joreth: (polyamory) - Netflix - 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.
joreth: (Purple Mobius) - Netflix - Internet Movie Database - Amazon

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 to be 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.
joreth: (polyamory) - Netflix - IMDB - 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.
joreth: (polyamory) - Netflix - Amazon - IMDB

Whatever Works by Woody Allen, was recommended to me by [ profile] 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 [ profile] 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 Spoilers )

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
joreth: (Purple Mobius)
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! )

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
joreth: (Purple Mobius) - Netflix - Amazon - IMDB

On the recommendation of [ profile] 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 Alert )

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.
joreth: (Dobert Demons of Stupidity)
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".

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.


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.
joreth: (::headdesk::) - Netflix - Amazon - 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! )

Conclusion: going with my new yardstick for measuring if a movie is poly or not (courtesy of [ profile] 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

joreth: (Purple Mobius) - IMDB - Amazon - 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! )
joreth: (Dobert Demons of Stupidity)
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.
joreth: (Spank)
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!):


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.
joreth: (Purple Mobius)
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:

joreth: (Purple Mobius) - IMDB - Netflix - 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!

P.S. - you may only find this movie on a DVD bundled with another Gary Cooper movie called Peter Ibbetson, with a red box titled The Gary Cooper Collection or something similar.  That's how I got it from Netflix.
joreth: (Purple Mobius)
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.
joreth: (Bad Computer!)
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.
joreth: (polyamory) - Internet Movie Database - Rent From Netflix - Amazon

The Summary tells us that Lola is pregnant and doesn't know which of the two men she loves is the father. I had high hopes for this one. Unfortunately, I was let down. It was "poly", but the movie sucked.

This was a French film that started out by introducing us to Felix (or rather, Felix's foot in the pedal of his bike), a particularly obnoxious young man who seems to delight in antagonizing drivers. He arrives at a building at the same time as a young man named Jamal, who shows up in a nice car, wearing a suit, and displaying courteous manners. They both enter the building and squeeze into a closet-sized elevator and find themselves waiting in front of the same apartment door.

Lola opens the door, smiles, and invites them both in. She sits them down and tells them both that she's pregnant and she doesn't know which of them is the father, but it doesn't matter because it's her baby and she will take care of it herself, so they can just fuck off. This is the first time either man hears that Lola is involved with someone else.

Understandably, they both get pissed and leave.

But, for some unfathomable reason, both men continue to obsess over her. Jamal is the first to show up on her doorstep with flowers and ask to get back together. He moves in with her and begins taking care of her.

Felix goes on for some time insulting his friends, beating up on his sister, making racial slurs at the local gangbangers in the rap club scene where he hangs out. He is a thoroughly detestable character. He's not nice, he's sullen, he has a shitty job that he often flakes out on, he occasionally deals drugs, and he's argumentative to everyone.

Jamal, on the other hand, is the son of a Muslim diplomat, is in college, has money and manners, and seems to be basically respectful of everyone around him, although he does spit out the occasional misogynistic statement in his attempt to be the "man of the house", which Lola treats with contempt and ignores.

Lola is a woman that I can't figure out why these two men are so obsessed with. She cheats on them both, she lies, then she drops the bomb in possibly the worst way - a way practically designed to elicit a triple homicide, then tells them both that she doesn't need them. She's demanding and elusive and condescending. But she's hot. However, as [ profile] zen_shooter said, beauty isn't all that uncommon. Surely the guys can find someone else who is pretty and not a lying, cheating bitch.

Anyway, Felix runs in to Jamal and starts a fight that lands them both in jail overnight. Lola decides she's had enough and leaves Jamal to visit her parents in the West Indies, leaving as her explanation note the test results that say Felix is the baby's father.

Jamal storms over to Felix's house, searching for Lola and this is where Felix learns that he is the natural father. As both men realize she's dumped them both - again, this starts the beginnings of their collaboration ... or at least it's the beginning of the end of their rivalry, but there is still much road left to travel.

