Transcripts & Show Notes

Here you will find transcripts, notes, and links to sources or resources for each episode.  If you want to know before listening to the episode or reading the transcript whether a movie is poly or not (perhaps to avoid spoilers), look for the Poly-ish Movie Reviews logo next to the title of the movie on each Show Notes entry.  If the movie has some kind of poly content, you will see the logo.  If the movie is rejected for no poly-ish content, you will not see the logo.  Additionally, you can also visit the Poly-ish Movies tab to see the complete list of verified poly-ish movies, whether that movie has been reviewed or not.

Show Notes will be posted after the audio episode has been released on iTunes and Stitcher.  I will try to post the Show Notes on the same day, but occasionally the Notes may be posted some time later.

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  • Episode 50 - 3 (Drei)

    3 (Drei) (2010) - Internet Movie Data Base - Netflix - Amazon

    I've updated my Netflix queue with poly movies so long ago, I can't remember anymore which movies were added because I saw them on a poly movie list somewhere and which were added because Netflix recommended it to me based on some movie from a poly list that I had just added. So I have no idea where this "3" came from. The Netflix summary reads:

    Berliners Hanna and Simon, a couple in their 40s, have grown comfortable in their marriage. Independently, each meets and romances Adam, a handsome younger man. When Hanna becomes pregnant, all three must face what they've tried to ignore.
    This has every element of a movie I will hate - infidelity, secrecy, Relationship Broken Add More People, and babies as plot devices. This movie isn't going to get a Get Out Of Jail Free card on these points. But I actually liked the movie anyway.

    First of all, the description isn't exactly accurate. It's pretty close, certainly closer than Sleep With Me was. But Hanna and Simon aren't exactly "comfortable". They seem fairly happy, if settled with each other. I mean, sure, they do seem comfortable with each other, but the description would seem to imply the use of the word "comfortable" as a stand-in for bored or in a rut. This couple still has an active sex life and still expresses affection and love for each other. Their relationship isn't broken and neither of them go out looking for something to fix it, or their lives. They seem more or less content with their lives, although they experience some tragedy early on in the movie. They are "comfortable" if you use the definition of your favorite blanket that you curl up with to watch your favorite movies with.

    So, they have a fairly happy, long-term relationship that experiences some stress that just comes from life. Then they each independently meet Adam. The description seems to suggest that each half of the couple were the ones to pursue Adam, but I got the impression that he's the one who put the moves on the couple. Adam is, apparently, bisexual and fine with casual flings. He has interludes with Hanna and Simon, and then goes about his business. But Hanna and Simon keep thinking about Adam and seek him out for more (which he is certainly amenable to). And yet, Hanna and Simon still seem happy with each other, and they're still both sexually active together.

    So, as the summary gives away, Hanna discovers she's pregnant and doesn't know who the father is. So, like in Cafe au Lait, the infidelity is revealed and they all have to deal with it. And this is where I have to give away the ending in order to explain why I think it's a poly-ish movie. I do wish I could start finding some poly-ish movies where the polyamory is the plot (or just another element in the story) and not the conclusion.

    Anyway, here goes.


    When the infidelity is revealed, everyone splits up and stops seeing each other for a while. But then Hanna receives tickets to a show from Simon and when they meet up, they talk. Both admit to missing each other and both admit to missing Adam. Meanwhile, Adam has a conversation with his ex-wife in which it is revealed that he's in love but has lost his chance (he doesn't say who he is in love with).

    I don't think that the baby was really a plot device to bring them back together. Hanna didn't have some weird "you must now both do your parental duty" moment, at least, I didn't interpret any of the scenes like that. The pregnancy seemed to be an excuse to get Hanna to barge into Adam's apartment when Simon was still there, thereby revealing the connections. But what seemed to bring them back together was that they genuinely missed and loved each other.

    I feel that the movie could have been written without a pregnancy and the reunion scenes could have still happened as-written (minus the dialog about the status of the pregnancy). So the couple shows up at Adams house together and the final scene is a very artistic threesome that shows everyone naked and everyone loving each other.

    This film was more artsy than I generally prefer, but then most foreign films are (this being a German film). It did have some gorgeous scenes, including a beautiful dance between a woman and two men that was fairly blatant foreshadowing. But for once, I didn't find the characters hard to relate to. I found Hanna to be the most disagreeable, but she was intelligent and knowledgeable and she liked to argue politics and she was involved in media. Her husband was quiet and passionate and artistic with a soft heart, filled with compassion. And Adam was a brilliant scientist trying to save the world in spite of the public's Luddite fears holding back his research. I think it was obvious why each of the characters liked the others, whether I liked them or not. They were nuanced and complex, and that always wins big points with me.

    So, yes, the story starts out with an infidelity. Unfortunately, so do many poly attempts, which means that we will have that plot represented in our media. And yes, they added a baby. But it wasn't a cautionary tale, there wasn't any hypocrisy really, and no one was rewarded for truly evil behaviour. I found myself drawn into the story and I would recommend watching it.

    You've been reading Poly-ish Movie Reviews, with your host, Joreth, where I watch the crap so you don't have to!

    Posted Apr 28, 2020, 7:07 PM by Joreth InnKeeper
  • Episode 49 - Something About Sex

    Something About Sex (1998) - Internet Movie Data Base - Netflix - Amazon

    Oh. Gourd. This movie. There's so much to hate about this movie. Where to even begin? "Start at the beginning. Yes, yes, And when you come to the end, stop." Scratch that. You'll probably be asking me to stop much sooner than the end. Anyway, here goes.

    This movie stars an all-B-lister cast, with the likes of Jason Alexander and Jonathan Silverman and Patrick Dempsey and Angie Everhardt, so not terrible actors. We meet the 3 main couples in the first scene at a dinner party. There's the feminist man who's hopelessly devoted to respecting his pregnant fiancée and she's characterized by her absolute trust and faith in him. They have this pleasantly, non-threatening sort of progressive relationship that's all liberal, but in a quiet, unassuming sort of way. He spends most of his time trying to distance himself from the asshole Neanderthal men around him.

