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drama DVD reviews and previews from curledupdvd.com - curled up with a good dvd
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Shortbus - drama DVD review
SHORTBUS Unrated by the Motion Picture Association of America curledupdvd.com rating: 3 1/2 stars
Actors: Sook-Yin Lee, Paul Dawson, Lindsay Beamish, Peter Stickles
Director: John Cameron Mitchell   Studio: Velocity/Thinkfilm
DVD release: 13 March 2007   Runtime: 102 minutes (1 disc)
Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, DVD-Video, Full Screen, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
DVD Features: Audio Tracks (English, Dolby Digital 5.1), Subtitles (Spanish, French)

Shortbus details the mixed-up relationships of several New Yorkers, drawn together by a club called Shortbus. Sofia (Sook-Yin Lee), a relationship counselor (a title she prefers over sex counselor) is meeting with Jamie (PJ DeBoy) and James (Paul Dawson), a gay couple who are looking for guidance in pursuing an open relationship. During their session, Sofia blows up at Jamie and ends up breaking down and confessing to being pre-orgasmic. "Does that mean you're about to have one?" asks Jamie. No, it means she's never had one. The boys take her under their wings and lead her to Shortbus. The charismatic Justin Bond is the host at Shortbus, which he says is "a salon for the gifted and challenged." Here anything and everything seems to happen. There's art. There's music. There are bad student films, marching bands, and sex. Lots of sex.

Be warned that the sex in this film is explicit (the actors actually do perform sexually and all the climaxes are real, we're told). It is an unrated film for this reason. Be further warned that there is nearly every kind of sex you can think of; straight, gay, group, public, oral -you get the drift. Director John Cameron Mitchell (Hedwig and the Angry Inch) wondered if it was possible to make a film that had explicit sex yet was not an adult film (porno). As it turns out, it is possible. This film is fairly witty and interesting, and the usual adult film dialog and music are nowhere to be found. There are no pizza deliveries to half-naked women inexplicably short on cash, no air conditioner repairmen offered lemonade by bored, wealthy half-naked women whose husbands are out of town.

Unfortunately, the sex seems to distract from the plot (or at least the parts of it that aren't related to sex). Sofia is on her quest for an orgasm. Jamie and James add Ceth (Jay Brannan) to the mix. Ceth likes the boys as a pair but not so much individually. We see all of them have sex (and the Star Spangled Banner sung into Ceth's rear end), but why? I probably wouldn't have been attracted to the film were it not for the novelty of explicit sex and my curiosity as to whether a good film could be made in this fashion. I think it can work, but what's the point? It becomes too much about the sex and less about the story, so the story must be about the sex. The experiment was at least successful at making me feel like less of a degenerate than an adult film would, but it could have done much better had the characters been more compelling and their situations something I could care more deeply about.

reviewed by Eric Renshaw
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