Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Movie Log: Shortbus

There is now officially nothing I can see in a movie which will surprise me. And many of you reading this will want to move on to something else; You Have Been Warned.

You might remember hearing about a mainstream movie last year with "real sex" in it; Shortbus was that movie. And I will now mention two facts for you that I was a bit too dim to link up for myself ahead of time. One: Shortbus does have real, on-screen sex; there aren't porn-movie camera angles, but you can see what's happening. Two: one of the two main stories in the movie is about a young (male) gay couple.

I didn't run from the room screaming or anything -- in fact, The Wife was more shocked than I was at the sight of on-screen tasteful sex between men -- but it was something I should have expected but didn't. Caveat viewer.

(Sidenote 1: The Wife is never going to be a yaoi fan; boy-sex squicks her out more than many men I know.)

(Sidenote 2: this movie has the weirdest rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner" I can imagine.)

OK, so we've got two plots here. Plot One is about Sophia, a couples counselor who, we quickly learn, is "pre-orgasmic" -- despite a very acrobatic and active sex life with her husband Rob, she has never had an orgasm in her life. One of the couples she counsels is Jamie and Jamie James, two men who have been together (monogamously) for five years but are thinking about opening up their relationship -- they are Plot Two. There's also a sub-plot about a dominatrix named Severin, but she mostly turns into a supporting character in Sophia's plot.

And, to repeat: we see nearly all of these people get naked and freaky. In fact, the movie opens with James alone at home, testing the limits of his spine, inter cut with Rob & Sophie schtupping through what seems to be their entire apartment. If you start watching this, you'll know, pretty quickly, if you want to keep going. (But wait! There's more! You might well be driven away by another scene, in the middle of the movie, which I will not even attempt to describe.)

This is not a movie for everyone; I expect this is only a movie for quite open-minded people, mostly ones in major metropolitan areas. If it were purely heterosexual, the audience might be slightly bigger, but {shrug} that's not the way they wanted to go -- actually, I think the heterosexuality in this movie is more of the afterthought than vice versa.

The actors are all what is generally called "first-timers;" they're not quite non-actors, but they're not all equally good, and some of them (especially the secondary characters) seem to be essentially playing themselves. That doesn't entirely help the movie. And parts of the script are muddled; this is a semi-improvised movie without a whole lot of plot.

All in all, it's a film that will attract voyeurs, but repel most of them (at least, I'd expect most hetero men will not be keen once they hear that a lot of the sex in the movie -- a majority of the major-character sex-with-partners, honestly -- is between or among men). It's a movie with a message, but the message mostly is "sex is great, even if it's complicated and messy and emotionally painful." I didn't love it; I'm not sure how much I liked it, even. (I want to say that I found it bold and exciting and ground-breaking, to show my solidarity with the Sexually Oppressed Hordes, but I'm not sure the movie itself is that good at doing what it wants to do.)

If nothing else, watching it gave me a tiny tatter of hipster cred, to be balanced against the fact that I'm a minivan-driving, suburbia-living, housewife-supporting, registered-Republican dude. And I'll take that wherever I can get it, especially if it's in a movie that I can be more blase
about than my wife...

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