1.17.2016

Harvest Lake - The SSL Review



So, this is an SSL Review, which is a very specific thing. We here at the SSL blog only review depictions and discussions of female orgasm and female masturbation in movies. So, clearly, not all films are eligible, but thank the good lord, Harvest Lake definitely is. I'm looking for realism ('cause goddamn, it's like 95% of people making sex scenes have never heard of a clit before). I'm also investigating a bit about how these depictions and discussions add to the larger cultural conversation and knowledge about ladygasms and female sexuality.

Harvest Lake (2016) still Forbidden Films
This all means that it's possible to give a movie I like a bad SSL Review (Dallas Buyer's Club, Nymphomaniac Volumes 1&2, or Coming to America for instance) or to give a shitty movie the good SSL Review it deserves. Although, looking through my Master List of SSL Reviews, it seems like movies that get good SSL Reviews are also actually pretty good movies in general, and I'm happy to report that Harvest Lake follows suit.

Before I begin, let me give you full disclosure:
We know the actress who plays Jennifer. Ms. Ellie Church is actually in Science, Sex and the Ladies. We cast her for a couple re-shoots about a year after our principal photography in 2010, and someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I think ours was the first movie she ever did. However, post production took a long-ass time for SSL, so I don't think it was her first released movie. We all loved working with Ellie, and wished we would have met up with her earlier in our production. Sadly, her one line got cut when we chopped most of the end off that scene, so you don't hear her voice. However, she rocked all the non verbal on screen shit - including rowing the fuck out of a cardboard boat.

Ellie Church in Science, Sex and the Ladies rowing the fuck out of a cardboard boat. Headed towards Harvest Lake perhaps? 
However, don't think I'm softballing this. I wanted to do a review of Harvest Lake after I happened upon a sneak peak, and frankly, if I didn't have anything good to say, I would have just said something like, "oh that was fun." and never spoken of it again, but I was impressed, and I truly would not say that about most local indie movies I see...and I see a pretty good amount of them. It was a simple story, done well. It looked great. The creatures were terrific. It was wierd as fuck, and it really handled the creation of quiet tension beautifully. Most of the time with Indy Indies I am just hoping it's not too boring. Harvest Lake is anything but, and I found myself immersed in its strange, sexy world.


SSL Review 
There are only 2 scenes that are unquestionably SSL reviewable, but there are 3 more that are questionably reviewable, and another that isn't, but I just want to talk about anyway. I'll go over each scene in detail and then give my overall SSL Rating at the end. I'll try to be as vague with the plot circumstances as much as possible so I don't give anything important away. So lets say - light spoilers?

Lady-bation Lake Scene
This one came (you see how I said came?) early in the movie, and I was all like, "fuck yeah!!!" because I knew it was going in the right direction, and I knew I needed to SSL Review.

 Let's just say the characters were gettin' real horny, and so Jennifer ended up standing waist high in the lake masturbating.Here's 2 reasons I love this scene.

1. It was an absolutely realistic way a woman might masturbate. We actually get a good solid underwater look too. Her hand was down her bikini front, and her fingers were clearly over the general clit area, and she was rubbing in a kinda circular motion. Beautiful.

2. I'd also like to add that there was a tentacle in this scene, and I think maybe another movie-making group might have chosen to show the sexuality in this scene by making that tentacle head into the ol' vag, because ladies putting things inside themselves is such a common way to show how horny a woman is. But, instead, the character expresses her horniness in a way that actual women most often express it when by themselves - by workin' that clit. It's a more surprising and creative choice that better respects the motivation of the character. (Also, I'm not anti tentacle-in-vag, of course, I just would find it a bit sad to know that she's getting monster banged without a little reach-around, ya know?)

Campfire Truths
So, technically there is a quick discussion of orgasm. Two character are giving rapid-fire questions to another as part of a truth-or-dareish type campfire game. It's all played with good natured humor.
Questioner 1: Mark, have you ever brought a woman to orgasm?
Mark: Yes.
Questioner 2: Have you ever brought a woman to triple orgasm?
Mark: (not answering)
Questioner 1: I'm gonna need an answer, Mark.
Mark: I can neither confirm nor deny 
I'm thinking that this question was used strategically in the script to give some insight into ol' Mark that could be considered during later plot points. It also goes with the sexual discussion happening around the fire, and I don't think anything particularly deep is meant by it, but I will quickly dig into it for digging sake.

I'm always sensitive to discussion that seem to insinuate men give women orgasms with their dicks ('cause the truth is vagina-stimulating does not ladygasms make), and I think sometimes that  banging-her-into-a-universe-shattering-orgasm is the first image brought up when someone says "brought a woman to orgasm." However, this quote does not have to mean that, and there is really no insinuation that it does. Mark there could have rubbed off a woman, or sucked on that nub, or used the trusty Magic Wand on her. She could have even rubbed that clit up against his pelvis while he was all up in that (but honestly I'd say that should be considered more her working those hips to get herself off than him "bringing her to orgasm," but I'm not mad if he's taking the credit - as long as she came).

