The Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls
Now Showing at: Cincinnati World Cinema, June 26 & 28, 2011
Review by: Larry Thomas
The Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls is a documentary that chronicles the lives and careers of two of New Zealand’s most popular performers. Oh, and did I mention they just happen to be identical twin yodeling lesbian folk singers and comics. They’ve been around for years, which gives director Leeann Pooley a wealth of historical film to punctuate the concert and performance footage.
Growing up as farm girls in conservative rural New Zealand…in school, they were members of The Calf Club…the Topp Twins, Jools and Linda, have created comedy characters rooted in their rural upbringing, and national culture. Their music is a blend of folk and country styles that are reminiscent of, say, Indigo Girls crossed with The Smothers Brothers. But music is only part of the act during appearances all across New Zealand and around the world.
The Topp Twins dress up and assume the personalities of a variety of characters during the course of a show. They do both male and female characters which are well known throughout Kiwi country.
In this respect, The Topp Twins are reminiscent of the vaudeville comedians who made the transition to early television, such as Red Skelton and Milton Berle. The Topp Twins’ routines includes such duos as Prue & Dilly, a pair of posh socialites; Ken & Ken, the unlikely pairing of a sheep farmer with a TV sports commentator; and Herty & Gerty, who are yodeling pig farmers. It would seem a natural connection for them to show up on Garrison Keillor’s “A Prairie Home Companion.”
Now in their fifties, The Topp Twins have lived through a lot, including Jools' bout with breast cancer. The music and comedy is peppered with satire, political commentary, and a healthy dose of activism, all qualities which endear them to their audiences.
I would also suggest you go to the Internet and read up on The Topp Twins before venturing out to see their cinematic biography. It can be very easy to walk into this film with no idea of what you’re going to see, and then assume it’s a mocumentary along the lines of This is Spinal Tap.
The Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls is presented by Cincinnati World Cinema in Covington’s Carnegie Arts Center. There are two showings: tonight at six, and Tuesday at 7:30. As with all of World Cinema’s presentations, there will be a social hour and cash bar one hour before the film, and a post-film discussion to follow the screening. Go to our website for a link to Cincinnati World Cinema. You’ll be able to see the film’s trailer, read about the Topp Twins, the film, and the many documentary film festival awards it has garnered worldwide.