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Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Pornography or Poetry?

Movie Review - DVD
101 Minutes
Directed by: John Cameron Mitchell
Released: March 13th, 2007

Starring: Jay Brannan, Justin Bond, Lindsay Beamish, Paul Dawson, Peter Stickles, PJ DeBoy, Raphael Barker, Sook-Yin Lee, Jasper James, Paul Stovall, Scott Matthew, Bitch, Daniela Sea, Shanti Carson, Adam Hardman, and Bradford Scobie

Review by: Johnnyy
[a.k.a Andrew Fraser]

very film containing generous heaps of explicit, hardcore sexual content is considered pornography, right? Well, this isn't really the case with Shortbus. Porn is described in the dictonary as "material created and viewed for the primary purpose of sexual arousal" whereas director John Cameron Mitchell states "the sex in Shortbus is often purposefully de-eroticized in order to remove the cloud of arousal to reveal emotions and ideas that might have been obscured by it."

[Before I go any further though, this film may not be the viewing experience that some people will enjoy, regardless of the underlying message. There are just some people who can't stomach this much sex, regardless of how tastefully done it is. After all is said and done though, it is a film worth seeing, and even more so, worth talking about.]

, the new film from John Cameron Mitchell, presents us with a message, a theme that is so deep that it's no wonder most people can't decipher it. You see the characters having sex, having fun, laughing with each other, but for reasons unknown. What could this odd behaviour mean? Would it have something to do with that fact that these people are having feelings and sharing these intimate moments with individuals they actually love? Wow! What a concept, eh?

Mitchell brings to the table, something that most people have lost the ability to see. The ability to see what it's like to share intimate and special moments with those you truly care about. Sex is an act that should be taken seriously to an extent, but not to the point where it loses appeal. After having watched Shortbus with a friend, in the comfort of my own home, to say I was pleasantly surprised would be an understatement. This film does so many things right. It reminds us of something as simple as what it's like to be with someone you love, regardless if you're having sex or not. What's sad is that the actions of many individuals today, don't normally reflect what we as people truly believe, but more so what we see in the media and on Showcase after 10pm.

"Sex, like music, is a universal language." said Mitchell in a recent interview. "We want to use it to introduce character, evoke emotion, propel the plot. Sex is also the funniest thing I know. How the hell do we find ourselves in those positions?"

It's within Mitchell's quote where he stated that sex is the funniest thing he knows, and it's hard not to agree. Sex should be meaningful, but it doesn't mean it can't be spontaneous and fun. For example, nothing's as exhilirating as working a 9-5 shift on the assembly line, right? Sure you may be getting paid truck loads of money, and that may be really wonderful, but REALLY what kind of satisfaction are you getting in the end? Same with sex, you may be HAVING it, but why are you doing it in the first place? If you aren't having fun laughing at it sometimes and ultimately embracing the beauty and fun-loving playful nature of it, what's the point?

Mitchell does wonders with this film, dropping sex directly into our laps in a way that we're not accustomed to. He doesn't censor anything, and that's part of the reason he's making such a statement. He wants it to be known that a movie can have hardcore, uncensored sex and not be a pornographic film with unrealistic displays of what sex really is. Sex in this film is generally used in a more humorous manner and sexual encounters are rarely sucessful, usually coming across as desperate and hilariously unrealistic.

Simply put, Shortbus is beautiful. It explores not only the importance of love, but also self-discovery and how to go about finding, understanding and embracing personal sexual and emotional desires. We follow several characters throughout the film, observing their encounters, discoveries as well as the conclusions they've made as individuals as well as couples struggling for answers. They begin to discover who they are, and what exactly they've been looking for. It's a controversial, breakthrough of a film that shocks and surprises, but in a smart, sensible way. This movie throws all stereotypes aside, allowing for all characters, straight or gay, to express their love and devotion for each other. Sex is a big step to take, but just because it's represented in a degrading manner in certain forms of entertainment today, doesn't mean it's wrong for people to have it. Regardless of how you choose to look at it, don't let misconceptions scare you away from understanding, approving of and being ultimately accepting of this natural, human act that really isn't something to fear at all in the first place.

1 comment:

Allyson said...

This is an exceptionally well-written review. <3