Shortbus  -
In his aim to make an honest film about sex, John Cameron Mitchell (Hedwig and the Angry Inch) has taken a somewhat documentary approach to Shortbus, a film describing various New Yorkers' sexual pathos. Framed by shots roving a homemade diorama of the city, Shortbus is comprised of vignettes featuring actors who helped craft this story of people's disconnect in sexual endeavors. Jamie (PJ DeBoy) and James (Paul Dawson), a gay couple experiencing a lull in their relationship, visit Sophia (Sook-Yin Lee), a sex therapist whose inability to orgasm results in her clients inviting her to a sex club after which the film is titled. Sophia's husband, Rob (Raphael Barker), is also willing to experiment, so the two independently embark on adventures in self-pleasure. Dominatrix Severin (Lindsay Beamish) plays a crucial role in Sophia and Rob's lives, as her search for real humanity overlaps with their desire for passion.
As each character's plot complicates, the viewer sees a similar melancholy bulldozing its way into these seemingly disparate lives. The depression is repeatedly used in comedic scenes, such as when James is asked on a date while still hospitalised for his attempted suicide. Yo La Tengo's score, which includes Animal Collective among others, lends this film a graceful ambience. Unlike porn, Shortbus has a resonance that encourages the viewer to consider one's own sex life as an important aspect of happiness. --Trinie Dalton
Customer reviews (av rating: 3.5):
Oh, I say missus! : They weren't joking when they warn you that this film is explicit. Call me a prude, but I was quite shocked by the content.
However, the film bummed for me (not in Freudian way I hasten to add) simply because it was emotionally vacuous.
AVOID : The worst film I've EVER seen. (well, it's equal to "Japon" in terms of badness) Pretentious rubbish.
I really dislike posting negative reviews, but i felt compelled to with this stinker.
That's another interesting way on seeing the Star Spangled Banner performed : "Shortbus" deals with many of the same issues as "Hedwig" and the "Angry Inch," but in a new and equally groundbreaking way. Yes, there is hardcore sex, and honestly, there should have been even more, it is used as another layer of paint on one of the most poignant canvases I have seen in years. This film is part of a new breed of cinema that dares to force actors to cross over the line from acting in a film and portraying a fictional character to actually being a subject in a documentary: the once strict line that distinguishes where a character begins and an actor ends has become totally blurred and is no longer recognizable for the actors or rather beautiful and real human beings who appear on screen in this film.
As much as this film is about its characters and their lives, it is about the state of underground or lack of underground art and culture in New York City, particularly the lower east side art scene - a nostalgic yearning for a time and an age of culture and community that is sadly gone in present day Manhattan. Theoretically, "Shortbus" forces us to question the nature of the spectator in a movie theater, watching a TV screen or computer monitor, or looking through the viewfinder of a camera. It is rare for any film these days to ask and provoke the kind of emotional responses and questions about the nature of spectatorship, voyeurism, censorship, viewership, and pornography while at the same time pushing the boundaries of cinema, redefining cinematic, and fusing multiple aesthetic systems that "Shortbus" does in under two hours. The actors were earnest in their efforts (and brave to perform the sex scenes), although no Oscar-winning performances I'd say. I did find Paul Dawson to be quite effective in his ability to convey emotion, esp. in the scene where he's looking out the window at PJ DeBoy. Despite not speaking or moving, we can feel his emotion.
A note about the ending without ruining anything: many people that will balk at it for not being realistic or digging deep enough or as deep as the rest of the film may be missing part of the point. The whimsical CGI animation used throughout the film should immediately tip you off to the fact that there is a magical fantasy element present in the storyline that is represented by "Shortbus" itself. This when combined with the nostalgic seedy underground art scene depicted in the film causes one to realize that the ending and resolution of each character's issues is in fact a just a continuation of that nostalgic fantasy for the bygone lower Manhattan cabaret scene, and thus adds another bitter sweet layer to the film. We can already guess the brutal reality of what will happen to each set of characters and their relationships in the film, but that doesn't mean it is what has to happen on screen. What happens inside "Shortbus" is a hopeful and optimistic fantasy set in a burlesque and erotic theatre of the absurd, what happens outside is our hardboiled reality.
If you cannot find yourself somewhere in this film, somewhere in the mythical "Shortbus," you might not actually exist.
Great soundtrack, great characters : I saw this film a while ago but its just been one of those ones that sticks in my head. Its strange because at the end of the film I didnt feel like I loved it, but now I've bought the soundtrack and I think I'll end up buying the DVD. The whole film just has this really great atmosphere about it, its sad but its joyous, its dreamy and romantic whilst at times depressing, its full of raw energy but in a strange way very soothing. I suppose the key is that it is bursting at the seams with life in all its colourful and often messy forms. It feels very real and true and there are some beautiful and very touching moments. The characters feel well rounded and not cliched like in so many films trying to be 'different' or controversial'. Much has been made of the graphic sexual nature of the scenes but this couldnt feel less like a porn film and it actually is a joy to see sex depicted in this way on film - sex as part of life, sometimes complicated, sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes hilarious rather than some ridiculously choreographed performance.
As mentioned earlier, the sound track is great, very varied and really adds to the wonderfully distinctive feel of the whole film- I love the animation they use too.
I read that the director advertised for people willing to play characters that were similar to themselves and that all the actors had lots of imput into the final product -i think this shows as the characters really seem very natural and there are some great performances- I especially liked Jay Brannan as Ceth. Brannan actually features on the sound track singing his own song, Soda Shop which I now love, and think that he will be a big talent in the future, as both an actor and singer/songwriter.
Anyway my advice would be watch this film if you want something genuinely different, enjoyable, thought provoking and lovely!
Finally, REAL relationships..... : This film is awesome, and touches you because it is real, funny heartbreaking and approaches its admitadely not-for-the-fainthearted story with a style that has been missing from anything I have ever seen, and having no life I watch a lot of movies.
The characters are depicted as real people, not glorified superhumans like is typical in more mainstream cinema, and the use of sex has really been overplayed. Most of what you see you can identified with becuase it, and the whole movie, just feels real. Sex is treated not just as a psysical pleasure, but as a pysical response to emotional and mental requirements, needs, wants. This film is deep, absorbing and brilliant.
This film should be watched by everyone. And it is not a 'gay' movie, a lot of the movie follows straight character, so no excuses people, just watch it
Gutted the release date has been put back.
Buy "Shortbus " now!