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The Journal Of The InnKeeper
Ranty Lessons by Joreth
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4th-Feb-2009 06:53 pm - Welcome Visitors!
photography, Self-Portrait, personal
 Welcome all visitors and newcomers to the Journal of the InnKeeper.  I thought I'd preface this with a little explanation of what this journal is, what the purpose is, and who I am.

I am Joreth, The InnKeeper, of The InnBetween.  As you can see on the left sidebar, I am an Atheist, I am Polyamorous, I work in the entertainment industry as a Camera Operator, a Stagehand, a Video and Lighting Technician, a Forklift Operator, a Boom Lift Operator, and a Spotlight Operator, and I am sex-positive.  I am opinionated and aggressive and passionate and I care deeply about humanity and my fellow companions on this planet.

This journal started out because I started dating tacit , who began referring to me in his journal.  So I created a profile here so that he could reference me with a link, instead of just S (the first initial of my real name).  I didn't figure I'd use this for anything since I have my own website where I can post whatever I want.  Mostly, what I wanted to post were pictures, and my website is much better for that purpose.

But then I discovered that my journal was a great way to post those stupid email forwards that everyone wants to send, filled with cute pictures and kitchy sayings or jokes, because I was pretty sure that, here, only people who cared what I had to say would see them.  I wouldn't be sending on unwanted junk email, because if people didn't want to read what I had to say, people wouldn't friend me.  Plus, I could put stuff behind cuts and then visitors would have to do double duty and actually CLICK on the stuff they wanted to see.  So nothing I posted was unsolicited.

But then I discovered the internet's second true purpose (porn being the first one) ... RANTING!

Keeping with my concern of bothering friends and family with unwanted email, I found I could blow off steam and rant here in my journal too, and just like with the email glurge, only people who wanted to read it, would.

Well, over time, it turned out that the things that most frustrated me, the things I ranted about most of all, were things that I (and my followers) felt would be a benefit to society to be heard.  I have always been an educator and a mentor.  I'm not particularly smart, but I do grasp concepts quickly and I can often (not always) find ways to phrase things so that people understand when they might have had trouble before.  At work, bosses routinely tell new guys to just follow me around in order to quickly learn the basics of the business.  I was a mentor, a math tutor, a lighting lab instructor, and a guidance "counselor" at various times.

I have also always been an activist at heart.  A passionate personality and an interest in education tends to pair up to become activist leanings, for whatever causes strike's the activist's heart.  The topics I was most passionate about tended to be the topics that frustrated me the most and ended up as a rant here in my journal.  So my journal took on an educational bent, for some definition of "educational".

I tackle topics that interest me the most, or that I have the most stake in the outcome of changing society.  I cover the most current news in STDs and sexual health, I cover gender issues, I cover netiquette, I cover polyamory, I cover atheism and science and skepticism.  These are topics I feel that people need to be educated about, and I do my best to provide one source of education, to those for whom my style of teaching works.

But, as I've repeatedly said, the topics that tend to get written about HERE, in my LiveJournal, are those that I feel most passionate about, which tends to lead me to feel most frustrated when they're not going the direction I think they should, which leads to most of my entries being rants.

And, to that end, Dear Reader, please understand that, although many of my posts are, in my opinion, educational in nature, they are also written from the perspective of a passionate, frustrated, human, who takes the term "journal" to heart, and treats this like a journal, not a "blog", or a news column, or a classroom.  I hope that people get something of value from my journal, that I can report interesting or relevant news items, and that I can teach people something, and I do offer more classic or traditional styles of education, such as lectures & workshops, but I also come here, specifically, to rant.

Journals are typically places where people can write their private or personal thoughts.  They were traditionally considered safe places to reveal one's innermost thoughts, perhaps even those ideas that could not be spoken aloud.  Well, we have discovered just how valuable revealing certain journals can be to society, usually after that person's death.  And the advent of the internet has created a whole new society whose private thoughts are more public than truly private.  We use the internet to share those personal, innermost thoughts, to reach out to people, to connect with others, when once we might have suffered in silence, in isolation, with our private, paper journals as the sole, compassionate listener to our most intimate selves.

So, here, on the internet, utilizing LiveJournal as a personal journal where I can write my innermost thoughts, perhaps the kinds of things I cannot verbally say in polite society or as a way to organize my thoughts for a more appropriate-for-public version later, you, my Dear Reader, can get a glimpse into the mind of the InnKeeper.

But note that this journal, like any other journal, is only a small slice of who I am.  I use this journal to vent, to rant, to let off steam, and these rantings have shown to have some value to those who follow it.  But this is not the whole of who I am.  This is Ranty Joreth; this is the Joreth who needs to vent; this is the Joreth who needs to blow off steam; this is the Joreth who says anything and everything that may not be allowed to be spoken aloud, in public, or to the intended recipient.

Joreth is ranty and frustrated and passionate.  But Joreth is also compassionate and caring and occasionally a little silly.  Joreth melts at the mere sight of her fluffy kitty and is often late to work because she can't bear the thought of disturbing her cat to remove her hand out from under the cat's head.  Joreth needs hugs and cuddles.  Joreth cries at sappy movies and whenever anyone around her tears up.  Joreth sometimes lets her emotions carry her away.  Joreth gets deeply hurt.  Joreth isn't happy with her physical appearance but is mostly content and accustomed to it.  Joreth secretly craves attention and adoration.  Joreth likes to sing, especially bluesy-country songs and showtunes, but is terrified to have people hear her sing, in spite of being a mezzo-soprano in a choir for 5 years.  Joreth is touched by tears glistening in her father's eyes when he's proud of her.  Joreth has a sweet tooth and can almost always be tempted by sugary desserts.  Joreth is a lot of things, just as everyone else is.  This journal, and the other online aspects of Joreth are not the totality of who Joreth is.  

You get to see a portion of me, and it is truly me, here in this journal, but it is, by far, not the only portion of who I am.  Do not mistake reading a journal, whose very purpose is to be an outlet for a very specific part of my personality, for knowing who I am or anticipating how I will behave or react.  Just as I show only a certain portion of myself at work, and I show only a certain portion of myself with biological family, I show only a certain portion of who I am here.  All versions of me are still me, and there is some cross-over, but they are not complete models of me by themselves.  Just like anyone else, I am a three-dimensional, multi-faceted, complex and dynamic person.  I care, I love, I laugh, I hate, I hurt, I crave, I desire.  Just like everyone else.
17th-Mar-2014 03:56 pm - Actors And Characters And Canon
statement, Kitty Eyes, being wise
I agree with Felicia Day about how changing a character's appearance through casting is not about sticking to canon. In addition to all the other things she says about diversity and minority representation, for me, when I get upset about changing a character's appearance through casting or when it's OK with me has to do with when that character's appearance affects the character development.

Take Annie, for example. That was a story about an unwanted, forgotten child who struggled with adversity in the lowest class of person there was. In the era it was written in and for, being poor and red-headed was the lowest a person could be (because being a person of color was *not* actually a person, and the predominantly white audience could not relate in any way to a black protagonist; just look at the names given to Warbuck's ethnic servants). But today, who better would understand the trials of being in the lowest economic class, hated and distrusted based on appearance alone, with little-to-no options for improving one's station than a little black orphan girl? Changing Annie's appearance from a red-headed white girl to a black girl does not change her character. In fact, one could argue that it enhances exactly those character traits the character was written around without the embedded racism of the early 20th century.

But remember the debacle about princessifying Mierda from Brave? All they changed about her was her clothing, and that sent fans into an uprorar. Why? Because the whole fucking movie was ABOUT her resistance to being princessified. And she WON that battle. That's why we loved her and that's what her entire character was about. Changing her clothing is literally the same as changing her very personality and her whole story. But you could make her a different ethnicity and still tell the same tale.

Most white characters are written as white straight males out of default, not because there is anything inherently white, straight, or male about their characters. There was that article I passed around a while back that advocated to parents that, while reading your children their bedtime stories, try changing up the gender pronouns. It turns out that telling most stories with white male protagonists as female, especially those written for children, doesn't typically alter the story in any way. It's totally believable because the stories aren't usually written AROUND the experience of being a white straight male. They're just stories that white straight males have adventures in. And when that's the case, pretty much anyone can have those adventures.

But when a writer creates a minority character, that writer has to deliberately make an effort to point out that the character is a minority. They usually only do that when they have a reason to do it, such as the experience of being that minority is what results in the character as we eventually meet them. I'm going to overlook for the moment the fact that most minority characters are either poorly written, written flatly, or written to represent or convey a stereotype and just address the fact that they *are* written, but are written for a reason. So to cast that character with a white actor pretty much erases the entire reason for that character having been written as a minority in the first place. Very rarely are minority characters put in a story just because the author felt like describing someone who looked different without those looks being some kind of commentary or effect on who the character is.

I originally wrote "never" instead of "very rarely", but then I remembered modern vampire romance novels (sorry, but Anne Rice and Laurell K. Hamilton write romance novels. They just do. Disclosure: I like modern vampire stories and I read romance novels. I stand by my assertion that they are one and the same). I believe that the minority characters in those stories really could be replaced by white actors and it would not significantly change the characters in any way. I think that these authors threw in minority characters simply to give themselves more adjectives to describe a cast of several dozen that all have six-pack abs, piercing eyes, honey-voices, and long flowing hair. Eventually you run out of ways to describe bulging biceps unless you throw in ebony skin or perfectly symmetrical faces with full lips without adding almond-shaped eyes, but there's nothing fundamentally "ethnic" about these characters that isn't simply "exotic objectification". But I digress.

Does the arrogance and selfish entitlement of Captain Hammer still work if we make that character a black man? Or a woman? Or a disabled person? No, Captain Hammer works best as a white male precisely because of the arrogance and entitlement of the character. He is, in fact, a commentary on the perception of heroes and making him a minority would hurt that message. But there is nothing about the Human Torch that is inherently "white" that a black man couldn't also play.

There is, however, a problem with casting a skinny model as a character who is the very embodiment of physical activity, martial arts, and ass-kicking skills even though both the actor and the character are white women (although a woman of color could easily play her character too). The character represents strong, independent womenhood, while a conventionally attractive female with no muscle definition does not convey that same message. She conveys the importance of beauty over strength and unrealistic ideals of the female body, which directly conflicts with the character's traits. Wonder Woman is an Amazon written by a man who is actually a "misandrist" - he actually really and truly believes that women are the better gender. She does not work as a skinny, conventionally attractive, small woman. She is supposed to be bigger and stronger than men. That's her THING.

Tonto cast as a white actor? Tiger Lily cast as a white actor? Aside from the original racism inherent in writing those characters in the first place, those characters *are* their ethnicities. To cast white actors in those roles is to further the erasure of those ethnicities and to erase their entire motivation for being in the story in the place where they are. If we tried to tell the Color Purple with white actors, we would be erasing the whole reason for that story existing in the first place. If we were to tell The Secret Garden with an Indian protagonist, we would be erasing the whole reason for that story existing in the first place. The whole reason the characters have the adventures they do and the personalities they do is *because* they are wealthy white children in colonial India.

The point here is that my upset or lack thereof when it comes to casting an actor of different ethnicity or gender or orientation than the character has to do with how that character's appearance changes the character's development, traits, and skills, not whether something is canon or not. Did the author write that character's appearance that way for a reason? What does that appearance do for the character's development? Is there another way to accomplish that development? Is that the *best* way to accomplish that development? Does that development or does that appearance represent stereotyping, outdated cultural influences, bigotry, or prevent more complex dimensional characterization or does it instead enhance or explain the character or highlight/comment on the culture's stereotyping, outdated cultural influences, bigotry, or prevention of character advancement? In other words, is that character poorly written because of its appearance, or do the ethnic/gender/orientation limitations placed on the character actually serve a larger social commentary purpose?

I don't want to stick to canon for canon's sake. Sometimes authors make mistakes or write something less well than it could have been written. Doesn't mean I don't like it, just means it could be better. What purpose does this element serve? Do I like that purpose or can the spirit of the story survive with a different take? Can that purpose be served by a different element? Those are the questions that ought to be asked when casting choices are made and plot changes are made going from one medium to another.

Replacing minority characters with white actors is racism because of the larger social issue of diversity representation and because the minority part of the character usually is an important character trait. Occasionally casting white characters with minority actors is NOT racism (or "reverse racism") because there is almost never anything fundamentally "white" about a character that could not exist if a minority actor portrayed that character and because of the larger social issue of diversity representation.

Racism is what happens when someone of an already disadvantaged racial class is disadvantaged or discriminated against. By definition, it is not racism when an advantaged racial class has to share some of the privileges with disadvantaged racial classes, even when sometimes "sharing" means you get those privileges just a little bit less often. That's called putting on the big boy pants and not hogging the spotlight so that others get a turn too.
Purple Mobius, polyamory
http://www.amazon.com/Hyde-Park-Hudson-Bill-Murray/dp/B00B4ZN3XQ - Amazon
http://dvd.netflix.com/Movie/Hyde-Park-on-Hudson/70243444 - Netflix
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1477855/ - IMDB

This movie was recommended to me by several people, many of whom are not poly. When that happens, I go into the viewing with a dubious mindset. Most of the time, people who are not poly don't really understand what polyamory is, so when they identify something as "poly", it's not really. I was aware of 32nd President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's affairs. Not in any detail, but as a critic of American politics, I am superficially aware that many of our past politicians' indiscretions were more or less common knowledge but ignored, as the public focused on how they performed their jobs and not what they did in their bedrooms. I am aware of that because of the stark contrast for how we treat today's politicians and celebrities. But that's a rant for another time.

This movie is from the perspective of Margaret Suckley, commonly called "Daisy", who was a sixth cousin* to FDR and a regular companion during his time in office. It is more or less a biography of FDR while he was president of the United States prior to his involvement in WWII and seeks to show him as a relatable human, rather than an impressive government official and leader of the Free World.

It has been established that FDR was married to Eleanor Roosevelt, had a long-time affair with her secretary, Lucy, another two-decade-long affair with his own secretary, Missy, and rumors that are accepted as probably true about an affair with Princess Martha of Sweden while she lived at the White House during WWII. It is also "common knowledge" that these affairs killed the emotional connection between FDR and his wife Eleanor, who remained married to him as a political partnership until he died. Rumors of illicit affairs with the owner of the New York Post, Dorothy Schiff, and the main character, Daisy, are controversial, to say the least.

With this kind of history, I had a few preconceptions going into the film. I thought it would be just another movie about cheating, which is pretty common. Many movies that get suggested to me are nothing more than movies about cheating. Occasionally the cheating is the result of a loving relationship and not just about sex, but it's still nevertheless about cheating. Every once in a blue moon, I will accept a cheating movie as a poly-ish movie if I give it a pass for the era in which the movie takes place if the story feels like it would have been the version of polyamory that I recognize had it not been for some heavy social penalties. In other words, it was as close to polyamory as a non-monogamous relationship could get given the circumstances.

This is what I feel that Hyde Park On Hudson is. From here I will be discussing the movie itself, with complete disregard to the question of historical accuracy. In the context of my Poly-ish Movie Reviews, I care less about the liberties a director takes with historical facts and more about how well the movie answers the question "is this a movie about polyamory or that has polyamory in it?"

In this movie, Daisy is a sweet, naive girl who falls in love with a powerful older man because he invites her in to his heart and shows her the human being he is, not the political office. He is caring and compassionate and frail and vunlerable. She knows that he is still married and she does not harbor a belief that he will leave his wife for her. She has heard the rumors that they have a loveless marriage, and usually that is enough justification for a mistress to accept the role. But Daisy observes the spouses together and believes that they still share an emotional connection. This observation does not seem to provoke any jealousy. She just seems to accept that her lover still loves his wife.

But soon enough, Daisy learns that Franklin is having sexual relations with his secretary, Missy. Missy runs after the fleeing Daisy to confront her and explain the situation. Up until this point, I still felt that this was a cheating movie, just one of those that included emotional connections and not just sex. Missy drops more bombs on the shaken Daisy when Missy reveals that Franklin is having other affairs too, and that Missy knew about Daisy from the moment their relationship began and accepted her. Missy insists that Daisy must accept that she will have to "share" Franklin. Daisy says that can't, but Missy tells her that she can.

So, I could have included it on my Poly-ish list at this point because Franklin has what appears to be loving relationships with multiple women who know and "deal with it", but it would have held a wobbly position on that list. It's the next part that makes me feel that this is a poly movie.

Eventually Daisy forgives Franklin and they begin seeing each other again. Simultaneously, Daisy develops a friendship with Missy. The two women become very close, deliberately using their mutual connection to a lover as the springboard from which their own relationship blossoms. Daisy comes to admire and rely on Missy. Missy often fetches Daisy when Missy believes that Franklin will benefit from her presence. The two women do more than reach a truce regarding their respective roles; they forge an alliance. And both women have a somewhat more distant relationship with Eleanor, but a relationship built on respect and admiration nonetheless.

Eleanore has a separate home, but she is a constant fixture in the scenes in the movie. So the image that is portrayed to us is one of a loving family with Franklin, his smart and savvy political wife, his lover and assistant, and his companion, as well as his mother who appears to know all about who is sleeping with whom. His mother and his wife butt heads, naturally, but everyone seems to get along and to accept or cherish each other's roles in Franklin's life. Franklin's mother and secretary, for example, both "severely criticized [him] for not inviting [Daisy] to dinner" on the night that the White House hosted the King and Queen of England - the first time that British royals had ever set foot on US soil. After Daisy learns that she is not the only one and is pressured into attending another social political function while still sulking about it, Missy is the first to approach Daisy and welcome her to the event. Franklin even publicly declares that Daisy belongs at VIP table, where everyone who is important to him ought to be, along with the royals, his wife, and his other mistress.

This movie is not solely about FDR's romantic life. It is also about the friendship forged between the US and England in the tenuous days before WWII, it's about the pressures of political life on an ailing man, about the effect of foreign wars on domestic issues, and about the dichotomy of being a private person in the public sphere. The movie included stellar acting and touching peeks into complex people in complex situations.  I have to say that, although I knew that Bill Murray was a good actor and I've always loved his films, this was the first movie I've seen of his where he wasn't "Bill Murray" in it. You know how there are some actors that, even while they're good, you still know that they are who they are? Gary Oldman is the opposite of that. He's an actor that I usually make it halfway through the movie before I even realize that it's Gary Oldman. Leonardo diCaprio is one of those actors that, even when he's doing a good job, he's still always Leo.

But Bill Murray's performance in this role thoroughly distracted me from my jewelry-making (I often do physical projects while watching movies - my brain can't focus on a story alone without my hands doing something) because I kept watching in fascination at a face that I just knew belonged to Peter Venkman but there was nothing of Dr. Venkman or Phil Connors or Frank Cross, or even of Bill Murray himself as seen in interviews in that face and in that body. I saw FDR, as I knew him from recordings and film reels. I heard FDR in his voice, I saw FDR in the tilt of his head and the way he held his hands. When I can't see Gary Oldman, I really can't see Gary Oldman. But to physically see Bill Murray and still not be able to "see" Bill Murray was disconcerting and wonderful and I am charmed by this film apart from its poly (or not) leanings.

So I recommend this movie. I thought it was an engaging film that I was willing to enjoy as a narrative and not insist that it be taken as a biography, and I felt that the relationships portrayed in the film represented what I recognize as polyamorous - loving, consensual, accepting, family - in spite of the lack of intentional communication and apparent deception that I feel was characteristic of the era regarding romantic liaisons. Although the modern poly movement of the last 30 years prioritizes communication above all else (and I happen to agree that it is a necessary element to healthy poly relationships), people are still the products of their times and cultures. So a movie set in another time and culture will necessarily have a different perspective on appropriate and effective communication. I may still disagree with them, but I believe other elements are more important to classifying a relationship as poly than whether or not multiple adults sat down around a large table with health reports, spreadsheets, and Google calendars to discuss the future possibility of taking a new partner.

There are many different ways to do poly. Some of them are wrong, some of them are right, some are healthy and some are outright abusive, but what makes it poly is that there are multiple, they are loving, and there is acceptance. It is not poly if there are only two partners & that is the preferred state. It is not poly if it is purely based on sex with no emotional connections and that is the preferred state. It is not poly if there is deception maintained throughout (and if that is the preferred state). It is not poly if the participants feel forced into the situation and begrudge the arrangement. Deception and poor communication certainly exist in poly relationships. But it's what the movie says about deception or communication, or how it's dealt with, that changes it from a movie condemning non-monogamy to a movie that merely presents one example of a loving relationship that happens to have some flaws.



*Sixth cousins are really only barely related. It means that they shared a common ancestor roughly 6 generations in their past. So, in other words, you add 5 "greats" before the word "grandparent" to come up with "sixth cousins". The "once removed" bits in relationship taxonomy refer to whether or not the cousins are in the same generation as each other. So first cousins have the same grandparents. Second cousins have the same great-grandparents. First cousins once removed is your first cousin's child - you and that child have your grandparents (their great-grandparents) in common and are in different generations from each other, hence "once removed". None of this has anything to do with the movie. It was common both in the era and within the Roosevelt family itself for non-first cousins to marry or be involved and Daisy's "sixth cousin" status was completely irrelevant to her romantic relationship with Franklin. It was really only relevant to mention because it was her connection as a relative who had grown up as a child with the Franklin that excused the President of the United States' mother for inviting a nobody like Daisy to the White House to attend the President when he fell ill. But I find genealogy interesting, and I know that a lot of people don't know how all those second/third/eigth cousins twice removed labels actually work, and I also know there are a lot of knee-jerk reactions to the idea of relatives having sexual relationships with each other. So I thought I'd mention it in a footnote.
28th-Sep-2013 12:56 am - 50 Shades Of Fucked Up - The Movie
Flogging, BDSM
Some time ago, I had the occasion to connect with Michael Chapman, filmmaker and creator of the movie The Ledge.  Because of that connection, he started following me on Facebook and has seen me rant about the 50 Shades of Grey pieces of shit er, I mean novels.  Now, it turns out that the actor who played the lead in his movie, The Ledge (alongside Live Tyler), has been positioned to play the lead character in 50 Shades, Christian Grey, in the upcoming movie version of the book.  So Chapman has even more of an interest in the new movie.  And he asked me my opinion on whether or not the new movie has any hope of being good.

Flattered that an actual filmmaker would seek me out for my opinion on the subject and kind of shocked that he was even aware I had one, I thought about it, and wrote him a long response, trying to summarize my feelings for this book and its sequels into a single email.  It's a lengthy response, but I still think I only barely scratched the surface of what I was trying to convey.

Nevertheless, he liked my response so much that he asked if he could publish it on The Ledge's Facebook page.  Naturally, I said, of course!  I hadn't written it with a public post in mind, so it's clearly an email response to a question, but he was welcome to post it if he wanted.  So, he did, and it has now been read by over 6,000 people all around the world (The Ledge apparently has quite the international following, considering it's a movie with an atheist protagonist and a Christian is the bad guy, and theism vs. atheism is a big part of the conflict).  This is the largest platform I've ever had for one of my opinions.  So I'm pretty stoked!  If you're on Facebook, you can see the post and like it and offer your own perspective: https://www.facebook.com/theledgemovie/posts/598254666879883.  If you're not on Facebook, here's what I wrote:



I think the only way a good movie can come out of that book is if it keeps just the title in common and basically becomes a whole other movie, without the author's "creative" input. There are no redeeming features of that book.

Now, whether it will make *money* or win the cast and crew some acclaim is a different story. But the very premise of the story is that it romanticizes abusive relationships and reinforces the "if you love him he will change" trope, all with very boring, unkinky sex and a lot of really bad writing. It's Twilight fan-fiction for fuck's sake.

It's very premise is flawed, and if the story foundation is bad, there's nothing you can do to dress it up and make it better. Keeping the title and changing everything else about it is common in Hollywood, but it might piss off the book fans. The best thing that anyone in the kink community can say about that book is "at least it got mainstream people talking about BDSM, and maybe, because of their interest, they'll research the healthy ways to do kink." I think my favorite criticism I've heard so far was "It angered both the librarian and the pervert in me", but I don't know who said that.

I think anyone involved in filmmaking as an artform would do well to pay attention to the BDSM community's view on the book. If they are part of a film for the art of it, then 50 Shades is not a good choice. But anyone wishing to earn a little notoriety and be shocking would probably get something worthwhile out of being affiliated with the movie, because it will get attention.

The "big strong domly man trains a submissive woman who just doesn't know she's submissive yet" storyline is one of the most common kink storylines ever. There are hundreds, perhaps thousands of books with that same plot. Any of them is going to be better written than 50 Shades, and at least some of them are going to be written by people who actually have some experience in the kink community, unlike the author, James.

In fact, I'll recommend one right now. It's called The Training of Eileen and it's available on Amazon - Elicitation is the first book in the series. It's the same plot - rich guy finds innocent young wife and trains her to be his sex slave. But the difference is that he wasn't abused and raped as a child and who now takes out his sociopathic rage towards women on his partners. This main character is caring and loving - he does what he does because *the submissive likes it*.

It uses the "she just doesn't know it yet" trope, but in this case, it's not a rapey excuse, it's that he paid attention to her early on and detected submissive tendencies in what she revealed about herself. In this story, it's all about giving the submissive what she wants and giving her permission to want it. In 50 Shades, it's all about what the dom wants (to beat women) and the power struggle between him and his girl who wants to "fix" his broken kinky ways.

So, my opinion is that there is no salvation for this movie. It cannot, by virtue of its source, ever become a good movie without doing the Hollywood bait-and-switch - capitalizing on the name but completely rewriting it from the ground up. But it *can* become a money-maker and it *can* catapult the cast and crewmembers into some measure of fame by association. The question is, is that the kind of association one wants to be known for? The kink community does not support the book, except to for those who welcome *any* conversation-starter, even bad ones. Since I have enough trouble getting trapped by men (as I am a single heterosexual female) who think that "coercion" is merely another word for foreplay, to say that I am not one of those who even welcomes it as a conversation starter is an understatement.

I'll leave you with some chapter-by-chapter reviews of the book, if you're interested to hear exactly what is so wrong with it and why:

http://collegeatthirty.blogspot.com/search/label/fifty%20shades%20of%20grey
http://jennytrout.blogspot.com/p/jen-reads-50-shades-of-grey.html
http://zephyrscribe.tumblr.com/tagged/50+Shades+of+Grey
http://theramblingcurl.blogspot.com/2013/02/need-more-evidence-that-50-shades-is.html
Swing Dance, social events, dance
http://www.xojane.com/entertainment/dirty-dancing-is-a-subversive-masterpiece-and-here-are-four-reasons-why

OTG YES! Dirty Dancing is such a complex, multi-layered piece of art that had such a huge impact on me and several facets of my various world-views that it's hard for me to emphasize its importance enough.  This article only addresses 4 points, but I think that's just a starting point, although a very strong starting point.  The article covers having an awkward heroine who never turns into the "beautiful, popular girl" to win the guy, having a "hot guy" like the awkward heroine for who she is as a person without being blind to her until that magical "ugly duckling" transformation, giving "the sheltered 17-year-old all the sexual agency", class politics, and illegal abortion.  Set in 1963.

It's not a "chick flick" or a rom-com, or even your typical "coming of age" story. It's a sociopolitical commentary on class struggles, women's rights, sexual agency, gender relations, communication, trust, and personal growth. Baby remains one of my all-time epitomal characters that helped to define who I am, and Johnny remains the ideal romantic partner to whom I compare all my potential partners. It's not just because he has a nice ass and abs, it's because of his integrity, his character, his personal struggles, and his values.

Dancing, to me, is not just a fun physical activity. It is a vehicle through which we can achieve personal growth and relationship enhancement, as well as a story-telling device that we can use to address controversial and taboo subjects. And this movie combines everything that I find valuable about dance - the fun, the storytelling, the catalyst for growth, the beauty, the pain, the personal expression.  I don't think it's even possible to truly "get" me without understanding this movie.  That doesn't mean that you have to have watched it in order to get me, but that you would have to be the kind of person who *would* understand this movie if you saw it in order to understand who I am as a person.  But watching it helps.

Maybe, in my copious free time that isn't today, I'll write my own full post enumerating the points and analyzing the movie the way the article does.

17th-Jun-2013 11:18 pm - Poly Movie Review - Three
Purple Mobius, polyamory

http://dvd.netflix.com/Movie/Three/60030021 - Netflix
http://www.amazon.com/Three/dp/B004VZWE4A - Amazon
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0169320/ - IMDB

There are several movies by this name.  Every time someone recommends a movie to me called Three, I go to look for it on Netflix and half a dozen movies pop up, and I can't tell which one is which.  So it wasn't until about 10 minutes in that I realized I had already watched this movie.  But I haven't reviewed it yet, so I guess it wasn't a total waste of an hour and a half.

I'll be honest, from the Netflix description, I didn't have high hopes for this movie.  The very summary makes it sound like a torn-between-two-lovers-and-forced-to-make-a-choice movie.  And that's what it was.  But the title screen on the DVD is incredibly misleading.  It shows a FMF threesome that never happens in the movie.

The movie was interesting, and it certainly had a lot to say on the subject of homosexuality and coming out, so I might recommend it on that basis.  But it wasn't poly.  Tito and Elsie are unhappily married.  Tito is an arrogant, entitled, selfish asshole and Elsie is incredibly fearful - she moves through life on the path of least courage.  Tito is screwing a collegue, Susan, who is desperately trying to steal Tito away from Elsie, even though Tito has never given her any reason to think he would leave his wife (I think he's getting off on the idea of cheating even more than the sex itself, and leaving his wife for her would take that away).

