Spashley or Death!

So South of Nowhere recently aired its midseason finale to make way for Degrassi on The N's schedule. Perhaps I'm in the minority -- and granted I've never seen an episode of Degrassi -- but do people really care about Degrassi? Go do a search for 'Palex' and then a search for 'Spashley' on YouTube and get back to me.

"Gay Pride" ended with the raciest scene we've had from cable's hottest teen lesbian couple since the season three premiere. And maybe even ever.
I really like Mandy Musgrave's line reading of "There she is." I also love that the director chose to use a wide angle on Mandy when she says the line, "I know. I'm amazing," because, yowza, Mandy does look amazing. And Gabrielle Christian looks fantastic in the shot of her right before she drops her trench coat.

The network and producers are keeping up the season's trend of delivering on more intense lesbian affection with kisses that last longer than .25 seconds. Maybe we might even see a post-coital scene with the two of them actually in bed together when the show returns? I'm trying not to get my hopes up, lest The N bans us to the asexual land of hair brushing and hugs of season two. They had some really cute moments at the end of season two, and I don't want to forsake that. But can't they be cute and hot?
And kiss on screen?

My hopes for the latter part of season three, besides many girl-on-girl kisses:
  • Ashley needs to pull her head out of her butt and realize that there are other people in this world besides herself. I think Mandy is doing the best that she can with the material to make Ashley likable, but she is still coming off as completely self-absorbed and undeserving of a sweetie like Spencer. Oh, and can Ashley be a little less angsty and more funny? Because Mandy cracks me up when she acts all goofy.
  • Can Kyla be awesome again? Please?
  • Chelsea needs to find herself a non-"my illegitimate child fathered by my dead boyfriend is gestating in my womb" storyline stat, because Aasha Davis is super cute and talented.
  • No one cares about Aiden's PTSD from 'Nam. Seriously. Even though Matt Cohen is doing a good job.
  • Madison isn't gone for good, right? SoN needs her spiciness. Maybe she can bring back Sean with her from her tour with JT. I miss him. Ooh! Then he and Chelsea could get together. Sweet!
Really, the whole season has felt a little aimless and flaccid, so if the writers could just not do that anymore that'd be great.

1:30 to WTF

Alex Sichel's 'All Over Me' (1997)

The Sichel Sisters' modest 1997 debut is an exceptional, affecting coming-of-age story that deserves and rewards multiple viewings. Claude and Ellen are 15-year-old best friends growing up in Hell's Kitchen. They are nearly inseparable though physical and temperamental opposites. As summer begins, Ellen takes up with a controlling, volatile drug dealer named Mark, and Claude befriends a gay musician who sees that Claude's love for Ellen is more than just platonic.

I hesitate to call All Over Me a lesbian movie, though it is definitely lesbian-themed. The Sichels address emerging sexuality: in Ellen's case she is straight while Claude happens to be gay. Both Claude and Ellen's developing sexual feelings become entangled with their close relationship. Ellen recognizes that she isn't gay but returns Claude's physical affections both because she craves them in her emotional fragility and uses them to maintain control over Claude. When Ellen pulls away from Claude through her relationship with Mark, Claude breaks out of the caretaker role she plays with both her mother and Ellen and goes to a gay bar. Though she hugs the wall when she first arrives, she quickly begins to flirt with Lucy. Claude isn't so much coming out as she is finally trying to connect with someone besides Ellen. Claude does freak out when she goes home with Lucy, but her reaction is caused not by Lucy kissing her but by confronting the realization that no matter what she does Ellen will not love her back and that she may need to let Ellen go.

Both Sylvia Sichel's writing and Alex's directing attempt to make the film as real as possible and grounded in the characters' emotional journeys. Yes, one of the characters is murdered, but the event takes place off-screen and is less important than the ripples it causes in Claude and Ellen's relationship. Alison Folland and Tara Subkoff's performances are spot on: intense, earnest, and natural. The score and music also add to the moodiness, utilizing The Patti Smith Group's "Pissing in a River" particularly well. (The Sichels received a grant from the Princess Grace Foundation to make a film showcasing the riot grrrl movement.)

My one complaint about the film is that it feels just a little too short. The secondary characters, though well-acted, are slightly under-developed. In particular, I would have liked to have seen another scene with Claude and Jesse and had a bit more dialogue between Claude and Lucy. I think I understand what Claude sees in Lucy, mostly that Lucy is comfortable and confident in who she is, but I would have liked for them to talk a little more at the bar to establish Lucy as more than just an accessible lesbian musician, which isn't exactly a stretch for Leisha Hailey to play.

There are several very simple images in the film that I like in particular. First, the scene between Claude and Ellen in front of the mirror provides a nice visual representation of the distortion in their friendship. Both characters seem unsteady throughout the movie, with Claude on her rollerskates and Ellen wobbling because she is drunk or high or both. I also really enjoy the short scene of Claude and Lucy walking together and sharing an ice cream cone. I like that scene in contrast with the opening scene of the movie in which Claude and Ellen walk together, and Ellen complains that she cannot eat Claude's candy because she is dieting and then half-teases Claude not to eat the candy like such a pig. The scene with Claude and Lucy suggests an equal footing between the two -- Lucy doesn't criticize Claude for her weight like Ellen and Claude's mother do. The final scene is perfection. I love how Claude half turns toward Ellen just as the picture cuts to black, leaving the audience to wonder if they will be able to repair their relationship.