Polari (aGLIFF) 2012
By Don Simpson | October 7, 2012
Director: Madeleine Olnek
Writer: Madeleine Olnek
Starring: Lisa Haas, Susan Ziegler, Jackie Monahan, Cynthia Kaplan, Dennis Davis, Alex Karpovsky, Rae C. Wright, Clay Drinko, Julian Brand
Hands down one of the funniest films I have seen all year, writer-director Madeleine Olnek‘s Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same is a micro-budget nonsensical screwball farce about three bald lesbian aliens who are exiled to Earth in order to discover heart break thus saving their home planet’s ozone layer. You see, the leaders of Zots have determined that the “big feelings” of romantic emotions is destroying their world’s ozone layer; thus the more romantically inclined inhabitants of Zots are transported in flimsy flying saucers to Earth, where shattering hearts seems to be the norm among humans.
The story follows Jane (Lisa Haas), a plainly frumpy lesbian woman who seems unable to find love on the planet Earth. On one fateful day, Jane meets Zoinx (Susan Ziegler), an lesbian alien who has been temporarily exiled from Zots. Their relationship seems timid, practically asexual, but it is abundantly clear that Lisa and Zoinx care deeply for each other. They are both outcasts from their home worlds and find sweet and endearing comfort in their time together. Jane and Zoinx are so transfixed with each other that they fail to notice the two men in black (Dennis Davis, Alex Karpovsky) who are not-so-keenly observing their every move.
All the while, two other Zotsian lesbians — Zylar (Jackie Monahan) and Barr (Cynthia Kaplan) — are also navigating the Brooklyn dating scene. While Zylar adjusts nicely to Earthling promiscuity, Barr has absolutely no interest in humans because her heart is hopelessly stuck on Zylar.
While the metaphor of lesbian love being alien to earthlings — specifically the white male representatives of the federal government — seems all too obvious, I cannot think of any other film that has pulled off this ruse so successfully. In most cases, alien invasion flicks postulate that an unwanted and unwelcome “other” has come to terrorize (and destroy) “normal” people; in other words, the symbolism of these films is intended to be fearful propaganda against people of a particular ethnic, religious or political demographic. In the case of CLSASS, the tables are quite tactfully turned. Olnek opts not to shroud her intentions behind the facade of alien beings, instead she reveals in the title of the film exactly which “other” demographic the aliens represent because CLSASS is a film about “others” from the perspective of “others.” You might even say that CLSASS is similar to The Brother from Another Planet in this manner.
Olnek plays off of the low budget nature of mid-century alien invasion flicks — you know, the ones that were all about the rabid fear of a communist invasion — with über-campy costume (Linda Gui) and production design (Rebecca Conroy, Bryan Heyboer) that is cleverly accented with black and white cinematography (Nat Bouman). But where this micro-budget independent production truly excels is in its script and performances. Susan Ziegler, Jackie Monahan and Cynthia Kaplan are outstanding as the three aliens who speak in unnaturally stilted monotone patterns with perfect comedic timing. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that CLSASS is destined to become a midnight cult classic — more importantly, one with a positive social commentary to back up its side-splitting laughs.