Portions of this review also appeared on Fleshbot
On the saguaro-speckled byways of Arizona, a woman named Surgeon Scofflaw hitches rides from likely motorists. But one thing about Surgeon – she never seems grateful. Picked up by London, Surgeon immediately demands to drive and then forces London to gobble her strap-on. At least it’s got a condom on it.
This is Maria Beatty’s “Post-Apocalyptic Cowgirls.” I learned from the movie’s site that WWIII and Global Warming have turned the world into southwest Arizona. As the girls were already in southwest Arizona, at least they didn’t have to run out to Mervyn’s and get new wardrobes.
Then – and without even ponying up gas money – Surgeon both pisses and lactates on London in a junkyard. The clinical shots of this unusual desert precipitation were fascinating.
The photography by Nate Liquor bounces between road images of passing flora and the cramped interludes – most of which take place in or around the car – between Surgeon and London. With all of the American Southwest to play in, we wonder what it is that makes the two want to stay cooped up by London’s AMC Spirit hatchback.
This is not a Porn Valley lesbian movie. This is a dirty, grabby, aspy, dusty series of interludes from November 2007 shot in the rain and the desert chill. There are none of the reveals that tend to delight the straight viewer of faux-lesbian sex. Indeed, Surgeon’s and London’s clothes stay mostly on, possibly due to the temperature.
With this in mind, and knowing that Surgeon is the one in charge throughout the movie, it is no surprise to see the manner in which London makes her exit from the film. We get the impression that Surgeon and London didn’t bump into each other by happenstance.
Beatty directs with assurance and a keen eye for her target audience. That audience is not necessarily me, but I could tell there wasn’t a missed step in the movie, which plays like a Chamber of Commerce ad for southwest Arizona (when there aren’t hardcore lesbians fisting each other in it).
Bonus points to the soundtrack, provided by Lydia Lunch (“we go way back” says Beatty) Yann Jaffiol, and Bunny Rabbit. In a time when any MySpace band can be convinced – at least once – that it may help their career to be on a porn soundtrack in lieu of actual money, a recent porn trend consists of movies awash in incongruous, bad music that only benefits the producer in having been secured for free.
The “Cowgirls” soundtrack is a simple, spare mix of surf and Lunch’s art-noise, which is perfect for the inside/outside smirky violence of the movie.
I think Beatty’s next effort should feature Surgeon and Rutger Hauer in a hitchhiker fistoff.