    Next is the ball-busting, opinionated photographer and her husband. Most of what we see of her is her neuroses. More on that later. He doesn't seem to have anything redeeming about himself to make him stand out in my mind, other than "her husband". I'm not even sure what he does for a living. Finally we have the Jewish attorney who cheated on his first wife with the current wife, and the current wife who, in spite of once being someone's mistress, is naively in love with the idea of monogamy and fidelity and Twue Wuv.

    To stir up the pot, the lawyer invites a writer who is a client of his to his little dinner party. Jason Alexander shows up playing the role of the cynical misanthropist to shatter the illusions off the happily monogamous couples, named Art. His character really pisses me off because he's the role that someone like me would be in at a real dinner party, except he's written by someone who hates him so he portrays that role as a misogynist Radical Truther asshole. He pulls out the usual tropes, such as [insert movie clip of Art comparing men to sex-crazed dogs who can't control their urges] and he coins the phrase "The Monogamy Denial" which is the title of his book, stating that all people are inherently non-monogamous but men especially are because evo-psych biological urges, must hump everything, reasons. Blegh. My partner watching this with me curled his lip at the character and called him "smarmy".

    Art is everything I detest about the circles I run in - skeptical, atheist, non-monogamous, alt-sex lifestylers basically using pop evo-psych to justify being shitheads and walking all over people's dignity in the name of "honesty" and "nature".

    Remember, this is the opening scene. Things go downhill from here. So Art starts spouting his "monogamy is unnatural" bullshit (and I say that as someone who doesn't believe that the human species is inherently monogamous even if some individuals are), and immediately, I mean, with no lead up, the photographer lady gets righteously pissed off, saying "are you insinuating that we are not monogamous, what the hell do you know?"

    [inserted movie clip of Claudia angrily reacting to Art and leaving the party early]

    So everyone tries to calm her down and change the subject, but Art keeps pushing the issue, and the party breaks up early. Each couple goes home ruminating about his "truths" in their own fashion, some wondering if men really are inherently non-monogamous (men, not people, men), some angry at the implications, some taking pity on him and trying to armchair psychoanalyze him as having some sort of pathetically bad experience to make him bitter.

    Next we're introduced to a whole supporting cast of detestable characters designed to support Art's position. The lawyer's brother, for example, is a chubby-chaser - a guy who fetishizes fat women - with an anger management problem. He manages to make a totally reasonable position of someone who relishes the physical experience of sex with different body types and still come off sounding like a disgusting creep. He is also opposed to marriage and believes that monogamy is unnatural. Of course.

    The feminist man, Sam, is a chef in a restaurant who has a coworker of some sort who fulfills the role of the misogynistic guy who believes women are just cum receptacles there for his pleasure. Sam is, to his credit, outwardly and outspokenly appalled at misogynist's behaviour. But when a feminist woman coworker pops her head in to complain, she had to be written as a bitchy feminazi who disapproves of both men and yells at both of them even though Sam was clearly and verbally opposed to Misogynist Man's behaviour. Then the writers reduce her to a sex object by having her stomp off in a huff, still mad at both men, while Misogynist Man leers at her butt and comments on it, and Sam can't help himself from gazing at it walking away either. Yes, I said "it" and not "her". Because the camera zooms in on her ass.

    The rest of the movie is a series of scenes of the men being unable to remain fidelitous to their wives in various contexts, each one questioning whether or not this really "counts" as cheating. Does it count as cheating if he masturbates to porn and goes to blue movies? Does it count as cheating if it's a happy ending handjob at a massage parlor? Does it really count as cheating if you pick up a hot chick at a hockey game and take her back to her house and loudly fuck her while your buddy sits in the living room with her friend in awkward silence?

    The entire movie is nothing but a reinforcement of gender role bullshit. But, remember, the original premise was that monogamy is unnatural for everyone, so the women don't get away scott-free either. It's just that men, apparently, are more likely to cheat and to do so for purely physical reasons (as we're reminded continuously from the justification monologues throughout the film) and women have more complicated reasons for cheating or not cheating. So, enter the wives.

    Claudia, the photographer, waits until nearly the end of the movie to seduce Art. Remember, the woman who blew up with no build-up at even the insinuation that she wasn't monogamous? Specifically at the guy she is now fucking? So Art asks her about it, and she admits that she and her husband have a DADT arrangement (that's Don't Ask Don't Tell). He comments on the hypocrisy of her defending monogamy at the dinner party and she just says that her sex life is no one else's business. Then we learn that Art doesn't actually believe any of the stuff he was spouting at the party, he just said them to see what the reactions would be for research for his next book.

    The lawyer's wife (and former mistress), the one who seems like a freaking Disney character with her big innocent eyes and adamant attachment to fidelity and Twue Wuv, develops a crush on her professor in med school and they have an affair. Meanwhile, the lawyer is wracked with Jewish guilt over the happy ending at the massage parlor and the handjob from the friend while waiting awkwardly for his buddy to finish having sex in the next room. So he tells his wife about it, she freaks out, he reminds her that she wanted complete honesty, and she graciously forgives him while warning him how difficult it will be to gain her trust back. She never once admits to her infidelity, which was technically worse because she had intercourse but was somehow justifiable because it involved "feelings". Or something.

    Sammy, the pregnant fiancée of the feminist chef Sam who likes porn, meanwhile finds one of his videos and completely freaks out thanks to her man-hating sister who was cheated on once and now thinks all men are pigs and will cheat. The sister convinces her that porn automatically leads to real sex. So Sammy hires a detective to follow Sam around and discovers his penchant for blue movie theaters. Convinced that he must also be having sex with women all over the place, they set him up with an "operative" who is "prepared to go all the way" to get the evidence for his cheating. But, as Sammy watches from the surveillance van down the street (seriously), Sam proves himself to be worthy of her love and doesn't bow to the seduction, confessing his devotion and love to his beautiful pregnant fiancée.

