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Shortbus [DVD] [2006]

3.8 out of 5 stars 102 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: Sook Yin Lee, Paul Dawson, Lindsay Beamish, PJ DeBoy, Raphael Barker
  • Directors: John Cameron Mitchell
  • Producers: Yo La Tengo, Tim Perell
  • Format: PAL, Colour, Anamorphic, Widescreen, Dolby
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Dubbed: None
  • Subtitles For The Hearing Impaired: English
  • Audio Description: None
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 18
  • Studio: Universal Pictures Video
  • DVD Release Date: 18 Jun. 2007
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (102 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000NT6HRI
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,073 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Product Description

Risqué sexual politics drama about a gang of young New Yorkers. Directed by John Cameron Mitchell of 'Hedwig And The Angry Inch' fame, 'Shortbus' is an even more explicit look at the margins of sexuality. Sofia (Sook Yin Lee) is a sex counselor who has never achieved orgasm. Previously staid and a confirmed heterosexual, she is drawn into the world of orgiastic bisexual sex parties by a gay couple, Jamie and James, (PJ DeBoy and Paul Dawson) whom she is treating. Becoming a regular at the Shortbus parties, Sofia is soon attempting, frustratedly, to achieve the pinnacle she seeks with a dominatrix called Severin (Lindsay Beamish). Jamie and James' sex life becomes complicated with the addition of a third party, Ceth (Jay Brannan). The film's sexual content is apparently real and not stylised in any way and there are graphic portrayals of gay and heterosexual sex throughout.


In his aim to make an honest film about sex, John Cameron Mitchell (Hedwig and the Angry Inch) has taken a somewhat documentary approach to Shortbus, a film describing various New Yorkers' sexual pathos. Framed by shots roving a homemade diorama of the city, Shortbus is comprised of vignettes featuring actors who helped craft this story of people's disconnect in sexual endeavors. Jamie (PJ DeBoy) and James (Paul Dawson), a gay couple experiencing a lull in their relationship, visit Sophia (Sook-Yin Lee), a sex therapist whose inability to orgasm results in her clients inviting her to a sex club after which the film is titled. Sophia's husband, Rob (Raphael Barker), is also willing to experiment, so the two independently embark on adventures in self-pleasure. Dominatrix Severin (Lindsay Beamish) plays a crucial role in Sophia and Rob's lives, as her search for real humanity overlaps with their desire for passion.

As each character's plot complicates, the viewer sees a similar melancholy bulldozing its way into these seemingly disparate lives. The depression is repeatedly used in comedic scenes, such as when James is asked on a date while still hospitalised for his attempted suicide. Yo La Tengo's score, which includes Animal Collective among others, lends this film a graceful ambience. Unlike porn, Shortbus has a resonance that encourages the viewer to consider one's own sex life as an important aspect of happiness. --Trinie Dalton

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
Shortbus - "a salon for the gifted and challenged". The story is based around Brooklyn's D.U.M.B.O. club (called ShortBus in this film - a reference to the shorter yellow buses that are provided for less-able / special-needs kids in NY) and follows the crossing of paths of the main protagonists therein: Sofia - a sex therapist ("I prefer `couples councillor'") who is "pre-orgasmic" and her partner Rob; a gay couple - Jamie and James, one of whom is manic depressive, and looking to open up the relationship, and a dominatrix by the alais of Severin (who is just looking for a "real human interaction"), all stage managed by Justin Bond - the mistress of Shortbus.

Set against the electrical brown & black-outs that afflicted Manhattan shortly after 9/11, this film sets out to contrast the intensity of their sexual energy and the frequent absence of emotional depth ("I can see the love, but it stops at my skin") - successfully using the parallel of how day to day the energy of the city (the sex) keeps it ticking over, but you need to feel the intimacy of love (the black outs that didn't lead to the widespread looting the NYPD predicted but instead acted as a cohesive moment for the NYC communities).

