If These Walls Could Talk 2 (1995) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski) and Tuna

Three eras, same house, always populated by women of the ... um ... sisterhood. If only these walls could talk.

Yeah, the premise sounds pretty lame, doesn't it? The film, actually three short films, is pretty good.

Do you remember those educational films they showed you in school. Instead of just talking about the Battle of Hastings, your teacher showed you an historically accurate story and you were able to swallow the bitter pill of education in convenient chewable baby aspirin form. This movie is the same kind of deal. None of the three stories taken alone will challenge the memory of O. Henry, and I don't think future generations will find them anthologized, like "A Rose for Emily", but they are not without merit, and they contain plenty of illumination, and some fine performances.

1) I guess I never thought of these issues. When lesbians live together for fifty years, and one of them dies, the other has no rights to access the possessions of the deceased. The things they shared together for all those years probably become the property of the relatives of the deceased, and will be stripped of their emotional meaning.  When one partner goes to the hospital, the nurses say to the other "sorry, you can't see her, family only". And so forth. This is the subject of the first story. It stars Vanessa Redgrave who is excellent in it. This story has no nudity but is the most literate, the most touching, the best acted, and the most thought-provoking.

2) The second story is about fem lesbians whose bond is challenged when one of them is attracted to a butch. I think we straights tend to view lesbians as some kind of homogeneous group, but they are all unique, and within their community they have as many internecine squabbles as we have in the heterosexual community. They have spent their lives as pariahs because they are different, yet if one of their own is different from them, they shun and ridicule her just as cruelly as society ridicules them. This is not something that is unique to lesbians, but is a sad indictment of the human race in general, isn't it? Our own resentment and pain from the prejudice directed against us rarely seems to make us any more tolerant, and we in turn mete out resentment and pain when we have the floor.

3) The third story, with Degeneres and Stone, is a very weak story with little to engage your mind or heart, and is held together solely by the charm and energy of the performers, mostly Sharon.

A movie like this has to engage your mind this way, and not just your heart. If they just show that lesbians are sympathetic and human characters, that doesn't touch us. After all, we are aware that it's all fiction, and they can make all the characters as sympathetic or unsympathetic as they want them to be. But when they show the real issues applied in real situations, there is no turning away from them. They aren't made up. We can see that's the way it really would be.

I also learned one more thing from this movie. I learned that Chloe Sevigny and James Spader are the same person.


Michelle Williams, Chloe Sevigny, Sharon Stone, and Ellen Degeneres showed bare breasts

Tuna's comments in yellow:

If These Walls Could Talk 2 (2000) is an HBO anthology of three lesbian stories. It is not really a sequel to If These Walls Could Talk, because number two is about lesbian relationships, and the first was about abortion. The two do share a common format in that each consists of three stories which take place in the same house, in different eras.

The first, and easily the best of the three segments takes place in 1961. Vanessa Redgrave and Marion Seldes play a couple who have been together since childhood. Both taught at the same school. As the film opens, they are at the movies, watching "The Children's Hour." They are holding hands, and clearly enjoying the part where Shirley McClaine swears her love to Audrey Hepburn when teenage boys in the balcony start laughing, and they are forced to stop holding hands. Later that night, Seldes drops from a stroke. At the hospital, Redgrave isn't allowed to visit her because "she isn't family." Seldes dies in the middle of the night, and nobody bothers to tell Redgrave, even though she has been waiting all night. She is not allowed to make arrangements, so calls Seldes' nephew, who shows up with his wife and young daughter, and informs her that they are taking their aunts things, and will be selling the home that is in their aunts name. Redgrave is brilliant in the role. Both themes are clearly presented. First, the lesbian relationship between these women is as strong and as lasting as any other relationship. The second is the need for some legal status for people in alternative relationships to avoid the indignity that Redgrave suffered. Of course, in 1961, they had to be deep in the closet.

The second segment is also very strong. Michelle Williams lives in the house in 1972 with three other lesbians. They are pushed out of the feminist action club because their sexual orientation is causing political problems for the organization with the school administration. The four go to a gay bar that night, and Michelle meets a very butch Chloe Sevigny. Her friends strongly disapprove of anyone that openly "out," but Michelle is strongly attracted to Chloe. The sex between them sizzles. This segment showed aspects of same gender discrimination that I had never considered, but the political content was secondary to the sex. I have since learned that this is a genuine issue in the lesbian community.

The third segment is the weakest, and stars Ellen Degeneres and Sharon Stone as a couple who want a baby. After deciding that a surrogate isn't going to work out, they elect to use a sperm donor. This segment is played for comedy, which mainly falls flat, and there was no chemistry for me between Degeneres and Stone. If there was a theme or message here, it escaped me.

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The People Vote ...

The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, Scoop says, "This is a C+. Well done, special interest film, as usual from HBO. I was forced to swallow the medicine of issues that I wouldn't normally think about, and I got to do it in the convenient pill form of stories and bare breasts, so I have no complaints. It's an OK rental, but I wouldn't have rented it if it didn't have the nudity." Tuna says, "This one is worth seeing. HBO did a very good job, and the DVD transfer does it justice. The nudity alone makes the film worth the rental price. This is a strong B. It is a favorite in the gay community, but the themes and messages are accessible to everyone."

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