    This movie reinforces gender roles, evo-psych justifications, a cynical view of love, and yet still manages to also reinforce monogamy and social expectations. All the couples remain in their couples, only with lies and secrets and guilt between them, and they all end smiling at Sam & Sammy's wedding in a veneer of happiness with the implication that all is as it should be - cheating husbands and all.

    I think the best summary for this movie was given by my then-partner when I asked him what he thought. He said, "It was almost a good movie. It had a budget, it had decent actors, it had locations and nice sets, it had some funny moments. It was almost a good movie except for that bit in the middle. Where they talked."

    You've been reading Poly-ish Movie Reviews, with your host, Joreth, where I watch the crap so you don't have to!

    Posted Mar 24, 2020, 1:14 PM by Joreth InnKeeper
  • Episode 48 - Three

    Three (1998) - Netflix - Amazon - IMDB
    There are several movies by this name. Every time someone recommends a movie to me called Three, I go to look for it on Netflix and half a dozen movies pop up, and I can't tell which one is which. So it wasn't until about 10 minutes in that I realized I had already watched this movie. But I haven't reviewed it yet, so I guess it wasn't a total waste of an hour and a half.
    I'll be honest, from the Netflix description, I didn't have high hopes for this movie. The very summary makes it sound like a torn-between-two-lovers-and-forced-to-make-a-choice movie. And that is what it was. But the title screen on the DVD is incredibly misleading. It shows an FMF threesome that never happens in the movie.
    The movie was interesting, and it certainly had a lot to say on the subject of homosexuality and coming out, so I might recommend it on that basis. But it wasn't poly. Tito and Elsie are unhappily married. Tito is an arrogant, entitled, selfish asshole and Elsie is incredibly fearful - she moves through life on the path of least courage. Tito is screwing a colleague, Susan, who is desperately trying to steal Tito away from Elsie, even though Tito has never given her any reason to think he would leave his wife (I think he's getting off on the idea of cheating even more than the sex itself, and leaving his wife for her would take that away).
    Before Elsie married Tito (at her mother's insistence), she had a secret lesbian relationship with Alice, the "tomboy" next door. Elsie couldn't handle the idea of her mother finding out or experiencing any sort of cultural shame for being gay, so she bowed to pressure and broke up with Alice and married Tito.
    But Alice has cancer and wants Elsie back - not just because she wants her hot lovin' but because Alice very strongly believes in personal authenticity and coming out and being true to oneself. She worries that Elsie will never come out and will continue to live a lie, unhappy in her marriage until she dies, if Alice doesn't inspire her to be more courageous.
    But, just to add another layer of complexity, Alice has been living with another lover (whose name I never caught) who stays with her through everything, caring for her, giving her the shots & IV drips, even being with her on her deathbed and yet is tossed aside as soon as Elsie walks in the door. When Elsie leaves her husband for Alice, she manages to live with Alice and her now-former lover for 9 months before even bothering to ask the lover who she is to Alice or what their relationship was before she came along.
    So, there's no polyamory happening here. Tito cheats on his wife. His wife leaves him for her ex-girlfriend. The ex-girlfriend dumps her own partner to get back together with the wife. And everyone is contemptuous and disrespectful to the poor ex-lover still living in the house, caring for her terminally sick love.
    And the story is told from her point of view.
    There were some really interesting bits about Tito getting over his homophobia, coming out to Elsie's mother, raising a child in a gay community, parents who don't love each other trying to co-parent and live together, courage, fear, and personal growth. Anyone interested in movies on these kinds of subjects might want to check out this movie.
    But I didn't like any of the characters, and as regular listeners might know by now, if I can't empathize with the characters, then I have trouble enjoying the story. At least this time there was a reason for putting together the main couple when they didn't actually like each other. Usually movies do that and expect us to just accept that they're in a happy relationship that we should be rooting for (or that they're not currently in a romantic relationship but that we should be hoping that they get into one in spite of not liking each other). So I didn't have any trouble wondering why they were together since they didn't like each other. I just thought that everyone did really foolish things and it was completely obvious to me why everyone was unhappy. Somehow, that made it much easier to sit through than movies that give happy endings to people who totally fuck up their own lives or who vilify or sacrifice those who do something contrary when they should have been happy.

    You've been reading Poly-ish Movie Reviews, with your host, Joreth, where I watch the crap so you don't have to!

    To subscribe on iTunes or leave a review, visit

    Posted Mar 8, 2020, 9:57 PM by Joreth InnKeeper
  • Episode 47 - Bandits

    Bandits (2001) - IMDB - Netflix - Amazon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    I recommend watching this movie. We showed it at our local Poly Movie Nights, and it was a big hit with the whole audience.

    You've been reading Poly-ish Movie Reviews, with your host, Joreth, where I watch the crap so you don't have to!
    Posted Mar 8, 2020, 9:58 PM by Joreth InnKeeper
  • Episode 46 - The Blood Oranges
    The Blood Oranges (1999) - Internet Movie Data Base - Netflix - Amazon
    "Husband and wife Cyril and Fiona explore new ground and new relationships when they take a vacation in the tropics. While on holiday, the pair meets another couple, Hugh and Catherine, and their three children. Relationships become intertwined when Cyril and Fiona lose their inhibitions and seek sexual intimacy with Hugh and Catherine in this erotic drama."
    So Netflix says. It sounded pretty promising, and yeah, I think this fits under the "poly-ish" heading. Cyril and Fiona are clearly in an open marriage with both of them openly supportive of each others' interests. Honestly, though, I was surprised to see that this movie was made in 1999. It just felt like another '60s sexual revolution type of film, not the least of which was a slightly predatory personality from Fiona and a pseudo-sex cult leader attitude from Cyril, but also it just kind of looked like it - the cinematography and lack of a soundtrack, I think.

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

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

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

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

    So, I'd recommend this movie if dramas are your thing and you want to see a poly movie that doesn't end with polyamory destroying everyone's lives and, in fact, the polyamory is beneficial to providing an emotional support structure in difficult times.

    You've been reading Poly-ish Movie Reviews, with your host, Joreth, where I watch the crap so you don't have to!

