Shortbus

shortbusJohn Cameron Mitchell’s (Hedwig and the Angry Inch) masterpiece Shortbus adds the Q to Reel Charlie’s month of LGBTQ film reviews for Pride 2015. Mixing gay, straight, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, and pansexual characters who converge on a post 9/11 downtown NYC party Shortbus, Mitchell does something rare in feature film. He uses real sex (non-simulated) in place of fake actor sex. The shock of seeing so many different types of people having sex on-screen forces the viewer to stop worrying about the sex and start focusing on the characters. It’s a genius idea really. We all love sex. People seem to always want more sex. And the multi-billion dollar porn industry confirms this as well. Mitchell’s message is simple. We are all searching for connection with other human beings. We crave it. We are all searching for answers. And the truth is we never really find any answers. We either learn to live without the answers or we continue searching. Lead character Sofia’s frantic quest for her first orgasm brings metaphor to the idea of the meaning of life. Shortbus continues to be revolutionary in its normalizing of gay, straight, lesbian, bi, queer, pan sex. In the end, we are all just together and all that matters is that you do what you do with good intention, making yourself feel good, making others feel good and certainly, hopefully not harming anyone in the process. The brave mostly unknown cast met on a regular basis for over two years before filming began to create genuine intimacy between the characters they play. It certainly worked. I laughed with them, I cried with them – especially James, I cheered with and for them. Blessings for Sook-Yin Lee, Paul Dawson, Lindsay Beamish, PJ DeBoy, Raphael Barker, Peter Stickles, Jay Brannan who sings wonderfully for a living nowadays, Alan Mandell as the Ed Koch character, and the incomparable Justin Vivian Bond as the hostess of Shortbus. Each character carried a secret, a heartbreak, a spiritual purpose, a love, and a kernel of truth they passed on to one another. Such a gorgeous piece of film making. Bravo to writer/director John Cameron Mitchell for the literal risk-taking of Shortbus. We need an entire genre of films like this teaching the world how to love and live. 5 out of 5 for this carnal classic.

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