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Overall Rating

Awesome: 18.6%
Worth A Look39.53%
Just Average: 20.93%
Pretty Crappy: 20.93%
Sucks: 0%

5 reviews, 13 user ratings

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by Erik Childress

"Dudes Have Cocks. Film at 11, 12 and 1."
2 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2006 TORONTO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: A big deal is always going to be made when sex removes the adjective of simulated from its cinematic description. Actresses giving blowjobs on screen have been much the rage in years past, most notably with Chloe Sevigny pleasuring Vincent Gallo in The Brown Bunny (and not given the courtesy of an immediate bathing scene) but also in films such as Battle In Heaven, Intimacy and One Night in Paris. The latter, of course, assumes that its an actual movie and that Paris Hilton is an actress by any stretch other than her lips and jaw. Porn or no porn, the capturing of sex with a camera can be utilized to frame any number of emotions and is only shocking (or God forbid, gross) when said capturer surrounds it with less of a story than your average backroom amateur opus highlighted with a volume number past eleven.

The sex begins somewhat fast and furious as we’re introduced to three people whose extracurriculars are a large part of their identity. Sofia (Sook-Yin Lee), a sexual therapist, enjoys a positionally-challenged relationship with her husband, although has never experienced the big finish. Severin (Lindsey Beamish) is a dominatrix by day and a dominatrix by night. James (Paul Dawson) was once a Midnight Cowboy and now spends his days making a film for his lover, Jamie (PJ DeBoy, a male porn name if there ever was one) and trying to autofellate himself in full view of the neighboring apartments.

James and Jamie go to Sofia for counseling and come to discover her non-discovery of cumming. To help open her up, they invite her to an underground bohemian swinger’s club named after the public school’s secondary transportation of the mentally-challenged outcasts. If there’s a rhyme you can make out of “suck”, you can surely find it here. The two James have little trouble finding a third to open up their relationship. Sofia finds a friend in Severin who tries to show her the fine art of opening up her own orifices with her fingers. All of this is supported by Shortbus’ ringmaster, Justin Bond (played by himself), who looks like he stepped out of a midnight Rocky Horror screening and flaunts the kind of wit he thinks gay men invented.

There isn’t a lot of subtlety to the connections writer/director John Cameron Mitchell is trying to make with the sexually sullen. Severin’s disconnect with her own feelings taken out on the men around her is right out of the Freud playbook. Using characters like Sofia and an ex-mayor of NY to represent the blind once leading the 20/20’ers on sexual moirés is a way to go, but neither are crafted as anything but pawns in the enlightened liberation of the Shortbus party. As for how sexually graphic the film is being portrayed, it has basically cornered itself into being little more than a shockfest for the MPAA. There has been far more erotic and part-intensive sex on screen before. In the heterosexual realm. The graphic part materializes in its presentation of homosexual gratification from the opening Yoga-to-Yogurt to the threesome tip-dippin’ that even the boys from Jackass would steer clear queer of. If Mitchell’s attempt was to bring moments like this to the mainstream of nonchalant intimacy, he fails since these scenes, both homo and hetero, have the atmosphere of exhibitionism more than an expression of love or feeling.

I don’t know who is interested in a woman experiencing her inner pleasure on screen other than those looking to fulfill their outer pleasures. And if it looks like porn and smells like porn, somebody will no doubt label it as porn. But, so be it. The anthology film, Destricted, also didn’t have much of a story but had far more attention-grabbing explorations of the fine line between fantasy and pornography. Mitchell’s film may take place on the fringes of New York’s community, but drives its ideas and culture as if leading a 24/7 gay pride parade down a suburban block with Caligula as the drum major. Progressive maybe, but even the most liberal supporters would tell you they like to be kissed before they get fucked.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=14943&reviewer=198
originally posted: 10/06/06 00:00:28
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Toronto Film Festival For more in the 2006 Toronto Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Vancouver Film Festival For more in the 2006 Vancouver Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Chicago Film Festival For more in the 2006 Chicago Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

3/18/16 Charles Tatum Mitchell falls hard. 2 stars
2/28/11 Captain Slog Not a movie you want to watch with your mum 4 stars
5/31/10 User Name Instead of this, go for honest-to-god fetish porn. 2 stars
5/26/08 mr.mike Agree with Variety , good first half , then fades. 3 stars
2/20/07 jeff herbert strikingly beautiful though coarse interior photography. The images linger in the mind 4 stars
2/01/07 Chitta boring, 2 stars
1/30/07 elmo i luvved it 5 stars
1/12/07 David Pollastrini a porno movie masquerading as art! 3 stars
11/14/06 William Goss Oh, OH, OH!: it's magic. Surprisingly warm story of better living through sexuality. 4 stars
11/14/06 KC Visually arresting (and not just in the way you'd think) and poetic, but a little hollow. 3 stars
11/09/06 malcolm very interesting, a lot to think about 4 stars
10/29/06 Lexy Shortbus may not adhere to the script formula, but it's gotta hell of a lot of heart. 5 stars
10/14/06 Sully ...cuz you don't ever want to live in Fresno. 4 stars
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  04-Oct-2006 (NR)
  DVD: 13-Mar-2007



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