Soon, Lola comes back, and both men are at the airport waiting for her with flowers (although still as rivals). Lola comes down the people-mover, smiles, and walks between them both with no word, leaving them both rejected, yet again.

Felix starts hitchiking home and Jamal picks him up. In the car, they both realize they are being fools and that Lola is calling all the shots. They also discover they both met her on the same night, although Felix has to turn that into a competition too by gloating that he actually got to have sex with Lola first. Although they still see each other as rivals, they both appear to understand that Lola will not choose one over the other.

One day, Lola invites them both to meet her for dinner, unbeknownst to each guy, who gets irritated at Lola's habit of springing news on them in this manner. Lola shows up and says she will not resume her sexual relationship with either guy, but if they want to be in her life, she wants Jamal to provide financial support and Felix to provide menial labor. For some bizarre reason, both men immediately agree, although it was never clarified if this arrangement was to last forever or just the duration of the pregnancy, and what do each of them do about other sexual partners?

So now Jamal and Felix begin their collaboration in ernest. Both men perform their duties to the best of their abilities, but in a somewhat cold and detached manner, leaving Lola's apartment without saying goodbye but leaving notes, just as if they really were hired help. Apparently, this is too much for Lola. She shows up at Jamal's house (where Felix apparently has moved in) crying, saying that she can't bear the lack of emotional content anymore.

Now, all three of them live together, with Jamal providing financial stability (and still attending school), Felix providing shoddy housework, and Lola not seeming to do anything but sit around and be pregnant, reveling in the hold she has over the two men. I am unclear about whether the sex is resumed or not, but [ profile] zen_shooter insists it did not resume. Occasionally, we see shots of one or the other man sleeping next to Lola and there is physical displays of affection, but it could be argued that "friends" do those things too.

This is the part that makes it a "poly" movie, but I have to say they're a piss-poor example of a poly family. Unfortunately, too many poly families reinvent polyamory in just this way - one person cheats on her lover with someone else, loves them both, can't choose, the wronged parties then decide their love for the cheater is bigger than the wrong that was done to them, and they attempt to force a family out of the mess because the alternative is to dump the cheating bastard and be alone (as a former cheater, I have to say I have sympathy here, but it's still a fucked up way to go about things).

There is one scene in this whole movie that I actually liked. The 3 of them are sitting at the dinner table and Felix is looking at the Chore Chart and complaining that two big chores have been assigned on the same day and it's not fair. It's a big fight and I don't really like the conclusion, but the part I like is that they made an effort to divide up the responsibilities according to each person's abilities and the agreement is subject to negotiation. Now that is poly. In the argument, Jamal and Felix rearrange who cooks when and Felix negotiates for one night a week that Felix can go out and party.

The reason why I don't like this movie is because I don't like any of the characters and I really hate the message that having a baby is the solution to all relationships that include volatile personality clashes. The three characters really don't like each other and really don't have anything in common. I can't, for the life of me, figure out why Lola likes either man or why either of them like her. And the two men don't actually like each other, but are putting up with each other because they have no choice. But the movie ends with Lola in the delivery room and the two men on either side of her, touching the baby and smiling, when just before Lola went into labor, the men got themselves in another fight that landed them in jail again and Lola came to bail them out and proceeded to rip into both of them for being childish. As usual, the movie implies that having a baby makes a Happily Ever After.

I suppose it should be included on a list of poly movies, because it really does show us a poly family. Both men refer to Lola as their wife (hence, my ambiguity at whether the sex resumes or not), each refers to Lola as the other's wife at least once, and Felix even says at one point "my wife's other husband..." Felix brings a very-pregnant Lola and Jamal home to meet his very traditional Jewish family and he has even explained to his grandfather what the arrangement is (relying on the grandfather to explain to his grandmother). There is a scene with Lola confiding in her own grandmother her love for both men and even her gynecologist knows the score. But I disliked the movie because I didn't like the characters and I don't think they liked each other. I loathe movies that show characters who are not compatible with each other but give them a romantic "happy ending" anyway. I don't like movies that encourage people that having a baby will make your family complete and everything is magically better. Relationship Broken Add More People.
joreth: (Purple Mobius) - Internet Movie Database - Rent From Netflix - Amazon