Before Elsie married Tito (at her mother's insistence), she had a secret lesbian relationship with Alice, the "tomboy" next door.  Elsie couldn't handle the idea of her mother finding out or experiencing any sort of cultural shame for being gay, so she bowed to pressure and broke up with Susan and married Tito.

But Alice has cancer and wants Elsie back - not just because she wants her hot lovin' but because Alice very strongly believes in personal authenticity and coming out and being true to oneself.  She worries that Elsie will never come out and will continue to live a lie, unhappy in her marriage until she dies, if Susan doesn't inspire her to be more courageous.

But, just to add another layer of complexity, Susan has been living with another lover (whose name I never caught) who stays with her through everything, caring for her, giving her the shots & IV drips, even being with her on her deathbed and yet is tossed aside as soon as Elsie walks in the door.  When Elsie leaves her husband for Alice, she manages to live with Alice and her now-former lover for 9 months before even bothering to ask the lover who she is to Alice or what their relationship was before she came along.

So, there's no polyamory happening here.  Tito cheats on his wife.  His wife leaves him for her ex-girlfriend.  The ex-girlfriend dumps her own partner to get back together with the wife.  Everyone is contemptuous and disrespectful to the poor ex-lover still living in the house, caring for her terminally sick love.

And the story is told from her point of view.

There were some really interesting bits about Tito getting over his homophobia, coming out to Elsie's mother, raising a child in a gay community, parents who don't love each other trying to co-parent and live together, courage, fear, and personal growth.  Anyone interested in movies on these kinds of subjects might want to check out this movie.

But I didn't like any of the characters, and as regular readers of my LJ might know by now, if I can't empathize with the characters, then I have trouble enjoying the story.  At least this time there was a reason for putting together the main couple when they didn't actually like each other.  Usually movies do that and expect us to just accept that they're in a happy relationship that we should be rooting for (or that they're not currently in a romantic relationship but that we should be hoping that they get into one in spite of not liking each other).  So I didn't have any trouble wondering why they were together since they didn't like each other.  I just thought that everyone did really stupid things and it was completely obvious to me why everyone was unhappy.  Somehow, that made it much easier to sit through than movies that give happy endings to people who totally fuck up their own lives or who villify or sacrifice those who do something contrary when they should have been happy.

16th-Nov-2012 09:15 pm - Poly Movie Review - Bandits
Purple Mobius, polyamory
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0219965/ - IMDB
http://dvd.netflix.com/Movie/Bandits/60021636 - Netflix
http://www.amazon.com/Bandits-Bruce-Willis/dp/B00005V4XW/ - Amazon

It's past time that I did a review of Bandits, but for some reason I keep putting it off. This is a quirky story of 2 mismatched bank robbers and the woman who comes between them. And it's a poly movie, and one of my favorite movies, poly or no.

Bruce Willis plays a gruff, stoic, spontaneous bank robber with a temper problem named Joseph. We first meet him in prison, where he's shackled to Terry (played by Billy Bob Thornton), a neurotic, hypochondriac, obsessively compulsive thief who can't shut the fuck up. Joseph wants to escape, but being shackled to Terry necessarily requires Terry's cooperation. One day, in the prison yard, Joseph spontaneously makes their escape, much to over-planning Terry's annoyance. But escape they do, and they continue their bank robbing career once on the outside.

But then Terry starts running the numbers, and decides that the risk of being re-captured is not worth the traditional bank jobs that they usually do. So he comes up with the idea to visit the bank manager's house the night before, and then enlist the manager's unwilling cooperation when he opens the bank the next morning, before the customers or any employees arrive. This works out so well, that it earns them the moniker The Sleepover Bandits.

During a nearly botched escape, Terry ends up running into Kate ... or rather, Kate ends up running into Terry. Literally. Kate is a flighty, also neurotic, lonely housewife with a mischievous streak who is fleeing from her loveless marriage when she stumbles upon the exciting life of the notorious bank robbers.

And so follows their tale, as Kate gets to know the two men independently, and each of the men gets to know her, and all their respective relationships flourish and flounder amidst the backdrop of their turbulent career choices.

It's a really interestingly shot film, with a mixture of classic action film sequences, "buddy robber" scenes, romance scenes, and "mockumentary" scenes with footage from an interview that the Sleepover Bandits give to a journalist about their fame and exploits intermixed among the regular movie scenes. The characters seem superficial and one-dimensional, but I think we get to see a little depth as the plot progresses, and I, at least, started to care about the characters about halfway through (although it was hard for me to empathize much with them - Terry just bugs the shit out of me).

I was already poly by the time this movie came out, but I did not realize this was a poly movie before I saw it. I think I was actually a bit trepidatious about seeing it, because I don't tend to go in much for artsy, indie films and I think I had the impression that this was that kind of movie. But I ended up really liking it in spite of myself, and I liked the strain that Kate found herself under as she realized that she loved two men who were very different from each other and gave her very different kinds of relationships - relationships that she could not possibly have with the other one and relationships that both brought value to her life for their uniqueness and individuality.

It would be very nice, though, for a movie heroine caught between two lovers to not declare that, mixed together, the combined men make up the perfect man. I really don't approve of the Frankenboyfriend sentiment to polyamory. But I think her point is that each man is unique & she can't get from one what she gets from the other, and I think that point comes across clearly.

I recommend watching this movie. We've already shown it at our OrlandoPoly Poly Movie Nights, and it was a big hit with the whole audience.
18th-Sep-2012 11:25 pm - Poly Movie Review - The Blood Oranges
Purple Mobius, polyamory
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0118743/ - IMDB
http://dvd.netflix.com/Movie/The-Blood-Oranges/1180875?strkid=1845016849 - Netflix
http://www.amazon.com/Blood-Oranges-Charles-Dance/dp/B00000JKZB/ - Amazon

Husband and wife Cyril and Fiona explore new ground and new relationships when they take a vacation in the tropics. While on holiday, the pair meets another couple, Hugh and Catherine, and their three children. Relationships become intertwined when Cyril and Fiona lose their inhibitions and seek sexual intimacy with Hugh and Catherine in this erotic drama.

So Netflix says. It sounded pretty promising, and yeah, I think this fits under the "poly-ish" heading. Cyril and Fiona are clearly in an open marriage with both of them openly supportive of each others' interests. Honestly, though, I was surprised to see that this movie was made in 1999. It just felt like another '60s sexual revolution type of film, not the least of which was a slightly predatory personality from Fiona and a pseudo-sex cult leader attitude from Cyril, but also it just kind of looked like it - the cinematography and lack of a soundtrack, I think.

Here's what I liked about the movie:
  • An attempted quad instead of unicorn hunters looking for the hot bi babe
  • The newbie love interest struggles with deeply indoctrinated beliefs of fidelity & ownership
  • Neither the polyamory nor society around them was responsible for ending the relationships
  • How non-traditional parental relationships affects children old enough to have internalized society's messages about relationships
  • A couple not letting their pre-existing relationship make the other relationships "secondary" and doing what's best for the family instead of "protecting" their couplehood at all costs
Here's what I didn't like about the movie:
  • The characters
I like serious dramas, but I'm really picky about them. I don't tend to like movies that I describe as "very French" - filled with unnecessary angst and smoking and existential ennui and desolation. Unfortunately, in movies that explore alternative sexuality, if it's a drama and not a comedy or something uplifting, I too often find it's one of these types of dramas. Such was this movie for me. I didn't like the movie, but that's based solely on personal taste. One might say that I have no taste, since I'd rather be watching cheesy '80s sitcoms, so there you go.

I'm extremely character-driven in my entertainment preferences and I just didn't like the characters. I found Cyril to be pompous, elitist, and blind to his own privilege, even if I happened to appreciate his understanding that possession should not be part of interpersonal relationships. I thought Fiona was selfish, predatory, and naively idealistic. Catherine, I just felt sorry for and wished she would grow a backbone.

And Hugh! I have no idea why anyone liked Hugh. He was controlling, possessive, self-righteous, arrogant, dismissive, condescending, and filled with disgust. There is one scene in particular (that I won't describe so as to not give away spoilers) where he is such a hateful asshole that I immediately disliked every other character just because they overlooked Hugh's behaviour and attitudes. Even after he did something that I would have found unforgivable, it was everyone else's primary desire to make him feel better and keep him a part of the family.

But they were trying to build a strong family, and for that, I have to give this movie credit ... or at least say that it's a poly-ish movie. Cyril and Fiona were not the typical movie couple, where the guy wants some hot chick & talks his wife into it. They both seemed equally enamored of the other couple & welcomed them and their children into their home. Cyril in particular tried very hard to reach out to the children and soothe the oldest, who noticed something going on and seemed resentful. Cyril and Fiona both did everything in their power to help Catherine during her own time of emotional crisis without putting their own relationship above everything else.

So, I'd recommend this movie if dramas are your thing and you want to see a poly movie that doesn't end with polyamory destroying everyone's lives and, in fact, the polyamory is beneficial to providing an emotional support structure in difficult times.
Purple Mobius, polyamory
Sometimes I think that maybe I'm actually speaking a different langauge from everyone else, and maybe I have some kind of universal translator or babelfish so that I can't tell, but that the translator is buggy or slightly off in some ways. Because people don't seem to use words in the same way that I do. Even with a dictionary, people use words differently, and I find that I am constantly having semantics arguments because we can't discuss a topic until we are all on the same page about what the words we are using mean.

One of those words is polyamory. I'm a pretty big proponent of using the definition of a word that the person who made up the word uses. In some cases, I think the Argument from Authority is a good one. If you invented or coined a term, then you get to decide what it means. This is even more important, to me, the younger the word is. And if the word was invented or coined within the same generation (i.e. roughly 30-ish years) and the coiners are still alive, then there shouldn't be any debate about "living languages" and so forth.

So, to me, polyamory is about having or wanting multiple simultaneous romantic relationships in which all parties consent to the arrangement. That means that they both know about it and agree to it willingly, not grudgingly. If you don't say yes, it's not consent. If you are coerced, it's not consent. If someone uses their position of authority over you, it's not consent. If you are not aware of any other options, it's not consent. If you are not allowed the opportunity to back out, it's not consent. And so on. Polyamory is also, to me, more about building intentional families (even if some of those relatives are "extended" relatives) than in experiencing sexual encounters (also explicit in the definition - a word's definition is not necessarily limited solely to it's literal translation, the intent and cultural context of a word is also taken into account).

So when someone suggests a movie to me that they claim has polyamory in it, I am now highly dubious about that claim. I have been recommended all manner of cheating and swinging and other non-monogamous movies, but very rarely do I find actual polyamory in these films. Every so often, a cheating movie might make it into my Poly-ish Movie List because I believe from the context of the story that it would be polyamorous if not for the circumstances, like the era or culture, that prevents the characters from openly declaring their relationships that are, nonetheless, loving (like Same Time, Next Year) - I basically feel that the characters are poly but possibly trapped somewhen/somewhere that they can't express it properly.  Many times, it's hard for me to really quantify why a particular borderline movie is poly and why this other one isn't. It usually boils down to tone, and a vague sense of "moralizing" that I may or may not get from the storytellers.

This was the problem I had with The Unbearable Lightness of Being. I kept getting told that it was a poly movie, but there was just something wrong with its tone. Tomas is a philanderer who seems to be afraid of committment and keeps his emotional entanglements to a minimum. Basically, he has sex with lots of women a few times and drops them when they start becoming "serious". Except for one woman, Sabina, who basically seems to have the same outlook as Tomas, in that she hightails it outta there as soon as a guy starts getting "serious" about her. They appear to have a mutual respect in addition to their mutual attraction and mutual passion because of their shared interest in not letting anyone get close to them. Ironically, that barrier that they both erect to keep people out is what ties them together.

Along comes Tereza, an innocent young girl who manages to, as far as I could tell, guilt her way into Tomas' life. She shows up on his doorstep with no place to stay, and so breaks his rule about kicking every girl out before morning. After a whole bunch of these mornings, he finally ends up marrying her.

This is yet another case of a couple who don't seem to have anything in common and don't seem to like each other very much. At least, the director and/or screenwriter didn't establish their relationship very well. We know what Tomas likes in Tereza - she's female - but we don't really see what brings the two such different characters together. She's young, naive, innocent, apolitical, and extremely jealous and insecure. He's worldly, sophisticated, educated, a bit misogynistic, contemptous of most people, and a horndog. Other than the fact that their bits fit together, I couldn't understand their relationship at all.

Tomas continues to cheat on Tereza throughout their relationship, and every time Tereza catches him at it, she throws a huge fit that borders on emotional blackmail. I think she's probably depressive to the point of suicidal. Not that I'm defending Tomas either - Tereza doesn't consent to an open relationship, so he's cheating. Period. She deserves better.

There is only one scene that could even possibly be confused for a pro-poly scene. And I have to say that I didn't even interpret the scene this way until someone else suggested it. I still don't see the scene this way, but I can at least see how someone else might.

Tereza suspects Tomas of having an affair with Sabina, who has been introduced to the new Mrs. Tomas as his friend & occasionally socializes with them. So Tereza, who is told to get into photographing naked women if she wants to be taken seriously as a professional photographer, approaches Sabina to be Tereza's first nude model. Sabina, a confident, sexually liberated woman in the '60s, is the only person Tereza knows who might even consider the proposal.

So we have a scene where Tereza photographs Sabina, and eventually Sabina (who is also a photographer and artist) talks Tereza into posing nude for her in return. The two women, who have before been very awkward together, gain some sort of comfort and familiarity with each other through this mutual nude photography session.

I didn't see how this was poly, really. The argument was made that it was basically two metamours who had finally reached out to each other and were able to get past the jealousy to see each other maybe as how their mutual partner could see them. The reason why I didn't interpret the scene this way is because Tereza had only suspected Sabina as being Tomas' lover (he never confirmed) and neither woman spoke of anything relationship-oriented at all. So maybe they did get past some of their jealousy and learned to see each other as people, and maybe this was a bonding, and even a learning moment for both of them. But it was still cheating and still a secret and Tereza still never approved of Tomas' philandering, and the two women never saw each other again on screen.

This movie was not about a poly vee. This was a political commentary on the war in Europe and the Soviet invasion of Czecheslovakia, using the characters as vehicles for the commentary. The movie was brilliantly made, using real footage and photographs from the invasion itself, as chronicled by art students at the university at the time, and staging the characters on the sets to flip back and forth seamlessly between the real archival footage and the movie. This was the first and best comprehensive collection of the record of the invasion ever made.

This movie was based on the book by the same name, which is also widely touted as a brilliant piece of literature. It was critically acclaimed, although, like any book-based movie, many were disappointed with the conversion to film. So I recommend this movie if history and foreign films and high-brow media are your thing. I just didn't feel that it was particularly poly.


***SPOILERS*** (but not all of them)Collapse )


This is one of the few artsy-foreign films that I didn't dislike for being too artsy & foreign, and I'd like to read the book. I might have liked the movie better if I had just come across it on my own instead of having it recommended to me as a potential poly film, because I watched it through a filter of hopes and expectations of poly content. I will not be including this on the Poly-ish Movie List, but it was an interesting movie and I'm glad I saw it.
27th-Jul-2012 06:01 pm - Poly Movie Review: Savages
Purple Mobius, polyamory

http://www.savagesfilm.com/
http://dvd.netflix.com/Movie/Savages/70221488 - Netflix
http://www.amazon.com/Savages-Taylor-Kitsch/dp/B005LAII94 - Amazon
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1615065/ - IMDB

I think this is the first time I've ever seen a movie that was purported to be a poly movie while it was still in theaters. So I figured I'd go ahead and skip out of order and do a review of it while ya'll still have the chance to see it too.

I knew very little about this movie when I went to see it. A friend of mine texted me with "want to go see the movie with triad?" I thought "wait, who do we know who's in a triad? Everyone we know are singles, couples, or extended networks!" So I asked her to explain & she told me that there was a new movie opening up in theaters the following week that featured an MFM triad. So I said "hell yeah I want to see it!" So we made it a group event for our local poly group.

I'm going to answer the three big questions right up front, and then I'll talk a little about the movie itself. First of all, it is poly. Second, I liked it. Third, I liked the polyamory IN it.

Now, I do have a few little quibbles about both the polyamory and the movie itself, but c'mon, I was a pretentious film student in college and I work in the entertainment industry now. I'm always going to quibble about SOMETHING. That doesn't mean that I also don't like the movie.

For those who haven't heard, the website says: Laguna Beach entrepeneurs Ben, a peaceful and charitable marijuana producer, and his closest friend Chon, a former Navy SEAL and ex-mercenary, run a lucrative, homegrown industry - raising some of the best weed ever developed. They also share a one-of-a-kind love with the extraordinary beauty Ophelia. Life is idyllic in their Southern California town ... until the Mexican Baja Cartel decides to move in and demands that the trio partners with them.

When the merciless head of the BC, Elena, and her brutal enforcer, Lado, understimate the unbreakable bond among these three friends, Ben and Chon - with the reluctant, slippery assistance of a dirty DEA agent - wage a seemingly unwinnable war against the cartel. And so begins a series of increasingly vicious ploys and maneuvers in a high stakes, savage battle of wills.

I liken this genre to the modern day western. There are clearly "good guys vs. bad guys", even though the good guys are often doing something bad, and there is violence, and it's "dirty" (like, with people getting blood and dirt all over them), and it often ends up in Mexico, or the US' modern equivilent of "lawless land", somewhere in the Middle East. Think, Three Kings, with jump-zoom camera moves and handheld camera work, and that yellow-orangey filter that makes everything look like it's hot and sweaty. Oh, and graphic violence with guns and blood and death. Yeah, there was that. But, I thought, just enough to make it worthy of the genre but not what I might call gratuitous violence or gore, again, considering the genre.

So, if you like that kind of movie, you'll probably like this one. But the poly stuff ... that's where this could have gotten tricky. Now, we know before even going into the movie that they are in a threesome kind of arrangement, and right up front, the girl tells us in a voice over how she loves them both and they love her and she doesn't care if you think she's a slut because it's a thing between them. Here's one of my quibbles - in the beginning, where she's describing how her relationships with the each of them work, she compares and contrasts them. I actually liked that part because it emphasized that they were not interchangeable, that she loves them for their uniqueness and that her relationships with the two men are different from each other.

But then she has to go and say that the the two men are more than just different, they're basically opposites, so together, they make up the perfect man. I REALLY really hate that line of thinking - that Frankenboyfriend version of polyamory. But whatever, it was a single line and the trio are clearly happy together.

What I particularly liked about the poly aspect of the movie was that the polyamory was never the problem. "Sharing" a girl wasn't a source of contention for them, there was no rivalry, and there was no social pressure either. It was just a relationship, like any other. There were some confused and even digusted reactions from other characters, when it came up, but the polyamory was not the source of conflict or the plot device.

From the trailer, we know that the Cartel uses the girl against the boys. But this isn't any different from any other "nice guy gets in over his head and has his wife or girlfriend used against him by the bad guys" plot. Again, the polyamory itself was not a plot device. The love story was, but it was the love for the girl, not the fact that there were 2 guys, that was used, and that's so standard that it's cliche. In most of these kinds of movies, a badass, or a guy who used to be a badass, or a guy who isn't a badass but becomes one in a montage, has his girl kidnapped or threatened or killed, and he goes and gets all badassey on them, somehow having exactly the right skills at any given moment to triumph, with maybe a backup guy who can run the intelligence or who gets him the guns or something. In this movie, "all the right skills" get to be divided up between the two men, which, in my opinion, is actually more realistic. And, at least, they made the one guy a former Navy SEAL who did 2 tours overseas to justify the crazy violence they get into during the film.

I had a couple of other little quibbles too, but they give away too many spoilers, so if you see the movie and want to talk to me about it, look me up online (or in person if you're local). But this movie definitely deserves to be on a Poly Movie List, and I actually enjoyed watching it. The graphic violence was just right, in my opinion, for the style of movie, the plot didn't have so many twists and turns and holes in it to make me feel like I was being insulted, and the polyamory was done well. I got the feeling that the writer was poly, or knew someone who was poly and grasped the concepts just well enough that it wasn't a slap in the face to the poly community the way 50 Shades Of Grey was to the kink community.

Now, you could argue that this trio was dealing drugs and got into a Mexican shootout, and that only that kind of low-down, dirty scum would get into something as freaky as a threesome. You could argue that, but I think you'd be wrong. I've talked about "tone" before, and I did not get the idea from this movie that the tone was yet another "polyamory is bad, here watch this trainwreck to see why" kind of movie. I did not get the feeling that we were being moralized at by this film or that the polyamory was being used as another example of their deviance. To me, it just seemed like any other relationship, almost incidental. They could have told the exact same story using only a monogamous male-female dyad and it wouldn't have been significantly different. You could say that the trio is what makes this film stand out from all the others in this genre, so maybe they were selling the trio like beer and car commercials use hot chicks to sell beer and cars. But I'm still not sure that's any different from any other romantic hook in an action film.

And I particularly like knowing that a mainstream, regular box-office movie featured a male-female-male trio in a way that made it seem normal, like, just another relationship and not something to make a big fuss over. That's what I want to see more of and that's a sign, to me anyway, that polyamory has a chance of lasting far into the future. It's just not fussed over the way it should be at this point in its history, like other alternative communities. I might like to see a movie that addresses polyamory itself sometime (in a healthy way, for a change), but I'd rather see movies that have polyamory in them just as naturally and casually as they have monogamy in them.

Also, smokin' hot surfer dudes and ex-military men in very little clothing! Almost makes me miss my teen years growing up in California with the abs and the saltwater-and-sun highlights and the tight little swimmers' asses. So I say: go see this movie!

Purple Mobius, polyamory
http://dvd.netflix.com/Movie/She-s-Gotta-Have-It/60034929?trkid=1525591 - Netflix
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0091939/ - IMDB
http://www.amazon.com/Shes-Gotta-Have-Spike-Lee/dp/B000XJD34S/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1339548489&sr=8-1 - Amazon

There's something about student films and classic French movies that just do not work for me. Maybe it's the penchant for black and white even in a color era, or maybe it's the frequent complete lack of musical score or soundtrack, or maybe it's the excruciatingly slow pace and shitty acting, or maybe it's all those years I spent as a film student, forced to watch the painfully "artistic" films by my peers and dragged to pretentious indie art houses to see confusing avant garde movies. I don't know, whatever it is, they're just not my cuppa tea. And Spike Lee's debut movie fits squarely in the middle of that je ne sais quoi that makes my eyes glaze over. But you might have different tastes.

She's Gotta Have It is another Netflix recommendation that I was expecting to be misleading at best. Plus, the black community, at least as it's portrayed in pop media, has never been sympathetic towards multiple partnerships, especially if it's the woman with the multiple partners.

Nola is in love with 3 very different men. At first I thought it would be another cheating movie where the girl would eventually find The One (who, of course, was not one of the guys she was fucking, because sex is dirty, or something). But then I discovered that she was honest about her "friends", as she calls them, so I thought it was more like Cafe Au Lait, complete with detestable characters who didn't actually seem to like each other.

It did feel a lot like a Brooklyn version of that movie - none of the guys liked each other, I didn't like any of them, and no one had any redeeming features to make me understand why she liked them or why they liked her. I kept waiting for her to get pregnant so they could have a Dysfunctionally Ever After ending.

But then I noticed something. I noticed that the arguments the guys used to try and convince Nola to be monogamous were the exact same shit I got over the years from cowboys. When you're not monogamous in a monogamous world, and you don't know anyone else like you to date and can only draw from the mono pool, this movie is exactly what you might get.

I'm having trouble categorizing this one. On the one hand, she's honest about her multiple partners and claims to love them. On the other hand, they hate each other and are all competing to be "the winner" - the sole object for her affection. On yet another hand, this is very much what it feels like for some of us to be poly (or something not monogamous) without a community or support or understanding from anyone since no one else is like us. On the final hand, it was yet another movie with characters who didn't really like their dating partners.

I think I want to include this on the Poly-ish Movie List because I think a lot of polys go through similar arguments before they find a community, and I think it's a valid part of the broader story of what it's like to be poly. But this was not a story of a poly relationship. If anything, it was the story of a poly-ish woman stuck in a mono world.
Flogging, BDSM
I added this to my Netflix queue because it was either on a poly list or Netflix recommended it to me when I added some other movie that was on a poly list.  I can't remember.  I was pretty sure there wasn't any polyamory in the show, but I had heard about the famous Belle and her blog-then-book, so I thought I'd at least check it out.

I've only watched 4 episodes (the first disc of season 1), so I'm not prepared to declare yea or nay to the poly question yet, but I did want to mention two things about one episode.

In the 4th episode, Belle discovers one of her regulars is into S&M, but she has no idea what it's all about.  Curious, she seeks out lessons with a London Domme and learns how to be a professional bitch.

I say that, because it seems that if television is your only resource, you'd think that the only thing to BDSM is hot chicks in black latex & corsets ordering fat old white men in thongs to clean the toilets with their tongues, stepping on them with high heels, and then beating the shit out of them with riding crops.  Also, doing so in a "I'm pissed off at you" or "I'm bored" voice seem to be the only options.  If you think that's all there is to fetishes and BDSM, please visit www.xeromag.com/fvbdsm.html

Anyway, there were 2 parts in particular that I liked.  In the first one, Belle mentions that she wants to learn about S&M because a client has expressed interest.  She explains that the client is married & the wife doesn't know about his interest.  The Domme says "well that's a shame" and when Belle looks at her questioningly, the Domme continues "so many secrets!"  Later, it comes out that the Domme is married and her husband knows.  In fact, he is often at home during the sessions - not participating, but puttering around the house, making tea, watching TV, whatever.  Belle expresses a wistful sort of envy at having someone to share her job with, not necessarily to do it with him, but someone she can confide in, who knows who she is.  The Domme's attitude is that honesty is not just the best policy, but a given.  When Belle says how nice it sounds, the Domme says "well, it's a marriage", implying that, of course they share these parts of themselves with each other, as if it never even occurred to her that she wouldn't.

I really liked that honesty-is-a-given attitude, and from the character that the mainstream audience would think of as the most deviant.  I really like when the "deviant" characters are the moral centers of a show.

In the other part that I liked, Belle takes a few lessons, then immediately redecorates her entire "professional" apartment as the kind of dungeon that non-fetishists think a dungeon looks like - dark red walls, black plastic over the windows, elaborate black candelabra stands with a dozen thick candles, and a professional, leather-covered "chair" of sorts whose only function, it seems, is to look as unlike any other normal sort of furniture so that you can't pass it off as something else (i.e. it's not a chair and it's not a massage table, but something in between).

So she invites her client over for an S&M session instead of their usual sex.  She orders him to strip, put on a thong, and kneel.  Then she addresses the audience (this show regularly uses the broken 4th wall tactic) to explain that everything has been pre-negotiated, and she means EVERYTHING, right down to the insults that she will use.  She says "yes, even the insults I will use".

I really, really liked how they made a point to emphasize the negotiation part of BDSM.  I don't think that can be stressed enough.  When people first start out, if they have any exposure to a fetish community at all, they know all about negotiation and rules, but it takes experience for it to really sink in just how much negotiation is required.  Even people who have done this for years can find themselves in situations where they forgot to cover something and get surprised when something happens (or could happen) that they didn't negotiate for.

And, here's the thing, it's not just about thinking up every possible scenario and every possible activity and then laying a bunch of rules down about it.  Sure, within BDSM, rules can actually be a healthy and important part of the dynamic (unlike in relationships in general, but that's another rant), but just making a list of rules isn't sufficient.  What's important is to understand why those rules are necessary, so that you don't have to think up a million specific activities.  If you know that condom use, for example, is for disease control, then you know to be careful about fluid transfer in general, which means no semen in the mouth, wash the floggers carefully & pay attention to blood, etc.  But if condoms are for birth control only, then an accidental or non-pre-negotiated semen in the mouth might not ruin the scene.

Now, a lot of people get overwhelmed at all the talking & negotiating that goes on in poly & kinky situations.  "It's not romantic or sexy if it's not spontaneous!  All this planning just seems cold and calculating, it takes all the passion out!"  Well, I have a bit of a surprise for you then.  All the planning & talking & negotiating is what allows for the spontaneity and surprise and wild passionate abandon.  Once you've taken care of all the logistics, you can just let things happen when the mood strikes you, if you want.  Because, if you've done it ahead of time, then you don't have to stop a scene to say "oh, wait, is this OK?"

I mean, you do want to check in with your partners and make sure everything is OK but a check-in is not the same thing as a "we didn't talk about this before so I have no idea what you're feeling or how you're going to react, and I'm not really sure I can trust your decisions because you might feel differently about this once the endorphins wear off".  It's also not the same thing as being surprise-penetrated*, thereby being dragged completely out of the fun fantasy into the real world as it suddenly hits you what all the implications are to this thing that you forgot to talk about and now you have to do a whole bunch of quick calculations in your head to figure out how this will affect you now, in an hour, in a day, in a week, in a year.

Plus, it can be extremely liberating to go into a situation where you already know what's off the table, what's definitely on the agenda, and what things you can decide on the spur of the moment to try.  There's no more guessing, no more wondering "am I really going to get laid tonight, or are we just making out & I'm going home with blue balls", no more "I really wish he'd just try this thing already!", no more "oh for fuck's sake, if I fake it maybe he'll hurry up and finish", no more "I think he's hinting about this and I don't want to, but if I tell him I don't want to, he might leave and never call me again", and no more "if I try this, will it freak her out & send her running, leaving me alone tonight / forever?"  