Campfire First Time Story
This is not technically SSL reviewable, but it is a little because it gets into lack of female orgasm. Jennifer is asked whether her first time was good or bad. She tells her story of Roger (who's also having sex for the first time), a 15 year old that ignored her requests to take it slow, and was way overconfident of his abilities to make it great for her.
"That horny little fucker jack-hammered me for about 20 whole seconds till it was all over. The only thing I got out of that experience was a split hymen."
Now, don't get this wrong. The story was not all sad and rapey or anything. It was just a pretty normal story of a normal woman's first sexual experience, and the actress played it that way. It was pretty funny actually. My point with this is just that her acknowledgement that she got nothing from a short, in-out bang is a completely realistic account of things that don't cause orgasm for ladies. Also, I think this scene is important because just for a minute consider how not strange of a story that was - one in which the first time a woman has sex it is non-orgasmic and maybe even non-arousing, and the first time a man has sex, it is orgasmic. Just think about how that pretty common reality might possibly affect the way a woman vs. a man approaches sex in the future and how arousing the potential of future sexual experiences might seem. I think this little simple scene played for humor and character building is actually pretty poignant and progressive.

Oral!!!!
So, quickly and not to give away many details, I'll just say that there is a sex scene where a woman asks for a man to do a little cunnilingus. He happily gets to it. There's some good solid close-ups (without actually seeing anything pornographic), that make it clear he is mouthing the ol' clit area. Plenty realistic.

The woman on the receiving end is also playing it realistically. She's clearly enjoying it and sorta focusing on herself and the pleasure. We can tell she's getting closer to coming through her breathing, but it never gets showy or porny - super well-done.

It stops for a particular reason before she comes, so again, not technically SSL reviewable, but I LOVE seeing a woman get eaten out in a movie. Why? because getting eaten out is the FUCKING BEST, and I'm all about giving dudes ideas to do more of it. Plus, I liked this scene in particular because it was a woman unabashedly asking a man to pleasure her in a way other than straight up fucking her, and she wasn't made to seem wierd, freaky, or grossly over-sexual in a distasteful way as often happens in TV and movies when women speak too freely about getting their own in ways other than intercourse.

First Sex Scene
This is also not technically SSL reviewable because during this sex scene there was no discernible orgasm, so I really can't judge how it depicts orgasm...but I can judge a bit about how it depicts sex, and I'm gonna judge because I think this movie has been so super progressive in every other ladygasm way that I want to just throw this constructive criticism in, 'cause I feel this could have been progressive too.

It was a gal and a guy very early in the movie doing it in the grass. It was missionary. Her feet were on the ground but her knees were bent. There were closer and longer shots cut together and some time was cut out, but is was pretty clear that he was moving in and out of her, not in a particularly poundy way, but it wasn't grindy at all. It was clear that both his and her hands were not on her clit area at all so there was no additional manual clit stim happening. It was also clear that she was not grinding her hips up against him while they were fucking, so she's not finding a way to get some clit stim either. In fact, besides her hands on his back, her body was largely still. Again, nobody was shown coming, so who knows what happened physically when this character actually came or maybe she never came - who's to say.

However, I will point out that in this scene these people were supposed to be crazy horny, like out-of-body kinda horny. Wouldn't it have been cool to see her ravenously grinding her junk up against him while he was doing her, or for either of them to have their hands down their getting that clit worked? I mean, I always think that when it comes to sex scenes, whether you're playing for humor, shock-value, uniqueness, realism, or straight hornifide-ness, having a woman or her partner paying attention to the clit is just plain good. In our current world, ya just don't see it depicted much and it just seems stranger and dirtier when you do see it. Anyway, I'm just throwing that out there because I know these people will be making more movies, and they are always stepping things up a notch, so I thought I'd throw a little of my clit and ladygasm propaganda in their ring.

Additional Stuff I Want To Talk About
Okay, there is undoubtedly an imbalance between the amount of sexy skin we see of women vs. men on the big screen. I'm not against some sexy ass women, but can I get some hot male ass to check out too, please?

Harvest Lake, my friends, says yes.
Firstly, there are more scenes with bare cock in it than I can count on one hand. Thank ya Jesus.
Secondly, there's male on male action. (You been checking my porn queue, Harvest Lake?)
Thirdly, it wasn't homophobic. That shouldn't have to be said, but sadly that's still pretty progressive.
Finally, there was this badassicle scene in which Cat (played by Tristan Risk) insists her boyfriend change into the red briefs she bought him. She, and Jennifer standing next to her, obviously, are in super hot string bikinis that show just a touch of top ass crack for those ass lovers out there.
Cat: Look at what I'm wearing! Look at what I'm wea...I dress sexy for you all the time. The least you could do you is dress sexy for me.
Jennifer: Quid pro quo.
Oh and also there is this one scene where a tentacle is butting up against a dude's closed lips, and well, I just really love it a lot.

Conclusion
Harvest Lake is a sweet blend of seductive, sexy, and strange. Its a beautiful accomplishment and progressive when it comes to the depiction of female orgasm and female sexuality. It's realistic. It acknowledges the imbalance of sexiness among genders in movies, and it reflects a female perspective alongside the male perspective when it comes to what is sexy and what is sexually pleasurable. I can't tell you how pleased I was with this movie, and hope all the people creatively involved with this film take this progressiveness into their next project and continue doing kick-ass work.

I bestow upon Harvest Lake a 5 out of 5 Vulva Rating!
(!)(!)(!)(!)(!)

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