This was a really good movie in general, and a decent poly movie. It takes place in 1930s Paris, for the most part, with a little bit in England and Spain. Gilda is a rich hedonist who travels the world in pursuit of pleasure and the present. She meets Guy, a Brittish college student, who immediately falls head over heels in love with her. Gilda, who is infamous for her relationship with someone else at the school (I think it's another student, but I'm not sure), invites Guy to a party at her boyfriend's house. Guy shows up but Gilda is not present. The party quickly turns to a decadent orgy, with Guy's date becoming the "main course" upstairs. Just as Guy is about to leave, Gilda shows up and seduces him on the pool table.

For some reason, the boyfriend, when he discovers them naked on the pool table the next morning, is upset at Gilda's infidelity, but she seems totally unconcerned, engaging in a lighthearted conversation with him while lounging nude next to Guy (who is terribly embarrassed) and sipping tea. Guy finally makes his escape, and to his confusion, Gilda and her boyfriend do not break up over the incident. They do not see each other for some time.

Eventually, Gilda tracks him down again to tell him that she is leaving the country in pursuit of, well, pursuit I guess. She doesn't really know what she wants, so she seeks out everything. She requests to be allowed to write to Guy on her travels. So is spent the next year or two (I forget exactly how long) with Gilda writing to Guy, but Guy cannot write back because Gilda does not remain in one place long enough for his letters to reach her.

Eventually, Guy graduates college and becomes a teacher and develops a steady relationship with a young woman. Then, one day, Gilda writes to say she is in Paris and Guy simply must come visit her. He drops everything and travels out for a visit. When he arrives, he finds Gilda living with a producer of modern art, who arranges for Gilda's artwork to be shown around the world. That night, Gilda has a show in Paris featuring her young protege, Mia, a refugee from Spain who now lives with Gilda and her boyfriend.

Guy, confused over Gilda's seeming continued interest in both him and in her meal-ticket, leaves with no notice. Not too much later, Gilda shows up on Guy's doorstep in the middle of the night, requesting a place to crash and pissing off Guy's girlfriend, who realizes that Guy loves Gilda and not her. Eventually, Gilda convinces Guy to move to Paris and work for her as her photography assistant.

Here's where the poly part starts. Mia is still living with Gilda. Through a series of dirty looks and one scene where she watches Guy and Gilda having sex, the audience is left with the impression that Mia is in love with Gilda and resents Guy's presence. Guy seems suspicious of Mia but mostly tries to ignore it. Both seem resigned to the other's presence because Gilda wants them both around and they both want Gilda. The three of them live together for a year in relative happiness with Guy and Mia developing a friendship of their own. Some scenes show Mia and Gilda dancing very erotically together at a nightclub, Guy waking up to find Gilda and Mia gossiping while cuddling in the same bed where he and Gilda fell asleep together the night before, and many shots of Gilda and Mia being overtly affectionate with each other. One could make the case that female friendships in previous eras were always more physically affectionate without implying sexuality than they are today, but 1) I have my doubts that the element of sexuality was missing back then and 2) we are corrected about this misconception later when Mia admits to having been Gilda's lover.

This "triad" exists more or less happily for over a year. I get the impression that Gilda and Mia do not continue their sexual relationship while Gilda is sleeping with Guy, but I also get the impression that both women want to. Mia entertains boyfriends of her own, mostly off-screen. Guy is pretty well monogamous with Gilda but develops a very deep and loving relationship with Mia as they discover they have socio-political ideals in common and a strong sense of duty to their fellow man ... something that Gilda seems to lack completely with her sense of duty to herself being her foremost ideal.

Read more... )
In the '30s in Paris, no one seemed to care about the crazy, hedonistic artist shacking up with her assistant and favorite model in her apartment/art studio. There was no social backlash, no fear of discovery, no discussions of moral conflict. This little triad was just sort of taken for granted, as a given without much comment. Although it was part of the plot, it was very subtly done, much like following the lives and loves of a monogamous couple in any other drama. Their triad itself was not the source of the conflict, the clash of personalities and the political climate of pre-war Europe was the source of conflict and would have been the same conflicts had the main characters been a dyad instead of a triad.