    Posted Apr 18, 2019, 9:20 AM by Joreth InnKeeper
  • Episode 45 - The Unbearable Lightness Of Being

    The Unbearable Lightness Of Being (1988) - Internet Movie Data Base - Netflix - Amazon

    Sometimes I think that maybe I'm actually speaking a different language from everyone else, and maybe I have some kind of universal translator or babelfish so that I can't tell, but that the translator is buggy or slightly off in some ways. Because people don't seem to use words in the same way that I do. Even with a dictionary, people use words differently, and I find that I am constantly having semantics arguments because we can't discuss a topic until we are all on the same page about what the words we are using mean.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


    Tomas and Tereza eventually settle down when Tereza convinces him to leave the city (and, hence, his ready supply of willing adulterers) and live in the country, and they seem to be happily monogamous for a time. So when a guy who can't remain sexually fidelitous is finally able to only by removing his access to other women, and when the couple is shown as finally happy when said other women are removed from the picture, I have a hard time accepting the badge of "polyamory" or even "poly-ish" that the movie has been given. It comes too close to "open relationships are a train-wreck and everyone is happier when they are monogamous" to me.

    Sabina does appear to have remained a close friend of Tomas, right up until the end, but even she was removed from his reach, and she had to love him from afar. She also proclaimed herself as "their closest friend", meaning a close friend to both Tomas and Tereza, but "close friend" from across the globe and not having seen or spoken to them in years is really tough for me to stretch into "poly".

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

    You've been reading Poly-ish Movie Reviews, with your host, Joreth, where I watch the crap so you don't have to!

    Posted Apr 15, 2019, 8:31 PM by Joreth InnKeeper
  • Episode 44 - She's Gotta Have It (movie)

    She's Gotta Have It (1986) - Internet Movie Data Base - Netflix - Amazon

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

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

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

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

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

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

    I think I want to include this on the Poly-ish Movie List because I think a lot of polys go through similar arguments before they find a community, and I think it's a valid part of the broader story of what it's like to be poly. But this was not a story of a poly relationship. If anything, it was the story of a poly-ish woman stuck in a mono world.

    You've been reading Poly-ish Movie Reviews, with your host, Joreth, where I watch the crap so you don't have to!
    Posted Apr 12, 2019, 12:30 PM by Joreth InnKeeper
  • Episode 43 - The Mentalist

    The Mentalist s02e16 (2009) - Internet Movie Data Base - Netflix - Amazon

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

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

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

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

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

    But again, I'm getting off topic.

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

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

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

    So, what does this have to do with polyamory? Nothing, and that's why I was caught by surprise and why I liked the episode as much as I did.

    In Season 2, there is an episode called Code Red. It takes place in a bio-warfare lab where one of the research scientists goes into the containment area to do her work, opens the scary briefcase of deadly toxin, finds one of the vials missing, looks around, and sees it lying, open, on the floor. Knowing she has only a few hours left to live, she hops on her fancy research computer there in the containment lab (which is also connected to the internet) and finds the "best detective" in town - Patrick Jayne - and calls to tell him that she has been murdered.

    So, Jayne does what TV detectives do, and rounds up the usual suspects, including her husband / co-researcher. In the course of the investigation, we find out that she has been having an affair with another researcher. Well, that makes Hubby the number one prime suspect, right?


    Normally, it would, and the team immediately turns to the husband. Except they find out that the Mister & Missus have an open marriage. As they try to poke the husband for hints of jealousy, husband and wife both put their hands on the glass wall separating them and gaze soulfully into each others' eyes as they both admit to having "affairs" and to not being jealous. The husband goes so far as to explain that he loves his wife so much, that her happiness means everything to him, and her lover makes her happy, therefore he is happy about the lover.

    [inserted clip of the husband being happy for his wife having a lover]

    Well, at this point, the writers have a choice to make. They can, like they did in House, show the cracks in the facade of this weird "open marriage" and eventually lead us to some jilted lover or the husband who was secretly really jealous or even the wife taking her own life in some sort of guilty conscience and wanting to frame her husband or something. Because, of course, only "crazy" people have open marriages, right? Or they can use the open marriage as a red herring that eventually leads to a dead end, to distract us from who the real killer might be.

    Guess which path they took?

    I'll give you a hint. In fact, I already gave you the hint. I liked the episode.

    That's right, this was treated as something none of the main characters understood, but, as it didn't actually lead to the killer, it was immediately dismissed as unimportant. We met the wife's lover, and we also met a former lover of the husband.

    [inserted clip of the wife's lover describing his response to the unusual arrangement]

    The husband's former lover had nothing but kind words to say about both husband and wife, with no estrangement or bad feelings post-breakup. In fact, she revealed some of the social backlash that *she* received for participating in this unusual arrangement.

    [inserted clip of the husband's former lover describing the backlash]

    The relationship was not dysfunctional and did not contribute to the case, therefore, even if the main characters didn't "get it", it was not otherwise worthy of comment. There was also no relationship re-evaluation by the main characters in light of the events that eventually led to a reaffirmation of social norms. The polyamory (although they never used the word) was just a non-event.

    In order to explain why I liked the episode, I did have to reveal the red herring, which is a common plot twist in murder mysteries - any good one will have at least 2 before the crime is solved. So I ruined that for you. But I won't tell you what the actual resolution was, in case ya'll want to actually see the episode.

    And I do recommend watching the show.

    It's a TV drama, where complicated murder plots have to be set up and then revealed in an hour, so we have all the expected super-cop stuff that happens in TV shows, where warrants come in on time and fingerprints can be run in a couple of hours, and Jayne's deception expertise borders on real magic. Blah blah blah, I like the show anyway. And I liked this episode because an open marriage was introduced and ended up being, as far as I can tell, exactly what the couple said it was - a happy open marriage with satellite partners who didn't seem too harmed by their experiences with the couple - and their open marriage did not lead to death and distruction. Therefore, this was not one of those morality plays I hate so much that want to tell us "polyamory is doomed to fail, here, watch this train-wreck to see why".

