Friday, August 22, 2008


Today I am reviewing the film Shortbus.  Shortbus was written and directed by John Cameron Mitchell and follows a group of New Yorkers who are all patrons of Shortbus.  Shortbus is a bohemian salon that combines art, music, politics, and sex.

I remember years ago, while I was living in Minnesota hearing something about an artsy film that shot it's characters performing real sex acts.  It wasn't until the movie started that I realized that this was that film.  I found it interesting that the controversy surrounding this film and one of it's stars, Sook-Yin Lee, found its way to the Midwest.

For those of you that do not know; Sook-Yin Lee had found fame in Canada on a television show.  When the producers of that television show found out Sook-Yin Lee was going to be a part of a project where she would have sex and masturbate on camera, she faced a tough decision.  Participate in Shortbus and loose her job on Canadian Television, or drop out of the project; enter Hollywood.  Many Hollywood big wigs and A-Listers wrote letters supporting Sook-Yin Lee's decision to participate in the project and ultimately she did not loose her job on Canadian television.  Aparently they argued that the film was a form of artistic expression and that it would be unwise for them to punish her for that.

Also staring in Shortbus are:  Paul Lawson (James), PJ DeBoy (Jamie), Lindsay Beamish (Severin) Raphael Barker (Rob), Peter Stickles (Caleb), Jay Brannan (Ceth), and many many more!

I found the process of creating the film very interesting. They apparently started with casting
after the casting they had workshops with the actors where they created their characters and
then the story was created around them. While I see the logic of creating this particular film
that way, it also created problems with them; many actors dropped out of the project
throughout development. Perhaps the actors that were involved in the project till completion
are simply excellent actors, or perhaps they were so good because their roles were created
for them; however, one thing remains constant... I felt that the acting was AMAZING!!

While there were real sex acts being performed in this film, I would not call this film pornographic as the sex was not the main point of this film.  Sex was simply used as a tool to tell the story.  After watching Shortbus I was not sure what to think or feel about it.  That uncertainty caused me to ponder different aspects of the film that did stick out to me.  

After careful consideration I would have to say that my confusion about the film may have been the point of it all.  Like many of Shortbus's characters I was uncertain of how I felt.  The film takes place post 9/11 during a time where American's across the country were asking questions because they were unsure of what truth was.  "Why are we really in Iraq?  Was there an alternative motive involved for invading the country?"  

I would say that the underlying point to this film was that after 9/11 people were not entirely sure what to feel or think.  Shortbus offered an atmosphere where anything was acceptable; people were able to explore what they felt, how they should feel, and who they were.  I believe that the sex was a tool in the film for people to discover who they are and to feel something; anything...

1 comment:

Josh said...

I have never heard of or seen the movie "Shortbus", but I enjoy the way you describe how the sex involved was meant as part of the story, and not just a pointless reason to watch it.