judy is trans which also would be quite problematic. From my point of view this never was clearly the reason why Frances is hesistant. But if a character is hesistant the other should not be intrusive. Since Judy is again representing a marginalized group where this is a common stereotype I find it to a problematic narrative, as well.

Also she is played by a man. It was 1999 back then, but still... if you want to show queer representation in a movie and talk about discrimination than have the guts to promote and support trans actors. The performance is great but, yes, this is maybe my main criticism.

Judy is a singer and performs a hard breaking song "I am not a fucking drag queen" about misgendering which always touches me and makes me cry. We also have a scene where a cis woman does not accept her in the ladies' restroom which is a horrible scene but, - apart from the physical violence -, sadly something which is in Germany a problem I faced at at least two parties. The discrimination she faces is typical and common, and still the movie draws a positive image and, in the end, she is in a happy relationship with her love interest. There is often the criticism for queer movies that the protagonists do not end up in happy relationships, but here they do, all of them.

Apart from Judy who is from my point of view the most important character, and Frances, we also have Kim and Maggie (Margret), the main characters, both lesbian, and a bisexual character, and Maggie's brother and mother who are not queer and rather new to the scene. Her brother is rather open minded and appreciates everything curiuosly. Her mother is a little intrusive by expressing her feelings of how to behave would be best: don't be so chabby, I don't like your pearcing, there is no future in art, what about your boyfriend, etc. But she also is able to learn, and in an emotional moment more or less supports Judy when her parents deadname her (using the name given at birth that does not reflect the gender identity) and deny her.

The main character Maggie and Judy's love interest Frances are involved in political activism, fighting fashists. I do not understand every layer of it because I often lack the ability to understand subtle messages, but I think it is cool!

D.E.B.S. or Spy Girls

Movie
Whatched: 5x

A more or less superficial movie. The first with lesbian content I stumbled across, not knowing before but really welcoming it. It is a parody on spy movies. There are agents in short skirt uniforms spying on vilians, main character, Amy, the seemingly overpowered best of them all, at least concerning her theoretical test results. She is part of a group of four D.E.B.S. and their first target is Lucy Diamond, a vilian they observe during her date with a russian female assassin. There is a myth that nobody who ever had talked to Lucy Diamond ever survived it.

Of course Amy accidentally runs into Lucy Diamond, and, aiming guns at each other they start some small talk. Lucy falls in love with Amy and starts to "date" her. She kidnaps her, but she is never physically intrusive. The dating starts to become consensual. Well, one might discuss here if this is problematic or not. I am really sensitive to that topic and I think it is rather not problematic.

There is not too much to say to this movie. It is rather superficial and funny, with a positive outcome.

Carol

Movie
Whatched: 1x

A story about two quite different aged (but both full age) women falling in love. The older has a child and a violent (nearly ex?) husband. She is fighting for the right to raise her child and having her sexual orientation public would be a problem in her fight at courts. The movie is not happy but from my point of view worth viewing. It has beatiful artwork a nice sex scene and interesting characters, also conflicts due to different social classes which are addressed in reflecting interesting ways as far as I remember.

Rafiki

Movie
Whatched: 1x

A Kenyan drama. Well, really a drama. There is heavy physical violence, discrimination by religious people, discrimination by parents, and it is not exactly a happy end. At least all characters survive. Kena's parents do not talk to each other and live separated. She falls in love with Ziki. Their fathers are political rivals. They have some interesting dates and exchange philosophical thoughts and then start a relationship which is not accepted by their society. I like that the main character Kena is strong minded and quiet at the same time.

I again would be really glad about a more educated opinion. It is about a society I do not know. From my point of view it reflects a little how white people sometimes would like to portrait other "less developed" cultures. "Less developed" in quotation marks because it is an arrogant view that puts some values higher than others, probably without any reason (for example when it comes to questions of who owns something). On the other hand this is a Kenyan movie by the female Kenyan film director Wanura Kahiu. I put it onto my watchlist not only because I wanted to watch queer movies but also because I want to educate myself to get an insight into and by people from other cultures than mine. I guess I need to read and watch much more for better insight. Maybe I would have wished that politics or a little bit of history would have been a little more elaborated in this movie, but maybe, and that is important, as well, this movie was not made to educate me. It does not have to be. It is not the task of every art to do so. So, my conclusion is: I cannot say something about the sensitivity in this movie regarding the political situation and the culture because I am not educated sufficiently, and of course, because I am white.

Below Her Mouth

Movie
Whatched: 3x

This is an erotic movie about a lesbian and a most likely bisexual woman. It features a lot of different kind of sex scenes. Maybe one might call it pornographic material. (Maybe the "maybe" is an understatement). The characters are not quite deep, and the plot mainly focuses on falling in love, romance, and sex, and maybe growing up queer. There is also that problem that the one chacater is engaged with a man.