    Jayne's detection skills seem supernatural, which could be bothersome to real skeptics. In fact, those of us who have spent time learning about "psychics" and their tricks know how sloppy they actually are. When you're not their target, when you are aware of what they're doing, and when you're looking for it, these people really aren't very good. They throw out a whole buch of bullshit like spaghetti to see what sticks to the wall, and their "marks" do the work for them - remembering the hits and forgetting the misses, supplying the answers themselves but misremembering later, stuff like that. I mean, they're really not very good. Hell, I used to do it myself when I was a teenager, and I amazed everyone. Cold reading combined with an intuitive sense of people, relationship dynamics, and psychology can be a pretty amazing combination. But in the end, it's just a lot of guessing.

    Jayne, in the nature of television, skips over all the misses and just seems to "hit" every single time he opens his mouth. I know that's not how it works, and I don't care. He also breaks all the rules and always gets away with it - the typical "maverick cop". In the real world, I don't want any maverick cops that get excused. I don't want vigilante justice. I want a system in place to protect me from those who would abuse their roles as my protectors. I don't want rule-breaking built into the institution and I don't want what we see on TV to be celebrated and practiced by flawed humans with their egos and their broken perceptions and without high-paid writers who know the ending. They have rules for a reason, and I am very disdainful about cops who break the rules. But in a TV show, I get to indulge my schadenfreude and my frustration at the injustices of the world and have cops who follow the rules when they should, and break the rules when it's necessary, and the bad guys always pay the price for their crimes.

    So keep that in mind if you watch the show. It's a TV cop drama, and all that it entails. But to get more skepticism on television, to explain how the quacks, frauds, and charlatans pull their cons on unsuspecting victims, I'll take the formulaic writing if that's what it takes to keep a show on the air that highlights science & skepticism where the general public can see it. And I'll also take more shows where polyamory makes an appearance but isn't the evil that leads to destruction and chaos. In an episodic series where the characters have to come into contact with a variety of people, of course they should come in contact with people in unusual relationship structures. I would prefer to see these people portrayed realistically, not always as villains or as victims of their own relationship choices necessarily going bad.

    You've been reading Poly-ish Movie Reviews, with your host, Joreth, where I watch the crap so you don't have to!

    Posted Dec 16, 2018, 5:03 AM by Joreth InnKeeper
  • Episode 42 - Family

    Family (a web series) (2008) - Internet Movie Data Base - Web Streaming - Amazon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    You've been reading Poly-ish Movie Reviews, with your host, Joreth, where I watch the crap so you don't have to!

    Posted Dec 14, 2018, 1:30 AM by Joreth InnKeeper
  • Episode 41 - Le Bonheur

    Le Bonheur (1965) - Internet Movie Data Base - Amazon (non-US format)
    Someone recommended this movie to me as a poly movie, and I can see why he did, but I have to disagree. I don't think this was a poly movie. I think this movie had a poly character in it, but the movie was not polyamorous. As far as enjoyment goes, my tastes run towards the banal and crude - I like action flicks and screwball comedies. I've written several times that I just don't get artsy films or foreign films made during the sexual revolution when things were all experimental and everything looked like the writers and directors were permanently on LSD.
    So you might like this film if your tastes differ from mine - don't avoid seeing it on the basis of my personal enjoyment if you happen to be into artsy or foreign or '60s movies. And as far as artsy or foreign or '60s movies goes, this wasn't even all that horrible. It didn't have the bizarre music or jump cuts of A Woman Is A Woman. But, probably because of the difference in cultures, I just didn't find this movie very interesting or the characters very compelling. I know, there's irony in that statement after admitting that I like movies like Caddyshack. But it's the truth, I found the movie just kind of blah. However, I can see other people enjoying it. I have lots of friends who like lots of movies that I don't enjoy, and I can see some of them really liking this film.
    As for the poly stuff, the plot is about a married man who loves and adores his wife and kids, but who falls in love with another woman. According to my movie guidelines, cheating movies do not get added to the list, but a movie where the cheater genuinely loves both of his partners and there is some outside constriction preventing them from living honestly (such as social taboos) may be exempted and be added to the list.
    Francois loves Therese, his wife. He's very happy with his life; content. But then one day he meets Emilie. And he falls immediately in love. This was his first strike against him, for me. I don't much hold with the love-at-first-sight bullshit. I believe people can have instant attractions to each other, and then sometimes, by coincidence, they are attracted to people who happen to also be compatible to them, so the attraction-at-first-sight can blossom into a true love, and it is when that happens that people think they fell in love at first sight. But we don't hear epic tales of attraction-at-first-sight that then turns out poorly. It's a matter of confirmation bias, or the Fake Boob/ Fake Toupee fallacy (which says "I can always spot fake boobs/toupees because they look fake, except when they don't and I can't"). Love at first sight is real, except when it isn't.
    Anyway, so Francois falls in "love" with Emilie and immediately begins an affair with her. As I said, cheating movies don't make the list, but loving both partners might exempt it, so this movie could have been added to the list. The reason why it's not is because of the ending, which changes the whole tone of the movie into "multi-partner relationships are Wrong and Bad", and which I'll go into next, so spoilers ahead.


