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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

SHORTBUS (2006)


John Cameron Mitchell followed up his transsexual punk-rock saga, HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH/’01, with this sexually frank tall tail tale. He jump-starts his four inter-connected stories with explicit sex scenes (real, not simulated sex) that are direct, erotic & wildly funny. It’s a great opening with sexual persuasions that cover all the bases; straight to gay, solo to S&M-lite. Filmed without blinkers or bias, Mitchell gets just about everything right that pornography gets wrong. Makes you smile, makes you horny, makes you hot & happy. And then the plots kick in. Well, you can’t have everything. Mitchell & his actors used improv, workshops, deep-dish interviews, and wound up with a cartload of clichés: The sex therapist who’s never had an orgasm; the studly gay who’s open to everything but love; the sad dominatrix who just wants a happy home & family life; the voyeur who learns to jump in the pool . . . literally. Oy. Gay-phobic types should be aware that Mitchell shows his own sexual bias in the scheme of things, but who cares when Paul Dawson is around as James. You gotta go back to the ‘70s when Joe Dallesandro walked around the Warhol factory without a stitch to find the like in easeful male sexuality. Why isn’t this guy making movies? And Mitchell pulls off a grand, corny climax (yes, it’s that kind of climax) using a built-to-scale NYC clay cityscape. It makes up for a lot of missteps.

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