OK, so some of the best minds working in lesbian film today got
together in a room and the best title they could come up with
was Itty Bitty Titty Committee? I have as good
a sense of humour as the next dyke, but considering that they
only tied the title into the film in the last 2.3 seconds (and
that not very well) it leads me to believe that somebody in that
room thought it was far funnier than it actually is.
For those of you who don’t know, Itty Bitty Titty
Committee (which I’m now going to refer to as IBTC,
mainly because I’m sick of writing the whole thing, but
also because it’s terrible) is the first feature film produced
by the organisation known as PowerUP.
Mainly through savvy publicity, the group has stylised themselves
as the first and last word in lesbian entertainment. Until now they’ve mainly given film grants
to short filmmakers (which helped Angela Robinson produced the
original D.E.B.S short
film). Their membership
list does in fact read like a who’s who of lesbians in showbiz (minus queen Ellen herself).
These gals all got together and decided that it was time to fund
a feature film. They get Jamie Babbit (But
I'm a Cheerleader) to direct, a smart move. They decide to focus on something
important to the lesbian community, also a solid decision.
They cast relative unknowns in the leads (besides Daniela Sea
from The L Word)
and reserve the powerful names for well-placed cameos (Guinevere Turner, Melanie Lynskey, Jenny Schimizu and Clea DuVall).
The film has some excellent street cred.
So why did they
pay so little attention to the script? The inexperience of the credited writers really shows. I wish
Guin Turner had done less acting and more fine-tuning of the dialogue,
because we know she can write, quite superbly when given a chance.
The film is a fumbling, confused collection of scenes, lifted from somebody’s memories (or cliches) of their student activist
days, exaggerated by a thousand for comic effect.
Anyone who was into radical
politics in their younger and wilder days will recognise something
in these characters. The naïve newbie who falls for the charismatic
leader of the pack. The intelligent plotter who mourns the lack
of publicity despite all their efforts. The struggling artist
types. I even knew the reject ex-military types who couldn’t
get over the desire to blow things up.
The film’s radical group is called CiA (Clits in Action),
which would have made a far better name for the film.
They mess around vandalising parks and shopfronts, including defacing
the front of a breast augmentation clinic, which is where Sadie,
the group’s leader, meets Anna for the first time. Anna
is a confused, depressed lesbian who has just been dumped by her
girlfriend and works as a receptionist at the clinic. Sadie comes
along at just that time in her life when she is most susceptible
(something which does wonders for the cliché of both lesbians
and activists as recruiters of the young and vulnerable), and
convinces her to come to a CiA meeting.
the next hour, as Anna is educated and blossoms, we’re given
a hand-held tour through the history of the women’s movement,
from references to The Feminine Mystique, statistics on the
repression of women, and a soundtrack of riot grrl music
(provided almost exclusively by the Kill
Rock Stars label). Anna’s education is meant to be ours as well,
only for those of us who have already learned the lessons of feminism
and activism, the trip down memory lane is slightly dull,
occasionally witty, and often downright cringeworthy.
IBTC kicks into gear in the third act when Anna presents the CiA with a daring and radical plan. It is absurd,
but is carried off with enthusiasm by the cast who seem to warm
into their roles. The love story is sweet, but the ending is
utterly ridiculous, even if it does provide a few laughs.
Visually this owes a lot to Down
and Out with the Dolls, and the plot is cartoonish in
the same way that But I’m a Cheerleader
was, but without the originality. I suspect this is a film best enjoyed in groups
where the laughter is infectious. Keep your expectations low and
your spirits high, and the experience will be positive. However, I guess I just expected more from the kind of combined imaginative
(and financial!) power these filmmakers had available to them. Without giving too
much of the ending away, I also truly believe the lesbian community
deserved more from PowerUP than a film which is essentially the
world's longest dick joke.
Got a comment? Write to me at email@example.com