Like Carrington, this movie was horribly depressing but treated multiple-relationship familes well. I heartily recommend including this movie on any list of poly movies and I recommend watching it just because it was a good movie (although I really wanted to shake Gilda a couple of times for her immature and needlessly antagonistic behaviour).
joreth: (Dobert Demons of Stupidity)
OK people, let me say this one time, very slowly.

Just.  Because.  People.  Fuck.  Several.  People.  Doesn't.  Mean.  This.  Is.  A.  Poly.  Movie.

So I watched another recommended movie from a "poly movie list".  It's called "The Last Picture Show".  Perhaps you've heard of it.  I guess it's quite famous for all the nudity.  The story takes place in 1952 and stars people like a very young Cybil Shepard, Jeff Bridges and Clores Leachman.  It's all about a very small town in Texas.  There's the mute "dumb" kid, there's the town slut who happens to be married to the rich oil baron, there's the slut's daughter who seems to be taking after her, there's the football star and his buddy, the lonely housewife, and the pool hall/picture show that is the town's main entertainment.  People flirt, people fuck, people fight.  It's all about Small Town America In The '50s.

It's not poly.

There's no long-time deep love shared between two high school buddies and the town sweetheart, like in Leaving Cheyenne.  There's no quirky artist commune like in Carrington.  There's no triad hidden among the pines like in Summer People.  It's just horny teenagers and cheatin' wives.

I'm not sayin' this was a bad movie, I'm sayin' don't watch it for any poly content.

There is none.  The absolute closest we get is the two best friends who make up after one kicks the shit out of the other for screwin' around with his girl (the make-up happens after that girl goes off to college and leaves both of them).  Maybe the husbands who look the other way when their wives have affairs because it's sort of general knowledge that 80% of marriages aren't happy (so says the wise old rancher) are the reason someone thought this was a poly flick?

It's not poly.  Don't bother.
joreth: (polyamory)
Amazon -

This was a quirky Spanish film that promised a story about a man , Fernando, who falls in love with four sisters in 1931 during the Spanish Civil War.  Sounds promising?

He deserts and befriends a free-thinking artist named Monolo who has four luscious adult daughters still living at home.  Each one attempts to seduce Fernando, who immediately proclaims his love and desire to marry after each encounter.  The three oldest daughters aren't actually interested in him, they all have ulterior motives when seducing him.  But the youngest has an actual crush on him and is heartbroken as, time and again, his trysts with her older sisters are discovered and he yet again chooses one of them over her.  Finally, with no more sisters left, Fernando turns to the youngest and proclaims his love and desire to marry which is finally accepted.

This wasn't poly at all.  But it was amusing, as the story is told in sort of a charming bedroom-farce kind of way.

What WAS valuable, however, were the subplots of the girls' parents.

When we first meet the family, the mother, Amalia, is nowhere to be seen.  Monolo is alone in the house with his daughters, is an agnostic/atheist, and is quite adamant about Spain becoming a Republic.  One of his daughters, Violetta, is quite the tomboy.  And, for 1930's Spain, I was shocked to find her tomboyishness accepted.  She was encouraged to follow a career in veterinary medicine, she dresses in masculine clothing, she chops wood, her hair is short, she has a deep voice (and is oh-so-fucking-hot, btw!  I may be straight, but the gender-bending girls-as-young-boys is pretty freakin' sexy even to me).  When everyone dresses up in costume to go to Carnival, she dresses as a soldier and she and her sisters gang up on Fernando to make him dress as a French Maid.  She finds him "beautiful" and proceeds to take the very masculine role of persual, complete with leading him in a very seductive Tango (which was recently outlawed).  And when I say "leading", I mean in the traditional ballroom sense - she takes the male stance, does the male steps, and behaves quite aggressive in moving him around the dance loor, including dipping him and grabbing his leg in a very sexy female move that wraps the leg around the male partner's waist. 