The outcome is never guaranteed and you can still go in unplanned directions.  But with a trusted partner in a scene that you have pre-negotiated, I know that this thing that I really, really like - he's gonna do it, and this thing that turns me off every fucking time - he won't do it.  I know that when I'm in the mood for rough, that's what I'm going to get because that's what we agreed on.  I know that when I'm in the mood for soft and romantic, that's what I'm going to get because that's what we agreed on.  I know that this time, I'm in charge and I already know in what ways I can hurt him that will make him happy with the scene and in what ways I can't hurt him without ruining the scene.  I know that next time, I can give up control and let him take care of me because he agreed to only doing the sorts of things that make me feel safe when I'm not in control and he won't do the sorts of things that make me feel unsafe.

Because we have talked.  It's sex and it's kink and it's pain and it's mind games and it's all sorts of naughty fun, and the reason it's fun is because we talked first.


*People not part of the fetish community, and even people who are but who don't talk about this topic, might be surprised at just how often "surprise penetration" happens.  It's a serious problem, one that we need to shed more light on and work to eradicate from our communities.
10th-May-2012 11:13 pm - Poly Movie Review: The Mentalist
Purple Mobius, polyamory

http://dvd.netflix.com/Movie/The-Mentalist/70155590 - Netflix
http://www.amazon.com/Mentalist-Complete-Second-Season/dp/B002N5N4NA - Amazon
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1196946/ - IMDB

Here's a new one! I find poly movies to review by one of 3 ways: 1) It's on a poly list somewhere on the internet; 2) Someone learns that I review poly movies & suggests a movie to me; 3) Netflix suggests a "similar title" based on me adding known poly movies to my queue. What has never happened, to the best of my recollection, is me stumbling upon a poly show completely by accident.

The closest I've come is watching movies or TV shows that are strong poly analogues - shows that are not explicitly poly, but, other than the sex, they might as well be. For example, Sex And The City (the TV show, not the movies), a story about 4 female, non-sexual (with each other) best friends who are actually each others' soulmates and form an intentional family of sorts between them. Think of cunningminx 's recent Poly Weekly podcast episode about "What Would Monogamists Do?" where her basic premise is that, what we do isn't all that different, and if you're stumped for how to deal with a situation, just ask how you would handle it if you were monogamous, and the answer will probably be very similar. I say all the time, "that's not a poly problem, that's a people problem."

But I'm getting off topic. Stumbling across actual polyamory in popular media with no notice, right.

As regular readers undoubtedly know, I am also a skeptic. In addition to my collection of poly media, I am also building a collection (mostly an online list, but I will slowly collect the physical media too) of skeptic media - movies, music, podcasts, books, etc. I like lists and categories, and just like the poly community, the skeptic community suffers from a lack of specific-to-us art & entertainment. Much like the poly community, the skeptic community not only suffers from a lack of art, but is drowning under a deluge of "art" that promotes the antithesis and even outright reviles everything we stand for.

What both the poly and the skeptic communities have in common, is that they are both subcultures struggling to find a toe-hold in a society that has built into its very institutions, its foundations, a support structure for mindsets & philosophies that are both opposite and intolerant of the subcultures themselves.

But again, I'm getting off topic.

All this is to say that I've been watching The Mentalist from Netflix. It's a TV cop drama about a guy who was a con artist using the label "psychic" to bilk people out of money by making shit up about their dead relatives, and other related cons, until he offered his "psychic services" to the police on a serial murder case. In his arrogance, he did what media-hungry con artists (*cough* Sylvia Brown *cough*) do, and that was to spout off on television about his "work" on the case, insulting the serial killer and pissing him off.

So the serial killer, Red John, targeted Jayne's (the "psychic") wife & daughter, and made damn sure that Jayne knew who had done it and why. Now we come to the actual start of the series, where Patrick Jayne works as a consultant for the California Bureau of Investigation, not as a phony psychic, but using his skill and expertise in deception to help catch criminals. Although he closes cases left and right and has been a tremendous asset to the CBI, his sole motivation for working with them is to get close enough to the Red John case that he can find Red John and kill him, and the other closed cases are merely incidental. He knows that he will go to jail, and possibly get the death penalty, but revenge is what drives him and helping people are a side effect.

Patrick Jayne is an atheist and a skeptic, and every episode highlights, not only the kinds of things that people do to trick other people, but also how we can fool ourselves. The character states outright, unashamedly and in no uncertain terms, that there is no god (episode 2), and there are no psychics, faith healers, people who can talk to the dead, none of that (almost every episode). He is James Randi, Jamey Ian Swiss, Penn & Teller, and Joe Nickell, all wrapped up in a slick, charismatic, borderline sociopathic, TV protagonist package*. With expensive suits that include suit vests. You can see why I might like him, yes?

So what does this have to do with polyamory? Read on for some plot spoilers, but not the final conclusion of the episode.Collapse )

And I do recommend watching the show. Here's a bit more about the series itself.Collapse )



*I've heard that this show is merely a knock-off of Psych, and, supposedly, a pale shadow compared to the ever-observant Sherlock Holmes. I don't care. I've never seen Psych, but I have read all the original Sherlock serials. There are some similarities, in that people who are skeptical & hyper-observant do come across as arrogant and cynical to others, and since the writers of both are not skeptical & hyper-observant, it's to be expected that the characters are written as arrogant, cynical, & loners. Because who would be friends with an arrogant cynic who sees everything & is always right? Skeptics & pedants never have friends, do they? But, aside from both being arrogant and both being detectives, they're not the same story at all. Psych, I'm told, is more buddy-cop comedy than cop drama, and whose main character actually does try to pass himself off as a psychic. One reviewer said that, to say The Mentalist is a rip-off of Psych is to say that Grey's Anatomy is a rip-off of Scrubs because they both follow medical interns into their residency. But, of the one trailer I've seen for the show, the audience knows he is not a real psychic, so I may watch it some day to see if it has any good skeptical value.
7th-Jan-2012 11:12 pm - Poly Movie Review: Family
Purple Mobius, polyamory
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1487166/ - IMDB
http://www.3dogpictures.com/ - Streaming
http://www.amazon.com/Family-web-Season-Amber-Rack/dp/B003A1JNN6/ref=sr_1_2?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1313445193&sr=1-2 - Amazon

I've posted about this show before, but I haven't done an official review yet. First of all, it's poly. It's about as poly as you get. Second, it's funny and weird. Third, I liked the first half better than the second half, but I liked it in general. Mostly it was just a couple of episodes in the second half that threw me off.

Family is the brain-child of Terisa Greenan, a polyamorous filmmaker in Seattle, WA. The show follows the lives of Ben, Gemma, and Stuart, a live-in triad (I get the impression that it's sexually a Vee, but they all consider themselves equal family, so that makes them a triad) that is very loosely based on Terisa's own life.

Each episode is roughly 7 to 10 minutes long and posted on YouTube, although there are 2 or 3 "uncensored" episodes that are posted elsewhere that doesn't have YouTube's ridiculous nudity taboo. We start out by just meeting the three main characters and getting a feel for how their family is arranged. My favorite episode is the second one, where the triad goes to a poly meeting. If you've ever been to a poly meeting and have a sense of humor about yourself, this episode will have you laughing out loud at the caricature painting of poly people.

The entire series is available as a DVD, and watching all episodes one after the other is about 3 hours, and worth the watch. The show covers things like adding new partners, getting along with metamours you don't like, meeting the "in-laws", dealing with conservative neighbors, and even dealing with the media.

About halfway through, though, the show takes a turn for the weird. It introduces some pretty bizarre characters and some of the plots have less to do with polyamory and more to do with just having strange people squatting in your garage, with a bit of psychosis-masquerading-as-woo thrown in for flavor. But it doesn't leave polyamory completely, and the series finale brings it back with a very serious issue that our main characters have to face together as a family.

The production quality is pretty good, and although the acting is a little wooden, it's not so terrible that it distracts from my enjoyment of the show in general. Really, the crazy characters starting about 8 or 9 episodes in was more distracting than any less-than-stellar acting.

I definitely recommend watching this show and, like Summer Lovers, no list of poly movies would be complete without it.

Purple Mobius, polyamory

Someone recommended this movie to me as a poly movie, and I can see why he did, but I have to disagree. I don't think this was a poly movie. I think this movie had a poly character in it, but the movie was not polyamorous. As far as enjoyment goes, my tastes run towards the banal and crude - I like action flicks and screwball comedies. I've written several times that I just don't get artsy films or foreign films made during the sexual revolution when things were all experimental and everything looked like the writers and directors were permanently on LSD.

So you might like this film if your tastes differ from mine - don't avoid seeing it on the basis of my personal enjoyment if you happen to be into artsy or foreign or '60s movies. And as far as artsy or foreign or '60s movies goes, this wasn't even all that horrible. It didn't have the bizarre music or jump cuts of A Woman Is A Woman. But, probably because of the difference in cultures, I just didn't find this movie very interesting or the characters very compelling. I know, there's irony in that statement after admitting that I like movies like Caddyshack. But it's the truth, I found the movie just kind of blah. However, I can see other people enjoying it. I have lots of friends who like lots of movies that I don't enjoy, and I can see some of them really liking this film.

As for the poly stuff, the plot is about a married man who loves and adores his wife and kids, but who falls in love with another woman. According to my movie guidelines, cheating movies do not get added to the list, but a movie where the cheater genuinely loves both of his partners and there is some outside constriction preventing them from living honestly (such as social taboos) may be exempted and be added to the list.

Francois loves Therese, his wife. He's very happy with his life, content. But then one day he meets Emilie. And he falls immediately in love. This was his first strike against him, for me. I don't much hold with the love-at-first-sight bullshit. I believe people can have instant attractions to each other, and then sometimes, by coincidence, they are attracted to people who happen to also be compatible to them, so the attraction-at-first-sight can blossom into a true love, and it is when that happens that people think they fell in love at first sight. But we don't hear epic tales of attraction-at-first-sight that then turns out poorly. It's a matter of confirmation bias, or the Fake Boob/Toupee fallacy (I can always spot fake boobs/toupees because they look fake, except when they don't and I can't). Love at first sight is real, except when it isn't.

Anyway, so Francois falls in "love" with Emilie and immediately begins an affair with her. As I said, cheating movies don't make the list, but loving both partners might exempt it, so this movie could have been added to the list. The reason why it's not is because of the ending, which changes the whole tone of the movie into "multi-partner relationships are Wrong and Bad", and which I'll go into under the cut.

***SPOILERS***Collapse )

Although Francois said a lot of very good poly lines, this movie had that elusive and hard-to-quantify tone that implies, to me, that non-monogamy is bad. As I said in the guidelines, it's not whether a movie ends happily or tragically, or whether a multi-adult relationship breaks up or stays together - it's what the movie says about non-monogamy that puts it on the poly-ish movie list or not. And, in spite of the main character clearly being about loving multiple people, this movie said to me that non-monogamy is cruel and wrong and that a happy nuclear family is the goal.

I think one could defend some ambivalence in the message, with Francois being written sympathetically and not as a villain, so I don't actually recommend that ya'll avoid seeing this movie. It may be worth your time. But I think that the way things were wrapped up, ambivalence aside, the message was more pro-nuclear-family than pro-consider-alternatives, so I will not include it on the list, but I will suggest that people might want to see this movie if they're into French cinema or if they want to hear a protagonist defend the idea of loving two women at the same time.

5th-Jan-2012 05:59 pm - Poly Movie Review: Keeping The Faith
Purple Mobius, polyamory
I think this is one of those movies that Netflix recommended to me based on adding some other "similar" movie. I wasn't even entirely sure, with a title like that, if the movie was on the list to review for polyamory or for skepticism.  But with the happy surprise of the last movie, I was actually kind of hopeful about this one. It was the story of two young men who were best friends as kids, growing up to become a Jewish rabbi and a Catholic priest, and the tomboy who was also their best childhood friend coming back into town as a successful, beautiful, corporate CEO. Because it had big names in it, the movie was most likely to be not-poly, but the setup had some potential.

Unfortunately, it flopped.

Not that the movie wasn't good (that's debatable, based on whether you like romantic comedies and movies that involve secrets), but it wasn't poly at all and it should have been.

These two men love this woman - she was perfect for them both. But because the rabbi is allowed to have sex (and because he is being pressured to find a wife before he becomes head of his church, or whatever), he immediately acts on his crush when the priest does not because of his vows of celibacy.

So the girl spends about half the movie developing a romantic relationship with the rabbi, but keeping the priest safely in a box labeled "do not touch". And as anyone who spends any time in the world of the Monogamous Mindset knows, when a girl puts a guy in the Friend Box, he's stuck there for life, no matter how strong her feelings for him ... those feelings are just very strong "friend" feelings.*

So, anyway, by the time the priest confesses his love and he has just about talked himself into leaving the priesthood for her, she is already thoroughly immersed in her relationship with the rabbi and totally oblivious to his growing attraction to her. So the priest has to swallow his embarassment and go back to thinking of her like a sister.

Now, you might be able to put this movie in the poly analogues category, because the three of them remain a strong group throughout the whole movie. The priest somehow manages to only be angry at having their relationship hidden from him, but he doesn't seem to feel any major jealousy. Well, there is the one fight where he gets drunk and yells at the rabbi that the rabbi stole his girlfriend, but mostly the priest seems to recover from his one- or two-night bender and move right into compersion for his two best friends, only nursing the hurt feelings of being lied to (which, frankly, I can totally understand).

****SPOILER ALERT****



The movie ends happily ... for a monogamous movie ... with the rabbi and the girl back together and the priest happy for them both and everyone is one big happy (monogamous & platonic) family. So it might fall under the category of poly analogues, where the only difference between them and us is that the girl would be sleeping with the priest too if it was us.

But the reason why I didn't like this movie is because I get upset at plots that put a convenient excuse in the way, blocking a poly relationship from happening. Usually, it's death, but in this case, it was vows of celibacy.

See, in the world of the Monogamous Mindset, a person can only romantically love two people at the same time if one of them is dead. It is only acceptable for a woman to say she loves two men if she is referring to her dead husband and her new husband whom she met a safe time-distance after the death of her first husband. So most MM movies conveniently kill someone off to allow the person torn in the middle the freedom to love them both and to force her to make a choice (Pearl Harbor).

In this case, the priest's celibacy interfered with his ability to pursue a relationship with the love interest and his religious faith gave him something to hold onto after he was rejected and allowed him to remain in the picture. Whereas with most romcom love triangles, when the love interest rejects one guy for another, he just disappears somehow (maybe he's a bad guy & goes to jail, or maybe he's a good guy and walks away voluntarily, whatever). But because this is a Catholic priest, he is safe enough to keep in the picture and safe enough for both the rabbi and the girl to continue loving because his faith and his vows make him a non-threat. In any other movie where he isn't a priest, the "other love" has to disappear because you can't have the "other love" hanging around your new wife. Or something.

This kind of thing can often be more tone than something specific. It's not very easy to quantify why some movies that end with a dyad still make it to the poly list but other movies don't. It's something in the way the actors and the director interpreted the lines that affect the tone of the movie. These movies never have a bit of dialog where someone says "Whew! It's a good thing my husband was killed in that war, so I can safely love you now without falling out of love with him or having to choose!"

So, in the last movie, where one partner had a serious illness that sort of forced the characters into a position where a love triangle could happen, the tone of that movie didn't strike me as negative. It suggested, to me, that these are people who live in a world where nonmonogamy was Just Not Done, so they needed some kind of extraordinary circumstances to leave them open to the possibility, to give them the impetus to even consider something outside of the norm.

But this movie just didn't have that same feeling. The way it was portrayed suggested more of a situation where three people happened to love each other in a world where they shouldn't, so they wrote the circumstances in such a way as to give them a monogamously acceptable way to do that.

Basically, they had to neuter one of the characters in order to keep him in the picture, which isn't the same as killing him off, but it belies a tone sprung from the same well.

I would love to see this movie re-written, where the priest and the rabbi are forced to re-evaluate their religious faiths in light of their growing love and attraction for the same woman (of no particular faith). Where the priest and the rabbi both decide that their mutual love for this woman is incompatible with what they have been taught about religion, which then makes them question everything else about religion, and which leads them to the realization that they have always been a happy threesome so there is no reason why they can't continue to be a happy threesome in a much fuller sense of the word. I'd love to see this movie where the woman does not put one of her best friends into the Friend Box, but allows her love for them both to flourish, and where she comes to the same realization that they have always worked best as the Three Musketeers, and breaking off into a dyad + 1 would change the dynamic in an unacceptable way.

Unfortunately, that was not the movie I watched.



*Once again, the Monogamous Mindset is a particular set of beliefs and viewpoints about monogamy that create the society in which I live. It does not mean that everyone who happens to be monogamous has this mindset, nor does it imply that people who are non-monogamous are automatically free of this mindset. MM is a set of rules and boundaries and mores that dictate how relationships ought to be, many of which are inherently contradictory, selfish, and harmful. One such set of contradictory MM rules is the rule that you are supposed to marry your best friend, but you're not allowed to be involved with your friends because that would ruin the friendship.

And that's the one I'm referencing here. There is this weird rule out there that people, women especially, can't get romantically involved with their appropriately-gendered friends because that would automatically (or could most likely) ruin the friendship. Men's magazine articles and lonely guys online like to lament about the dreaded F word - "friend". Being called a friend is like the worst thing a woman can do to a man who is interested in her, because it means he will never have a chance.

Of course I know this doesn't always happen and that there are exceptions, which is why I speak so condescendingly of the MM and of this rule in particular, so please don't leave a comment like "but I married my best friend and it's the best relationship I've ever had!" I know, that's what makes this rule so stupid. But it's out there, and it permeates our society, and is quite possibly responsible for a significant amount of unneccessary heartache.
29th-Dec-2011 02:10 am - Poly Movie Review: A Strange Affair
Purple Mobius, polyamory
http://movies.netflix.com/WiMovie/A_Strange_Affair/60030242?trkid=2361637 - Netflix
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0116586/ - IMDB
http://www.amazon.com/Strange-Affair-Thomas-Sorenson-William/dp/B000ERVKJO/ref=sr_1_1?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1325142274&sr=1-1 - Amazon
 
The Netflix summary reads:

"Judith Light stars in this sexy made-for-TV drama about a married woman who discovers that her husband of 23 years has been unfaithful. Just as she finds passionate love in another man's arms and prepares to divorce her husband, he suddenly has a stroke and becomes physically incapacitated. Will she move back in with her husband and take care of him ... even though she may risk losing her new lover?"

When a movie arrives in my mailbox, I don't always remember if I put it in my queue because it was on a poly list somewhere or because Netflix recommended it to me as "similar" to the poly movies I just added to my queue. Judging by the summary, I assumed this was one of the latter types of "poly" movies. I sat down with this movie with the lowest of expectations, prepared to hate it for yet another cheating drama that would probably end with some kind of choice being made, and possibly even a choice I would think was stupid.

I couldn't have been more wrong. And I love it when I'm wrong about things like this.

First of all, the Netflix summary gets the order of events wrong, which is partially why I had such low expectations. Lisa is married to Eric, a charismatic, charming film maker who hasn't made a film in 7 years and spends his time gambling with the money he steals from his wife and fucking his secretary. We are introduced to this plot by meeting a loan shark's thug who has come to intimidate Lisa at work in the very first scene. Eric is the kind of guy I loathe - an idealistic dreamer who has absolutely no connection to reality and thinks his charm entitles him to break the rules and treat everyone around him like shit.

But he's charming, and a lot of women find themselves in love with charming users like this. And once you're in love, it becomes all too easy to overlook, to excuse, to rationalize, until you are trapped - held hostage by your own emotions.

But Lisa finds her spine and prepares to leave now that both of her children are out of the house and in college. Except that the day she actually gets the courage to leave, she gets a call from her daughter saying that her husband has had a stroke. So Lisa returns home to care for her husband.

What I really like about how the writer treated this situation is that he made no secret of the resentment that Lisa feels at being trapped again, by her love and her responsibility to Eric. She moves back home to care for him, but she is also excrutiatingly honest when she tells him that their marriage is over and she is only there because her conscience won't let her abandon a dying man who is also the father of her children.

The rest of the movie follows Lisa as she attempts to recover from the financial ruin her husband has put her into with his gambling while now being financially responsible for his medical care, and two people with a painful history learning to live together with a debilitating and life-threatening illness.

Now for the poly stuff.

Enter Art, the mechanic who takes pity on Lisa when her car breaks down and she tries to work out a payment plan because she can't afford to pay the bill. Art starts doing stuff around the house for her to make her life a little easier. And in the process, he falls in love.

I won't give away the ending or the details, but what transpires is a very touching story of a woman who learns to fall back in love with her husband while discovering love with someone new. And, even more touching is the story of a man who loves his wife but who is ultimately selfish who is then forced to re-evaluate his priorities and deal with the fact that she loves another man. This is also the very touching story of a man who falls in love with a married woman, who shows us what true love is - the desire to see another person happy and to facilitate that happiness, whatever it means. If she still loves her husband, then her husband must be kept around and must be honored as the man she loves.

I think this is a good example of the kinds of situations that people can relate to - a bridge between the poly and mono worlds. It's not really a poly analogue because she flat out says that she is in love with two men. We see the tension between the metamours, we see the disapproval of the children and the neighbors, we see the resentment of being held back, and the loving amazement when poly works well. It's just a story told within the framework of a situation that non-polys might be able to sympathize with ... a setup that puts a monogamous person in a very difficult position where things are no longer black and white.

What do you do when your husband & father of your children is an asshole but you still love him? What do you do when you are trapped in a marriage that is over but love finds your doorstep anyway? What do you do when you are financially strapped and alone and someone offers no-strings-attached help simply because he thinks you could use it?  What do you do when you fall in love with someone you are not supposed to love?

This was one of those poly-ish type movies - a situation that lives on the fuzzy borders of what is and is not polyamory. But the tone of the movie, the scenes between the metamours, the complexity of emotion, the selfless version of love, all make me feel that this movie fits quite squarely into the polyamory category in spite of any debate over which configurations really "count".

I recommend this movie, both for the poly-ish movie list and to watch.
18th-Dec-2011 11:35 pm - Poly Movie Review: Fling
Purple Mobius, polyamory
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1003010/ - IMDB
http://movies.netflix.com/WiMovie/Fling/70111321?trkid=2361637 - Netflix
http://www.amazon.com/Fling/dp/B002VV8MEC/ref=sr_1_2?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1324269211&sr=1-2 - Amazon

This movie caused me quite some consternation because it had equal parts of "include" and "do not include" on the Poly-ish Movie List. In fact, it was so ambivalent that it prompted me to write the Guidelines post, to help me decide whether or not to include it. I have decided that it should be included on the list, but I am very torn about that decision.

This movie started out as the very first "include" criteria - which is a relationship that appeared happy and functional between two people who enjoyed additional sexual partners besides each other. This movie ended with a tone that seemed to me to be suggesting that the only people who would be interested in open relationships are people who are immature, selfish, users, and afraid to commit. The big problem I had with the movie is that the first half and the second half didn't mesh well. It almost seemed to me as though it was written by someone who knew people in happy and successful open relationships, who wrote the characters faithfully and well, but who had a personal belief that open relationships were wrong and so wrote an ending that he believed people in open relationships ought to have.

Naturally, in order to explain, I have to give spoilers. But I'll leave a good deal of the details out so you can watch the movie without feeling as though you've already watched it.

Mason and Samantha have an open relationship and have been together for several years now. We start the movie with the two of them living together and getting ready to go to a wedding. At the wedding, both of them hook up with other wedding guests and then come back to their hotel room together, apparently totally comfortable with the fact that they were each with other people. They told each other everything and they fell asleep in each other's arms.

Later, Samantha starts dating someone (as opposed to fucking someone) and she has to explain how her relationship with Mason works. I think this is a very valuable couple of scenes. Samantha is adamant that she is happy, that her relationship with Mason is secure and functional, that she is not a victim and chooses her life, and that jealousy is a symptom of insecurity. She faces someone who is disgusted and contemptuous of the idea of a woman having multiple sexual partners. I think she adequately defends her position and I think it is important to see the reception that people in open relationships receive when they admit to being in open relationships.

Meanwhile, Mason also has a friend who is completely disgusted and contemptuous of their relationship, to the point of appearing personally offended and violently angry about two people insisting that they are happy fucking other people even though he is not involved with either of those people. Again, I think it is important to see this kind of reception. Mason is not quite as good at defending himself, he mainly deflects the questions and accusations in an attempt to remain friendly with his buddy.

The assumptions from the opposition are fairly common - that the only reasons to get into open relationships are: 1) fear of commitment; 2) fear of being alone so willing to put up with being "cheated on"; 3) selfish; 4) using others for sex; etc. Mason and Sam do not appear to be these kinds of people. Their love for each other, their dedication to honesty, their obvious acceptance of each other's other partners (Mason gives a guy tips on how to hit on Sam when the guy comments about not having any luck without realizing that Mason is Sam's boyfriend / Sam reassures Mason's new girlfriend that it's totally OK to be at their house & to have fun together), their defense of their choices, their declarations that they are each confident in the other's commitment to them - all suggest that this is a happy and functioning relationship.

Then the movie goes off the rails. Both of the main characters make decisions that seem totally out of character for the confident, happy people so far portrayed. Mason keeps a secret from Sam, and since Sam actually knows about it from the beginning, she lets Mason keep the secret, which poisons her own feelings about him to the point that she chooses her other boyfriend - y'know, the one who looks on her in disgust and contempt whenever he is reminded that some other guy puts his cock in the same place he does.

Mason is constantly accused of being a user and of being afraid to commit, but, as emanix pointed out to me, that only makes sense if your definition of "commit" is "committing to be monogamous only, and to be idiotically jealous and controlling of your partners", since Mason seems disinclined to leave his relationship with Sam. In fact, there was a scene where everything could have been resolved in a happy poly way, and given what I thought I knew of the characters before, I would have believed the movie if it had taken that direction, and I did not believe the characters choosing the other path.

The implication is that yes, Mason really was a selfish user who was afraid to commit and Sam really did want a traditional life. The problem is that I just didn't see them that way.

So, I have my guideline that says "if the moral of the story is 'polyamory is doomed to fail, here watch this train-wreck to see why' then it doesn't go on the list". But the main relationship in the movie wasn't a train-wreck. It was a pretty realistically functional one, IMO, until the two characters made, what I consider to be, out-of-character decisions that ultimately led to a train-wreck. So, I refined my guidelines to include movies that offered scenes of valuable situations, like coming out to family, introducing new partners to the concept of open relationships, discrimination, etc., all of which were in this movie, since a happy ending was never necessary to be included on the list. We do see a coming out to family scene; we do see an introduction to a new partner scene; we do see the negative reactions and assumptions of people about open relationships in several scenes; we do see a couple who defends their relationship choices in positive terms, such as being attracted to others not changing the love they feel for each other and feeling secure and confident about their relationship, and all of these feel fairly realistic.

Basically, this movie could be summarized as "this is what non-polys think of polyamory and open relationships, and how things are supposed to end for us". But that means that there really was a poly-ish relationship in it, which means it should go on the list. It also means that, if this is the case, then this movie would be valuable to the poly community to show what non-polys think of us and other non-monogamists.
18th-Dec-2011 10:14 pm - Poly-ish Movie Review Guidelines
Purple Mobius, polyamory
I reviewed a couple of movies that fell into a grey area, in terms of my guidelines for poly movies, and the most recent one was really tough to decide. So I felt that I ought to clearly list my guidelines, both for my own use when I find a grey-area movie, and for others who might be wondering why some movies make the list when others don't.