    I think Francois is a selfish, egocentric jerk, more concerned with his own pleasure than anything else. Not liking a character, of course, is not grounds for expulsion from the list. But I didn't like him anyway. There isn't any indication in the movie that there is strong social pressure against turning this cheating V into an honest relationship. It just appears to be How Things Are Done, but there's no constriction or struggle against it.
    Francois is honest with his mistress, Emilie, about being married with kids and about being happy with his home life. He gives her no illusions that she might one day become Mrs. Francois. So he has that going for him. But he never expresses any interest or desire in trying to change things, and Emilie accepts that she is the mistress out of hand.
    However, the conversation we see between Emilie and Francois about this very thing is what makes me believe that Francois is actually poly and not just a cheating bastard who thinks with his prick, and is probably why the movie was recommended to me in the first place. He explains to Emilie how he loves both his wife and his mistress, that they're very different people and not interchangeable, and how happiness and love grows when there are more people.
    In this conversation, he says that it was only chance that led him to meet his wife first and Emilie second, but if they had met in the reverse order, he would probably be living with Emilie instead. Emilie doesn't try to talk him out of his marriage, doesn't pout and wish to replace the wife. She seems to accept her role as mistress without any fuss. So this is why I don't see any particular outside pressure because the characters don't seem to be stressed or pressured to conform - they seem to be content with the way things are.
    Later, Therese, the wife, notices that Francois has been extra happy of late and asks him why. Francois tries to get out of telling her, but she pushes, and he finally admits that there is another woman. Here we have another conversation that indicates he is obviously poly. He explains to Therese that his love for Emilie is not love taken away from Therese, that all his love for Theresa is still all his love for Theresa, it's just that extra love grew for Emilie when he met her.
    Therese's lines indicate that she is unhappy with this revelation, but her acting doesn't show any emotion at all. At the end of this 2 minute conversation, Theresa smiles and does a complete reversal, accepting that her husband has a mistress and instigating sex.
    At this point, I'm thinking, "ah, French films ... I just don't get them." But then came the part that took this movie out of the running for me.
    This conversation between Francois and Therese takes place in the woods on their weekly picnic with the kids. Francois takes a nap after the sex and wakes up to find Therese gone. After a frantic search through the woods, he finds a crowd of people surrounding the body of his wife, who drowned herself in the lake. Obviously, Therese did not accept sharing her husband.
    So we went from a movie with a poly guy stuck in a mono world with a wife and a mistress, to a movie with a selfish man whose personal pleasure was more important than the life or happiness of those around him, who cheated on his wife and kept the lie for as long as possible with no intentions of ever telling her except that she browbeat it out of him, and of said wife being so opposed to non-monogamy that she killed herself immediately, leaving her two toddler-age children alone with her cheating husband.
    This, to me, sets the tone for "non-monogamy is doomed to fail, here watch this train-wreck to see why" and takes this movie off the list.
    But it's not over yet.
    So then Francois is left alone with his kids. But because he's a single father in the '60s, it is determined that he cannot care for the kids himself and gives them up to his brother & sister-in-law (or is it sister & brother-in-law? Whatever, it's the kids' aunt and uncle) to raise. After finishing the rest of the summer without his wife, without his kids, and without his mistress (he stayed in the town he was working in, rather than going back to his home, where the mistress happened to also live), he decides that he wants his happiness back.
    So, conveniently, he has a young woman sitting around waiting for him and immediately sets her up in the role of substitute wife and mother. Emilie is just so happy to have Francois back in her life that she agrees to anything he wants. So Emilie steps in and Francois goes back to, basically, his original setup with a beautiful young wife and two young kids.
    And that's where it ends.
    This is why I find him to be selfish and egocentric. This whole movie is all about what Francois wants and he maneuvers everyone else around him to provide him with the life he wants without regard to everyone else's feelings. Emilie is now saddled with two toddlers, and we see a montage of Emilie feeding the kids, cleaning up after them, and being the dutiful housewife, whereas Therese was happy being the housewife, but the news of his infidelity made her so miserable that the only way she could see out was death. And in the end, Francois gets his life back with apparently no consequences except that he only has one woman instead of two, but he doesn't seem to mind all that much. By the end, the two women certainly seemed interchangeable to me, as Francois walks off into the sunset with his new wife and kids, all holding hands and strolling through the woods as if nothing has changed.
    Although Francois said a lot of very good poly lines, this movie had that elusive and hard-to-quantify tone that implies, to me, that non-monogamy is bad. As I said in the guidelines, it's not whether a movie ends happily or tragically, or whether a multi-adult relationship breaks up or stays together - it's what the movie says about non-monogamy that puts it on the poly-ish movie list or not. And, in spite of the main character clearly being about loving multiple people, this movie said to me that non-monogamy is cruel and wrong and that a happy nuclear family is the goal.
    I think one could defend some ambivalence in the message, with Francois being written sympathetically and not as a villain, so I don't actually recommend that ya'll avoid seeing this movie. It may be worth your time. But I think that the way things were wrapped up, ambivalence aside, the message was more pro-nuclear-family than pro-consider-alternatives, so I will not include it on the list, but I will suggest that people might want to see this movie if they're into French cinema or if they want to hear a protagonist defend the idea of loving two women at the same time.
    You've been reading Poly-ish Movie Reviews, with your host, Joreth, where I watch the crap so you don't have to!

    Posted Oct 15, 2018, 9:07 AM by Joreth InnKeeper
  • Episode 40 - Keeping The Faith

    Keeping The Faith (2006) - Internet Movie Data Base - Netflix - Amazon

    I think this is one of those movies that Netflix recommended to me based on adding some other "similar" movie. I wasn't even entirely sure, with a title like that, if the movie was on the list to review for polyamory or for my list of skeptical movies. But with the happy surprise of the last movie I reviewed (A Strange Affair), I was actually kind of hopeful about this one. It was the story of two young men who were best friends as kids, growing up to become a Jewish rabbi and a Catholic priest, and the tomboy who was also their best childhood friend coming back into town as a successful, beautiful, corporate CEO. Because it had big names in it, the movie was most likely to be not-poly, but the setup had some potential.

    Unfortunately, it flopped.

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Unfortunately, that was not the movie I watched.

    You've been reading Poly-ish Movie Reviews, with your host, Joreth, where I watch the crap so you don't have to!