When she has sex with him, she gets on top and refuses to allow him to touch her breasts.  She controls the entire encounter.  When Fernando announces his intention to marry her to Monolo, the father merely shakes his head and says "no, not that one!".  Fernando is confused, but when Monolo suggests that he ask Violetta her opinion, Fernando is shocked to hear Violetta tell him that their encounter meant nothing and she will not marry him.

Later, when we do meet the Amalia, she has all the girls gathered around her on the bed and is discussing how their lives have been going while she was away.  She is encouraging one of her daughters to find a husband, but then she turns to Violetta and says "but not for you, my love.  You need to find yourself a good wife, someone who loves you and understands you and will take care of you and keep house for you," while Violetta smiles, clearly pleased that her mother understands her.

Violetta's gender identity, while perhaps looked on as a bit odd, is completely accepted by her entire family, but strongly encouraged by her parents, even down to having her dress in sailor suits as a child while the other girls were forced to dress "pretty" for attendance at church.

But, for as interesting as that character development is, it's not really poly-related either.

The really interesting part, from the standpoint of a poly reviewer, was the parents themselves.

Amalia shows up one day.  Turns out she's a Spanish Opera singer who has been traveling the Americas on tour.  Standing slightly behind her appears to be her manager.  Through the course of the breakfast conversation (she's arrived early enough to wake the household), as she regals her family with her tales, we get the impression that she and her manager have more than a business relationship.  But just as I accept that husband and wife are "separated" and she has started an affair (Monolo earlier admits total impotence to Fernando in a completely unrelated conversation), eventually, she leaves the breakfast table with her husband, explicitly for a "conjugal visit".

Her manager breaks down crying.

Fernando is confused because 1) he thought Monolo was impotent, 2) doesn't understand they're going upstairs to have sex now and 3) didn't pick up on the fact that Amalia was having an affair with her manager, and asks the sisters what the problem is.  The youngest, sitting next to the manager, says "can't you tell?  He's mother's lover!"  Everyone looks on the manager with sympathy except Fernando, who looks slightly appalled and mostly confused.  The manager eventually runs upstairs to ask how much longer she's going to be.  Amalia explains that she'll be down in a while and just wait, she wants to be reaquainted with her husband.  The parents look at each other bemusedly and eventually get down to business.

Later (I don't remember if it's the same day or another day), the manager has a private talk with Monolo about his fears that he will lose Amalia to her husband.  Monolo reassures him that Amalia loves him and besides, Monolo is the cuckold here, not the manager.  The manager, thus reassured, goes on with the rest of the visit.  Eventually Amalia decides to go back on tour and Monolo and the manager share a warm hug of brothers goodbye.

Now THIS is a poly story.  The husband and wife very clearly have an open arrangement and the husband welcomes his wife's lover as another member of the family, right on down to reassuring him that his wife loves him.

It was cute and entertaining, but if you're anything like me, the story of the sisters and Fernando will be a little bit frusrating because you'll be shouting at the screen saying "Hello!  Just share him!  Especially in this family where they don't seem to care that Mother has a lover and the guy each daughter seduces has just fucked her sister the night before!"

Or, maybe that's just me.

I wouldn't say this is a must-see poly movie, but it was lighthearted and silly and should be included in a list of movies with poly-ish characters and/or subplots.
joreth: (Purple Mobius)

I've thought about including movie reviews over at The Poly Bookclub, but it's really not set up for that, so I'll just write about them here.

I watched a movie tonight that was recommended on a very long list of "poly" movies.  Many of the movies on the list are more about cheating and being forced to choose between partners, so I was somewhat skeptical.  But Carrington proved to be an exception.  

I found this movie to be an excellent example of polyamory ... before the word existed.

Carrington (1995) - Internet Movie Data Base - rent it from Netflix -

This movie is based on the real-life characters of Dora Carrington and Lytton Strachey.  Unfortunately, it left out her lesbian relationships, but I suppose there are only so many stories one can tell in a single 2-hour movie.