Here are the guidelines for what makes it to the Poly-ish Movie List and what doesn't:

  Movies That Do Go On The List  Movies That Do Not Go On The List
  • If the movie has a functional, happy relationship that includes more than two people, even if they are not main characters, it goes on the list.
    • If the relationship is 3 or more people (i.e. Whatever Works), it's poly
    • If the relationship is a core dyad that is "open" to the members having additional sexual or romantic partners (i.e. Belle Epoque), it's poly-ish
  • If the movie has a relationship that includes more than two people, and may not appear to be "happy" or "functional" because of viewer's subjective definitions of "happy" and "functional" but still gives the characters a "happy" ending / implies that they are happy with their choices and is clearly a multi-partner family group (i.e. Cafe Au Lait & Rita, Sue & Bob Too), it will probably go on the list.
  • If the movie is a documentary or TV interview showing real people in consensual, honest, loving multi-partner relationships, even if the relationship ends poorly, it goes on the list (Three of HeartsCat Dancers).
  • If the movie has a poly or poly-ish relationship that ends due to outside pressure or personality conflicts, but seems to be an otherwise functional and happy relationship and it was not the polyamory that caused the breakup (i.e. Paint Your Wagons), it goes on the list.
  • If the movie shows positive and/or realistic scenarios of poly issues & situations, such as coming-out conversations, dealing with discrimination (i.e. Esmeralda Comes By Night), overcoming jealousy, reaching out to metamours, etc., it goes on the list.
  • If a movie ends on an ambiguous note that can be interpreted by the viewer as leading to a happy poly family (i.e. Kiss Me Again & Micki & Maude), it will probably go on the list.
  • If the movie shows a clear and unambiguous multi-adult intentional family, regardless of who is having sex with whom (The Wedding Banquet), it will probably go on the list.
  • If the movie has a dyad that tries a threesome, and it goes horribly wrong because someone is psychotic (i.e. Trois), it does NOT go on the list.
  • If the movie has a relationship with two or more people who cannot communicate, who are jealous, or who otherwise demonstrate or imply that open relationships are impossible and doomed to fail (i.e. Sleep With Me & Portrait of an Open Marriage), it does NOT go on the list.
  • If the movie makes any character choose one partner over another, and especially if it implies that choosing one makes the protagonist happy in spite of the jilted lover being a decent partner (i.e. Sweet Home Alabama), it does NOT go on the list.
  • If the movie shows one character in love with 2 or more others, and the only possible resolution is to kill one off to justify loving more than one (i.e. Pearl Harbor - it's OK for widows to love current & former partner) or make one totally unsuitable and therefore an obvious Bad Choice (i.e. Carolina & pretty much every romantic comedy), it does NOT go on the list
  • If the movie is a clear example of why we have the phrase Relationship Broken, Add More People, and why that is a sarcastic and derogatory phrase implying a recipe for disaster (i.e. Sex And Breakfast), it does NOT go on the list.
  • If the movie is all about having lots of sex with lots of partners, and there is no love among the partners (i.e. Y Tu Mama TambienThe Story of O, & Farinelli), it does NOT go on the list.
  • If the movie seems to be written with a tone that implies that open relationships cannot work, it does NOT go on the list.
    • i.e. the monogamous characters are the sympathetic protagonists / poly characters are the "bad guys" / antagonists
    • i.e. the poly characters' decisions only make sense in the context of a writer who doesn't understand polyamory

Caveats:
Cheating -  movies about cheaters and cheating do not go on the list, but there are some circumstances that may exempt a cheating movie.
ExemptionsNon-Exemptions
  • If the cheater(s) comes clean & they attempt to switch to an open and honest relationship (i.e. Summer Lovers), it might go on the list.
  • If the cheating involves more than sex and/or loving feelings for both the spouse & secret OSO, and there is some kind of social constriction, such as a historical era or a conservative culture, that prevents the characters from being honest and having a happy ending while still being realistic, the movie might go on the list if the tone is compassionate and sympathetic and not condemning (i.e. Same Time Next Year).
  • If the cheating includes justifications, selfishness, lack of empathy or concern, and those things last for the duration of the movie with no change in position or a refusal to acknowledge the hurt being caused, the movie does NOT go on the list
  • If the cheating includes a psychopath, like the cautionary threesome tales, the movie does NOT go on the list.
Open Relationship vs. Polyamory - movies that are all about lots of sex partners don't go on the list, but if a movie is particularly ambiguous or ambivalent about the presence of love among the partners such that it rides that fuzzy line between polyamory and other types of consensual non-monogamy, it might go on the list.  If the lessons and morals of the story are particularly true or important for poly relationships, that might tip the scales in favor of the list, such as a movie about swingers that emphasizes honesty, communication, and compassion and/or that develops loving friendships between the extramarital partners (i.e. Swingtown).

Non-Sexual Intentional Families - it is usually assumed that "romantic" relationships have some element of sexuality in them to make them "different" from platonic friendships.  There are some movies that may be exempted from that assumption.  In the case where there are clearly more than 2 adults who are in a family that, for all intents and purposes, looks like a "romantic" family, even if some members are not having sex with each other, it might go on the list.  If there are, for example, 3 people who choose to raise children together and live together, even if 1 member is not sexual with the other 2, as in The Wedding Banquet, if the "family" is emphasized strongly enough, it might make the list.  Films from other eras or cultures that have a stronger taboo against non-marital sex may include a multi-adult family without sex and yet still have the tone and feel of a "romantic" family, such as Design For Living.

Breakups & Death - movies that have the relationship end with a breakup or death do not generally go on the list, but there are some circumstances that may exempt a movie with a sad or tragic ending.
  • If the breakup has nothing to do with the polyamory, but has to do with outside influences, such as the country going to war & separating people, or the pressure to conform to social standards is too great (usually due to the era), the movie might go on the list (i.e. Head In The Clouds & Paint Your Wagon).
  • If the movie has other valuable elements in it, such as examples of common and important conversations (coming out, discrimination, overcoming jealousy, etc.), or is a true story of an actual poly family, such as a documentary (i.e. Three of Hearts), then even a relationship that ends poorly may be added to the list.
  • Movies where characters die are not automatically excluded from the list - it depends on what role that death plays in the story. If the death is just a part of life in the story, and not the sole justification for someone loving more than one (i.e. Carrington), it might go on the list.  But if one character is torn between two others, and the only way the character can justify loving them both is to kill one of them off (i.e. Pearl Harbor), it does NOT go on the list.
I think I covered everything.  If someone has a question about why a particular movie did or did not make the list, or someone knows of a movie plot that is questionable and doesn't see a guideline for it here, let me know and I'll attempt to refine the guidelines.
Purple Mobius, polyamory

This is a slight departure from my usual movie reviews, and I plan to do a few of them in the future. This is not about poly movies, but about poly analogues for monogamous people. It has always been my opinion that polyamory is really not any different than monogamy, only with more people. And by that, I mean that there is a wide variation among relationships that fit under the heading "monogamy" and a wide variation among relationships that fit under the heading "polyamory", and the vast majority of questions about "how do you do this in poly?" are answered with "the same way you do it in monogamy," partly because of that variation, so there is no single answer, and partly because the questions are not usually poly-specific.

For instance, whenever someone asks me how to deal with schools handling the issue of multiple parents, I answer "the same way my monogamous, hetero sister deals with them as a single parent." I then go on to explain that, on her In Case Of Emergency sheet, and the list of adults that have permission to pick up her children, she has about 5 or 6 different names, many of which do not have her child's last name and/or are not blood-related to the children. She doesn't explain that Joreth is the auntie and Sally is the babysitter and Jason is the boyfriend even though he's not the father of one kid, but is the father of the other kid, or that Larry is the grandfather and John is the godfather and Crystal is the 2nd cousin and that Sarah is mommy's best friend from high school. She just put those names down on the lists. When asked for familial relation to the child, she just circles something like "family friend" or "uncle" or whatever. My point is that "how do you deal with schools" is not a poly-specific problem and monogamous people have to deal with that same issue all the time, thanks to single parenthood and blended families. There isn't a single answer, and there isn't a different way that poly people do it from mono people, who find themselves in the same or similar situations.

Same thing goes for issues like "how do the children know who their parents are?" and "how do you keep track of everyone?" and "how do you schedule things?" The same way non-poly folk do. Being adopted, I didn't have any difficulty understanding who my "real" parents were. Kids of blended homes (meaning, divorced parents & step-parents) don't have any difficulty understanding who their "real" parents are. And so on.

Much about polyamory is not actually very unique to polyamory, and even those issues that are unique to polyamory have similar situations, if not exactly the same, in monogamous society. One of the things I like to do is try to find these poly analogues to use as bridge-building stories, in an attempt to help monogamous people better understand polyamory.

The first one I ever noticed was Sex And The City. I originally started watching the show because I have a tendency to feel alien among "normal" women. I don't understand those things that I'm told women are supposed to understand. Now, of course, I understand that there is no such thing as "normal women", just that there is a collection of criteria that various people are told is "normal" and everyone else is therefore abnormal when they don't have all the criteria, even if some of those criteria are contradictory or even mutually exclusive, all with complete disregard to the actual numbers of people who fit or don't fit any given set of criteria.

But, the point is that I never felt as though I really fit in or that I understood women very well because I didn't match what I was told I should match. So I watched the show to get an idea of what this hypothetical "normal woman" was thinking.

SATC is a show with 4 main characters that follows their romantic lives for about 6 years. Each of the women are archetypes, basically a model or an epitome of a personality type that has been repeatedly observed in US culture. By coincidence, the four women also happen to fall into the 4 main MBTI categories - NT, SP, NF, SJ - although they weren't deliberately written that way. That's what made it so popular, though. No matter what kind of person you are, almost everyone could see a little of themselves in at least one of the characters, which is why it was considered such a great examination of "the normal woman". Even men could see a little of themselves in one or more of the male side characters (and yes, the show was very gender binary - that's a complaint for another journal entry).

The show also had witty dialogue, even if you didn't like the topics. But one topic is what brings me here to this review. And that's the idea of multiple loves and intentional family.

This is a recurring theme throughout the entire 6-year lifespan. We do not see much of the girls' biological families, and what we do see is largely negative. The characters have, more or less, left their families and created their own intentional family of each other. They are there for each other in good times and bad, they support each other, they occasionally condemn each other, they squabble and hug, and they build lives around each other. It's true that all the women are heterosexual (except for one 3-episode story arc), so they are not romantically involved with each other (even for that story arc), and if there is any criticism of this as a poly analogue, that is it.

But anyone who has ever had one or more of those friends - y'know, the ones you think to call from the hospital before you call your boyfriend, the ones you go to confide in about your wife, the ones who were the first to stand up with you at your wedding and the ones who were first to get you drunk & let you cry after your divorce, the ones who have seen you without your makeup on and still love you, the ones who were there to bail you out of jail after that little misunderstanding and kept it from your spouse, the ones who were there long before you met the love of your life and, just like the love of your life, will be there until death do you part - if you've ever had those friends, then you understand just how unimportant sex is as a defining element in what makes a relationship important and meaningful in your life. Not that sex isn't important, but that there are so many other aspects to what makes a relationship meaningful, some of which matter much more.

When people ask me how I can love more than one person at a time, the answer is because we all love more than one person at a time. Our spouses are not the only people in our lives for whom we feel that deep commitment, that connection as if our very souls have found their mates, that trust that there are people we can count on for anything, that sense of elation at the idea of being with them or that sense of despair at the thought of losing them. The only difference between me and them is that I am physically attracted to more than one of the people for whom I feel that way, and occasionally I get to act on it.

Sex And The City highlights one of the many ways in which people form lasting emotional bonds with other people. Their friendship is closer than most of their romantic relationships, and has certainly outlasted all of their romantic relationships. They are closer to each other than they are to their biological families, and the men in their life are required to make room in their relationships for the other girls. When the women do find serious romantic partners, each of the men understand that he will have to "share" his partner with the other three women. Each of those men turn to the other three women for help when his partner is going through a particularly rough time and the man is not enough to help on his own. One asks the other three for communication help to patch up an argument with his girlfriend, another asks the other three to console his wife when she has a miscarriage - the men are not in an isolated, monogamous relationship, apart from any other relationships; they are in poly-ish relationships where they "share" their women with three other women, who have been there longer, know each other better, and can often provide a type of support that the men just can't. Any man who sticks around long enough has to accept it, and the good men embrace it.

Long before I ever heard of polyamory, I had friends like this. I had friends who were so close, we gave ourselves our own family name. I had friends who were so important, we made long-term, life-altering plans around each other, like where to go to college, where to live after college, and even sometimes who to date or marry. I had friendships that were so meaningful, that losing those friendships didn't feel any less devastating than losing a boyfriend. I cried for weeks after my best friend stopped talking to me. I felt like I lost a part of myself when we all went our separate ways. I even felt as though I didn't have any real identity when some of those friendships ended, the same way I sometimes had to re-evaluate who I was and what I wanted out of life when I lost a serious boyfriend and all our future plans were scrapped. It didn't matter that we weren't having sex, those relationships were important in the same way my romantic relationships were important - simultaneously equally as important and too unique to be compared to each other.

Not all monogamous people have had these kinds of friendships, of course. One of the wonderful things about the human species is its diversity. But a very common trend is to develop close emotional bonds with other people, or to want to. And for many people, those close, emotional bonds are not limited to a single bond with one person, ever, throughout the entire lifespan. Each relationship, and each emotional bond, is different, unique, individual. Even if we had a best friend in high school, and then switched to another best friend in college, those friendships are as non-interchangeable as the romantic relationships are. And if people can just wrap their heads around the idea that sex is not the single defining element in complex emotional relationships, they can see the parallels between monogamous Sex And The City intentional families, and my poly family.

Purple Mobius, polyamory
http://movies.netflix.com/WiMovie/Esmeralda_Comes_by_Night/70045338?trkid=2361637 - Netflix
http://www.amazon.com/Esmeralda-Noche-Vienes-Mar%C3%ADa-Rojo/dp/B000BZN1NW/ref=sr_1_2?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1315857719&sr=1-2 - Amazon
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0125061/ - IMDB

I'm not sure, but I'm reasonably confident that I did not get this movie from an online poly movie list, and instead it came from one of Netflix's recommendations based on when I added other poly movies. If this is the case, then Netflix deserves some serious thanks. Not only did I like this movie, but it actually was poly!

Bewitching, passionate and beautiful, Esmeralda is happily married -- to five husbands! But just as she's about to marry groom No. 6, she's charged with polygamy. She reveals her reasons for marrying each husband to stern Judge Solorio, who -- like Esmeralda's spouses -- is no match for her charms. Meanwhile, her husbands conspire to break her out of jail, and feminists demonstrate in her defense.

This movie was charmingly campy. It wasn't *brilliantly* campy, like I might say for Bruce Campbell or the Southpark boys, where the camp is a finely tuned sense of humor and understanding of the subject matter. This movie was campy in the Mama's Family sort of way - cheesy and goofy with a godawful fashion sense, but with the occasional flash of insightful social commentary.

Full disclosure: I liked Mama's Family and I'm well known for liking truly awful movies. In my opinion, there is a difference between "quality" and "enjoyable". A movie can be both, but it can also be only one or the other. I find many of the "classics" in art (literature, paintings, music, etc.) fall under the "quality" category but do not fall under the "enjoyable" category for me.

But anyway, the movie is exactly as the summary says. A woman is kneeling at the alter at her 6th wedding when the cops show up and arrest her for "quintuple bigamy" and the rest of the film is about Esmeralda's stories to the judge regarding each of her five husbands - how they met, what she likes about them, what they have to do with each other, etc.

There were 2 elements that made this movie particularly enjoyable for me. The first is the method they used to tell Esmeralda's stories. They didn't use the standard methods that I'm used to, like Wayne & Garth's wavy dissolve, or changing the color temperature of the scene (i.e. going to black and white, or making some scenes tinted green and others tinted orange), or fuzzy edges like viewing through a foggy window frame. What this movie did was to make the movie audience (the judge, the secretary/notes-taker, the witnesses, etc.) participate in the flashback scene.

For example, I'll explain the very first flashback. The scene was set in the flasback, in this case, in the park where Esmeralda met her almost-6th husband. As she sat on the bench with him, the judge's desk sat in the park next to her, and the secretary sat in front of her with the typewriter, and Esmeralday went through the motions as if she were really there with her beau while simultaneously speaking to the judge as she explained what was happening.

Each scene was slightly differently styled. Sometimes there was less direct conversation between Esmeralda and her audience, sometimes the action happened in the courtroom instead of the original location. But it was always the mixture of flashback and current circumstances. And I really liked the effect it had.

The other element that made this movie for me was a bit of dialog between Esmeralda and the judge. The writers managed to take every single online flame war, ever single argument with conservative parents, every single self-righteous religious objection to polyamory, and the responses to them, and put them all into a single exchange between the judge and Esmeralda. "You should be ashamed", "you're ruining society", "you're promiscuous", "you're hurting people" - it was all there.

Now, I have a few little quibbles about a few details of the story, and if anyone really wants to get into them with me, I'm happy to do so. But I think the main qualifications for the Poly-ish Movie List are met and datan0de and I were surprised at how much we enjoyed the film in spite of thinking it wasn't a "quality" movie. The film includes multiple relationships that are based in love, it includes social and religious pressure (not necessarily in the direction you might be thinking), and it includes the metamours consent as well as negative consequences when someone doesn't consent. It also includes shifting attitudes when faced with exposure to opposing viewpoints, again, not necessarily in the direction you might be thinking.

I have 1 major quibble about this movie, and it was the final 2 scenes. I don't want to give away the ending, so I'll just say that if you watch this movie, when you get to the "picnic" at the end, I wish the movie had stopped there. The final two-ish scenes are just completely out of left field (whether the conversation with the judge and Esmeralda immediately following the picnic counts as part of "the final two-ish scenes" is a fuzzy matter). It's almost as if the last couple of scenes were directed and written by two different people, both of whom were not the director/writer of the rest of the movie, and who were each told that they were directing a movie in a cmopletely different genre than the rest of the film. One of these replacement directors was a Fred Astaire buff, and the other was a horror movie fan. These two scenes were just so jarring, that I prefer to think of the movie as having ended at the "picnic". datan0de prefers the movie to have ended 2 scenes before the picnic (since the scene immediately before it is only necessary to establish the "picnic" itself).

But in spite of those truly bizarre, extraneous ending scenes, I still really liked the movie and I still recommend it if you like cheesy films. And, quibbles about lies and omissions aside, I think this movie definitely qualifies as a poly movie!
30th-Aug-2011 02:17 am - A Must-See Movie
photography, Self-Portrait, personal
http://movies.netflix.com/WiMovie/Adam/70112461?trkid=496624 - Netflix 
http://www.amazon.com/Adam-Hugh-Dancy/dp/B0030Y12FU/ref=sr_1_1?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1314685043&sr=1-1 - Amazon
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1185836/ - IMDB

I swear I'm not going to review every single movie I see.  But I did see a movie that has nothing to do with polyamory that I wanted to mention.  I saw the movie Adam.  Technically, it falls under the "romantic comedy" genre, but it's not like any other romantic comedy you've ever seen.  Trust me.

Adam is the story of a 29 year old man with severe Asperger's Syndrome who falls in love with the woman who lives down the hall from him in his apartment building.  Beth is "normal", or neurotypical (known as NT to Aspies), who nevertheless finds Adam interesting.  I watched this movie with two friends who have AS, and although I don't have AS, I am borderline enough that I get along better with Aspies than with "regular" people.  Of course, I don't know anyone who has AS as severely as Adam, so that may not be a true statement.  But I do find it easier to understand them than most other people, based just on those I have interacted with, and I find I have less tension dealing with my various Aspie friends because it requires less effort for me to think about how to behave.

The three of us laughed throughout most of the movie, not because it was funny (although it was) but because we could see ourselves and each other in the story.  We all groaned out loud when Adam did a typically Aspie thing that we all know leads to disaster, even if we can't help it when we do it ourselves.  There was much finger-pointing and jabbing and mock glares throughout the movie.  For a writer who does not have AS and an actor who did not know anyone with AS, the movie was frighteningly realistic.  The writing was spot-on and the acting and direction was absolutely brilliant.  My heart went out to Adam, knowing the kind of challenges he faced, and to Beth, knowing how difficult it can be to deal with an Aspie.

I saw an interview with the actor who played Adam, and I could almost swear that they were different people.  His mannerisms and vocal inflections were so different that they even altered his appearance (the hip clothing and extra mousse in the actor's hair was not enough on their own to change his looks that much).  His portrayal of a person with AS was so realistic, so touching, so achingly sympathetic, that I fell in love with Adam myself.

Adam is available on Netflix, but not streaming.  I highly recommend watching this movie, especially if you have any sort of ties to geek culture or any of its sub-genres, since that's most likely where you'll encounter Aspies in social settings.  Yes, it's a "romantic comedy", but it's really more about how we relate to each other as humans, and how a certain group of us humans relate, or can't relate, to everyone else.  It's the only movie I've ever heard of with a protagonist with this particular challenge (AS is technically classified as being on the Autism spectrum, but it's actually quite distinct from Autism in many ways), and, unlike Big Bang Theory (which I happen to love), Adam's AS is not the object of comedy, but a truly compelling story about the nature of human interaction and human emotion.

If you get the disc, watch the deleted scenes and the alternate ending.  The alternate ending is the ending shown at Sundance, but they changed it for the theaters and the DVD.  I like the new ending better, but my Aspie friends preferred the original ending.
27th-Aug-2011 12:39 am - Poly Movie Review - Sleep With Me
Purple Mobius, polyamory
I don't think I've ever felt so misled by a movie summary before in my life. Netflix says "A modern-day couple, Joseph and Sarah, discovers there's room for a third person in their marriage in this unusual romantic comedy. Joseph's best friend, Frank, is in love with Sarah, too, and no matter how much he tries, he can't get over her." IMDB says "Six different writers wrote a scene each of this romantic comedy featuring the marriage and turbulent relationship of Joseph and Sarah, with Joseph's best friend Frank trying hard to cope with letting the love of his life marry his best friend."

And Amazon says "What happens when a man and his best friend both love his wife? Plenty of wildly funny, intense and shocking party conversation! Eric Stoltz, Craig Sheffer and Meg Tilly explore contemporary romance and relationships over six social events in 'the most original romantic comedy of the year. ... Sleep With Me is a raucously funny film! Joseph has finally professed his love for Sarah. Unfortunately, so has his best friend Frank! Bad timing, yes, but for whom? Frank's heartfelt admission bewitches Sarah, bothers Joseph and bewilders their friends who have no problem expressing their own often hilarious opinions of this bizarre love triangle."

I swear I didn't watch this movie. Maybe Eric Stolz, Meg Tilly, Craig Sheffer, Joey Lauren Adams, Parker Posey, and June Lockheart were all in another movie that happened to have the same name, and same character names, and similar plot, but was really the movie in the descriptions and I watched the other one. Even the cover art had nothing to do with the events in this film (it shows Meg Tilly in bed between Eric Stolz & Craig Sheffer - an enviable position, IMO).

This was not a romantic comedy. This was a fucking trainwreck of a relationship drama. There wasn't anything funny in this at all. Joseph is dating Sarah. Joseph is best friends with Frank. Frank is also best friends with Sarah. The three of them have known each other since college, when Frank was assigned as Joseph's roommate the year Joseph first started dating Sarah. Finally, after years of dating (and breaking up and getting back together), Joseph asks Sarah to marry him. Frank urges her to say yes, so she does.

The day before the wedding, Sarah confesses to Frank that she once considered pursuing him after the first time she and Joseph broke up back in college. He asks what would have happened, and Sarah says that she and Joseph would have gotten back together and she and Frank would have remained friends. Disbelieving her, Sarah kisses him to prove that they are still friends.

Some time later, at a party, Frank reveals that he is in love with Sarah and passionately kisses her in front of everyone. Joseph jumps up yelling "that's my WIFE!" and prys them apart. The party breaks up and Joseph and Sarah go home.

At the next party, Frank shows up at the invitation of their instigator friend (who is the host of the party), prompting Joseph to pick a fight with Frank that Sarah tries to break up. So Joseph turns on Sarah and they start screaming at each other in the kitchen. Joseph leaves with another girl at the party, so Sarah leaves with Frank. Joseph makes out with the other girl, but then leaves before sealing the deal. Meanwhile, Sarah has sex with Frank.

A week later, Frank crashes another party to find out why Sarah hasn't left Joseph yet and run away with him. Joseph discovers that Frank is there and picks another fight with him that results in the three of them shouting on the front lawn all the dirty details about Sarah and Frank having sex while Sarah is still married to Joseph. Sarah grabs the keys and leaves the two men standing on the sidewalk staring after her.

But Joseph turns away first so that only Frank notices that Sarah has stopped the car a block away. Frank doesn't go after her, though. He tells Joseph that she hasn't left. So Joseph, her husband, runs after her. Sarah opens the car door for him, he gets in, and they drive off.

That's it.

There's no poly in this at all, not even poly-ish. There's no comedy, no laughter, and certainly no group sex as the DVD cover and posters imply. There is only two people don't seem to like each other very much (why do movies always have characters who don't like each other?), and a single man who is too shy to reveal his feelings for the woman he loves until she has thoroughly entangled her life with someone else. There is shouting, there is pain, there is heartache, there is confusion, there is cheating, there is lying, there is ownership and possession, there is backstabbing, and there certainly wasn't any "room for a third person in their marriage". I'm not even sure there was any room for the two who were in the marriage, let alone a third person.

The ending was so abrupt and so unresolved that I actually stared at the credits for a few heartbeats, expecting another scene. Apparently, it means that Sarah and Joseph are back in their not-so-happy twosome and have left Frank behind, alone again. I went back to the various webpages to get the URLs for this review, and I read and re-read the descriptions again. I checked the titles, I checked the URLs, I looked closely at the covers, to make sure I was at the right pages. I swear, this is not the same movie.

I can't even tell if this was a "good" film or not because I'm so jarred by the misleading summaries and the unresolved ending. I wonder if this is why people have such fucked up views of relationships? Hollywood seems to think that relationships with people who don't like each other still have driving-off-into-the-sunset endings. So maybe people stay in relationships with each other because they think they're not supposed to like their partners very much, but if they stay there long enough, they'll get a fairy tale ending?

All I know is that everyone in that movie seemed to be miserable, including every single supporting character, and if that's what life and love are supposed to be like, I'll take my "unrealistic", "naive" poly family, thank you very much. Even on days when it seems as though we can't go a 24 hour period without someone freaking out, at least everyone likes each other, and at the end of the day, no one stays out of obligation or fear of being alone. And goddamnit, no one starts a fucking shouting match at a party or thinks that public humiliation is an appropriate conflict resolution strategy.

~Reviews By Joreth - I watch the crap so you don't have to
Purple Mobius, polyamory
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0091859/ - IMDB
http://www.amazon.com/Rita-Sue-Bob-Michelle-Holmes/dp/B004XNNV1K/ref=sr_1_1?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1314333241&sr=1-1 - Amazon

I just watched the creepiest fucking movie ever.

Rita and Sue are teenagers about to graduate high school.  At least, I think.  It's a film from the UK and I have absolutely no clue how the educational system works there, but it's weeks away from the end of their mandatory schooling and when they can move out of their parents' homes.  Rita and Sue are babysitters for Bob and Michelle.  Again, I have no idea how that system works, but they are apparently both sitters.  When I used to babysit, if the parents were going to be out particularly late, I was sometimes allowed to invite a female friend over to keep me company, but I was the only paid sitter.  It was never explained how it works for Rita and Sue, I imagine because everyone in the UK already knows how it works.  But they both sit regularly.

So anyway, Rita and Sue babysit one night and Bob drives them home.  Only he doesn't go home.  He starts asking them creepy questions like if they're virgins and if they know how to put on a condom.  The girls act insulted and antagonistic, but given how they behave throughout the rest of the movie, apparently antagonism is foreplay.  So Bob takes them to some desolate cliff overlooking their town and fucks them both.

This is the third scene in the movie, and it only gets ickier from there.


There is absolutely no way to explain the poly part of this movie without giving away the ending. Sorry.Collapse )
So, there's nothing poly about this movie until *maybe* the final 3 seconds of the film.  The first part isn't poly because it's a married man cheating on his wife with two fucking teenagers.  The middle part isn't poly because he chooses only one of the teens and the other gets into an abusive relationship.  But since it could be argued that the very very end of the movie involves three people in a live-in, consensual relationship, that makes this a poly movie.

But I disliked this movie more than I disliked Cafe au Lait.  At least in Cafe au Lait, the three characters all live together for about half the film, even though they disliked each other.  In this one, the three title characters don't dislike each other, exactly, but they don't seem to really like each other either.  But, to be fair, they don't seem to like anybody, or anything.  Everyone in the movie fights with everyone else.  Apparently, that's just what life is like Yorkshire.  The reviews keep calling it "realistic".  That's a terrifying thought.  The movie also got rave reviews at the Cannes Film Festival, the Berlin Film Festival, and Sundance.

I can't understand why everyone loved this movie.  Just showing people argue with each other and daring to set a film in a slum doesn't make for a "gritty film", in my opinion.  So the girls are poor, and there's a lot of cussing and fucking.  Big deal.  The characters were unlikeable and their motivations were random and unpredictable.  But I guess if you live in an area where nobody likes anyone, you don't expect the characters to like each other.  They just have to agree to stay together.  Although I'm not sure why anyone *does* stay together if you don't like each other and there's no financial incentive.  I guess it's just something you do.

I've already established that it's still a poly film if the movie ends with a breakup, as long as the *reason* is not that polyamory itself destroyed the relationship.  If a movie shows functional polyamory that's destroyed by outside pressures, or even by personality conflicts but not because there are multiple people, then even if the relationship ends, it's a poly movie.  So is it a poly film if the opposite happens?  Does it count as poly if there is no poly in the movie anywhere but it has a "happy" poly ending?  I guess so.

I'm grudgingly keeping this movie on the list because of the ending.  But I hated it.


~Reviews by Joreth - I watch the crap so you don't have to.
25th-Aug-2011 12:40 am - Poly Movie Review - Kiss Me Again
Purple Mobius, polyamory
http://movies.netflix.com/WiMovie/Kiss_Me_Again/70056690?trkid=496624 - Netflix
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0436460/ - IMDB
http://www.amazon.com/Kiss-Me-Again/dp/B002IZ0VEA/ref=sr_1_1?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1314247058&sr=1-1 - Amazon

Well that was a surprise.

I just watched Kiss Me Again.  The Netflix summary says "Helmed by William Tyler Smith, this cautionary tale stars Jeremy London and Katheryn Winnick as liberal spouses trying to add zest to their sex life via a ménage à trois. When self-seeking college professor Julian (London) persuades his wife, Chalice (Winnick), to let lovely coed Elena (Mirelly Taylor) share their bed, the physical coupling leads to emotional repercussions."

This sounds like I should hate it.  It even says right in the summary "this cautionary tale".  So I was expecting the usual "sexy hot bi babe turns out to be psycho and destroys their relationship", or even "frigid wife reluctantly agrees to threesome and leaves hubby for hot lesbo".  Surprisingly, neither happened.

