25 April 2009

Movie Review: Shortbus

When I put this in my Netflix queue a year ago, I had no idea what to expect. It seemed like an interesting concept from the trailer but forgot about it until it arrived in the mail. I'll start by saying, I have subsequently found out that the many sex scenes -- including auto-fellatio, orgies, threesomes, etc. -- are not simulated but actual sexual acts. Netflix's short summary for the film said:
Director John Cameron Mitchell delivers an unbridled look at the New York City underground, focusing on a group of hipsters who frequent a downtown club renowned for its lascivious ways. Through graphic polymorphous sexual couplings -- and using an ensemble cast composed largely of first-time actors -- the film chronicles each character's erotic journey of self-discovery in a raw and riveting fashion.
I think en.Wikipedia does a much more thorough job of describing the plot. There are two main characters, Sofia, who is a straight, married sex therapist who has never had an orgasm and James, a gay former prostitute who is in an unsatisfying relationship. The movie follows the searching of these two individuals for meaning in life through sexual exploration and/or sexual maturation.

There was a lot of sex in the movie (uncensored and unsimulated) yet John Cameron Mitchell was able to use the sex in a way to explore and develop aspects of the characters and their suffering. Perhaps some of the pornographers who use the gay indie cinema veneer to get their works out might consider looking to this film as a way of using sex to tell a story versus shooting sex and calling it a story. (Jay Altarejos and Lex Bonife, for example, have done a good job of using sex strategically as a story telling device. Others, however, could use some work to move from simply appealing to prurient interest to making art.)


  1. i've heard of this movie quite alot already-sabi nila maganda RAW.

    So many movies, so little time ><. sighhh

  2. err i usually trust your judgment but i would have to say i disagree with you on this one. i'm very open when it comes to movies like this but from the very first auto-fellatio scene till the end credits, i just felt like it was an excuse for pornography.

  3. @ herbs. so many.

    @ cb. okay. i should admit that a few times during the movie i had to go into the other room and fold clothes, make my bed, wash dishes because of the intensity of the sex. i think what made it not porn for me was the framing of the human body. in real porn, the body is framed to distill the sex but in this movie the framing was much more zoomed out and you'd get the entire bodies plus a lot of background -- which is very not porn style. but i do admit, the intensity of the sex was beyond my tolerance threshold and i had to get up and do something else a few times during the movie.

  4. ive seen this movie (several times). it's a so so movie. i like the theme of sexual exploration because of the characters' boredom with their own sexual relationships. i'll be a hypocrite if i say that i didnt get hardons while watching some scenes.