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

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

    Of course *I* know this doesn't always happen and that there are exceptions, which is why I speak so condescendingly of the Monogamous Mindset and of this rule in particular, so please don't leave a comment like "but I married my best friend and it's the best relationship I've ever had!" I know, that's what makes this rule so irritating. But it's out there, and it permeates our society, and is quite possibly responsible for a significant amount of unnecessary heartache.
    Posted Sep 15, 2018, 7:46 PM by Joreth InnKeeper
  • Episode 39 - A Strange Affair

    A Strange Affair (aka A Husband, A Wife, And A Lover) (1996) - Netflix - IMDB - Amazon

    The Netflix summary reads:
    "Judith Light stars in this sexy made-for-TV drama about a married woman who discovers that her husband of 23 years has been unfaithful. Just as she finds passionate love in another man's arms and prepares to divorce her husband, he suddenly has a stroke and becomes physically incapacitated. Will she move back in with her husband and take care of him ... even though she may risk losing her new lover?"
    When a movie arrives in my mailbox, I don't always remember if I put it in my queue because it was on a poly list somewhere or because Netflix recommended it to me as "similar" to the poly movies I just added to my queue. Judging by the summary, I assumed this was one of the latter types of "poly" movies. I sat down with this movie with the lowest of expectations, prepared to hate it for yet another cheating drama that would probably end with some kind of choice being made, and possibly even a choice I would think was toxic or foolish.
    I couldn't have been more wrong. And I love it when I'm wrong about things like this.
    First of all, the Netflix summary gets the order of events wrong, which is partially why I had such low expectations. Lisa is married to Eric, a charismatic, charming film maker who hasn't made a film in 7 years and spends his time gambling with the money he steals from his wife and fucking his secretary. We are introduced to this plot by meeting a loan shark's thug who has come to intimidate Lisa at work in the very first scene. Eric is the kind of guy I loathe - an idealistic dreamer who has absolutely no connection to reality and thinks his charm entitles him to break the rules and treat everyone around him like shit.
    But he's charming, and a lot of women find themselves in love with charming users like this. And once you're in love, it becomes all too easy to overlook, to excuse, and to rationalize, until you are trapped - held hostage by your own emotions.
    But Lisa finds her spine and prepares to leave now that both of her children are out of the house and in college. Except that the day she actually gets the courage to leave, she gets a call from her daughter saying that her husband has had a stroke. So Lisa returns home to care for her husband.
    What I really like about how the writer treated this situation is that he made no secret of the resentment that Lisa feels at being trapped again, by her love and her responsibility to Eric. She moves back home to care for him, but she is also excrutiatingly honest when she tells him that their marriage is over and she is only there because her conscience won't let her abandon a dying man who is also the father of her children. I found this to be a bold, courageous choice in storytelling because it is not socially acceptable to be "mean" to someone who is sick and/or dying. Being struck with a crippling illness doesn't erase that person's past as a jerk, and it doesn't necessarily change them, automatically, into a nice person either. It might be inconvenient timing, but leaving someone or disliking someone who has had a near-fatal incident doesn't necessarily make that person a bad person. And that's a really bitter pill for some people to swallow.
    The rest of the movie follows Lisa as she attempts to recover from the financial ruin her husband has put her into with his gambling while now being financially responsible for his medical care, and two people with a painful history learning to live together with a debilitating and life-threatening illness.
    Now for the poly stuff.
    Enter Art, the mechanic who takes pity on Lisa when her car breaks down and she tries to work out a payment plan because she can't afford to pay the bill. Art starts doing stuff around the house for her to make her life a little easier. And in the process, he falls in love.
    I won't give away the ending or the details, but what transpires is a very touching story of a woman who learns to fall back in love with her husband while discovering love with someone new. And, even more touching is the story of a man who loves his wife but who is ultimately selfish and is then forced to re-evaluate his priorities and deal with the fact that she loves another man. This is also the very touching story of a man who falls in love with a married woman, who shows us what true love is - the desire to see another person happy and to facilitate that happiness, whatever it means. If she still loves her husband, then her husband must be kept around and must be honored as the man she loves.
    I think this is a good example of the kinds of situations that people can relate to - a bridge between the poly and mono worlds. It's not really a poly analogue because she flat out says that she is in love with two men. We see the tension between the metamours, we see the disapproval of the children and the neighbors, we see the resentment of being held back, and the loving amazement when poly works well. It's just a story told within the framework of a situation that non-polys might be able to sympathize with ... a setup that puts a monogamous person in a very difficult position where things are no longer black and white.
    What do you do when your husband & father of your children is an asshole but you still love him? What do you do when you are trapped in a marriage that is over but love finds your doorstep anyway? What do you do when you are financially strapped and alone and someone offers no-strings-attached help simply because he thinks you could use it? What do you do when you fall in love with someone you are not supposed to love?
    This was one of those poly-ish type movies - a situation that lives on the fuzzy borders of what is and is not polyamory. But the tone of the movie, the scenes between the metamours, the complexity of emotion, the selfless version of love, all make me feel that this movie fits quite squarely into the polyamory category in spite of any debate over which configurations really "count".
    I recommend this movie, both for the poly-ish movie list and to watch.

    You've been reading Poly-ish Movie Reviews, with your host, Joreth, where I watch the crap so you don't have to!

    Posted Sep 14, 2018, 9:23 PM by Joreth InnKeeper
  • Episode 38 - Fling

    Fling (2008) - Internet Movie Data Base - Netflix - Amazon

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

    Mason is constantly accused of being a user and being afraid to commit, but, as my metamour, Maxine, pointed out to me, "yeah, so that sort of fear of commitment only makes sense if your definition of 'commitment' is to monogamy and being jealous and controlling of your partners", since Mason seems disinclined to leave his relationship with Sam. He seems pretty committed to remaining in his relationship with his partner, to me, he's just not committed to being sexually monogamous, which isn't a commitment that his partner is asking of him.  In fact, there was a scene where everything could have been resolved in a happy poly way, and given what I thought I knew of the characters before, I would have believed the movie if it had taken that direction, and I did not believe the characters choosing the other path.

    The implication is that yes, Mason really was a selfish user who was afraid to commit and Sam really did want a traditional life. The problem is that I just didn't see them that way.  I do not think that the first half of the movie justified coming to that conclusion and I don't think that the characters were written or directed to make that a reasonable assumption or conclusion.

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

    Basically, this movie could be summarized as "this is what non-polys think of polyamory and open relationships, and how things are supposed to end for us". But that means that there really was a poly-ish relationship in it, which means it should go on the list. It also means that, if this is the case, then this movie would be valuable to the poly community to show what non-polys think of us and other non-monogamists.


