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Office Lesbians Three

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Identifying early cinematic representations of lesbianism was like collecting crumbs off the top table. It’s more than just an immaculate response to decades of “if only” dramas like David Lean’s “Brief Encounter,” or a heartstopping series of small gestures that build into the single most cathartic last shot of the 21st century.

Wearing its noir influences proudly on its sleeve, “Bound” is not only a classic lesbian film, but it’s also the only Wachowski-directed project firmly outside the sci-fi genre.

Narrowing down the best movies in any genre is tough, but for lesbian films you have to begin with a reductive question: What isa lesbian film? Gornick wrote, directed and starred in this breezy, urbane comedy, which she described as “a thesis on love and its labels”. Jennifer Tilly and Gina Gershon positively sizzle as couple on the run, Violet and Corky, giving audiences plenty of girl-on-girl action.

Without Hammer, there would be no Born in Flames (1983), no Desert Hearts (1985), no Go Fish (1994). That makes it a rare window into this iconic directing duo, andone that LGBT viewers have proudly embraced into the fold. Cheryl is a young, black lesbian living in Philadelphia who becomes obsessed with learning about a black actress from the 1930s, whom she dubs The Watermelon Woman.It’s the kind of New York romance that rarely gets made anymore: There’s charming montages to Ella Fitzgerald’s version of “Manhattan,” a “where did she come from? With cameos from Camille Paglia, Toshi Reagon, and Sarah Schulman, this movie has lesbian icons coming out of its… wherever. A period tragicomedy with an unexpectedly modern feel, Lanthimos’ take on the British costume drama, is something wonderfully unique.

Abdellatif Kechiche, director of last year’s sexually sensationalist Blue Is the Warmest Colour, might have done better if he had taken a leaf out of Hammer’s book.Using photography as both flirtation and cinematic device, “High Art” sometimes feels like a contemporary “Carol. Desert Hearts” was the first lesbian movie that didn’t involve a love triangle with a man, or end in tragedy. In“Below Her Mouth,”Jasmine (Natalie Krill) is a successful fashion editor who is happily engaged and planning her wedding withfiancéRile (Sebastian Pigott).

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