Shortbus Speaks to San Francisco

I absolutely love living in a city where films that are showing as limited release films are actually playing. I recall that the first week I moved to this city, I was able to see Brokeback Mountain, a movie which didn’t start playing in my hometown until a couple of months after I’d already seen it here and forgotten about it. Shortbus is one of those movies that didn’t start off playing all over the place but I was able to see it here without any problems. And it’s a film well worth spreading word about.

I had seen the previews for the film during something else I had gone to watch relatively recently (Science of Sleep, I think) so I had some vague idea of why I wanted to see it – it appeared to be visually stunning. And it’s all about sex, which is, in my humble opinion, always good motivation for seeing a movie. But beyond this superficial understanding of the movie, I really didn’t have any particular reason to want to go see it.

After seeing it once, I found that I wanted to see it again. It is one of those films where the stories of different characters are woven together as they come in to contact with one another. Each set of characters has a different sexual and / or emotional issue to work through during the course of the film, and they do so primarily based on the ways in which they affect one another as they come together. The way that it played out reminded me of something, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it during most of the movie.

Then I got it – it reminded me of real life! The way that the characters act and interact with one another is strikingly realistic. From the language shared between lovers to the choices made by each character, the entire movie is highly believable. Of course, I described the film to a friend back home who said that “there’s no way that really happens” and it reminded me of the difference of living here and living back home. Here, telling someone that a movie about a panoply of sexual escapades comprised of a mixture of orientations and fetishes felt as real as living daily life just makes sense. Back home, they have to wait until the limited release has been extended before they’ll even consider screening a film about such activities.

And that reminds me yet again of what I love about San Francisco. Almost anything that you want to have here can be had. It is a place where instant gratification is met with a smile. And it is a place tolerant enough to accept that people live their daily lives in a number of different ways. Besides, all of the good movies come out here first!

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