Claire of the Moon: 2 disc SE DVD (lesbian centric film)

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Mark Walker, Aug 27, 2002.

  1. Mark Walker

    Mark Walker Cinematographer

    Jan 6, 1999
    Likes Received:
    I posted this information in the "Gay-Friendly DVD" thread,
    but I know there are many people who do not haunt that
    thread like the regulars, and that thread is 98% dominated
    by discussions of gay male centric films, that I felt
    Claire of the Moon deserved its own thread,
    be that is may dissappear into the abyss that is the
    days-old and not a new post threads of days gone by. [​IMG]
    Mark’s DVD/Film Review:
    Claire of the Moon
    Street Date: September 24, 2002
    DVD Specs:
    Widescreen (approximately 1.85:1)
    Dolby Digtial 2.0 sound
    Audio Commentary with writer/director Nicole Conn and
    Executive Producer Pamela S Kuri
    Moments: The Making of Claire of the Moon
    First Promotional and Theatrical Trailers
    Behind the Scenes
    Picture Gallery
    More from Nicole Conn
    More from Wolfe Video
    View the trailer here:
    For what seemed like the longest time, films that dealt
    with lesbianism appeared to do so from a heterosexual point of view,
    or, at least, with a heterosexual audience in mind.
    But all of that changed with the release of
    Claire of the Moon. Yes, there
    had been earlier lesbian-centric films, like Desert Hearts,
    but none have been so embraced by the lesbian community as
    Claire of the Moon.
    I remember when this film was released theatrically.
    Most of my lesbian friends were raving about it being
    the first dyke film that really captured everything about
    them. I remember everyone from my 24 year old friend,
    Patricia, saying how good it was, to my 63 year old boss,
    Pearlann, quoting dialogue to me…the film touched these
    gay women…deeply.
    (Pearlann’s favorite line from the film:
    “When you eat pussy, you eat pussy.”
    That phrase impacted this late-to-her sexual
    awakening woman in a way I had never seen before
    …and Pearlann was normally not the kind of
    woman to use such language!)
    But my big question
    (before I went on one of the worst dates of my ‘relationship history’) was
    “How well will this film will translate for non-dykes?”
    (That question has never really been answered for me satisfactorily,
    as I have heard wildly different opinions
    of it from within the same groups of people,
    be they gay men, straight women, or straight men.)
    This is a gay women’s film,
    written for gay women,
    by a gay woman…and I suspect that the film
    does loose some of its power when it is translated
    for either gay men, or straight audiences….
    (though I suspect that open-minded heterosexual
    women will find it resonates better for them
    than it does for either gay or straight men…
    but I could be wrong.
    The Plot: (without major spoilers)
    Claire of the Moon is the story
    of a woman, Claire, who comes to a writers’ retreat
    on the Oregon coastline, Cannon Beach to be exact.
    There she meets other female writers, and shares
    a residence with Dr Noel Benedict, the lesbian
    author of “The Naked Truth.” Claire had written
    a respectable seller called, “Love can Damage your Hair,”
    which even got her an appearance on Oprah.
    Noel is searching for love an intimacy through research,
    and Claire appears to be avoiding it by having
    casual sex with the MEN in her a means
    to show her feminine power...of which she has plently.
    Maggie, the writers' retreat host, has deliberately
    made these two seeminly different women cohabitate
    in order to make Noel climb out of her shell. (Maggie
    and Noel have known each other for several years.)
    These women are very different.
    Noel is rigid and dresses like a prig who has
    spent too much money at The Gap,
    and Claire is relaxed and goes with the
    flow in her denim jeans and soft shirts.
    Noel has short, nearly spiky, dark hair;
    Claire has long flowing blonde hair.
    These women are presented as opposites
    that may or may not be on the same quest.
    And the bicker and they argue, and the discuss
    the nature of intimacy and relationships.
    By placing these two women within the writers’
    retreat environment, Nicole Conn was able to
    successfully get these characters to talk
    about communication and intimacy in a way
    that in any other environment
    (save for a psychiatrist’s office)
    would seem highly artificial…and still there are
    times when watching this film one can readily sense
    Conn is merely using the characters as a vehicle
    to pontificate about female-to-female intimacy.
    Truth be told, the film (for me) bogs down
    horribly during some those scenes…it is interesting
    once, but upon repeat viewings, I find myself looking
    for the fast forward button on my DVD remote.
    But, the film more than makes up for its shortcommings
    in the "realness" and intensity of the
    struggles that Noel and Claire go through
    in trying to achieve “real” intimacy.
    (I've always called it, the "lesbian intensity thing"
    which just means that all that communciating that usually
    gets halved in male-to-female relationships, is frequently
    doubled in female-to-female relationships, and I have
    seen it over and over again...and this is the first film
    I've seen that represents it well.
    Will Noel get over her past lover?
    Will she and Claire a relationship?
    Well, this is a film, and the outcomes are predictable,
    but this film makes it clear that it is the journey
    that matters...a bit like asking what the plot is of
    Ruby in Paradise...if you have to ask,
    you missed the whole point.
    As I was watching Claire of the Moon,
    I was thinking about how gay women and men approach
    the subject of apparently heterosexual objects of desire.
    (Well, at least in film.)
    Compare Claire of the Moon to
    Billy’s Hollywood Screen Kiss and you get
    a pretty clear idea of how, IN GENERAL, gay men
    and lesbians approach the subject quite differently:
    Billy yearns to get Gabriel into bed,
    thinking that sex with Gabriel
    will open up to the possibility of a
    relationship between the two of them
    …Noel and Claire spend the bulk of their film’s
    narrative time chipping away at each other’s
    psychological foibles…and the end result will probably
    have little to nothing to do with physical consumation.
    So, when they finally have sex, it is
    almost anti-climatic, except that their physical
    intimacy is really just a representation of their
    deeper feelings for each other…

