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CIA graffiti, Itty Bitty Titty Committee

January 2009 SITE MAP   SEARCH

The Itty Bitty Titty Committee
cast: Cast: Melonie Diaz, Nicole Diaz, Ana Mercedes, Genevieve Turner, and Carly Pope

director: Jamie Babbit

87 minutes (18) 2007
widescreen ratio 1.85:1
TLA DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 6/10
reviewed by Paul Higson
For those aware that reviewers on this site get to select their monthly quota I want it known that this December I offered myself up for the lucky dip... or a dodgy tombola.... chancing the return of some random rubbish. I may have commented what a great title The Itty Bitty Titty Committee had but that in no way should be confused with a request. Jamie Babbitt's film proved neither as lurid nor as terrible as might have been assumed by its title. Gay cinema, like the gangsta film (purposefully mentioned here, in the hope of great offence, slamming those two genres per leg into the same pair of pants) is something I fail to get, a genre that I am not in tune with. The films generally whitter on about kitsch tastes I have no sympathy with and have all the attraction of a vomited upon glitter ball. They are generally unimaginatively shot and lack a technical nous, more interested in simply getting the action in front of the camera. I am grateful when a genre evades me as it signals an output that I can then largely ignore.

The Itty Bitty Titty Committee breaks no new ground. It is not so much an angry lesbian fantasy as a slightly peeved one. It is a trickled out tale of young Anna (Melonie Diaz), a receptionist at the Twin Palms plastic surgery clinic, jilted by her girlfriend, who takes immediately to an Arquettish-like-blonde, Shula (Carla Pope) she has disturbed leaving graffiti across the shop front. As a result of this she falls in with a feminist activist group called Clits in Action (CIA). The unit is small-fry, low in number, filming relatively petty acts of conceptualist vandalism and running the footage on their website. Shula is not as available as Anna would like, living with an older woman, Courtney (Thirtysomething star Melanie Mayron) who sees herself as a more purposeful and mature campaigner for the non-profit organisation Women for Change. Courtney is dismissive of her lover's activities and friends. The hypocritical Shula might leave Courtney if it were not for the comfortable home and bed it would deprive her of and the real struggle for independence that it would necessitate.

Inspecting the number of hits on the site they are disheartened to learn that no one is paying attention. The group splinters and reforms under the impetus of newbie Anna who engineers a spectacular public act of sabotage involving the capture of a television studio and the spoiling of an American icon. An almost fluffily comedic social drama uneasily turns into a ludicrous fantasy in which a television studio is manned by one person and a papier mache penis can be slipped over the top of the Washington Monument (on its 120th anniversary) without anyone noticing the appendment until it is too late. The finale is disappointing, a rug pulled from under one as we have just spent the first hour pleasantly amused in its perfunctory quasi-realism and harmless witticisms. There is room for a few social observations, which are welcome. Anna's ex-girlfriend orders her to "stop calling Callie and Al.... they're my friends" and bitter little real notes like this dot the narrative. It has a quota of funnies. One of the group's slogans is "riots not diets." When Laurel is branded a "black hole of negative energy" by the sculptress Meat, Laurel responds, "God! More vagina imagery!"

The film earns extra points by setting up its central counter-cultural cell as something of a bold reactionary alternative only to then steal its armour and denude it. Rather than an ongoing impactful concern the unit is shown to implode before it is proven to be established. It and the team members are revealed to be punitative and vulnerable... a bold twist in the commonly celebratory and self-congratulatory counter-cultural communities in alternative cinema. The film is flustered though by unreal plotting, some bad dialogue delivery, a desperation to some of the details, several poor effects in the few moments that effects are called for and at times weak editing, if not some suspected lost shots. Genevieve Turner, of Go Fish, is present, to lend it some lesbian cinema kudos, and the soundtrack is propped up with a predictable mix of foxcore, fempunk and grrrrl rock artistes (Le Tigre, Peaches, Sleater Skinney, Bikini Kill, etc). Props are provided by Jane's World, The Cunt Factory and the infamous Guerrilla Girls. The film is passable viewing, but perhaps not worthy of a revisit.

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