Carrington is an independent, tomboyish, self-sufficent woman who insists on remaining so.  She developes a life-long emotional bond with a gay man named Lytton, who co-exist mostly happily together (they also live together and even share a bed).  Neither of them understand "jealousy" and seek out external sexual relationships.  Some of which they each approve, others they do not, but they always accept each other's other partners as simply part of loving each other.

Carrington herself develops some emotional attachments in her sexual relationships, but what makes this a truly exceptional movie is that everyone knows.

There is some lying and deceit - this is, after all, the 1920s, but for the most part, this is simply the way it is and all the partners must accept that.  Carrington is quite clear that she will not leave her life with Lytton, for example, when her various lovers ask her to.  Carrington's first lover while living with Lytton is a man that appears to also be Lytton's lover.  The movie was never very clear on that, but they do show all three sleeping in the same bed together with Ralph (prounced "Rafe") (the new lover) in the middle and Lytton very clearly flirting and being affectionate with him.

Later, Lytton encourages Carrington to marry Ralph (who threatens to leave them both if she doesn't) so long as Lytton doesn't lose Carrington in the process, and all 3 end up cohabitating together, even all going on the honeymoon together.  Eventually the marriage falls apart as Ralph takes mistresses and Carrington takes a lover, Gerald.  Ralph becomes jealous over Carrington's lover, however, who happens to be one of Ralph's oldest friends.

Later, it appears as though the marriage has ended, but not the family, as Ralph & Carrington remain legally married and Ralph continues to live and contribute to the household of Carrington and Lytton.  He brings another woman into the household who appears to be his new primary partner, Frances.  As the relationship with Frances deepens, Lytton has a private discussion with her about how this will change things because he and Carrington still depend on Ralph.  Frances seeks to find a compromise of her new life with Ralph and his existing life with Carrington and Lytton.  This is a wonderful example of metamours working together and communicating directly about the process of adding a new member to the family.

Lytton eventually brings his newest lover home for the weekends and Carrington develops yet another passion of her own.  In one memorable scene, Ralph, Frances, Lytton, his new boy, and Carrington's new flame are all enjoying an evening in the house together while Carrington watches from the outside.

Finally, when Lytton falls ill, all the current members of the group gather together to care for Lytton and keep each other company.  In one scene, Carrington is sitting at a table with Ralph and Gerald (it is unclear if Ralph was ever told the truth about them, even after the jealous rage he went into when he first suspected).  Later, we see Ralph and Frances showing hesitation at leaving Carrington alone in the house with her worry, including a very warm hug between Carrington and Frances.

Unfortunately, all the other reviews seem to think this was about unrequited love.  It's true that Carrington wants more from her relationship with Lytton than she is able to receive (due to his homosexuality, although it is believed they did share some element of sexuality), but I do not believe it is "unrequited".  Both characters clearly adore each other and both recognize that they cannot fulfill each other's every need.  Both characters also find sexual and some emotional fulfillment from their other relationships, even when some of those relationships have an ending while their's lasts for their lifetimes.  While Carrington displays upset whenever Lytton takes a new lover, both Carrington and Lytton understand that there are simply some roles they can never fulfill for each other and encourage each other to find happiness, whever it might be, while continuing to hold on to each other for the emotional fulfillment they find in each other.

Poly people understand the idea of NSSOs, or a "romantic" relationship that is non-sexual and how that does not make it somehow "less than" other romantic relationships.  We understand the concept of "family" and that all relationships are unique and individual and special for their individuality.  While we do not deny the importance of sex in a relationship for those relationships that include sex, we also do not define our relationships primarily by sex.  If a relationship *feels* like a "romantic" relationship, or "partner" just fits better than "friend", it doesn't matter if that relationship happens to not include intercourse - it's no less valid than a "traditional" relationship.  Some people are still part of the family, still a "spouse", whether sex is involved or a legal document is involved, or not.

This was a thoroughly depressing film, but a touching and well-done look at a polyamorous arrangement.


September 2017

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