Julian and Chalice are a young, attractive, married couple with a wild and crazy bisexual roommate, Malika.  We know she's wild and crazy because she's A) bisexual and B) has lots of tattoos.  Malika has a long-time girlfriend, and one night she brings home a strange and creepy guy for a threesome with her and her girlfriend while the married couple sleep on the couch after an exciting night of pizza, wine, and rental classic movies.  During the night, each half of the couple gets up and stumbles past Malika's room, where they glimpse the hot threesome and stay for a bit of a lookie-loo.

The next day, Malika teases Julian about watching them the night before, and lets it slip that Chalice watched too, and she watched for longer.  So that plants the seed for Julian to begin thinking of hot bi babes and hot threesomes - hey, if Malika's relationship with her girlfriend can withstand casual sex and orgies, maybe there's something to it!  So Julian gets up the nerve to propose a threesome to Chalice, using all the standard "it'll be good for us" tripe.  chalice immediately freaks out, offended, insulted, and condescending.  But then she talks it over with Malika, who implies that Chalice is just a sheltered, naive, little girl, which pricks Chalice's pride.  So she decides to have a threesome "for Julian", but really to prove to herself that she's not a sheltered, naive, little girl.

So they place a personals ad as a married couple looking for a hot bi FEMALE babe to experiment with.

Meanwhile, Julian is a young professor at a local university, where he is becoming known for stirring up trouble in his classes by *gasp* challenging his students to think.  One of his students, a woman named Elena, has a crush on him.  She invites him out for coffee, they flirt, and Julian discovers a growing interest in Elena.  One day, they meet in the park, they kiss, and then Julian backs away saying that it isn't right, he can't do this, and that's where things end.

Until Chalice agrees to a threesome.

Julian approaches Elena and asks her to pose as someone responding to their ad, pretending to have never met Julian before.  Julian rationalizes this by saying that if he wasn't married, he and Elena would probably be in a relationship right now anyway.  Elena wants Julian bad enough that she agrees.

So, the threesome is set up under somewhat false pretenses, everyone meets, everyone likes everyone else, everyone fucks.

It actually goes very smoothly.  Chalice wakes up in the morning without bad feelings, Julian is ecstatic, and Elena seems happy too.  But then things go downhill, as you knew they had to.


As usual, in order to explain WHY I think it's poly, I have to give spoilers, including the endingCollapse )


So, I think this deserves to be on a poly-ish movie list for a few reasons.  One is that I see a lot of similarities between how these characters got into their mess and how a lot of couples flail around the poly community.  Another is that the characters had an emotional connection to their hot bi babe.  It may have started out as "just sex", but it became more about feelings and relationships - and Julian and Elena had their own emotional connection to each other before the threesome ever got proposed and Chalice and Elena develop their own emotional connection to each other.  And another is that, although this was billed as "a cautionary tale", I believe that it was left open for interpretation, and my interpretation of the movie was that of a more honest and open future for our characters.

These movies are so difficult to explain why I think they're poly without giving away the ending.  If you choose not to read the spoilers because you want to watch the movie and be surprised, know that I do have some movies on my poly-ish movie list that do not end happily-poly-ever-after, but they are on the list because they show polyamory of a sort in a positive, or at least honest, light.  This was one of those movies that I flip-flopped on whether or not I thought it was poly.  But after watching the whole thing, I do believe that there are definitely some poly elements in this film, and it might be cautionary in the sense that things can go horribly wrong, but I did not get the sense that this movie was yet another anti-poly-moralizing tale.  You could argue that some of the things the characters did are classic examples of What Not To Do, but that the moral of the story did not appear to be "non-monogamy is doomed to fail no matter what and here, watch this train wreck to see why".

So, bottom line - I'm keeping this on the list of poly-ish movies and I enjoyed watching it.  But be prepared to yell at the characters when they do things that we all know are dumb.
24th-Aug-2011 12:18 am - Poly Movie Review - Sex Monster
Bad Computer!, anger
I just watched the most godawful movie ever.  Well, to be fair, this movie was not on a poly movie list, it was recommended to me by Netflix when I added a bunch of movies from some poly movie list.  And, historically, Netflix's suggestions based on poly movie additions are shit.  So I was expecting this to be bad.

This movie completely lived up to all my expectations.

Building contractor Marty Barnes has always wondered what it would be like to share a bed with two women and, to his delight, he persuades his reluctant wife, Laura, to try it. The experience fulfills Marty's wildest dream ... until Laura morphs into a walking sex machine who seduces every woman in sight -- including Marty's secretary.

So yeah, you all should be able to guess what happened.  And I'm pretty sure that whatever you're thinking right now is exactly what happened.  There were absolutely no surprises for me in this movie at all.  It went exactly where I thought it would go.

First, we have the asshole husband who begs and pleads and pushes his wife into trying lesbianism for his own benefit, using every bullshit stupid excuse I've ever heard ... "it'd be good for you", "you have the homecourt advantage, you'll like it because you're a woman so you already know what to do", "no, it's not for me, it's for us", "it'll bring us closer together", "I want you to feel free to express yourself", blah blah blah.  Bullshit.  

So, after pestering her forever, she finally starts thinking about it.  Laura comes up with the usual list of rules that movies written by men seem to think are important to women, including "not a stranger, but not any girl I know whom you like".  Eventually they settle on Laura's part-time co-worker at the hair salon, Didi, who is an out lesbian and who very clearly has the hots for Laura.  

They invite Didi over for dinner one night, and she puts the moves on Laura while Marty encourages them.  After a couple of freakouts and a ton of liquor, they end up in a threesome that involves Marty, panting and happy, dancing downstairs at the thought of just having had a threesome, while the two ladies continue to go at it upstairs, apparently oblivious to Marty's absence.

Now, we all know the fable of RBAMP and the Ballad Of The Unicorn Hunters, so we know how Didi's part in this story plays out.

Naturally, Laura has the best sex of her life and starts seducing every woman she meets, including Marty's secretary, his business partner's wife, his sister, and the wife of an investor that he's desparately hoping to convince to invest in his construction project.  Because all a woman has to do is have sex once with another woman to be turned into a sex-crazed, predatory maniac.  It will automatically be the best sex ever and any woman within range will fall under the influence of lesbianism.  It's an STD, you know - gayness is contagious, that's why the fundies are so afraid of it.

Here's what I hated about this movie:

1) Marty pushed his wife into doing something she didn't want to do, for his own selfish gain.

2) The entire fallout was blamed on Marty for having "broken the dam" and suggesting this in the first place

3) It's better to never experiment or explore, to lock up all your desires lest they carry you away like a runaway train into a dark tunnel filled with depravity and no self-control because once you start down that track, you won't be able to stop.  First it's lesbianism, then it's kinky bondage, then it's practicing surgery without a license (yes, seriously, he said that)

4) The assumption that lesbian sex is automatically better than hetero sex because of the "homecourt advantage"

5) The assumption that all it takes is good sex to turn someone into a complete nymphomaniac who can't control her own behaviour and has to have sex all the time with no discrimination

6) That this only happens to hot women

7) The blatant use and disposal of women for the married couple's personal pleasure

8) All women who are seduced by or interested in a hot wife will automatically be willing to have sex with the husband too

9) Marty immediately became suspicious of every woman in the world because he imagined Laura was going to seduce her

10) Marty was right and his paranoid accusations were justified

11) The implicit assumption that lesbian sex doesn't "count"

Yes, that was there too.  It was there when Marty condemned his business partner for cheating on his wife with another woman, telling him that he's going to hell and that god was watching, but when he came home from work early to find his wife in bed with his secretary, Laura wasn't going to hell.  Laura talked openly about her experimentation with women and Marty found it annoying, but not because he felt he was being "cheated on", but because he started to feel inadequate.  The double standard that a man having an affair with another woman was evil but a woman having an affair with every goddamn woman in town was just a nuisance pissed me off.

As a side note, the cheating partner pissed me off too.  He justified his cheating on his wife being "fat".  We get to meet his wife.  She's a size 9.  Maybe.  I'm betting that she started eating because she realized she was stuck with an ignorant, shallow, callous, fucktard and pizza and brownies offered her more satisfaction and comfort than her asshole husband.  He then had the nerve to tell Marty later, when Laura seduced his "fat" wife, that Marty was no better than him because, although he was cheating on his wife, Marty was too, but at least the asshole friend had the good sense to not do it in front of his wife.  Grrr.  Back to the story.

To top it off, Laura even admitted later that she was just "experimenting" and that she really only wanted Marty.  As far as I can tell, this was the one good thing to come out of it - not because she went back to being monogamous, but because she finally started to tell Marty what she needed to feel good in bed.  Laura gave up women, but started instructing Marty on how to please her.  This, of course, made Marty feel even worse about himself.

For those of you following me on Twitter, here is the part that was responsible for my tweet "OMG TEH STOOPID IT BURNZ!":

Marty is trying to entice Dave, a jerkoff from high school who is now a millionaire to invest in his construction project.  After Laura gives up women, Marty suggests that Laura "run her little rap" on Evie, Dave's wife, in order to get Evie to talk her husband into investing.  Marty stops shy of suggesting that Laura pimp herself out for the money, because by this point, he's begging Laura to stop fucking women.  But he does tell Laura to get friendly with her.

So Laura and Evie go out for lunch, where little miss Republican Trophy Wife comes on strong to Laura.  Laura freaks out and tries to avoid Evie, until Evie shows up at her house one day and instructs Laura to come upstairs and fuck her, and be quick about it since Evie has a cubscout meeting to attend.

Upstairs, Evie strips down to her teddy and garters and starts ordering Laura around.  She pulls out Marty's good ties and yells at Laura to shove Evie down on the bed hard, and then tie her up and gag her, which Laura reluctantly does.  Marty chooses that moment to walk in on them.

Leaving Evie tied and gagged, Laura runs after Marty so they can have a screaming match in the hallway where Marty accuses her of being a sex pervert and Laura yells back that it's all Marty's fault, that he "broke the dam" and that Marty is really the one who tied up Evie.  Laura never once says that it was Evie's idea that she get tied up, but that doesn't stop the narrow-minded Marty from being a prick who thinks all kinky sex is a mental disorder.

Then it gets even more stupid.  Dave, the rich husband, comes by the house looking for his wife.  Laura goes to the door to see who's there, then runs upstairs and whispers to Marty who it is.  In a panic, they decide to leave Evie tied up, pretend to act normal, and deny all knowledge of Evie's whereabouts.

OMG TEH STOOPID IT BURNZ

All they would have had to do is have Laura run back in the bedroom, tell Evie that her husband is there, untie her, let her get dressed, open the door, and explain to Dave that Laura and Evie, who are now friends, were just about to go shopping, and the whole thing would be over.  After all, Evie is just as invested in keeping this secret from Dave as the psycho couple is.

But no.

Marty opens the door, Dave asks where Evie is, and Marty says "how should I know where your wife is?"  Dave says "her car is in your driveway."  Marty has no answer for that and tries to distract him by getting him outside.  Suddenly, at that moment, Laura's first fling, Didi shows up.  Marty leaves Dave to Laura and tries to get rid of Didi.  So Dave asks Laura where Evie is, and Laura says she doesn't know, so Dave mentions that Evie's car is out front, and Laura's answer is "oh, well, I'm not a car person, so I don't know why it's here."

::headdesk::

Meanwhile, the only scene in the whole movie that I liked takes place outside.

Marty is trying to get rid of Didi, who seems hurt and confused as to why Laura is now avoiding her.  Marty decides to explain it in this way:


"Don't take this wrong, but my wife doesn't want to join your little club. ... Yeah, your little club.  See, she had a trial membership but now she doesn't want to renew.  This is not about you, no offense, nothing personal.  I gotta go."

::facepalm::

Do you people not understand how cruel this is?  Those particular unicorn-hunting married couples looking for the hot bi babe for their own enjoyment don't seem to understand that this is how that hot bi babe is being treated.  No, I don't care that you craft your breakup speeches with more tact.  She is being treated as the hired help, and when you're done with her services, or dissatisfied with her ability to properly spice up your marriage without actually affecting your lives outside the bedroom, you throw her away.  Sorry, no offense, nothing personal.

It IS personal.  She is a human being with feelings.  

Anyway, the reason why I liked that scene is because of Didi's answer:


"You know something?  All you guys, you think  you know so much about lesbians, you think you're so into lesbians but you're not.  You're into what you wish lesbians were, cock-hungry nymphos keeping themselves busy until the Real Man hits town, but that's not the reality.  The reality, Marty, is that you pushed and you pushed and you pushed, and now your wife eats pussy better than you do."

So, now, because I know you're all DYING to know how the movie ends, the spoilers:

Dave isn't buying any of Laura's bullshit about not being a car person and drinking too much espresso, and suddenly Evie, still tied up and gagged upstairs, starts screaming and banging the bed against the wall to get someone's attention.  Dave runs upstairs, discovers his wife tied and gagged, and immediately attacks Marty while his wife crumples now that her hidden secret lesbian life has been discovered.

Laura finally breaks up the fight by knocking Dave upside the head with a giant book and explains that Marty isn't the one into crazy kinky shit, that it was Laura who tied her up but it was Evie's idea.  So Dave naturally turns on Laura and calls her a wacked-out twat and leaves.  Meanwhile, Evie is STILL tied up upstairs.  Marty tells Laura to untie her, Laura refuses and tells Marty to do it, and they get into a shouting match in the front yard over whose job it is to untie the poor woman.

Marty loses, so he heads upstairs to untie her and takes the opportunity of having Evie's undivided attention to suggest that, since this encounter will probably result in divorce, that Evie should take half of Dave's money and invest in his construction project.

In the final scene, Marty comes to pick up Laura at work to take her to lunch, and we see that Laura has hired a replacement for Didi - a male hairdresser named Henry.  At lunch, Laura starts the exact same conversation with Marty that started this whole mess, suggesting that Henry may be bisexual and that some exploration on Marty's part would be "good for him".  Marty looks at her, dumbstruck, and finally asks if she's joking.  Laura says yes, she's joking.  Well, that she might be.  And that's where it ends.

I loved Didi's answer to the horrific but all too standard treatment of the hot bi babe, and I was pleasantly surprised to see the tables turned on the sexist, selfish asshole of a husband at the end.  But neither was worth watching the movie for.  Really, neither was worth reading this review for either, but at least you didn't have to waste 2 hours to hear the good parts from me.

So Sex Monster was not on a poly movie list, but it was recommended by Netflix as being "similar" to movies that are on a poly movie list.  Whether it's similar or not, this movie is not poly and it was not good.  



~Reviews by Joreth - I watch the crap so you don't have to.
22nd-Aug-2011 02:53 am - Poly Movie Review - The Story Of O
Nude Drawing, sex
I think the big problem I have with stories like the Sleeping Beauty saga and Story of O is because they never establish the main character's personal interest in BDSM.  In many of these stories, she's a timid, passive sort of girl, with an air of innocence that suggests that she knows nothing of sex or kink.  This means that she can't have chosen it for herself.  She goes along with the punishments because she is told to, by someone who has authority over her, or by someone she wishes to please, but not because she has fantasies of being spanked or some desire to give up control to someone else.  Stories like these seem to imply that all you have to do is introduce a woman to the submissive role, and she will automatically find the pleasure in the pain, or that the desire to please is inherent and makes the pain pleasurable.

Sometimes there are side characters who knew what they were getting into and went joyfully, and sometimes you even find side characters who are submissive men or sadistic women.  But the main character is just some girl who is told to submit, and she does so with no real motivation given other than she's "s'posed to".  Maybe she internalized the "love, honor, and obey" bullshit, or maybe she's afraid or overwhelmed at the newness and strangeness of the situation, or maybe she doesn't know how to exert her own wishes, or maybe she doesn't even know her own wishes because she doesn't know herself at all.  These stories lead me to believe that this was not her choice, but once there, she magically discovered a taste for submission and pain.

As someone who likes pain and resistance play naturally, I call bullshit.  Just once, I'd love to see a story of a girl who is inexperienced, maybe she had Abstinance Only education and is completely unaware of any sexual behaviour other than missionary position for procreation, an inexperienced girl who meets a worldly and charismatic man who wins her trust and awakens in her a sexual desire.  Gradually, he gets her to relax and experiment and, one day he convinces her to visit a BDSM club with him.  Only, instead of walking in and her lover ordering her on her knees to service the other patrons, she gazes in wide-eyed wonder and longing at the tall, statuesque woman in head-to-foot leather, impatiently tapping a riding crop against her thigh while her male subbie grovels at her feet.  When the lover introduces our protagonist to the local Florentine expert, she inquires not how the whips feel, but how he spins them.  Instead of blushing prettily and baring her breasts to be bound, she surprises herself by suggesting, in a halting voice, that the rope master try a particular weaving pattern that she learned at summer camp when they made little plastic bracelets and keychains, on a rather fetching older lady who is bouncing eagerly, awaiting her turn at the hands of the rope master.  And then the lover hands our budding young kinkster over to be trained, not as his slave, but as his master because it is HE who craves the whip and the rope and the desire to please.

Just once*, I'd like to see some girl be introduced to kink in a story and have her gravitate towards the top or Dominant positions, or even as a bottom but not a sub.  Just once, I'd like to see a girl in a submissive position in fiction negotiate her own boundaries with a top, to show that she wants the role she is about to be put in.  And just once, I'd LOVE to see a fucking dom actually care about what the subbie wants, and to take the time to discuss and negotiate with her or him what the subbie wants and how to create the scene for the subbie's benefit.  That'd be a nice change.  And it might help those poor subbies who get into kink with no experience but a few books read, to understand that THEY are the ones in charge and THEY are the ones who set the rules.  Being a sub does not mean being a doormat.

The Story Of O seems to be about as poly as The Ethical Slut.  Which is to say, not at all.  Both stories are only tangentially related to poly by way of having lots of sex partners.  I do wish people would stop recommending both as poly.  

Throughout this movie, the characters kept using the word "love".  I do not think it means what they think it means.  O is that innocent young girl who gets dropped off at a submissive training house by her boyfriend, Renee, with no explanation and no backstory and is immediately gang-raped.  She spends her time there being whipped and raped and ogled and talked about as though she had no hearing and no feelings.  After a while she falls in "love" with her master.  With no conversation, mind you, nothing that tells each other anything about each other - she only knows how hard he whips and how hard he fucks.

Then her time is up and she goes back to her boyfriend, whom she "loves", and it is the love for him that prompts her to "love" every man she is given to.  Eventually, we find out that Renee has a twisted, co-dependent relationship with his much older step-brother, Sir Steffan.  They share "everything", she is told, which implies that she is now to be given to Steffan.  She is to obey him exactly as she would obey Renee.  Although, the only real difference between this order and every other time she was given to someone, is that Steffan is to become her regular master, not a one-time gift to someone Renee deems worthy of bestowing O's charms on.

Over time, O falls in love with Steffan and, I believe, is the only time she actually loves anyone, in a sense that at least resembles the way that I use the word "love".  So, it would seem that her relationship with Renee and her growing love for Steffan make this a poly movie, right?

Well, except that her feelings for Renee dwindle at about the same rate that her feelings for Steffan grow.  After a while, she stops thinking of herself as belonging to both Renee and Steffan and thinks of herself as belonging only to Steffan.  She even tells him, at one point, that she never knew love before she met Steffan, which negates all that "love" she supposedly had for all the men she was given to, her training master, and even Renee.

Soon, O falls in lust with Jacqueline, a model that O photographs for magazines.  Steffan lays out the plan for O to seduce Jacqueline & get her into their kinky underground subculture.  Everything O does with Jacqueline is scripted by Steffan and done to make Steffan happy, even though it was O who first desired Jacqueline for herself.  Finally, O delivers Jacqueline into the tender care of the same training house that she was brought to, and O spends the evening gloating with Steffan over the success of their plan and how much Steffan loves O more than any woman, more than he thought was even possible to love a woman, followed by O puffing up with power over having conquered the man who conquered her.  To symbolize their mutual ownership of each other and no other, they bear brands of each other's initials.

Tell me, where is the poly in that?  Well, now that I think about it, ownership, couple-privilege, a primary pair-bond, confusing sex for love, and using a hot bi babe for their own selfish desires without concern for the emotional torment she goes through DOES sound like the unicorn hunters that plague the poly community.  So, I guess if I wanted to be snarky, I could call it a poly movie for that reason.

I wouldn't say this is a bad movie.  To be honest, the fantasy submissive story that doesn't take into account things like periods and moods or how unhygenic it is for everyone to sit bare-assed on leather couches, and that doesn't give us a clear personal motivation of the submissive isn't my cuppa tea.  So the movie could be a really good example of a fantasy submissive story and I wouldn't get it.  So don't decide to see or not see this movie based on my own total lack of enjoyment of it.  Just don't watch it as an example of polyamory.  It's not.  It's BDSM, it's erotica, it has plenty of female nudity, and it's non-monogamous.  But it's not poly.



*Exit To Eden is an exception to this.  The main characters *did* seek out the training houses on their own, the female character, after thorough training as a submissive, eventually became one of the most famous and cruel dominants, and the male was forced to give up his ego and bravado to accept the submissive side of himself that he kept denying. Whatever else you say about Exit To Eden (and there is plenty negative to say about it), the story did not fall into the stereotypes of the girls-are-all-subbies-men-are-all-masters or the girls-just-need-to-be-exposed-to-pain-to-awaken-natural-desire-for-it tripe.
18th-Aug-2011 10:34 pm - Poly Movie Review - Amelia
Purple Mobius, polyamory
http://movies.netflix.com/WiMovie/Amelia/70108780?trkid=2361637 - Netflix
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1129445/ - IMDB
http://www.amazon.com/Amelia-Hilary-Swank/dp/B0030E5NJ6/ref=sr_1_1?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1313557784&sr=1-1 - Amazon

First of all, I'm going to give spoilers. This movie is based on a real person and historically important events, so I don't really feel any need to protect people from spoilers. If you haven't heard what happens to Amelia Earheart by now, you're probably too young to be reading my journal or not aware of my journal in the first place.  We don't watch biopics to be surprised by the ending, we watch them to find out how this particular storyteller tells the story.

I remember a few years ago when Amelia's letter to her husband about the nature of their marriage made the rounds in the poly community. I really resonated with it because it was not so much a statement of polyamory, but a statement of independence and female empowerment. This movie used several of her letters, this one included, as actual lines in the movie. So, without really doing any independent research into her life, this movie seemed to ring true - at least as true as any Hollywood film can be.

So anyway, I started out watching this movie knowing ahead of time that she had an open marriage and that she is on everyone's poly-celebrities list. And, of course, I am also aware of the only way this movie can end, what with her rather legendary demise and all. So I tried really hard not to get my hopes up out of fear that they would be dashed on the rocks, only to constantly remind myself not to be so cynical at every scene where there wasn't a happy poly family on screen.

It actually took a while to get into the poly stuff, but, conversely, because we had to cover so many years in a 2-hour film, I felt like her relatonship with her husband was rushed. I didn't feel properly prepared for their first kiss - it seemed to come out of the blue to me. But when it came to part where he asked her to marry him, she wrote him her famous letter while he slept and then read it to him when he woke.

For those who have never read this letter, it goes like thisCollapse )

So I can completely see why she has been embraced by the poly community. She isn't just practical about future attractions to other people, but she's also feminist and independent. She is concerned that her marriage will interfere with her career and she wants to keep her own place for when she needs time for herself. And I think the sentiments in this letter were well portrayed in the movie, and not just because she said them as lines of dialog.

But then it took a while before anyone else came into the picture. So I started thinking that this wasn't so much a story about polyamory, but about Open Marriage in the original sense that the coiners of the phrase intended. Open Marriage, according to the book of the same name, was much less about extramarital affairs and much more about being authentic and honest within one's marriage - being open with each other to share their innermost thoughts and to be themselves without fear. They were very much for the concept of independence within a partnership, not losing one's identity to the couple. I'm not sure if that's where the term "interdependence" came from, but that's the general idea. So I thought to myself "well, ok, that's not exactly poly, but poly is a subset of Open Marriage, and many of those traits are integral to polyamory, so I guess this is poly-ish".

But then Amelia meets Gene. Gene was another flier who admired Amelia and ran in similar celebrity circles. In reality, the question of their relationship is controversial, but the movie takes a pretty clear stance that they became lovers while Amelia was married to George. So then I started to think, "OK, this is still an Open Marriage in the original sense, but now it just happens to include that single chapter on extramarital lovers." George notices immediately, in the movie, the attraction between Amelia and Gene, and he seems uncomfortable and resentful about it. But he gives her the freedom to pursue it. Rather reluctantly, it seems. But where things get complicated is that Gene and George have a very civil, friendly even, relationship with each other. Gene even stays at their house for a while, along with his child.

So then I started to think "oh, I guess this is poly - it appears to be a poly vee." But next we see an argument between Amelia and George when Amelia suggests, because of their respective touring schedules, that she remain at home, with Gene, while George go on his trip. George throws a fit at the idea that the two will be alone in his home without him. So that threw me back in the "open marriage, but not poly" camp cuz, IMO, it's not poly if someone is being dragged into it, appearances to the contrary.

But really, George and Gene get along pretty well, and continue to get along for as long as the movie says that relationship lasts. There is no secret, everyone knows what's going on, even the kid. At one point, Gene's son asks Amelia to marry his dad. Amelia says "you know I'm married to Mr. Putnam" and the kid says "why can't you be married to Mr. Putnam and my dad?" Amelia just smiles and closes the door. If that isn't poly, I don't know what is.

I think that George is put in a very difficult position. He lives at the turn of the last century when women were not equals and marriage had certain rules, and he has the blessing and the curse of being in love with a woman who thinks she's his equal. With a woman like Amelia, there is no compromise - you have a partnership with an equal or you have nothing. That's tough to handle in any era, but especially in previous eras. So I think, given the time involved, this movie really did show a version of polyamory, even if some of the characters had a difficult time accepting it. After all, who among us ever embraced all that goes along with polyamory without even the slightest bit of difficulty? Some maybe, but not many.

Later, we meet Amelia's navigator on her fateful final flight. They have a conversation where it appears as though he is mangling an attempt to hit on Amelia. The conversation goes something like this:

Fred: You and your old George, that's a touching love story.
Amelia: An honest one if I say so myself.
Fred: I wonder if it's honest enough for George.
Amelia: If you mean Gene, we're not together anymore, in that way, not for a long time. You don't think I love my husband?
Fred: Actually I do, in a certain way.
Amelia: But you disapprove of how I live.
Fred: Hell no, it's just like me. In fact it's like most guys I know.
Amelia: Meaning?
Fred: Guys love their wives, their girlfriends, doesn't mean they don't take advantage ... of an opportunity.
Amelia: If you have a point, make it.
Fred: I believe I have.

So this conversation clearly shows that, not only was her relationship with Gene common knowledge, but Amelia admits it without hesitation, and that the relationship was not a symptom of any problem with her marriage. Although Amelia was a very private person and tried to keep her personal life out of the limelight, she also appeared to believe strongly in honesty in her relationships, in the lack of possession between partners, and, in fact, in the partnership between partners, not ownership.

Whether Amelia herself really had a relationship with Gene or not, this movie portrayed a strong, independent woman who was a champion of equality and who loved her husband without posession and who expected the same in return. The relationships in the movie were not without their stresses, but they seemed to be open and honest and accepted by all involved. I don't recall any scenes in which Gene tried to "steal" her away from George, and George never once tried to change Amelia into a monogamous, traditional wife. He supported her in her career and in her freedom.

I'm sure the real Amelia was not the iconic vision of feminism that we see in the movie - at least, not all the time. I'm sure she had her issues, and I'm sure George wasn't the unconditionally loving husband he is portrayed, and if Amelia really did have any lovers, I'm sure they also had their flaws. But for a movie, set in a time period when women just didn't do that, shown to a modern audience that continues to disapprove of non-traditional relationships, I'm actually a little surprised at how flatteringly they told this story. And don't forget, this is ultimately the story of the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic, and the almost-successful first flight of anyone around the globe. That they spent any time at all on the romance speaks volumes, let alone telling it sympathetically.

I'd call this a poly movie, even though the plot is not really focused on the relationships but the two male leads are fundamental supports for her in her career. It's about daring adventurer and her passion for flight ... with a little love thrown in.
9th-Aug-2011 09:39 pm - Romantic Comedies
statement, Kitty Eyes, being wise
I've been posting a lot of movie reviews lately, and that's because I'm out of work, I'm not in the middle of a costuming project, and I have a sick cat so I can't go anywhere, which means I have plenty of time to watch all the movies in my Netflix streaming queue that I have to watch before September, when their prices nearly double and I have to cut back to delivery-only and get rid of my streaming account.  
 
Because I've been watching so many movies, I'm thinking about movies lately too, even when I'm not watching them.  The movies I'm about to discuss are not poly, but they weren't being reviewed as potential poly movies.  They're movies I've had in my library for a while, years in one case, but I'm thinking about movies and relationships, and so I thought of these.

Y'know what I hate?  I hate romantic comedies (yes, you could just put a period there, but I have a specific point to get to) where one person dates someone who's pretty OK, there are no obvious flaws or defects, or maybe there are some small ones but they're acceptable, but someone else has a crush on the "taken" character, and schemes and plots and connives to destroy the OK relationship so that the schemer can move in.

