Shortbus, as it turns out, is
represented by an excellent commercial DVD:
The key point for our purposes is
that there is no female nudity in the deleted scenes, and the "making of" is
unexceptional, but ... the special on "filming the orgy scene" is definitely of
interest to us. It is only 8 minutes long, so I just made a clip of the entire
thing. Here it is, all 135
meg of it.
Here are my thoughts on the movie.
I like it, but I caution that it is basically a gay movie with some hetero sex
added as a smokescreen.
Sea of Love
Sea of Love in a mainstream erotic
thriller from the 1980s, when erotic thrillers were still "all that." The
three stars lift a so-so screenplay to memorability.
Al Pacino plays a New York cop (there's a surprise) who's trying to track
down a killer. Detective Pacino has three male victims in his case files, and each of them
placed a rhyming ad in the personals. Those were the only three rhyming ads. Pacino also has matching fingerprints at two of the crime scenes, but the
prints don't match anyone in the database, so the police are at an impasse.
Pacino and his partner (John Goodman) come up with a plan: they write their
own rhyming ad and arrange to meet every woman who answers it. They meet for
a drink in a a public restaurant, get the woman's fingerprints on a
water or wine glass, and move on to the next woman.
Only one problem. Pacino is has a
drinking problem. He runs into one of the suspects on the street, and they
hit it off. His loneliness and a head full of booze cloud his judgment, and
fact that it's Ellen Barkin in skin-tight dresses seals the deal, so they
end up getting it on ... and on ... and on. But Pacino never got her prints
on a glass, so she's not cleared and still may be the murderer! A
concatenation of circumstances leads Pacino to become more and more
convinced that she might be the killer, even as he becomes more and more
involved with her and hopes she isn't. He hits the bottle even harder than
before, which further clouds his judgment and accentuates his paranoia.
The film's strength lies in the cat-and-mouse game which the director
plays with the audience.
She's the killer. There's a gun in her purse.
wait. It's a starter's pistol.
Now Pacino has to explain to her why he just
went ballistic, and he has to do so as a guy in love with her, not as a cop.
But he can't tell her the whole truth because she really might be the killer.
Or maybe she's just a nice woman and Pacino is really fucking up her life
with a bunch of lies and half-truths.
They get through the gun incident.
Now here comes another piece of evidence pointing to her, and the cycle
continues. Lather; rinse; repeat. Throughout the cycle, Pacino never knows
if and when she's going to kill him instead of kiss him, and the audience
never knows either. Finally it gets to the point where the evidence is overwhelming. Every
clue points to her. There are too many incriminating circumstances to be
just coincidences. She must be the killer ...
You'll have to watch the film to see how that gets resolved. I won't tell
you the ending, but I will say that the screenplay was deft. The explanation
makes perfect sense, even though I never thought of it as the film
Sea of Love is not a major movie, but is a solid little thriller with
deep character development. Pacino's cop is more than just a cardboard
cut-out. He's flawed; he's an ass; he's lonely; he's a drunk. The key point
is that he's somebody who is known to us. We can probably answer questions
about elements of his life than have not been specifically covered on
screen. That kind of character development allows the audience to think of
him as a member of the family, maybe a cousin who's a pretty decent guy but
needs to slack off the booze. We get deeper into the thrills because
we're into him.
Ellen Barkin? That girl may not be so beautiful and her face may be all
crooked, but damn was she sexy in her prime! She has always seemed to be one
of those actresses who should have been a bigger star. In the late 80s is
seemed that she would be a monster A-lister, and then her career just sort
of petered out. She just seems to have chosen all the wrong scripts in the
90s, and then suddenly she was 50 years old.
Samuel L. Jackson? Don't watch the film hoping to see him. He has a
couple of lines in an early scene unrelated to the central plot. If you're not
looking for him you may miss him.
The DVD has some deleted scenes. Two of them are short and unimportant.
The remainder comprise a complete sub-plot which was wisely dropped. It
concerned a black kid who was fingered as an alternate suspect in the
killings. It was nothing more than a red herring, and not a very logical one
at that, so the director made the right move in cutting it.
It's a B- on our scale because it achieved both critical and popular
- It was a (minor) box office hit, opening at #1 and staying in the top
two for four weeks.
- It has 82% positive reviews.
Ellen Barkin (film clip). Note: we have traditionally believed that this
film contained some body doubling for Ellen Barkin. The director's
commentary does not support this position. That's all Barkin's flesh, and
some very nice flesh it is. Barkin doesn't have a lot of meat on her bones,
but what's there is Grade-A Prime.