The film is extremely sexual graphic in places - and I expect will or already has ellicited a campaign by the Daily Mail to "BAN THIS FILTH!". It's far more extreme than Winterbottom's Nine Songs - previously the most "sexually shocking" mainstream UK film - was, and the uncensored nature of these scenes is a tool that director John Cameron Mitchell uses to convey the intensity of the sexual relationships. So, this is definitely not a film you'd want to in the presence of your parents.
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Format: DVD
I saw this film a while ago but its just been one of those ones that sticks in my head. Its strange because at the end of the film I didnt feel like I loved it, but now I've bought the soundtrack and I think I'll end up buying the DVD. The whole film just has this really great atmosphere about it, its sad but its joyous, its dreamy and romantic whilst at times depressing, its full of raw energy but in a strange way very soothing. I suppose the key is that it is bursting at the seams with life in all its colourful and often messy forms. It feels very real and true and there are some beautiful and very touching moments. The characters feel well rounded and not cliched like in so many films trying to be 'different' or controversial'. Much has been made of the graphic sexual nature of the scenes but this couldnt feel less like a porn film and it actually is a joy to see sex depicted in this way on film - sex as part of life, sometimes complicated, sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes hilarious rather than some ridiculously choreographed performance.

As mentioned earlier, the sound track is great, very varied and really adds to the wonderfully distinctive feel of the whole film- I love the animation they use too.

I read that the director advertised for people willing to play characters that were similar to themselves and that all the actors had lots of imput into the final product -i think this shows as the characters really seem very natural and there are some great performances- I especially liked Jay Brannan as Ceth. Brannan actually features on the sound track singing his own song, Soda Shop which I now love, and think that he will be a big talent in the future, as both an actor and singer/songwriter.

Anyway my advice would be watch this film if you want something genuinely different, enjoyable, thought provoking and lovely!
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Shortbus is something else – a blast, a hoot, a celebration of life. It's quite challenging to watch, not pornographic or erotic but certainly very explicit, and perhaps has an over-preponderance of gay male sex acts (the director is himself gay, which perhaps explains it.) The acting and dialogue are often very funny indeed, particularly the scenes involving the lovely Sook Yin Lee as a sex therapist; the Dominatrix and her client; or Justin Bond, the 'organiser' of the Shortbus orgies - if orgies is the correct word for them. It's the 'Rocky Horror' of sex movies in that: it's fun; it has fabulous music (the music's actually better than the movie itself); it's well-intentioned but ultimately I think not saying much. May I point out that Sofia as a 'sex therapist' would be a disgrace to her profession: her advice to the wife of one client-couple is to keep faking her orgasms; nothing about using slightly modified sex positions to help ensure the clit gets properly stimulated. If Amazon will allow me to mention another website (non-profit-making and entirely benevolent) - go and look at the Netdoctor website for excellent advice on how to achieve orgasm.
Lastly, do be careful who you watch this movie with - it could be a very embarassing experience.
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Format: DVD
"Shortbus" deals with many of the same issues as "Hedwig" and the "Angry Inch," but in a new and equally groundbreaking way. Yes, there is hardcore sex, and honestly, there should have been even more, it is used as another layer of paint on one of the most poignant canvases I have seen in years. This film is part of a new breed of cinema that dares to force actors to cross over the line from acting in a film and portraying a fictional character to actually being a subject in a documentary: the once strict line that distinguishes where a character begins and an actor ends has become totally blurred and is no longer recognizable for the actors or rather beautiful and real human beings who appear on screen in this film.

As much as this film is about its characters and their lives, it is about the state of underground or lack of underground art and culture in New York City, particularly the lower east side art scene - a nostalgic yearning for a time and an age of culture and community that is sadly gone in present day Manhattan. Theoretically, "Shortbus" forces us to question the nature of the spectator in a movie theater, watching a TV screen or computer monitor, or looking through the viewfinder of a camera. It is rare for any film these days to ask and provoke the kind of emotional responses and questions about the nature of spectatorship, voyeurism, censorship, viewership, and pornography while at the same time pushing the boundaries of cinema, redefining cinematic, and fusing multiple aesthetic systems that "Shortbus" does in under two hours. The actors were earnest in their efforts (and brave to perform the sex scenes), although no Oscar-winning performances I'd say. I did find Paul Dawson to be quite effective in his ability to convey emotion, esp.
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