The reason why I hate those movies is because the schemer often wins in the end.  Sure, the plot usually blows up in his face, and the love interest storms off, declaring never to speak to him again.  But the plotting *did* manage to break up the OK relationship, so the love interest has all this time alone to realize how much the schemer really loves her, to have gone through all that trouble.  And besides, the schemer seems really sorry.  So the love interest decides to forgive and marry the asshole who counts deception and hurting his love interest as proper things to do when you love someone.

I HATE those movies.

So when I find moves that do not reward lying, cheating, scheming, and deliberately causing pain by breaking up an otherwise functioning relationship, I am shocked, and those movies make it to my library, looking incredibly out of place as chick-flicks nestled among science fiction, gratuitous action, horror, porn, and screwball comedies (yes, my movie collection looks like a guy's collection, but with probably less porn).  I am doubly shocked when the movie is made in another country that is known for being not exactly "hip" with the modern romance - i.e. preferring traditional gender roles, being anti-gay, and generally being outright opposed to progressive values.

So here are two movies that fall into the romantic comedy genre that manage to avoid the 2 main cliches that make that genre such a crappy genre - the rewarding of duplicitous behaviour and the love interest dates a bastard that our hero has to "rescue" her from:

My Best Friend's Wedding - I tried not to give away too many spoilers, but you can probably guess the ending from my description, so you might want to skip this.Collapse )


Dostana - again, I tried not to give away spoilers, but sometimes the only way to explain why I like a movie is to give part of the plot away.Collapse )
 
So there you go - two "chick-flicks" that I don't hate.  In fact, I actually quite like them both.  A lot.  They're still romantic comedies, so don't expect *too* much from them.  But sometimes, I just like a bit of fluff, and these movies don't make me feel bad that my relationships can't possibly live up to the fantasy because they're so unrealistic, nor do they make me weep for the future of society where people think secrets and lies are the way to get a partner, and that passion makes up for compatibility, and that love conquers all.  They're simple and goofy, but they're more realistic and honest than most others in this genre.  So I recommend them.
Purple Mobius, polyamory
http://movies.netflix.com/WiMovie/The_Wedding_Banquet/60011421?trkid=496624 - Netflix
http://www.amazon.com/The-Wedding-Banquet-Winston-Chao/dp/B0001V6ZK2/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1345441688&sr=8-1&keywords=the+wedding+banquet - Amazon
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0107156/ - IMDB
 
The DVD summary says "Successful New Yorker Wai Tung and his partner Simon are blissfully happy, except for one thing: Wai Tung's conservative Taiwanese parents are determined he find a nice girl to marry! To please them and get a tax break he arranges a sham marriage to Wei Wei, a sexy go-getter in need of a green card. But when his family swoops down for the extravaganza, Wai Tung would do well to remember that at a traditional Chinese wedding banquet, sexual repression takes the night off!"

I was actually prepared for this to be a crappy movie. I expected the summary to be like so many others - vaguely written so I could interpret it as suggestiong a potential poly story, get me hopeful, but ultimately to let me down with sex-negative values and a cautionary tale against bucking "tradition".

I am so happy to have been wrong.

One of the benefits of polyamory, in my opinion, is that polyamory is a fundamental change of mindset on what makes a "family". Regardless of what form any given poly group takes, or even what any individual thinks "counts" as polyamorous, the underlying requirement for polyamory is to be able to design your own relationship based on the needs and wants of the individuals involved.  And I think that's a valuable paradigm shift no matter what relationship structure any given family group ends up as.  With polyamory becoming a "movement", that is, a recognized word and concept demanding social acceptance, we are seeing more people designing their own relationships, whether they call it polyamory, or even whether it "counts" as polyamory, or not.

I think that families have always done this, but I think there has been more heartache and more lies to cover it up. The Wedding Banquet illustrates, not only the lies and heartache that goes into forcing a family group to look like it's "supposed" to rather than what it is, but also the changing climate of society where acceptance of alternative family structures makes for more happiness than adhering to "tradition" under the erroneous belief that "tradition" has always been so, therefore it's the best way ever did.

Wai-Tung Gao is a Chinese immigrant and American citizen living in New York with his boyfriend, Simon. They have a stable, happy relationship and have been together for 5 years. But Wai-Tung's family is very traditional Chinese. Mr. Gao was a commander in the army and has survived a stroke only by the thought of living long enough to see his first grandchild. Mrs. Gao signs Wai-Tung up, without his permission, for every matchmaking service she can find in an effort to get him married, to carry on the family name and honor his family. They are completely unaware that Wai-Tung is gay and that he lives with Simon.

Mr. Gao invested in an apartment building for Wai-Tung to own and manage, and in the loft of that ghetto building lives Wei-Wei, another Chinese immigrant who is a struggling artist. Because Wei-Wei can't hold down a job and her art is not generating any income, she lives in substandard living conditions by renting the loft, which is not zoned for habitation, at a very low price. The building is a dump, the air conditioning and the water are always broken, and she has to call Wai-Tung all the time to fix things.

Wai-Tung takes pity on Wei-Wei, and lets her slide on the rent sometimes, even though she makes him uncomfortable by flirting with him and expressing envy that Simon has such a handsome boyfriend. Eventually, she loses yet another job, and when Wai-Tung comes over with Simon to install a new air conditioner, she confesses that she will have to move back to China because she has no money and she can't find a "stupid American" to marry her for a green card.

Later, Simon suggests to Wai-Tung that marrying Wei-Wei would solve everyone's problems. Getting married would get Wai-Tung's family off of his back, and Wei-Wei would have a green card and a place to live so that she wouldn't have to go back to China. Wai-Tung is resistant, but Simon convinces him to try it.

So they move Wei-Wei into their basement bedroom until the immigration process is over, and Wai-Tung tells his family that he is getting married. Things seem to be running smoothly, until Wai-Tung's parents announce that they're coming to America for the wedding. Naturally, everyone freaks out, but Simon takes it upon himself to coach Wei-Wei about the things a wife should know about her future-husband, and Simon and Wei-Wei switch bedrooms.

The parents arrive, and Wai-Tung goes through the charade, looking very uncomfortable every step of the way, but Simon watches over him a bit bemusedly. Simon never once exhibits any sort of jealousy or resentment, even when praise for Simon's meal all goes to Wei-Wei because part of the scheme is to convince his parents that she is a worthy wife, including being a good cook.

Now, a gay couple who needs a woman as part of the household is a pretty good place to start changing the social climate about what constitutes a family. I don't know that I would necessarily call it "poly", if it's only the two men who have a romantic relationship, but two men and a woman who share a dwelling and raise children certainly qualifies as "family" in my book. Especially when all parties are there with the blessing and welcome of everyone else. We can quibble about the fine print of whether it's poly or not, but I don't think it really matters in the long run. If a family of that arrangement wants to call itself poly, I see no benefit in arguing the point.

The question comes in when this family is arranged for the purpose of hiding the true arrangement from other people, namely, the parents. Because of my opposition to the way marriage is handled in this country, I actually have no issues whatsoever with a couple marrying for the legal benefits that marriage offers, such as a green card. I know it's technically fraudulent, but since I have a problem with the whole foundation of a government tying legal benefits to emotional entanglements, I see no *moral* problem with this situation. So, that leaves us with the parents.

If it weren't for the parents, and the green card, the threesome would remain a twosome, and that's where the discussion of "is this poly?" comes in. That's what makes this situation more complicated than the hypothetical gay-couple-and-woman-form-a-family I posed above. This arrangement is being done for the benefit of people who are not part of the relationship.

So, for about 2/3 of the movie, I was composing in my head the review for this movie with this in mind, leaning towards "not poly" but still a good movie - especially for those interested in GLBT issues. But then I changed my mind. I've decided this is, at the very least, poly-ISH, but in order to explain it, I will have to give away some spoilers.

To find out exactly why I believe this is a poly-ish movie, read the spoilers and the ending of the movie. But if you want to watch the movie and let it unfold, don't read this.Collapse )

This movie touched me because I could relate to each of the characters, at different times in my life. I remember when I was too afraid to tell my parents about being poly. I know how stressful it is to not be acknowledged by my partner because he's afraid to tell his family about me. I also know, even though I disapprove of the lie, how to feel support and compassion for my partner and to aid him in the deception, for his sake. And, I know how it feels to have a crush on someone who doesn't return my feelings, and to be so poor and so out of options, that a business marriage seems like a perfectly reasonable solution.

This is yet another one of those fuzzy-border poly-ish situations. I enjoyed the movie, and I recommend watching it.
Purple Mobius, polyamory
What do you get when you take two people who don't like each other, who want totally different things out of a relationship, who are pigheaded and argumentative, and throw them together in a movie with odd music cues that stop abruptly whenever there is dialog, and random addressing of the audience?

It's a trick question because you already know that you get this movie.

What an odd, odd film. Maybe it was the era, or maybe it was the culture, but I totally didn't get this movie.

Made in 1961 in France, the summary says Striptease artist Angela is desperate to have a child, but her boyfriend, Emile, isn't as anxious. Although he cares for Angela and wants to keep their relationship going, he's not ready for that kind of responsibility. Instead, he suggests that she get together with his buddy Alfred -- a proposal Angela ultimately accepts, to Emile's shock and dismay.

It was the "shock and dismay" that gave me such low expectations of this movie. It's hard to be confused and feeling like I've just wasted 2 hours when I went into the movie expecting it to suck. But it managed to exceed my expectations quite spectacularly ... in the worst way.

We meet Angela strolling through France. She runs into a couple of different guys, at least one of whom professes his undying sexual attraction to her. The other, we learn later, is her live-in lover. She is running late. We finally see that she is on her way to a skeezy little dive of a strip club, where she's about to perform. And, by "perform", I mean "sing a song about how georgous she is while taking off her sailor dress that involves the music coming to an abrupt halt whenever she has to sing, but starting up again when the verse ends". And it's not just this song, the whole first 20 minutes of the movie are like this, with music that is not an internal part of the scene, but that the audience can hear stopping abruptly every time someone has a line. It was so jarring, it was as if the movie was made by a film student who was unable to mix music and vocals together so he just cut the track. Except that later, he does, so this must have been a deliberate choice.

So she does her little strip tease (if that's what passes for "art" in France, I'm afraid the country is deserving of all the cheap shots the English & Americans take at it), and then gets dressed backstage and goes home, where she putters around the kitchen as if to prepare dinner. But, the way it's done seems to be as if she had a secret life as a stripper and was coming home to a husband who didn't know anything about it. Her neighbor even made the roast they're having for dinner (her neighbor, the hooker, who owns the only phone in the building).

But it's not a secret life. I'm not sure what kind of life it is, but it's not secret. So now we learn that Angela wants a baby, and when her partner, Emile, comes home, they have the most non-sequitor conversation I've ever heard that eventually results in Angela requesting a baby *tonight* and Emile refusing.  I've heard more sensible conversations between Alice and various insects and flowers than what I heard in this movie.

So Emile instead offers to have his friend, Alfred, father Angela's baby, which is why this movie got put on a poly movie list in the first place. Angela doesn't believe he's serious, so she takes him up on the offer, but Emile's pride won't let him back down, so even though he doesn't want Alfred to father her baby, he yells out the window to Alfred and invites him upstairs anyway.

Alfred comes upstairs to an obviously upset Angela and Emile, and after some arguing, he is finally told why he was called upstairs. So he agrees, and he and Angela go into the bathroom, since there is no separate bedroom.

While in there, Emile rides his bicycle around the dining room table and glares at the door, while Angela and Alfred make halting and awkward conversation in the bathroom. Eventually Alfred leaves without getting any, and he and Emile go out for drinks & to pick up chicks while Angela sits at home and broods.

The two men find a couple of women who seem extremely pissed off to be there, and the guys drag the girls to the strip club where Angela works, only to find Angela already there and hitting on a guy who seems totally uninterested in her. As far as I can tell, Angela and Emile live across the street from the strip club, the bar, the TV store, the newspaper stand, the bookstore, the restaurant, and Alfred, judging by how often they run out to the various locations and how quickly they get from place to place.  Also, there's a couple who have been stapled together at the mouth and pinned to the wall outside Emile's and Angela's apartment building, presumably as a warning from a fascist government with overzealous police against public kissing.  At least, I assume that's what happened, since they don't move throughout the entire 2 days of the movie, not even to change clothing.

Anyway, Angela randomly gets up in the middle of one of the girl's "dances", shouts "you disgust me" and runs out of the skeezy strip club, while Emile sits at the table with his unwilling date, smokes, and glares at Angela exiting from across the room.

I thought the non-sequitor argument earlier was strange, but I didn't know strange! Next is Angela and Emile going back and forth between calling each other darling and bastard. The two climb into their tiny mattress on the floor to go to bed, each one having to say "no, we're not talking" last. Then Angela gets back up, turns on the light, carries it with her to the living room, grabs a book, brings it back to bed, and holds it up accusingly at Emile. She covers the title so that the only word visible is "monster".

So Emile grabs the lamp, drags it into the other room, selects a book, brings it back to bed, and writes on it "go to hell". Then they both jump up, grab an armful of books, and proceed to cover up titles and show books to each other calling each other names and basically telling each other to fuck off.

The next day, Angela is still begging for a baby and Emile is still insulting her. He goes off to work, and Alfred calls Angela and asks her to meet him at a bar. So she does, and she flirts, and Alfred tells her that he loves her, but she doesn't believe him. Then we spend 3 minutes watching Angela smoke and give puppy-dog eyes at a photo of Emile on a date with the woman from the night before, while the most horrendous song plays on the jukebox.  I know it's horrendous, because the director made a point of featuring this song with absolutely no dialogue to interrupt the lyrics, which included things like "you've let yourself go" and "I don't know what I ever saw in you" and "you disgust me" and "your curlers are ugly, you need to exercise".  

Eventually, Angela tries to leave, and tells Alfred to wait on the street outside of their building and watch the window blinds. If she lowers the blinds within 5 minutes, it means she's coming back down to sleep with Alfred, but if she leaves the blinds up, it means that they've made up and Angela is not coming back to Alfred.

He waits. And waits. And waits. Another strange thing about France is that it is apparently custom for men to approach a stranger on the street who is smoking, hold out their own cigarettes, and expect the stranger to light their cigarettes for them using his own cigarette.  Because that's what Alfred does for approximately 2,493 passerbys.  Or maybe it's just 6.  Either way, it was weird.

Angela and Emile have another one of their non-sequitor arguments on the stairs outside of their apartment where they call each other names, then kiss, then pout, then kiss, then name-call again. Eventually Alfred gives up, and Emile storms out. So Angela goes to Alfred's house with the intention of sleeping with him. Emile comes back home, finds Angela gone, and calls Alfred's house to find her.

He passes along a message to Angela that she understands to mean that Emile is leaving her. So she gets up, gets dressed, and leaves Alfred. Angela comes home, walks around the house, turning on her heel whenever Emile steps in her path, and eventually backs herself into a corner. She finally confesses to sleeping with Alfred, which pisses off Emile (remember, it was his suggestion in the first place). So now, angry at each other and just after Angela's confession, they get undressed and climb into bed together!

The lights go out, and then come back on, and the two go back to the bookshelves. Only this time, Angela holds up a book that says "Even if you don't still love me, I still love you". So Emile thinks about things for a while, then suggests that, if he hurries and fucks her, maybe the baby will be his instead of Alfred's. Angela agrees. They have sex, and when the lights come on again, Emile says "close call!" and laughs.

Angela asks why he's laughing, and he says "Because you are shameless". She replies "Am I not a woman? I am a woman". And that's the end.

What. The. Fuck.

Not poly. Yet another totally dysfunctional unhappy couple who dislike each other, whose pride backs them into a corner, and where infidelity and a baby fixes everything. Bizarre dialogue, strange audio cuts, random addressing the camera for no apparent reason, and even an odd cameo that has nothing at all to do with the plot (but is from another movie on the various other "poly movie" lists online). Maybe people who are into artistic indie and foreign films will get this movie. I didn't.

~Reviews by Joreth - I watch the crap so you don't have to.
4th-Aug-2011 04:51 am - Poly Movie Review - Shortbus
Purple Mobius, polyamory
http://movies.netflix.com/WiMovie/Shortbus/70053448?trkid=2361637 - Netflix
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0367027/ - IMDB Database

I'm just going to come right out and say it ... I didn't like this movie. I know, it's all groundbreaking with its use of real, actual, penetrative sex among the actors and it's gritty look at alternative sexuality. But I didn't like it. I didn't like the characters, I didn't like the situations, I just didn't like it.

Shortbus is a movie that takes us on a series of vignettes of random people with no other connection to each other except the Shortbus - an alternative club that features a drag queen host and just about every sexual desire you can imagine. We have the sex therapist who has never had an orgasm, the gay couple who want to add a third to their family (well, one half of the couple wants to add a third), the creepy voyeur across the street from the gay couple, and the depressed dominatrix.

Yeah, it belongs on a poly-ish movie list because the movie embraces all forms of relationships and sexualities, including consensual non-monogamy. I just thought it was a crappy movie that tried too hard to be avant-garde. The moral of the story seemed to be "sex with strangers fixes everything", and that bores and irritates me.

But just about everyone I know loved that movie, so don't avoid seeing it just because of my review. We might have different tastes in films, and I seem to be an outlier on this one.
4th-Aug-2011 04:29 am - Poly Movie Review - Trois
Purple Mobius, polyamory
Is it possible for someone with an American accent to say "menage a trois" and not sound pretentious? I have yet to hear it.

While adding Poly movies to my queue, Netflix recommends "similar" movies to watch. Most of the ones recommended on the basis of poly movies sound pretty awful, but if there's a chance it's a hidden poly movie, I add it to the queue too. Troi sounded like one of the awful ones, and I wasn't disappointed.

The summary says "Seeking to put excitement into his humdrum sex life, young Atlanta attorney Jermain Davis pressures his reluctant wife, Jasmine, to engage in a menage a trois with curvaceous bisexual stripper Jade Owens. But the choices made by each of them soon expose deep wounds and come back to haunt them in this steamy indie thriller.

Let me tell you just how bad this movie was. It was so bad, that the movie isn't even over yet and I've already started writing this review.

This was not a poly movie. This was a cautionary tale against non-monogamy and against kink. This was a third-rate Fatal Attraction. In addition to it being completely sex-negative, it was also poorly written.

The entire plot, including the ending - the movie isn't worth watching IMO so you could read this and skip the movie, or you could skip even the spoilers and save yourself entirelyCollapse )

Oh my god - this movie is part of a trilogy!  There are two more of these movies out there!  I will not be reviewing them for ya'll - I think it's safe to assume the rest of them are just more of the same.  I wonder if they thought it was clever making a movie called Trois into a trilogy?

So the moral of the story is, if a man says he wants a threesome to "expand and explore his marriage", he's lying - he really just wants permission to fuck another woman; if a woman likes having a threesome, she might be gay or freaky and that's bad; and "you can put yourself out there, but you never know what you're gonna get - people be crazy yo", so don't fuck up your marriage by having a threesome.

I think I ought to start signing my reviews "Movie Reviews by Joreth - I watch the crap so you don't have to".
Purple Mobius, polyamory
http://movies.netflix.com/WiMovie/Same_Time_Next_Year/60010851?trkid=2361637 - Netflix
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0078199/ - IMDB Database
http://www.amazon.com/Same-Time-Next-Ellen-Burstyn/dp/B0001CNRBG/ref=sr_1_1?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1312259667&sr=1-1 - Amazon
http://www.amazon.com/Same-Time-Next-Year/dp/B005EVW814/ref=sr_1_1?s=instant-video&ie=UTF8&qid=1312259701&sr=1-1 - Amazon Instant Video

I first saw this movie as a kid. It was playing on some B-movie channel like USA or Lifetime, and it had already started when I came upon it. I was flipping channels, and I stopped only because I noticed Alan Alda. Being a huge fan of the show M*A*S*H, I had to see what Hawkeye was up to.

I actually have very little memory of the movie itself. All I was left with was the basic premise, which is of a man and a woman who are both married, but not to each other, who meet each other every year at the same time, at the same place, for a weekend affair. The movie spans about 25 years, and the idea of lasting 25 years with the same person, other than their spouse, touched me, even as a child.

So, I had added it to the Poly Movie List based on my memory of a feeling, rather than actually remembering the plot. And I decided recently that I ought to watch the movie again, just to make sure it really deserved to be included on that list. And after watching it, y'know what? I'm not really sure.

We first meet George and Doris on the night that they meet each other. George is an accountant with a client in the area, and Doris is a housewife whose in-laws hate her, so she comes up to a nearby convent/retreat every year on this weekend to avoid them. The two find themselves drawn to each other in the bed & breakfast's restaurant and they spend the evening gazing into each other's eyes and talking deeply to each other. The next morning, they wake up to discover that they've had an affair.

Normally, cheating spouses is a pretty good guarantee of a movie getting itself banned from the Poly Movie List. But this one was a little different. George and Doris are not unhappy at home and looking to replace their respective spouses. They each love their respective spouses and have happy lives with them. It's just that they are so drawn to each other, but their affair does not change the love they have for their spouses, and they agonize over the duplicity throughout the entire movie.

Also, this movie is different from most cheating movies because it's not a one-time thing, or over a short span of time. Their affair lasts for the bulk of their adult lives. They grow old together, and their affair deepens to a true love of each other. Yes, it's true, they do not tell their spouses, and that deceitfulness is what makes me waver on whether or not to keep this movie on the list. But George and Doris not only love each other, but they grow to be fond of each other's families and spouses too, even though they have never met each other.

George and Doris play a game, where they each tell one story that paints their spouses in a negative light, and then another story that paints them in a positive light. These scenes are so touching, as they live vicariously through each other's stories and get to know each other's spouses from afar. We see them live through each other's pain and anguish, and we see them grow through each other's joys. We see George and Doris each take different life paths and learn how to grow back together.

Two small spoilers, but not the end of the movieCollapse )

So, I think the reason why I keep wanting to keep this movie on the list, is because this is what I imagine polyamorous relationships are like when the participants don't know that an option like polyamory exists. This is the story I believe that we could all have found ourselves in if we lived in a time and place where open relationships were just not allowed. This is what I think happens when we are not allowed to express ourselves and our love when love is bigger than our rules.

This is a movie about 4 people, even though we only ever meet 2 of them - about the love and desire that encompass them, through presidential terms, through wars, through changing fashions and political ideals, and over the course of a quarter of a century. So you may disagree with me about whether or not this is a poly movie, and I think some very valid points can be made on that side of the debate that I can't argue with. But I'm going to keep it on the list anyway.
1st-Aug-2011 11:06 pm - Poly Movie Review - Summer Lovers
Purple Mobius, polyamory
http://movies.netflix.com/WiMovie/Summer_Lovers/60025215?trkid=2361637 - Netflix
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0084737/ - IMDB Database
http://www.amazon.com/Summer-Lovers-82-Ws/dp/B0007XBKLI/ref=sr_1_9?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1312260421&sr=1-9 - Amazon

If you want to see a poly movie, I can think of no better example than Summer Lovers. This movie stars Daryl Hannah and takes place in the very early 1980s in the romantic and exotic setting of a beach-side villa in Greece. Cathy and her boyfriend Michael decide to spend the summer in Greece, lounging around, soaking up the sun, and seeing the sights. Until Michael sets his sights on Lina. Lina is a French archeologist working in Greece for the summer and renting a villa within sight of Cathy and Michael's villa. Michael runs into her one day and follows her to the beach, while Cathy is off exploring on her own. With what seems to be very little setup, Michael and Lina have sex.

Michael, feeling guilt-ridden, immediately confesses to Cathy, who, understandably, leaves him in a fit of anger and hurt. Michael seeks consolation in Lina's arms that night.

The next day, Michael and Cathy attempt to reconcile, but it's difficult. Cathy wants to understand why Michael would cheat on her and what he sees in Lina. So she seeks Lina out. Cathy arrives at Lina's villa, and they have a little chat. Cathy discoveres tha she actually likes Lina and invites her to dinner with the two of them, much to Michael's surprise and discomfort.

What follows is the tale of a couple, damaged by infidelity, opening their minds and their hearts to another woman. We see the growing pains as Cathy struggles with her feelings of betrayal that war with her interest and appreciation of Lina. We see Michael, caught between his long-time love and a new, intriguing woman. We see tug of war between Lina's desire and love for Michael and Cathy, and her independence and freedom.

This movie takes us on the whole ride, from a very common beginning that starts with an indescretion and leads to a family. We see the good times and the bad. This movie does not gloss over the bumps in the road as three people attempt to adjust to a non-traditional relationship, but it is also not a morality play against the evils of sex and non-traditional love. I think a lot of people can identify with this movie because I think a lot of people come to polyamory from very similar situations.

I think this is probably the best example of polyamory in film out there. It shows us the whole range of emotions and gives us characters we can relate to and situations that we can understand how the characters got there, probably because most of us have been there ourselves. No poly movie list would be complete without this film on it.
Purple Mobius, polyamory
http://movies.netflix.com/WiMovie/Y_Tu_Mama_Tambien/60023237?trkid=496624 - Netflix
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0245574/ - IMDB Database

I'm not sure which poly movie list this was on, but I don't think it was poly. It wasn't a bad movie, and it was definitely about multiple sex partners, but I don't think it was poly.

The summary at Netflix says "When rich teenagers Tenoch (Diego Luna) and Julio (Gael Garcia Bernal) meet the alluring, older Luisa (Maribel Verdu) at a wedding, they try to impress her with stories of a road trip to a secret beach, and ultimately convince her to come with them. What follows in director Alfonso Cuaron's Oscar-nominated film -- one of the most talked-about pics of 2002 -- is an escapade involving seduction, conflict and the harsh realities of poverty."

The two main characters, Julio and Tenoch, each have girlfriends that have gone to Europe for the summer. The teenagers meet Tenoch's cousin's wife, Luisa. They find out that she is interested in visiting a beach, so they make up a mythical perfect beach that no one knows about and invite her to come with them to find it, hoping to score with her but ultimately knowing that they never will.

Luisa visits a doctor, and later that night gets a drunken phone call from her husband, telling her that he cheated on her. So she calls up Tenoch and asks if the offer to visit the beach is still open. The three of them take off across the Mexican countryside to find a beach that doesn't exist.

Along the way, we discover that the boys have each slept with each other's girlfriends, and that Luisa seduces them both. Each revelation sets off a spark of jealous rage, culminating in Luisa jumping out of the car and attempting to ditch them both. She only returns after they agree to her long list of demands, including that neither boy fights, contradicts her, or even speaks without her permission.

Eventually, they find a beach and spend a couple of days frolicking in the water and getting drunk, which seems to repair everyone's friendship. Luisa seduces them both again, only this time at the same time and they have a threesome, including some guy-on-guy activity. But the boys wake up the next morning, appearing to regret it, or at least, regretting the copious amounts of tequila they drank the night before.

Luisa decides to stay at the beach with the new friends she's made among the locals, and the two boys go back home. There's still a little more to the story, but since I watched it for its poly content, and that is the end of the possible poly content, I'll stop there.

I didn't like the characters. The two boys are rich, spoiled, entitled, potheads who spend their entire time drugged out of their heads, drunk, and masturbating. When they're not actively masturbating, they're talking about women's body parts or insulting each others' body parts. They don't seem to have any other interests at all besides pot, beer, and tits. I'm not even sure how they got girlfriends in the first place, except I seem to remember being a teenager and not really having much in common with some boyfriends except that we liked to fuck.

They were jealous and hypocritical and boastful and deceitful and, well, teenage boys. Luisa seemed the most complex of the characters, but she just wasn't quite enough to carry the whole movie by herself. Her motivation for randomly accepting an invitation to spend a week driving around a foreign country with a couple of boys she didn't know, and to further seduce them both with no lead-up and no prior interest or attraction, makes sense in light of the glimpses we did get into her life. It's just that the scenes were too filled with the boys cussing at each other and generally being obnoxious teens, that I couldn't really like the movie.

I will say, though, that foreign films can do sex scenes better than American films. This movie opens with the two boys fucking their girlfriends, and although the dialog is terrible, the scenes feel realistic. Maybe it's the use of handheld cameras, or the lack of cheesy music and soft filters, or maybe it's the frantic teenage-boy fucking, but I thought the sex scenes, for all that they were softcore, were the best parts of the movie. Even awkward sex, done right, is better than smooth sex done wrong.

So, it was an interesting film. It was a sexual exploration movie. If you're into that, you might want to see this film. But it wasn't a poly movie. It wasn't about relationships or love. It was about sex. Which has its place, just not on a poly movie list.
Purple Mobius, polyamory
http://movies.netflix.com/WiMovie/My_Girlfriend_s_Boyfriend/70125551?trkid=496624 - Netflix
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1447793/ - Internet Movie Database

The description from Netflix reads "Jesse Young is a girl who has everything and maybe too much of it when she finds herself falling for two seemingly perfect guys: sexy but struggling writer Ethan and button-down advertising exec Troy. Can she find true love with two men at the same time, or is somebody going to get a broken heart?" The tagline reads "What would you do if you found your one true love... twice?"

This had more potential than almost any other possibly-poly movie I'd seen in a long time. The title and the line "Can she find true love with two men at the same time" made the cynical part of my brain pause in condemning it for yet another Hollywood choose-between-them romantic comedy plot. "This one," I thought "might actually be poly." I went into watching this movie with high hopes, but wary that those high hopes would lead me to a big fall.

