SUNDANCE REVIEW: Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same
PARK CITY -- (Park City at Midnight) Tongue firmly in cheek, Madeleine Olnek's lesbian sci-fi comedy lovingly spoofs the black-and-white B-movies of yesteryear, complete with low-grade special effects, stiff acting and government paranoia. Sure to become a staple of festival midnight-movie programs, it should also live long and prosper on DVD and late-night TV.
Jane (Lisa Haas) is a lonely greeting-store clerk with even less going on in her dating life than in the often-deserted shop. She fills the void with an active imagination involving spaceships and aliens, although her therapist is pretty sure that visitors from beyond earth aren't trying to contact her client -- but she couldn't be more wrong.
On the planet Zots, somewhere in the neighborhood of Saturn, nosy bureaucrats recognizable to any species in the universe are hustling Zotsians off-planet, convinced that their abundance of romantic emotions is damaging the world's ozone layer. Banished to earth to overcome their "big feelings" by having their hearts broken by fickle earthlings, they'll be allowed to return once they cease to pose a threat.
Dressed in curve-hugging jumpsuits with upright, conical collars framing their bald heads, the female Zotsians don't attract so much as a backward glance after landing in Brooklyn, where Jane catches the eye of Zoinx (Susan Ziegler), a typically expressionless alien lesbian. Willing to overlook their differences, Lisa and Zoinx are soon dating, a development that draws the scrutiny of a couple of black-suited government agents (Dennis Davis, Alex Karpovsky), charged with disrupting earthling-alien relationships. Meanwhile Zylar (Jackie Monahan), liberated from her homeworld's expectations, is turning into a dating machine, hitting on every available woman. But her fellow traveler Barr (Cynthia Kaplan) feels heartbroken, since she has no interest in New Yorkers and only wants to be with Zylar.
Writer-director Olnek, an veteran playwright, stage director and short filmmaker debuting her first feature, deftly parodies the myriad tropes of low budget sci-fi with obvious glee, from the alien's monotonal speech to wobbly camera-handling and cheesy special effects.
Performances are aces all around, considering the low marks that need to be hit. The portrayal of lesbian dating situations will resonate with singles of all persuasions, as the film nails earthlings' obsessions with both romance and extraterrestrials.
Venue: Sundance Film Festival, Park City at Midnight
Production company: Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same LLC
Cast: Lisa Haas, Susan Ziegler, Jackie Monahan, Cynthia Kaplan, Dennis Davis, Alex Karpovsky, Rae C. Wright
Director-screenwriter: Madeleine Olnek
Producers: Madeleine Olnek, Laura Terruso
Director of photography: Nat Bouman
Production designers: Rebecca Conroy, Bryan Heyboer
Music: Clay Drinko
Costume designer: Linda Gui
Editor: Curtis Grout
No rating, 75 minutes