    (Which is something that I haven’t seen in a
    gay male film since All Over The Guy).
    As for other elements of the film,
    the cinematography is fairly generic with the
    exception of a few genuinely gorgeous shots of the
    gals as they either stare at the coastline sunset,
    or wander the beach.
    The acting by all the principals is exceptional,
    except I do find the periphereral actors’ performances
    a bit strained, but I don’t think Conn really gave
    the other authors at the retreat much to work with…
    these characters feel like characters and not people.
    (And with names like “Tara O’Hara” for the southern
    belle who writes romance novels, one suspects
    Conn intended for them to seem a bit extreme and artificial.)
    The only other character that seems real is the host of the retreat, Maggie,
    who is the kind of dyke that I
    find so comforting to be around…
    the kind who dispense with drama and bs…and say
    it like it is…she also has many of the great
    lines in the film.)
    Finally, one should not fail to mention the beautiful
    musical score by Portland's own Michael Allen Harrison,
    which is more than just contemporary "beach music," but
    the piano used to exspress feelings without being to
    "new agey" about it.
    All in all a remarkable film,
    and it owes no one any apologies for
    being a film intended for a select audience,
    but still, I have to consider that
    when recommending it to a larger, not lesbian community.
    Wolfe has decided to give this film a
    2 disc special edition for its 10 year anniversary,
    which will be more than a welcome addition
    in the homes of most the gay women I know.
    But, I suspect that for most of you fellas,
    this title will be a “rental only.”
    As a final remark, I have always had a
    soft spot for this film, because at one
    point or another, I have bumped into the
    principal actors around the Portland area.
    The actress who plays Noel Benedict
    (who looks so dyky in the film), never
    pushed my “gaydar” button once when I ran into her
    at the local supermarket
    (we were both getting the recyclable bottles
    out of our cars’ trunks)
    …and she is blond, and relaxed, and funny!
    I also caught her in a performance of
    Six Degrees of Separation on the Portland stage,
    which I thought she was fantastic in.
    I also bumped into Trisha Todd (who plays Claire),
    as we were both perusing the same rounder in The Gap
    at Pioneer Place…I just looked at her, she smiled,
    and I said, ”You were great in that film.”
    She thanked me, shyly, and moved on to another rounder..
    Such are the thrills to be had while living in a
    "entertainment capital" (insert sarcasm) like Portland, Oregon.
  2. Mark Walker

    Mark Walker Cinematographer

    Jan 6, 1999
    Likes Received:
    I noticed this thread has had "81 views" and
    no posts (other than mine).
    I knew the word "lesbian" would earn it a few glances. [​IMG]

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