My Girlfriend's Boyfriend stars Alyssa Milano, whom I've had a straight-girl-crush on for pretty much my entire life, so even with my usual misgivings about modern romantic comedies, I had to give it a try. Alyssa, as Jesse, is entirely convincing in her character and she put me back into my own history with similar situations. Jesse is a waitress who meets Ethan, a sexy-in-that-geeky-way writer who has been trying, unsuccessfully, to get published for years and whose latest meeting with a publisher has convinced him that he will never make it as a writer.

Jesse, we learn right away, is getting over some kind of relationship ending and is not yet ready to try again. But then she meets Ethan, and seems to decide that her uncle was right - it's time to take that leap and go for love. She gives Ethan her phone number. But as Ethan leaves Jesse's cafe, a tall, handsome, charismatic man walks in through the front door. It seems that, when Jesse decides to leap, she goes for a swan dive off Mt. Everest. Troy, our handsome advertising executive, gets Jesse's phone number too.

The two men couldn't be more different from each other, and yet, they're really not all that different. Ethan takes Jesse on those cheesy sorts of dates that end up being the most romantic dates ever because of how personal and intimate they are. Troy takes Jesse on those perfect sorts of dates that end up being the most romantic dates ever because of how flawless they are. Jesse is smart and funny and sarcastic (and beautiful) and it's easy for me to see why both men like her (as opposed to Cafe au Lait). As time progresses, we see her struggling with her growing feelings and her secret.

When monogamous people date, there is this unspoken, implicit rule that when you're "just dating", it's OK to go on dates with more than one person. It's even acceptable not to tell the people you're on dates with that you are going on dates with other people. The point is to maximimze your time to more efficiently select The One, and since he is The One, he doesn't need to know about all the applicants who didn't make the cut. So the fact that Jesse has a secret isn't surprising, and I can completely understand how she could get herself into this predicament. In the beginning, many people don't need, or want, to reveal everything - this relationship may not go anywhere, or it may go somewhere bad. Better to wait and see if this relationship is worth keeping before revealing something that makes you vulnerable.

The problem is that, oftentimes, we don't know that this relationship is worth revealing that secret until we've kept that secret past the point where we should have revealed it. By then, the longer the secret is kept, the harder it is to reveal it because you not only have to reveal something that might destroy your relationship, but you have to reveal that you've been keeping that secret this whole time, adding broken trust and a false foundation onto whatever horror your secret is. It's a terrible predicament to be in. At first, the relationship isn't worth revealing your secret. Then, when the relationship is worth it, it becomes too important to risk losing by revealing the secret. Rock, meet Hard Place.

This is going to be really difficult because I don't know how to end this review without giving away spoilers. So I'm going to say something here that needs tobe said and is going to sound like a spoiler ... but it really won't be.

This is not a poly movie.

But this movie sucked me in, made me cry, made me root for the characters, put me back inside the headspace of a person I no longer am and could no longer remember, and I was completely surprised.

This is not a poly movie, but it's also not your typical romantic comedy. There is no "girl meets wrong guy that we know is the wrong guy because she sleeps with him too soon while Mr. Right pines away for her and eventually wins her away from the obvious bastard that she has chosen instead" plot. This movie doesn't make the same tired old plot turns, it takes totally different plot turns. As cynical as I can be, I feel as though I should have seen some of these things coming, because, now that I know the ending, I can see how it was set up. But either the writing or the acting (or both) was so touching and so real to me, that I didn't see it coming until the reveal.

One of the criticisms I read about this movie was that the two concurrent plots of Jesse and her two men were boring by themselves, without the tension of the Big Secret. Personally, I thought that was the movie's strength. Too often, especially in romantic comedies, we have to introduce some crazy conflict - usually a conflict that would solve the whole problem if the characters just talked to each other. And every time I yell at the screen "this whole thing could be solved if you just do X and all this pain and suffering you're feeling would be over!", someone else reminds me that we wouldn't have the movie if they did the reasonable, rational thing, so shut up and watch the movie.

And I HATE that! Reporters and TV producers regularly approach me for their shows only to reject me when they find out that I don't feel jealous in my relationships, we don't argue all that much, and when we do, it's usually solved with a long discussion or two and not so much with the fighting in public or screaming and name-calling, and that I don't hate my metamours. For some reason, people feel the need to include massive amounts of drama in their entertainment (and their lives). Now, there are certainly stories that I enjoy that include huge conflicts - like lovers being separated by war, or epic battles of good vs. evil, or, even better, epic battles of fundamentally flawed people vs. other fundamentally flawed people.

But a relationship that doesn't have lying, lack of communication, fights, breakups and reconciliations, and all the rest of the contrived bullshit that writers put into them can still be an interesting story.Yes, it's true, without the tension of the "secret", if we watched each of Jesse's relationships individually as its own movie instead of together, there isn't a whole lot of conflict. Jesse seems pretty happy with each of her men, and each man seems pretty happy with her. And I LIKED that.

I absolutely loved the fact that there wasn't a clear loser. I loved that she didn't choose "the wrong one". I loved that one guy wasn't an asshole and the other was perfect. I loved that we didn't have to make one guy a villain or to kill one of them off in order to justify her choosing the other one. I loved that because it felt more real to me. It made much more sense to me why she was with each man. I am too often disgusted with romantic comedies because I can't understand why the characters are together, since they don't seem to really like each other. In this movie, although I actually liked Ethan better as a match for *me*, I could totally see why Jesse would have been in each relationship. It felt REAL.

Had I written this movie, it would not have gone in the direction it did go. But, given the direction it went in, I have to say that it ended exactly as it should have. How she ended up with who she ended up with has been written before, although rarely, so it was a bit of a twist in that regard. I usually feel, in stories that take this path, that the writer wrote himself into a corner and had to use a cheesy plot device to write himself out. I didn't feel that way this time. It is a difficult path that the writer chose for his story, and one, as I said, I would not have taken if I were writing it. But, for once, I didn't hate that the writer took this direction.

In addition, the movie threw a bit of a curveball at the end that I've seen happen in a couple of other stories, and it happens to be a curveball that I have a particularly strong feeling about - it being a personal issue of mine. But this curveball is so rarely well-handled, and in real life it's handled even less well, that to see the character give exactly the response I so hoped for made the movie for me.

The other criticism I read was that the surprise plot twist was too easy to figure out. As I said above, after having watched the movie, I can now see all the places where it was set up, and I feel as though I should have seen it coming. I won't say what those clues are because I don't want to give it away if you haven't seen it (and even if you can guess the ending before it ends, the movie is still better not knowing it ahead of time), but I did notice at the time when a couple of clues presented themselves that something funny was going on and, in hindsight, it's completely obvious.

But, the point is that, sure, the plot twist and the Big Secret could have been figured out. There is a very fine line between too easy to figure out and unable to figure out because the setup went so out of its way to trick us that it ended up being implausible, and where that line is for any individual may vary, so I don't think any movie could possibly get it perfectly right. What I think a movie has to do is make it *possible* to figure out so that it's plausible and realistic, but so engaging that the audience is too busy feeling the story to sit back and analyze it to find the clues. And I think that's exacty what this movie did.

So, it's not a poly movie. It was a romantic comedy. And I recommend it anyway.
Purple Mobius, polyamory
http://movies.netflix.com/WiMovie/Butch_Cassidy_and_the_Sundance_Kid/26308213?trkid=2361637 - Netflix
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0064115/ - IMDB
http://www.amazon.com/Butch-Cassidy-Sundance-Two-Disc-Collectors/dp/B000EXDS5M/ref=sr_1_1?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1310417985&sr=1-1 - Amazon

This is a difficult movie for me to categorize. First of all, it's a western all about Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. But it's not a typical Western either. Not being very familiar with the actual history (or legends) about them, I couldn't tell you how historically "accurate" the movie is, but it was an enjoyable movie in this regard. The characters are gruff old Western bank robbers. They're bad guys but they're likeable bad guys. The difficulty I have is the poly content.  Now, keep in mind that this movie is first and foremost, a western.  The poly storyline is not the main focus of the story, although it takes place for more or less half the movie, so if you watch it, go into it with that perspective. 

First, we see Butch and Sundance hanging out at a brothel, and there was no jealousy or weirdness about sharing women. So I thought "a movie about not getting jealous over hookers is NOT about polyamory". But that wasn't where the poly story was. Next, we discover that Sundance has actually hooked up with a schoolmarm in his version of a long-term relationship. He shows up when he shows up, but they obviously have real feelings for each other and it's not just a sexual release. Sundance admires and likes Etta as a person, and Etta clearly is strongly attached to Sundance.

The poly part comes because of her feelings for Butch. But that's also where the question comes in.

In the second main scene with Etta, after she has spent a night with Sundance, Butch comes riding up on a new bicycle and tempts her outside for a romantic and touching bike ride. At the end, she asks him if Butch ever thought that maybe, if Etta hadn't met Sundance first, if Etta and Butch would be the ones to be in a relationship. Butch flippantly replies that they ARE in a relationship. Etta looks at him questioningly, and he says something like "in some countries, riding on my bicycle is the same as being engaged."

So clearly, there are also very strong romantic feelings between Etta and Butch. But Etta does not consider it to be a "relationship" and they do not have a sexual relationship at all.

Just after this conversation, Sundance wakes up and comes outside, demanding to know what's going on. Butch says "I'm stealing your woman." Sundance says "take her!" and stumbles back to bed.

So this is one of those relationships that lives on the very fuzzy borders of the definition of polyamory. On the one hand, Etta establishes that her relationship with Sundance is a clear-cut case of a romantic relationship, between their feelings for each other and their sexual activity. She appears to have similar feelings for Butch, but she does not acknowledge a romantic relationship with him, possibly because of the lack of sexual activity.

But as I said in my review of Carrington, many polys acknowledge the existence of NSSO or Non Sexual Significant Other relationships. The three of them take off together across the country and into South America where they live as a more or less happy threesome, just without any sex between Etta and Butch. Is it poly if Butch always sleeps alone but is part of the same household?

Since I have titled my list "Poly-ISH Movies", I think I'll include this movie on the list, but I have mixed feelings about it. I think it differs from Carrington in that the non-sexual partners in Carrington acknowledged a family and even a romantic bond with each other, but that bond is not acknowledged by all in this movie. I think that's what makes the difference to me, so I don't know that I would classify this as a poly movie. But it has so many other elements of a poly family, that I don't think I can really criticize someone who disagrees with me and thinks that it IS a poly movie.

So, in a rare move for me, I think I'll add it to the list so that people can see it, but I'm going to leave it up to you all to decide for yourselves if this is a poly movie or not without me giving a declaritive statement about whether it is or is not a poly movie. I do, however, think it's a terrific example of how messy relationships are and why, although we can have clear-cut definitions that say X definitely IS but Z definitely ISN'T, when it comes to taxonomy, either in biology or sociology, X and Z may be clear, but Y might be something in between. And that's OK.
28th-Dec-2010 09:27 pm - Poly Movie Review - Whatever Works
Purple Mobius, polyamory
http://dvd.netflix.com/Movie/Whatever-Works/70114945?strkid=353249791_0_0&strackid=5527d0d14ebd642d_0_srl&trkid=222336 - Netflix
http://www.amazon.com/Whatever-Works-Larry-David/dp/B002LMV7RA/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1345443817&sr=8-2&keywords=whatever+works - Amazon
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1178663/ - IMDB

Whatever Works by Woody Allen, was recommended to me by corpsefairy .  I'm not a Woody Allen fan.  I get awfully tired of his neurotic-old-man-gets-hot-younger-woman schtick that seems to be the only kind of relationship he is capable of writing about.  But corpsefairy  told me this movie has a functional poly relationship as sub-characters and that I should watch it.

So I did.

I was pleasantly surprised.  The main character IS a neurotic old man who gets a hot younger woman, but I liked it anyway.  Boris is a cranky, atheist, nihilist, genius, egomaniac, and other than the nihilism part getting tiresome rather early, I actually kinda liked his character.  He bitched about religion and stupid people, which I can TOTALLY get behind.  His constant dismissive and condescending attitude towards others, assuming that everyone is dumber than him, got annoying, but otherwise, I found I had a lot in common with the old crank.

The Plot With SpoilersCollapse )

So I liked the movie because the protagonist was a cranky, atheist, son of a bitch, and the poly triad had no drama or issues whatsoever.  Marietta discovered much more of herself through her relationship with her two male partners, which is exactly what happens in poly relationships (if you do them "right") and is one of the greatest benefits to poly relationships.  The relationship worked and the movie ended with the triad still functioning and happy.  And throwing in that bit about the homophobic, gun-toting Republican coming out as gay was just a fabulous cherry on top.

I recommend the movie for a bit of light viewing, and it definitely deserves to be on the poly list, even though the poly family is not the main plot focus.

For more movie reviews, click on the "reviews (movies)" tag below.  For a list of poly movies, visit www.theinnbetween.net/polymovies.html
Purple Mobius, polyamory
I had such high hopes for this movie!  It's based on the true story of renowned feminist writer Vita Sackville-West, during the early part of the 20th century.  It follows her through her marriage to diplomat and writer Harold Nicolson, and her affair with her childhood friend, novelist Violet Keppel.  Vita and her husband Harold had several same-sex affairs each during their life-long marriage, including a relationship between Vita and famous author Virginia Woolf.  So I was expecting this movie to rank up there with Carrington, which I also reviewed and loved.

But this movie did not have the same feel.

Spoiler Alert!Collapse )

This movie should have been a classic poly story.  Even the biography sounded more poly than the movie ended up being.  It's not the ending of various relationships that make this story not-poly, it's the screaming, jealous, drama that made it not poly.  The movie portrayed the women as jealous, spiteful, deceitful, selfish women who completely screwed over their husbands.  Even the gay husband with his same-sex lovers and STD was a more sympathetic character, and his willingness to overlook his wife's lesbian relationships as long as it didn't destroy their family should have set this up perfectly for a poly arrangement.  And knowing that, in real life, the main character did, in fact, continue to have relationships outside of her marriage (as did her husband), this movie could have portrayed all of this in a much more poly light, like the way Carrington did.

But it didn't.  I really wish I could put this movie on the poly list, because even with the drama in Carrington, it was still clearly about people who understood the concept of multiple loving relationships.  But this one was not.  It only showed this one multiple-person relationship and the "multiple" part is what destroyed it.  Knowing that Vita, in real life, continued to have outside relationships leads me to believe that her life was more poly than this movie portrayed it, like Carrington.  Which then leads me to suspect that the script-writer disapproved of open relationships (or at least of women having same-sex affairs) and wrote that tone into the story.  I'm highly disappointed.

For more movie reviews, click on the "reviews (movies)" tag below.  For a list of poly movies, visit www.theinnbetween.net/polymovies.html
Purple Mobius, polyamory
http://dvd.netflix.com/Movie/Futurama-The-Beast-with-a-Billion-Backs/70096914?strkid=1819645113_0_0&strackid=64c6ad47f2d6da58_0_srl&trkid=222336 - Netflix
http://www.amazon.com/Futurama-The-Beast-Billion-Backs/dp/B00158K0V0/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1345444174&sr=8-1&keywords=futurama+beast+with+a+billion+backs - Amazon
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1054485/ - IMDB

On the recommendation of zensidhe , I watched Futurama: The Beast With A Billion Backs (available streaming on Netflix).  It's a poly story.  Seriously.  No, I mean it, it is!

I enjoy Futurama, but I wouldn't call myself a "fan".  I find it mildly amusing and don't object to it being on, but I like Simpsons and Southpark better.  Futurama goes higher on the preferred watch list than most other adult-oriented animations though.  So I found this movie to be about on par with my overall impression of Futurama - mildly amusing.  But, personal preferences aside, it did, indeed, have a strong poly content.

Spoiler AlertCollapse )

I enjoy sarcasm and irony, and I, in particular, enjoy media that uses irony and sarcasm to make political and social commentary.  So if you enjoy Matt Groening's animation and humor style, I recommend this movie.  If you don't, I still recommend that it go on a list of poly-ish movies.



*The Monogamous Mindset is a particular mindset found within monogamous societies that seek to justify and protect the institution of monogamy in direct opposition to contrary evidence and with many faulty assumptions as premises.  It does not imply every single person who engages in monogamous relationships - that is why it is in capital letters and why I didn't just say "monogamy" or "monogamous people".  One can be monogamous without having the Monogamous Mindset, and one can attempt to engage in non-monogamous relationships while still maintaining the Monogamous Mindset.  In other words, if you're monogamous and don't do this, then I'm not talking about you.
26th-May-2010 06:42 pm - She Blinded Me With Science!
woo, stupidity, rants, Dobert Demons of Stupidity, religion
Much like the poly community, the pro-science and skeptical communities are suspiciously lacking representation in culture and art.  Obviously, this doesn't mean there is NO art or culture with a science base, it means that, in the general population, entertainment and art seem to favor mysticism, supernaturalism, ignorance, and fear.  

Now, like most skeptics I know, I can enjoy a wide range of entertainment and art, even that with a supernatural bent, providing it's at least internally consistent.  I mean, in a universe where thinking really hard really does make lightning shoot out of your fingertips, I'd probably be inclined to believe in mysterious forces too - after all, there would be evidence for them.  

But what bothers me is the sheer preponderance of movies and books and other forms of art and entertainment whose moral is to punish for curiosity and scientific advancement.  Even with our predilection for trying to kill ourselves with ever more advanced technology, we have ALSO managed to increase the quality of life for every human on this planet when not blocked by conservative, superstitious, fearmongering dictators.  In spite of our ever-increasingly devastating methods for death, our wars have gotten progressively less bloody, & with a lower body count.  The higher and messier death tolls remain with older methods of war.  Of course, war, by its nature, is bloody and deadly, so please, let's not get off on a tangent debating war - I'm not saying I'm in favor of it, regardless of how advanced the battle technology is.  The point is that technology, in addition to being used for evil, has, by and large, been used for good and every time something new is discovered & the troglodytes cry out "it's the end of the world, you'll destroy us all", it hasn't been and we haven't, even when we could have.

So, I bring you two things.  The first is a new Pro-Science & Pro-Skeptic Movie list.  I'm creating a Movie List on Netflix - movies that I have personally watched, or can take on very good authority, that show things like: the hero using science or skepticism to solve the day; the bad guy being a proponent of mysticism, woo, pseudo-science, magic, or religion; the bad guy NOT being a Mad Scientist who will destroy the world because of his tinkering; a message of enthusiasm for responsible science; etc.  I will include TV shows, but for the sake of brevity, since Netflix lists each season individually, I'll just list the first season & let ya'll figure out that the entire show is probably more of the same.  I like using Netflix lists, in spite of requiring you to have an account to view it, because people can immediately put suggested movies in their queue, rather than going out to find it on Amazon or Blockbuster and purchasing something they don't know if they will enjoy.

I suppose, like my Poly-ish Movie List, I will include documentary or non-fiction - for those exceptionally entertaining examples like Carl Sagan's Cosmos and Mythbusters, but I'd like to focus on fiction.  There are entire networks devoted to nonfiction, pro-science stuff, and tons of educational materials, and that would completely overwhelm the list if I included all examples of non-fiction.  So let's focus on *entertainment* and *art* that happens to be pro-science or pro-skepticism or uses science/skepticism as the vehicle for the story.  There are some good ones out there.  This is intended to be a growing, dynamic, list, so keep checking back.  I welcome suggestions!

The second thing is a comic strip that illustrates and supports my point.  What would sci-fi movies look like if cavemen made movies using our sci-fi plots?  We, as a society, are constantly yelling about the threat that science is to us, our culture, and our planet, and we make movies that exaggerate this perceived threat, which only adds to the fear the public has about science.  Yet, every time we go back and watch a sci-fi movie from a past era, those of us in the "future" laugh at the totally wacky fears portrayed in the movie.  Of COURSE it wouldn't happen like that!  With our 20/20-hindsight vision, we can see how ridiculous that fear is!  But then we go right back to accusing today's scientists of "playing god" and "messing with nature" and "things we can't possibly understand".

http://dresdencodak.com/2009/09/22/caveman-science-fiction/



And, because it ALWAYS happens, yes, I KNOW that sometimes science screws up. Sometimes we create medicines that do more harm than good. We create weapons of mass destruction. We fuck up the environment & lose species to extinction. That's not the point. I, and all proponents of science, are not now saying, nor have we ever (to the best of my knowledge) said, that science is a utopia of technology, always done for the betterment of mankind, etc. I am saying that more good than harm has come from science - that the good that has come out far exceeds the harm that has happened, and the fears that science will be the destruction of all have been unfounded every time they've come up so far.

Out of all the tragedies that science has actually contributed to, it was science that managed whatever corrections were developed in response. Wars kill people, but medical technology advances at a faster rate during war & are built upon after the war ends. Environmental disasters happen, but technology is what is ultimately used to clean up the mistake and prevent it from happening again. People live longer, eat more, are overall healthier, and with more leisure time, can afford to help people not of their own tribes (who are often prevented from enjoying the same luxuries as health and longer life span by superstitious leaders) and choose more conscientious environmental endeavors. These things would not be possible without scientific advancement, and refraining from scientific advancement has never prevented death and destruction and, in many cases, encourages it.



**UPDATE**

Stupid LJ and their stupid no-javascript rules! I am unable to post any rss feeds anywhere in LJ, after searching for a way all day. I did, however, finally manage to build an rss feed reader onto my website that I am happy with. So, here is a list of Skeptic Movies and here is a list of Poly-ish Movies, both of which are pulling content directly from the Netflix lists and will self-update so I don't have to maintain multiple lists.
22nd-May-2010 04:26 am - Poly Movie Review - Paint Your Wagon
frustration, ::headdesk::
http://dvd.netflix.com/Movie/Paint-Your-Wagon/60010761?strkid=1647494411_0_0&strackid=98165507dc4c2be_0_srl&trkid=222336 - Netflix
http://www.amazon.com/Paint-Your-Wagon-Lee-Marvin/dp/B00003CXBX/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1345444477&sr=8-3&keywords=paint+your+wagon - Amazon
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0064782/ - IMDB

It's so much worse when they manage to get you to like a movie before they turn it to shit.

I watched "Paint Your Wagon", a cheesy movie made in the 1960s based on a musical written in the 1940s based on life in California in the 1840s.

I fully expected this movie to suck - after all, it's a musical staring Clint Eastwood, and it got terrible reviews even from people who like musicals. It was incredibly cheesy, even for a musical, but it managed to suck me into the story and make me care about the characters. It was surprisingly deep and progressive in places.

Ben Rumsfield is a drunken goldminer who loves living miles outside of civilization. He hates everything that civilization stands for - rules, regulation, order. His first song is all about how, when a territory becomes a state, the first thing you know, the government comes in and takes away your freedoms (I have to admit to a bit of solidarity here).

On his way to try out a new mountain in California, he witnesses a couple of brothers in a wagon from a large wagon trai, go over a cliff edge, and one of the brothers dies. Ben runs down the mountain to discover that one is still alive. During the funeral, the men helping to dig the grave discover gold dust, which Ben promptly claims with the other brother as his partner, to make up for the first one dying. Here, we officially meet Pardner (Clint Eastwood).

Eventually, a crappy little miner town springs up with a shanty General Store, Barber Shop, the usual. There are 400 men in the town and no women. Until one day, a man drives up in a carriage with 2 women and a baby. We learn that he is a Mormon and the women are his wives, but not too happy about the situation. The miners offer to buy one of his wives, since it's not fair for him to hoarde what is so scarce, and Elizabeth goads her husband into agreeing to sell her, with the assistance of her jealous and catty sister-wife.

So she goes up for auction and Ben awakens from a drunken stupor just long enough to double the highest bidder and win himself a wife. Since they are in a territory and not part of any government, the only legal recourse they have is miner law. So Elizabeth is made a "claim" and purchased by Ben. On their wedding night, she says that even though she is bought and paid for, she'll strike an agreement with Ben. She'll make a good wife and care for him, but in return, he is to build her a log cabin with a stone fireplace and a door she can bolt if she wants to, and he is to treat her with the respect of a wife, not of a paid woman. He agrees.

Eventually, Ben builds Elizabeth a house & Pardner lives on the property in his tent and they continue to mine for gold. But Ben, being the owner of the only woman for hundreds of miles, finds himself turning into a jealous lunatic, terrorizing the other miners with wild accusations & attempts to kill them for the slightest (or imagined) infractions. Well, someone gets word that 6 French prostitutes are arriving in a boom town about a hundred miles away, and Ben and Pardner manage to convince the entire town that they ought to kidnap the prostitutes, and bring them to their town to solve Ben's jealousy issues.

I have to say, even taking into account the era in which the story was written in, and the era in which the story is supposed to take place, the blatant sexism in this story was hard to swallow. I had to keep reminding myself that women really *were* property back then, and that all one could hope for was to find herself an owner ... uh, I mean husband, whom she didn't hate too much. And that prostitutes really *were* (and still are) considered not to have any say in their own bodies, having put them up for rent, they were considered communal property, lower on the food chain than even other women.

To find out what happens and read spoilers, click here!Collapse )

Conclusion: going with my new yardstick for measuring if a movie is poly or not (courtesy of emanix ), I've decided this should be included on the list of Poly-ish Movies.

Is It Poly Or Not When Polyamory Doesn't "Win"?

  • If a movie's moral is that polyamory or non-monogamy is doomed & monogamy is the better/only/ethical/moral choice, then it is not a poly movie

  • If a movie's moral is that prejudice or social pressure to conform destroys lives even when polyamory is otherwise working, then it is a poly movie

19th-May-2010 11:10 pm - Poly Movie Review - Micki & Maude
Purple Mobius, polyamory
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0087718/ - IMDB
http://www.amazon.com/Micki-Maude-Dudley-Moore/dp/B0000CBL7X/ref=sr_1_2?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1345444625&sr=1-2&keywords=micki+%26+maude - Amazon
http://dvd.netflix.com/Movie/Micki-Maude/60031788?strkid=967974446_0_0&strackid=34603ca7394c9d79_0_srl&trkid=222336 - Netflix

Micki & Maude is a bedroom farce-style romantic comedy that I was expecting to disappoint me. I'll be honest, I'm not really a big Dudley Moore fan and the idea of a poly movie put out in the last 30 years in America, rather than a movie about being torn between 1 suitable lover and 1 unsuitable lover making it appropriate to dump one of them and live monogamously, seemed far fetched.  But this movie had two major redeeming features that lead me to include it on a list of Poly-ish movies, regardless of how "good" the movie is otherwise.

Rob is a man who loves children and wants nothing more than to raise a huge family. Unfortunately, he is in love with, and married to, a career-driven woman. If the roles were reversed, since the women have the babies, she could just have one and be a stay-at-home mom and he would support her with his money-making but emotionally-distant career, and that would be the end of it. But since it is the husband who wants the kids, even if Micki were willing to be the "workaholic father-figure" and let Rob be the stay-at-home Dad, she would still have to be the one to get pregnant, carry to term, and deliver - all of which threatens her very tenuous position as lawyer-bucking-for-judge. So Rob is just shit out of luck without her cooperation.

Then he meets Maude during a particularly busy time at work for his wife, in which they manage to have not seen each other in roughly 5 weeks in spite of living under the same roof. Maude is a cellist who doesn't work very much. She is spontaneous and creative and free, and she adores Rob. So while Rob is feeling particularly isolated and abandoned in his relationship with his wife, along comes a woman who has the time and ability to make Rob her whole world. He finds himself quickly infatuated and begins an affair.

Many people have found themselves in this position, and have discovered polyamory through this route. I can't say I approve, but the sheer prevelance of this situation makes me feel sympathetic towards the characters - after all, I'm a former cheater myself so I understand the desire to be with both at the expense of their consent and dignity. When a society forces people into a single relationship structure regardless of the nature of the human species or the wants of the individuals, some people are naturally going to find themselves in situations with no optimal choices - such as loving one's spouse enough to want to stay married but feeling alone and vulnerable and available to fall in love with someone new.  And with no guidelines or role models to help them find an honest path, many take the more selfish choice because emotions often override logic, or at least twist the logic to protect the emotion.

Often, it is only by experiencing a situation first-hand, which challenges the assumptions we have about relationships, that we ever really *do* any questioning or challenging of assumptions. So it is often that situations like this are what it takes to make people face their assumptions of love, relationships, and fidelity, and, *some* people come through it with a better understanding of who they are and what they want and a desire to be authentic and live honestly, by exploring an alternative relationship like polyamory.

So, back to the story. Remember, this is a bedroom farce, so here's where it gets annoying, if one does not like the absurdity of bedroom farces. So Maude, the mistress, announces that she's pregnant. Rob, who we know wants nothing more than to be a father, is so overcome with happiness, that he decides he will divorce Micki and marry Maude, which he was previously loathe to do since he does still love Micki. But he can't *not* be a husband and father for Maude now that a baby is really on the way, and he can't do *that* while still married to Micki.

So Rob screws up the courage and finally pins Micki down for a date at a nice restaurant, and says he has something to tell her. But before he can get his request for a divorce out, Micki announces that she's pregnant and, although she originally assumed she would get an abortion because it's poor timing (she is about to be appointed a judge, and her previous miscarriage suggests that she will have to remain bedridden for most of her next pregnancy), when she realized that she was actually with child, she started thinking about how much she loved Rob and how much her relationship and their family means to her. So she decided to keep the child and has recommitted herself to her marriage. So what does Rob do now?

