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Friday, November 03, 2006

Shortbus - I AM Canadian

Shortbus - the talk of the 06 TIFF - is a spectacular dud.

Looking for love in all the wrong places, Shortbus is a sad joyless affair set in post 9/11 New York City. The brownouts in the city during the film are symbolic of the human disconnect. Relationships that appear ideal on the surface are just that - only skin deep or not reciprocal. Sex is not love.

The only saving grace is Sook Yin Lee as Sofia, the Chinese-Canadian repressed sex therapist or what she prefers "couples counsellor" who ironically cannot cannot claim the big O for herself. She seeks the solution to her problem at the shortbus, a place recommended to her by the two Jamies - the shortbus being a weekly form and forum for discover yourself sex catering to all types - with different rooms for different folks of all persuasions - including a public display orgy room. Even ogling and voyeurism is participation. Naturally Sofia finds her eyes widened as she watches and listens to the participants in the shortbus - is it strange where Sofia is the only married person in the place and when she says the sex is great with her husband the crowd looks at HER strangely?

Sofia stumbles into the ladies room where Bitch is holding court then Severin the dominatrix takes a polaroid of Sofia. Severin thinks she can solve Sofia's problem, then Sofia and Severin take a liking to each other and end up meeting daily in a sensory deprivation tank to discuss their lives and help Sofia find the big O in her relationship.

Of course the unsimulated explicit sexual activity on the screen from the very start is meant to be either a deliberate turn-off or defying convention - whether it being solo or seeing the three men Jamie and Jamie and Ceth in some menage a trois and singing the Star Bangled Banner up the a** is patriotism at its finest. And you say the Dixie Chicks are troublemakers. This all serves as background for boundless talk and discussion during the movie and for the audience afterward. But sexual mores and explicitness as shock value at Toronto International Film Festival has become passé by now given Michael Winterbottom's 9 Songs or Vincent Gallo's The Brown Bunny, Atom Egoyan's Where The Truth Lies, Clement Viggo's Lie With Me and going on back through Twenty-Nine Palms, 11:14, Devil and the Flesh or Bad Timing: A Sensual Obsession.

New York used to be the city where you came to be f**** up, now New York in this post 9/11 era is the place where you come to be forgiven. What are your sins ?

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