I have only once seen a porn movie and I can say for sure, Below Her Mouth has more plot, is slower, characters talk more. There is also that scene where they go by ship somewhere, go for a walk, sit at a beach and somehow visit a carousel, and just talk. It is nice and romantic.

What I really appreaciate about that movie are the sex scenes to be honest. Theses have not been on screen before (as far as I know). There are strap-ons involved, different techniques, so it is at least a little educational. Also many parts of it seem natural. There is that scene where Dallas has a hair in her mouth or something and removes it, during sex. She does not make the stereotypical sex movie sounds when she cums and her facial expressions are different than probably expected.

On the other hand we have the problematic intrusive behaviour of Dallas. I watched it with a friend who does not see the problem, so maybe it is okay? There is a scene where Dallas is very close to Jasmine and wants to kiss her. Jasmine says "Don't come any closer" and Dallas hesitates a little, then says "Come to my place" and then kisses her, anyway. For me that is a no-go. If somebody tells me a limit, I never are allowed to cross that limit, even if that somebody maybe secretly wants to. If the consent was denied in words, and the body language tells otherwise, I need another word, because the body language can unwillingly speak. It has to be a voluntary decision. I find the narrative of the movie to be really dangerous. (It is quite common though...) It is not just one scene, I just mentioned the worst from my point of view. There is also that scene where they hit each other in a kind of game but also with some kind of pressure and without talking about consent. It is a little strange.

The background on that movie also is quite interesting: apart from the scenes where men are involved, it is an all female crew and no men were on set. Meaning, including camera, director, everyone.

Another interesting side fact is, that the first kiss between the main characters recorded was also their first kiss. They only talked about it before.

There is quite a lot interesting background story on the production. For example how the characters where cast or how they felt, etc. I am always a little interested in the background of the production of queer movies with sex scenes since there was a lot of criticism for "Blue Is The Warmest Color". For this movie I can say, my research was excessive and everybody on set felt comfortable.

Elisa And Marcela

Movie
Whatched: 1x

A spanish movie taking place in 19th century, spain, based on a true story about the first same sex marriage in spanish history. One of the characters cross dresses for the marriage. There is much drama, the protagonists are imprisoned. They also decided to raise a child. For that purpose one of the women has sex with a man. The child is born in prison. They then decide to not raise the child because it is too difficult to live together then.

The sex scenes are quite interesting, and unusual, in most cases I like the creativity, but some involve tentacles. That is maybe not something some people like so take it as a warning.

The movie is quite long and tells a lot about the relationship. It is not a one dimensional movie and although there is a lot of really violent drama the romantic scenes are important enough to give it a significant second layer.

Mädchen in Uniform

Movie
Whatched: 2x but each version only once

The best known version of this movie is the one from 1958 with Romy Schneider, but there is an older version from 1931. With only female actors and a female director. In 1931. Just in case anyone tells you that something like this was a recent development or was never there before.

It was the first movie ever to contain a kind of lesbian relationship. I would not exactly call it a lesbian relationship. We have a student who falls in love with a teacher and with reading of subtle messages we know that it is both sided. The messages are not too subtle, nothing like for Elsa in Frozen I or II. You can really do that conclusion. It is just not explicitely said out loud in words.

The movie also contains a suicide attempt by the student that is prevented. There is not exactly a happy ending but the protagonists survive and there is some positive movement.

I read some criticism about the comparison on the two movies. The older usually is preferred for the clearer political messages (I totally aggree!) and the more obvious and deeper romantic feelings between the teacher and the student (which I do not see). I have the feeling that I lack the ability to read some not so obvious messages to appreciate this movie in its full art content. I think it is a really interesting movie considering how old it is, and also what changed about the portrayal in each adaption. There are much more than these two, and I do not think the movie gained something in any of these, as far as I can conclude from the summaries. The political message about the ways of education becomes less important and blurry.

Blue Is The Warmest Color

Movie
Whatched: 1x

Well, I liked the acting of the blue haired character. But I heard horrible stories about the the production, that the actors felt like they were treated like sluts during the process. Well, that statement, of course, also was a little painful for me because it reproduced internalized slutshaming, but of course the main content of this message was that they did not feel comfortable during the production and their boudaries were violated. This is not okay independent of the way you express it.

Also I remember that the movie itself showed a main character who was not honest and cheated on the other main character. It does not even draw a nice picture on queer people, reproduces some negative stereotypes. So, apart from some really romantic scenes this is not a movie I would recommend.

Then, I also might be biased, since I read the problematic violations on set before I watched it. Also in my polyamorous way to live I cannot really emotionally relate to the concept of cheating and jealousy. And I only watched it once and will not do it again. So, maybe better trust other reviews.