19. Working Girls (1986, Lizzie Borden)
I'm stunned that this film has not been established as a key indie classic. It strikes me as an important and daring film, decades ahead of its time.
Working Girls is the only film I can think of that shows sex work, as well ... work - a bit of a dead-end job with a fake nice manager, boredom, chit-chat, and the particular uneasiness and issues that come with the profession. I'm also not sure we have had films where the sex workers are so well-defined and explored as people. An unfair comparison that grew in my mind was to the completely different Vecchiali film Rosa la rose, fille publique, from the same year, which goes into, essentially, iconography/fantasy/idolism/fetishism - but then that's Vecchiali. I must be missing some films that should be at the top of my head - but regardless: it is impressive, daring, witty and cutting - and all with the largely limited location.
Just as in Born in Flames, Borden did so much with the low budget and made it work to it's advantage. Here, it feels like you are trapped on the shift with these women, and she makes the space feel lived-in (a phrase I used when describing Born in Flames as well).
I will definitely be looking into Borden's other work as well - though nothing else seems to have gotten similar reception (with these two being available through Criterion). If anyone has additional Borden recommendations or films like this, just shoot.
I also have to say that the scene where:
Our protagonist is pretending not to be queer and even saying "do I look like a dyke" to soothe the fears of a young new girl working there was particularly cutting and sad. There were many eerie and creepy scene, but that one stood out to me.
Anyways, from the great to the less great, Flavo has been dropping Doris Wishman's name on repeat on Discord, and I'm happy(?) to say I have given her another shot, hating this one far less:
20. Indecent Desires (1968, Doris Wishman)
This is a low-budget erotic fantasy drama, where a stalker drives a woman insane by the use of a voodoo doll, of course with the woman barely dressed - and usually in high heels. What I will say about it is that it is quite well-shot, especially for its budget. Thoroughly stupid and inane, but better than I feared. 3.5/10
And for something completely different, here's a quick dive into a director I had previously seen nothing from:
21. Ne bolit golova u dyatla / Woodpeckers Don't Get Headaches (1975) 6/10
22. Klyuch bez prava peredachi / The Key That Should Not Be Handed On (1977) 5/10
23. Patsany / Teenagers (1984) 6/10
Dinara Asanova was a kyrgyzstani director working with Lenfilm. From what I have read about her she was quite popular in the USSR, and from the 3 films I have seen (the only films currently available in English), she had a particular interest in youths. She died at the young age of 42 in 1985 (heart ailments listed as the cause of death).
Woodpeckers Don't Get Headaches was her feature debut and it is a cute and charming tale of a young buy dreaming of being a drummer and experiencing summer love. Innocuous, well-made, charming, quirky but also nothing too special. While her first film starts as school ends, her next The Key That Should Not Be Handed On, takes place entirely in school and moves the focus onto the staff around the children as a new principal arrives, directly from the army. It is also a comedy, but less so, and a bit drier in its soft critique of authoritarianism, granted, brave in it's context. Teenagers is her most blunt, concerning a camp for troubling boys. Here she is unafraid of prodding into their unstable psyche - though with its large character gallery and moments of humour it is a little sprawling. The opening is great however and there are many memorable scenes throughout.