In order to understand why I'm including it on the poly-ish movie list, I will have to give away the ending, so: Spoiler Alert!Collapse )
woo, stupidity, rants, Dobert Demons of Stupidity, religion
OK, look, I totally understand wanting more polyamory in art and pop culture.  It serves two purposes:  1) We can use it as a resource to help explain polyamory to people and to make people feel more comfortable about polyamory when there are visible examples of what it is.  And 2) common art and culture helps bring people together and fosters a sense of belonging and community, especially when the dominant culture is so opposed to their own subculture.  Hearing all those popular songs on the radio about the One True Love and I'll Never Love Anyone Else Again Forever can feel intimidating, exclusive, and even insulting, so having songs with lyrics like "I love you, I love you, I love you too" is comforting.  I get that, I really do.  And I agree, I would like to see more polyamory in art and pop culture.

But please, please, PLEASE do not pad the lists of movies, songs and books with any old piece of media that happens to have someone engage in sex with more than one person at a time just to feel better about our lack of poly culture.  It does no one any favors.  A really long list is actually intimidating in its own right because it makes it hard to choose when there are too many options.  And when people take you up on your recommendation and watch a movie or read a book on your list, only to discover it's about cheating or is a morality lesson about non-monogamy being bad, that kinda defeats the purpose of having the list in the first place, unless your list was created for the purpose of giving polyamory a bad name.

The reason for my request is because I'm adding yet another Do Not Watch This Movie to my poly movie reviews.  At least, don't watch it for poly content.

I received a movie from Netflix that took me half the movie to figure out why I put it on the list in the first place.  It didn't fit into any of my usual movie interests, and that alone should have suggested it was from a poly list somewhere.

The movie is called Farinelli, and it is a foreign film about a castrated male opera singer, based on a true story.  The reason it got put onto a poly list is because, since Farinelli was castrated, he makes out with his groupies to the extent of his abilities and then passes them off to his brother/manager to finish the job.  That's the deal, any girl who swoons over him gets to make out with him, but then has to fuck his brother - no exceptions.

There was nothing about love in this movie, but an awful lot of co-dependence, self-loathing, and resentment (which, I suppose, actually does represent an awful lot of relationships, poly and otherwise).  The two brothers are royally fucked up.  Farinelli was a boy soprano who witnessed the suicide of another castrato who, just before plummeting to his death, warned Farinelli not to let them castrate him too.  So he quit singing at the expense of his brother's career, who was a mediocre composer who only composed for Farinelli.  Shortly afterwards, their father died, and soon after that, Farinelli took on a devastating fever.  The older brother, having no future or job prospects without his younger brother's singing voice, took the opportunity to dope him up with opium and have him castrated, later claiming it was the result of a surgery from a horse accident and was the only way to save his life.

Now, as adults, the brother desperately rides Farinelli's coattails as his voice shoots him to stardom in spite of the crappy scores his brother produces.  Women are conquests and a source of reminded pain - that the older brother can't get anything without his younger brother's help, including women, and that Farinelli is not a complete man - his voice being the result of his incompleteness and that which brings him the women that remind him he is incomplete.

Eventually, one of Farinelli's groupies manages to insinuate herself into his life long enough that she's around when the brothers have a massive falling out and don't speak for 3 years after Farinelli discovers the truth about his castration.  She attempts to take the brother's place as Farinelli's keeper and manager.  There is never any indication of whether he actually loves her or not, but she doesn't seem to mind that Farinelli's sexual performances are lacking.

Finally, the brother (whose name I can't remember, which is why I continue to call him "the brother") comes back, they have a big fight, but when the brother attempts to commit suicide, the groupie nurses him back to health.  At one point, he wakes, and he finds his old dressing gown near the bed.  He used to walk into his brother's sexcapades wearing the dressing gown, would disrobe and hand it to his brother when they tag-teamed a girl, and then Farinelli would put it on and sulk in the corner while the brother finished what he had started.  So, rising from his sickbed with bandages still on his wrists, the brother puts on the dressing gown and wanders into Farinelli's bedchamber.

There, he finds Farinelli making out with his groupie (wife by this point? No one ever says).  The brother strips, Farinelli moves over, and the brother fucks the groupie.  The difference this time, however, is that Farinelli doesn't go sulk in the corner, he remains on the bed and holds the girl's hand as they gaze into each other's eyes while she gets fucked by the brother, who is largely uninvolved for all the action he's giving her.  He is completely out of the shot, this is a sex scene between the groupie and Farinelli in spite of the fact that it's the brother doing the fucking.

The final scene is the brother riding away and Farinelli gazing adoringly at and rubbing the very pregnant belly of the groupie, with some voice over about the two brothers being complete, each one doing what the other can't.

So, basically, you have two very fucked up brothers who use women for their own pleasure and insecurity, who eventually find peace with each other by using one as a brood mare to compensate for each other's failings.  You could possibly argue that the final impregnation was an act of love between 3 people, which is how this movie got onto a poly list in the first place, but even if we accept that argument at face value, it was the final 10 minutes of a 2 hour movie that had nothing to do with polyamory even with several threesome scenes.

So, maybe you should watch the movie if you like incredibly dysfunctional artist biography-dramas, but don't watch it thinking it will be a movie about polyamory, a movie that shows polyamory in a healthy light, a movie you can show to other people to explain what polyamory is, or a movie to make yourself feel more a part of an inclusive subculture.  Because it's not.
Spank, Bad Joreth
Here's why I didn't like I Am Legend (OK, one of two reasons why ... don't even get me started on the heavy-handed pro-religious prosletyzing at the end!):

(from http://www.cracked.com/article_16258_5-awesome-movies-ruined-by-last-minute-changes.html

I Am Legend


The Way It Was Supposed To Be:
In this adaptation of Richard Matheson's classic horror novella, Will Smith plays Doctor Robert "Legend" Neville, the last man alive in a city overrun with CGI vampire mutants.

In the film's original ending, Neville is trapped as vampires break through his barricades and infiltrate his hideout (who would have guessed that locking yourself in an enclosed space in the middle of a city full of vampires would turn out to be a bad idea?). Then, this happens:

I am legend (alternative ending) - MyVideo België

Yeah. In the original, the vampires are revealed to be thinking, benevolent creatures who were merely attempting to rescue a vampire that Neville had captured earlier.

Not only does the book end in a similar way, but it in fact was the entire freaking point of the book. That's where the title "I Am Legend" came from, Neville's realization at the end that the vampires were the good guys and that he was the monster of their legends, since he had been mindlessly driving stakes through their heart at every opportunity. Maybe a title like So I'm The Asshole would have been clearer.

The "Improved" Version:
Because test audiences apparently didn't like the original ending, the studio opted to go with a new one in which Neville fights back against the vampires to protect his new allies. He does so by igniting a grenade about two inches from their face, destroying the once-safe stronghold and severely injuring his companions. It should also be noted that going by the original ending, Will Smith just murdered scores of reasoning creatures who were attempting to rescue a little girl.

This brings up the other problem, which is that all of the little hints that had been inserted along the way indicating the creatures had intelligence (the complex traps they set, the same creature reappearing in some kind of leadership role) are completely ignored. In the new ending, the vampires are mindless savages with no other purpose but general horror movie mayhem.

Perhaps the saddest thing about all this is that it shows that no one involved really believed in the message of the final product. They didn't produce a film in order to convey any kind message, they just strung together a bunch of cool scenes and called it a movie. One more reason why audience feedback isn't always the best guide, as anyone who has read YouTube comments will happily tell you.

Where you can find the original:
The original ending is available as a bonus scene on the recent DVD release, where it is advertised as the "controversial original ending." Yes, coming to a peaceful reconciliation with your enemies is now more controversial than blowing them right the fuck up.
photography, Self-Portrait, personal
Some time ago, I watched Ratatouille and was surprised to find out how much I really liked the movie.  I thought it would be a cute little Pixar film, but it was actually so much more than that.  It had one of the most fantastic messages I've seen in a "children's" movie that I've seen in a long time.  I tried to take my favorite scenes from the movie and string them together into one short video message, but my crappy software wouldn't do it.  So instead, I present you with the audio underneath some stills from the movie to send a message of love and tolerance:

Purple Mobius, polyamory
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0023940/ - IMDB
http://www.netflix.com/Movie/Design_for_Living_Peter_Ibbetson/70031810?trkid=222336&lnkctr=srchrd-sr&strkid=272568383_0_0 - Netflix
http://www.amazon.com/Cooper-Collection-Design-Ibbetson-General/dp/B0007RTB9M/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=dvd&qid=1222995732&sr=1-1 - Amazon

This was on a list of poly movies, and the Netflix description reads:

Packing double entendres and boudoir innuendos galore, director Ernst Lubitsch's racy comedy Design for Living stars Gary Cooper, Frederic March and Miriam Hopkins as an inseparable threesome living in a Parisian garret and immersed in a ménage à trois.

Made in 1933, I sat down to watch it thoroughly prepared to hate it.

I loved it.

This was a quirky little film that, for once, didn't feature people doing stupid things.  zen_shooter decided about 4 movies ago that all poly movies should come with a lable that says "Warning!  Stupid People Inside" because they all seem to feature people doing the most godawful, inane things to each other.

But not this one.

And it was made in 1933!

Y'know, the fundies want to re-write history and tell us that "traditional marriage" is the nuclear family and has been the standard family model since the Flintstones, and that teen pregnancy and sex outside of marriage never happened except in a few scattered scandals that we try to ignore.

That simply isn't true.  Popular media and entertainment created in previous eras still exist and reflect the morality of their society.

In Design For Living, a woman named Gilda (soft "g", like "Jilda") meets Tom and George on a train in France.  The two gentlemen immediately fall in lust for her, and conversation on the train engages them intellectually.  They become fast friends.  We skip ahead to the two men living together in a Parisian ghetto, struggling to make a living in their respective artistic professions (Tom is a playwright and George is a painter).  Gilda draws commercial art and has a boss, Max, who has the hots for her but for whom she does not reciprocate.

George and Tom both begin romancing Gilda secretly, aware that Gilda is friends with the other, but unaware that she is amenable to being romanced by the other.  Until one day, the two men figure it out.  At first, they fight and try to break up their friendship by moving out and claiming to never want to speak to each other.  But then they realize that they have been friends for many years and they shouldn't let a woman come between what is so special to them.  They agree to both break things off with Gilda and remain friends.  But then Gilda comes over to confess.  In a comically dramatic fashion, she explains how she loves them both equally and cannot choose between them.  She proposes that they enter into a threesome where she will live with them, be their housemate, their friend, their critic, their mother, and help them both in their careers, but there will be absolutely no sex.  After some debate, they all agree.

So Gilda moves in and things go pretty much according to plan.  Gilda succeeds in getting one of Tom's plays into the right hands and he gets offered a position in London.  She insists that he follow his dreams and Gilda and George will come to London in time for Opening night.

Unfortunately, the very first night Tom is gone, the sexual tension between Gilda and George rises without the inhibiting influence of Tom, and they have sex.  Tom becomes a rising superstar in London with money and fame and begins dictating a letter to Gilda and George about how much he misses them both and how he can't wait until they are reunited in 6 weeks for the opening.  In the middle of the letter, a letter arrives for him.  It's not clear which one wrote the letter, or if they both did, but they admit their "infidelity" to Tom, who immediately changes his letter to a coldly formal letter of congratulations with wishes for their happiness together.

10 months later, Tom is a famously wealthy and loved playwright.  While attending a performance of his play, he sees Gilda's former boss, Max, in the audience.  Tom manages to bump into him during intermission and tries to solicit information about Gilda and George without asking outright.  He learns that they are doing well and that George's career as a painter has taken off too.  Tom leaves that night for France.

He manages to track down their current residence and finds Gilda alone, as George has gone to another country on a painting commission.  Gilda is thrilled to see Tom again, and, as before, without the inhibiting influence of the third part of their agreement, the sexual tension rises too high to be contained, and Gilda has sex with Tom.

George comes home unexpectedly the next morning.  At first, he's thrilled to see George - they did, after all, have a decade-long friendship before Gilda ever came onto the scene.  Then he figures out what all the stilting responses and awkward glances are all about and guesses that they had an affair.  George throws Gilda out.  Tom tries to make amends while Gilda goes to pack, but George doesn't want to hear any of it.  Finally, George goes to check on Gilda and discovers a note for each of them.  She writes to tell them that she is leaving them both.  While she was with George, she was haunted by Tom and she fears that if she were to go with Tom, she will be haunted by George.  So her solution is to leave them both.

George and Tom reconcile after reading these notes and go back to being friends, without Gilda.

Some time later, Gilda marries her old boss Max.  On her wedding day, however, we see her very agitated.  She very clearly does not love Max, but this is an era where a woman's status and future are determined by her husband.  Her marriage progresses for a few months and she gets progressively unhappy.

Finally, George and Tom propose to go and get her.  They crash a party at Max's house where Gilda has had enough.  She rejoices in seeing them both and in seeing that they are both still friends.  She manages to orchestrate her leaving Max in such a way that his business actually improves due to sympathy from his clients that the unfaithful wife has ditched him.  So Max gets what he wants, which is more money, she gets both George and Tom, and George and Tom get her.

In the final scene, the three of them are in a cab and she gives both of them a long, passionate kiss while the other looks on.  Then she reintroduces the "gentleman's agreement" they had before, which is a live-in triad with no sex.  Both men agree, but all three of them exchange looks that say "yeah, right, whatever!"

The overall tone of the movie seemed to suggest that these three people were meant to be together, that life was miserable for each of them when any one of the triad was missing, and that "happily ever after" does not mean making sacrifices for propiety but flinging yourself into life and grabbing whatever it is you need to be happy, even if it's sharing a woman or having two men.

I had to keep reminding myself that it was made in 1933 to get past the whole "no sex" rule, and the glances at the end allow me the freedom to interpret them as saying the "no sex" rule will not last.  It makes me happy to think that they eventually break the rule again only this time they learn from the past and do not break up over it.  I doubt that was the original intention, but it's just open-ended enough that I can think that if I want to.

This was an exceedingly progressive movie for our times, and it was made 75 years ago!  I thought the movie was cute, lighthearted, and fun, and, adjusting for the era with regards to sexual mores, quite reasonable in its attitudes.  The individuals didn't do inordinately stupid things.  I felt their various reactions to each situation was quite reasonable and fairly quickly worked through to an acceptable conclusion.  Each character felt very strongly about their relationship to the other and sought to find compromises that they all could live with together, rather than ending any one particular relationship.  There were periods of time where the three of them were not all together, but the lesson learned was that they were all happier when they were all together than apart.

I thought this was a great film and I highly recommend it!
2nd-Oct-2008 08:22 pm - Poly Movie Review - Carolina
Purple Mobius, polyamory
I picked up this movie because Netflix said:

In this romantic comedy featuring Shirley MacLaine as a wacky grandma, Southern girl Carolina (Julia Stiles) envisions an entirely different existence for herself, far from the maddening mix that is her family. So, she leaves home for California, where she hopes she'll find some tranquility. But her efforts are soon wasted when she finds herself torn between two men. Who will win her heart?

I think I saw it on a list of poly movies too, but I'm not certain about that.

This was NOT a poly movie.  It was your standard romance story of:  girl has fucked up love-life and fucked-up family, girl has close male friend, girl meets dashing man, girl sleeps with man on first date, close male friend reveals his love for girl, girl breaks his heart then gets her own heart broken by dashing man, girl proclaims love for best friend too late, as he now has a girlfriend, followed by happy ending as best friend surprises her by showing up somewhere emotionally meaningful and sweeping her off her feet.

Blah, blah, predictable, boring, not poly.

Carolina never really even finds herself "torn between two men".  She is close friends with her neighbor, Albert, whom both insist is "just a friend" several times throughout the movie.  Albert insists she try to loosen up a bit, so Carolina starts dating Heath.  We know he's not the right guy for her because she has sex with him on the first date.  Remember, in movieland, the "right guy" is the one who never tries to fuck the girl and the "wrong guy" is the one the girl is immediately attracted to.  Standard Hollywood Formula #1.  So, they have sex, then Carolina immediately tries to insert him into her life in a serious and meaningful way, namely by inviting him to Christmas dinner with her extremely eccentric (i.e. white-trash) family headed by her overbearing grandmother.

Heath, a proper Brittish gentleman, is totally out of place, whereas Albert fits right in like one of the family and has for years.  Meanwhile, Albert announces his love for Carolina, who rejects him because she thinks of him as a friend and she is involved with Heath.  Albert then goes out and gets a girlfriend, whom we meet when Carolina bumps into her in a very awkward manner, obviously intended to imply to the audience that she reciprocates the attraction and is now jealous and trying to ignore it.

After Heath's rather uncomfortable introduction to Carolina's family, he just disappears for 5 months with no word.  Carolina spends the rest of the film watching sadly as Albert continues to date his girlfriend, meet her family, and generally withdraw form Carolina's life, while her own family life gets more and more complicated and her family gets more and more eccentric.

Finally, Heath shows back up to apologize, but when Carolina doesn't immediately fall at his feet, he makes his one gesture and gives up, leaving Carolina looking after him with an exrpession that says "WTF?"

After a while, Carolina figures out that she loves Albert and tells him so, obviously expecting him to fall into her arms.  He, predictably, gets angry at her presumption that he was just sitting around waiting for her to deign to notice him and leaves.  So Carolina goes back to work in California and tries to forget her brief foray into dating.

Then, a tragedy befalls her family and she ends up back in her hometown, slowly assuming her grandmother's matriarchal position in the family - a position she resented until her grandmother's death revealed how much Carolina really loved her grandmother and how much her family depended upon her.  While leading a family holiday dinner (much contested by Carolina over the years and, consequently, a source of major emotional meaning for her now), Albert shows up to announce his undying love for Carolina, who falls into his arms and they live happily ever after with her teenage unwed-mother sister, her crazy psychic sister, her madam aunt, her drunk father, and her grandmother's married boyfriend.

*A point* - the married boyfriend is the one possibly poly moment in the whole film, and the "poly" portion is debatable.  Grandma is going out on a date for New Year's Eve with her boyfriend - the first time we've heard any mention of him in the whole movie.  Carolina's youngest sister asks "isn't he married?"  Grandma explains that, yes, he is married, but they have an "arrangement", and in this day and age, that's all anyone can ask for.  Throughout the movie, she has portrayed herself as a woman who does what she wants because she wants to and to hell with propriety, and the only way to be happy is to live for what you want, not for what others want.

She doesn't give any details, but the family all knows who he is, and he comes in and says hi to all of them.  If this were a secret, surely the teenage and early 20-something granddaughters wouldn't have had the chance to meet him, especially in a small southern town like theirs.  Grandma has a habit of being accepting of otherwise socially-unacceptable people.  Her daughter, for instance (Carolina's aunt) used to be a prostitute and now runs a successful whorehouse.  This is talked about openly and some of the aunt's "girls" are even invited to family events.  They joke about it over a bridge game.

Basically, the movie was not poly, it was romantic drivel.  The grandmother character was supposed to be the wise old, eccentric matriarch who flew in the face of convention with her common-sense wisdom and steely pride.  Carolina was supposed to be the strong, independent woman who manages to leave her humble beginnings, make a name and an income for herself, only to learn the value of family at the end.  What it turned out to be was an overbearing, thoroughly detestable, meddling, cranky old woman whose parental skills resulted in a drunk and a prostitute and perpetuated the total fuckups in the following generations, and a young woman who had pretty nearly no redeeming social skills.  She was either the hard-as-nails, no-nonsense businesswoman or the naive and inexperienced little girl playing at romance.

Don't waste your time.
6th-Sep-2008 02:10 am - Poly Movie Review - Sex & Breakfast
Bad Computer!, anger
As [info]zen_shooter says, they ought to put a label on "poly" movies to warn us that "this movie contains idiots".

We start out with James and Heather. The spark seems to have gone out of their relationship. Heather comes from a rather progressive family, her parents have an open marriage and firmly believe that jealousy and possession have no place in romantic relationships. Heather and James tried to open their relationship once in the past, but when Heather went on her first date (that did not include sexual activity), James called up his old girlfriend for a one-night stand to help him ignore his intense jealousy about Heather on a date. Since that didn't seem to work, they closed up their relationship again, but are now looking for something else to "fix" things. Heather recommends attending a seminar given by a relationship counselor.

Next we meet Ellis and Renee. They are also bored with their relationship and seem to snip at each other rather easily, flying off the handle every time one says something. They take every statement the other makes in the worst possible interpretation and spend the entire movie being accusatory and suspicious of each other. They also attend the seminar.

The counselor advocates group sex as a method to "fix" a flagging relationship. She signs up our two couples for therapy and each couple goes to their respective sessions where the counselor can't seem to see that group sex for each of these couples is probably the worst possible thing they each can do. Everyone say it with me ... Relationship Broken, Add More People!

Next, we see James and Heather in a very typical situation - Heather's old boyfriend comes to town for a visit and James is jealous. James is so insecure that he cannot even be civil towards Sixpack (the boyfriend's nickname) on the car ride home from the airport. Of course, Sixpack is an arrogant prick, but James is not mad about that, James is instead seething with jealousy and suspicion regarding what he imagines will be happening later that night after he drops Heather and her old boyfriend off at Heather's apartment and James has to go home alone. Of course Heather starts to bristle at the constant jabs from James at what a dumbass Sixpack is. Here's a hint guys (and gals), even your partner agrees that a past partner is a dumbass, you can say so once, but harping on the fact only makes your partner feel defensive for having once chosen to date/marry that past partner. Don't pick on your partner for past mistakes - especially if he or she already agrees it was a mistake. So James provokes Sixpack into an argument even though Sixpack was mostly pretty friendly towards James (albeit a little dumb).

After some vicious insults in the car, Heather and Sixpack leave James to his jealousy, who then panicks and thinks this fight might just have pushed Heather into the arms of her old boyfriend afterall. So, his method of damage control involves breaking into her secured apartment building and sneaking into her apartment, where Sixpack, the former football star and current military man, tackles James, thinking him to be an intruder. Heather comes out of her bedroom (where she was sleeping alone) to see what the fuss is all about and rescues James.

Could James have been any more idiotic? Hmm, I've pissed off my girlfriend with my unreasonable and unfounded jealousy and now I'm going to stalk her when she explicitly told me to leave her alone, and break into her apartment with the intention of having a heartfelt, intimate discussion while her old boyfriend is sleeping on the couch in the next room. This doesn't sound like the most disasterous plan known to man?

So now James has to sleep over because he has a concussion and Heather doesn't want him driving. But she's plenty pissed off.

Meanwhile, Ellis and Renee have been having issues of their own. Ellis also has a serious case of jealousy, only his is topped off with a massive load of machismo. Renee has to constantly placate him, reassuring him that she loves his penis and that she loves having sex with him. Seriously. In one discussion, they talk about the upcoming group sex therapy the counselor has suggested for them and the subject of fantasies comes up. Ellis admits to being turned on at the thought of watching Renee have sex with someone else. So Renee admits to being attracted to other women. Ellis immediately turns on her and accuses her of being "sick" and "perverted" because of her "homosexual" desires. While having this argument at a restaurant, the waitress appears to be quite friendly with Renee, who then seems to encourage her friendly overtures while then getting offended at Ellis' assumption that "friendly" implied "flirting".

Somehow or another, Renee ends up with the waitress' phone number and schedules a get-together. When Ellis finds out, he insists on coming along. They show up, the waitress offers marijuana, and while stoned out of their minds, Ellis interprets their totally platonic agreeableness as flirting and shouts at the waitress to keep her hands to herself because Ellis has the supercock and he won't let her get between them. I'm not paraphrasing, he actually says "I have the supercock and I won't let you get between us!" He uses the word "supercock" more than once.

Naturally, the waitress throws them both out.

Somewhere in there (I forget when exactly, their fights all seem to blend together), Renee and Ellis are fighting in the elevator and Renee shouts "I love your penis!", to which Ellis says "prove it!" and Renee responds by fervently kissing him, beginning a rather passionate bout of angry-sex. Because when you're pissed off at your partner, the thing you want to do most is fuck him, right? Sorry, but I do not have pity sex. I will not fuck someone just to reassure him. I will have sex because I want to have sex and have hopefully found a partner who also wants to have sex with me, but a pity-fuck is never a good idea for the long-term stability or reassurance of someone's ego. Then he's likely to wonder how much of the sex was a pity-fuck and if you really are attracted to him or just feel sorry for him.

Anyway, the morning of the scheduled group sex (keep in mind, neither couple knows who the other couple they're scheduled to fuck is), Renee and Ellis are taking a shower together and Renee seems to think his previous night's stoned proclamation about Renee being the woman he wants to marry and no one coming between them is now romantic and offers to cancel the group sex session. Unfortunately, Ellis now seems to be looking forward to it, so Renee agrees rather reluctantly for his sake.

Now we have probably the most awkward sex scene since Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice.

All 4 people arrive at the same time and wait for the same elevator. They all try to surriptiously scope each other out. Then, an old couple shows up and waits for the same elevator. Everyone has a moment of panic as they consider that it might be the old couple.

While in the elevator, everyone tries very hard not to look at anyone else. The old couple start bickering about whether the wife remembered to bring the rubbers and why the husband thought he didn't need to shower for the appointment. Less contained panic in the eyes of the two young couples. As everyone exits the elevator on the same floor, the old couple finally let it slip that they're there for a dental visit with a dentist on the same floor, the "rubbers" being a brand of gloves the old man prefers.

So now the two couples enter the counselor's waiting room. In a very awkward silence, they sit and wait. Finally, Heather breaks the silence by asking if Ellis and Renee are the other couple and expressing relief that they look so clean. Everyone looks around uncomfortably.

Finally, the counselor walks in, asks if they've introduced themselves, then leads them down the hall to another room. She opens the door and lets them in, closing the door behind them and leaving the two couples totally to their own devices, without a word of encouragement or instruction.

In silence, they four stare at each other, not sure what to do. Finally, Heather starts taking off her shoes. Then she kisses James. So Ellis and Renee look at each other as if to say "you wanna? I guess so" and begin kissing each other too. Eventually Renee turns around to start kissing Heather, but Heather pushes her towards James after only a brief kiss. So the couples swap partners.

Next we see a series of shots where each of the now-swapped couples is having silent and uncomfortable-looking sex across the room from the other. We never see a true group encounter, just two couples who happen to be having sex in the same room, all the time with James and Renee rolling their eyes towards Ellis and Heather, more interested in what their regular partner is doing than in what they are doing themselves.

The next morning, both couples wind up at the same restaurant, unbeknownst to each other. They discuss the previous night. Heather thinks the experience was great, she learned that she could actually orgasm and it wasn't a physical disability that has prevented her from having orgasms with James all this time. Unfortunately, James thinks that means that Heather doesn't really love him and he breaks up with her. It couldn't be that Heather does love him but James actually just sucks in bed - and sex isn't like a learned skill or anything that James could improve at with a little instruction. As if I didn't think James was the stupidist character ever, he goes and does this. Heather has been unable to orgasm, but her experience has not told her that James is a bad partner, it only tells her that it's possible and now she can start experimenting to figure out how to get an orgasm *with* James. But James decided long ago that love is exclusive and Heather's interest in other people means that she doesn't really love him, and her orgasm with Ellis the night before only solidifies his belief.

Renee and Ellis don't seem all that happy about the group sex and when Ellis goes to the bathroom, the waitress talks to Renee and expresses her wish to continue being friends (and maybe more) as long as Renee doesn't bring Ellis with her. Renee seems receptive. In the bathroom, Ellis runs into James and they have a fairly pleasant chat. James returns with Ellis to say hi to
Renee and for some reason, this makes Renee decide to throw away the waitress' phone number.

James goes back out to his patio table to discover that Heather ditched him.

I took two morals away from this movie. 1) If you're James and Heather, alternative relationships and sex outside of the primary are BAD. 2) If you're Ellis and Renee, sex with strangers will fix a relationship that is basically comprised of two people who don't like each other much.

The counselor should have her license revoked. Her character was the absolute worst example of a counselor possible. After only one session, she decided to match up these two couples when anyone could tell in the first five minutes of the session that neither couple was in the right frame of mind to successfully enjoy open relationships. Both men were being dragged into it kicking and screaming and both women think the way to fix their own relationships is to fuck a totally random stranger - that somehow this one night of meaningless, anonymous sex will fix their lack of communication, lack of chemistry, lack of common interests, the boys' insecurities, and their own emotional issues all at once.

Heather is the one character I truly felt for. I believe that she is that poor case of isolated poly. She is poly and doesn't know anyone else to help her, guide her, or even date her. Instead, she hooks up with this schmuck who is so deeply co-dependent that she can't even spend the evening with a male friend without him suspecting her of infidelity or fucking his ex-girlfriend in retaliation.

Ellis is equally as insecure as James, but his is exhibited in his retreat to machismo, where he has to prove he's King of the Castle, He of the Supercock. Apparently, it's his ability to penetrate his girlfriend that makes up his entire identity and the source of his entire self-esteem.

And Renee! An attractive, assertive, reasonably intelligent, sex-positive woman who, for some bizarre reason, feels the need to remain in a relationship with a man she has to placate on an hourly basis. She constantly panders to him, reassuring him of his manliness, refraining from exploring her own desires in deference to his bruised ego.

Jesus, I hated this movie and all the characters in it. Well, I didn't hate Heather, I felt sorry for her and I sorely wanted to jump in the movie, put my arm around her and tell her that she's not a freak and there's nothing wrong with her just because she wants to experience love without jealousy and posession.

And the sex scenes weren't even sexy! They were awkward and uncomfortable.

Don't watch this movie, it sucked, and not just from a poly standpoint. The characters were detestable and the writing was deplorable. I'm not sure if the acting was any good because the script they had to work with sucked big fat donkey balls.
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