    You've been reading Poly-ish Movie Reviews, with your host, Joreth, where I watch the crap so you don't have to!

    Posted Sep 6, 2018, 4:36 PM by Joreth InnKeeper
  • Episode 37 - Esmeralda Comes By Night

    Esmeralda Comes By Night (1997) - Internet Movie Data Base - Netflix  - Amazon

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

    "Bewitching, passionate and beautiful, Esmeralda is happily married -- to five husbands! But just as she's about to marry groom No. 6, she's charged with polygamy. She reveals her reasons for marrying each husband to stern Judge Solorio, who -- like Esmeralda's spouses -- is no match for her charms. Meanwhile, her husbands conspire to break her out of jail, and feminists demonstrate in her defense."
    This movie was charmingly campy. It wasn't *brilliantly* campy, like I might say for Bruce Campbell where the camp is a finely tuned sense of humor and understanding of the subject matter. This movie was campy in the Mama's Family sort of way - cheesy and goofy with a godawful fashion sense, but with the occasional flash of insightful social commentary.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    But in spite of those truly bizarre, extraneous ending scenes, I still really liked the movie and I still recommend it if you like cheesy films. And, quibbles about lies and omissions aside, I think this movie definitely qualifies as a poly movie!

    You've been reading Poly-ish Movie Reviews, with your host, Joreth, where I watch the crap so you don't have to!

    Posted Apr 13, 2019, 12:21 PM by Joreth InnKeeper
  • Episode 36 - Sleep With Me

    Sleep With Me (1994) - Internet Movie Data Base - Netflix - Amazon

    I don't think I've ever felt so misled by a movie summary before in my life. Netflix says

    "A modern-day couple, Joseph and Sarah, discovers there's room for a third person in their marriage in this unusual romantic comedy. Joseph's best friend, Frank, is in love with Sarah, too, and no matter how much he tries, he can't get over her."
    IMDB says
    "Six different writers wrote a scene each of this romantic comedy featuring the marriage and turbulent relationship of Joseph and Sarah, with Joseph's best friend Frank trying hard to cope with letting the love of his life marry his best friend."

    And Amazon says

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

    That's it.

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

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

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

    All I know is that everyone in that movie seemed to be miserable, including every single supporting character, and if that's what life and love are supposed to be like, I'll take my "unrealistic", "naive" poly family, thank you very much. Even though we also have conflict and occasionally some people in the network just don't get along in general, at least the romantic partners seem to like each other most of the time and just about everyone at least attempts to be polite to each other, and at the end of the day, no one stays out of obligation or fear of being alone. And goddamnit, no one starts a fucking shouting match at a party or thinks that public humiliation is an appropriate conflict resolution strategy.

    You've been reading Poly-ish Movie Reviews, with your host, Joreth, where I watch the crap so you don't have to!

    Posted Sep 6, 2018, 5:16 PM by Joreth InnKeeper
  • Episode 35 - Rita, Sue, & Bob Too

    DVD cover of the movie Rita, Sue, And Bob Too

     Rita, Sue, & Bob Too (1987) - Internet Movie Data Base - Amazon

    I just watched the creepiest fucking movie ever.

    Rita and Sue are teenagers about to graduate high school. At least, I think. It's a film from the UK and I am one of those annoying US-centric Americans who has very little information about how the rest of the world does things, so I have absolutely no clue how the educational system works there, but it's weeks away from the end of their mandatory schooling and when they can move out of their parents' homes. 

     Rita and Sue are babysitters for Bob and Michelle. Again, I have no idea how that system works, but they are apparently both sitters. When I used to babysit, if the parents were going to be out particularly late, I was sometimes allowed to invite a female friend over to keep me company, but I was the only paid sitter. It was never explained how it works for Rita and Sue, I imagine because everyone in the UK already knows how it works. But they both sit together regularly.

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

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


    There is absolutely no way to explain the poly part of this movie without giving away the ending. Sorry. At least you don't have to sit through 2 hours of it to finally get to the poly part.

    Eventually we learn that his wife, Michelle, doesn't like sex and hasn't had sex with Bob in ages, but refuses to allow him sex elsewhere. We also learn that this isn't the first time Bob has cheated on her and Michelle knows about the first time - their last babysitter. They fight constantly over Michelle's lack of desire and Bob's infidelity and she continually accuses him of fucking the two teen girls, which he denies. Meanwhile, Bob makes regular trips to the high school where the girls ditch class to go fuck.

    The sex scenes are uncomfortable and gross. Each girl waits her turn outside of the car, hurling insults and asking if he's almost done. The girls bicker and fight with each other and with everyone around them. They both come from the lower class neighborhood, with Sue's father being a fall-down-drunk and her mother complaining at her father while her father rages at Sue.

    Eventually, the threesome are seen at a nightclub by Michelle's best friend, who promptly tells Michelle about it. Michelle then drags her friend over to Rita's house, drags Rita out by the sweater and over to Sue's house, where Bob shows up, and everyone stands on the front stoop shouting at each other - Michelle, Rita, Sue, Sue's mum and dad, and Bob.

    Then, from out of nowhere, a gang of dirtbikers comes tearing down the street and onto the apartment building's lawn, circling the live re-enactment of Jerry Springer outside, and Rita jumps onto the back of one of the bikes and they all ride off together, leaving Sue screaming and on her own. Michelle speeds home, packs her kids and a few things, and destroys everything else, and leaves before Bob gets back.

    The next day, Sue walks over to Rita's house, as she does every morning to walk to school together. Rita announces that she's dropping out of school two weeks before they graduate because Bob has asked her to move in with him (but not Sue), that Rita has been with Bob lots of times without Sue, that they didn't use condoms, and that Rita is now pregnant. Hurt and offended that she was not asked to move in and that Rita was with Bob without her, Sue storms off, only to run into Bob outside, who offers to continue boffing Sue on the side. Sue gets offended at the idea of screwing around with her best friend's man and storms off ... er ... continues storming off.

    Sue starts dating some kid who we met earlier who made a bet with his buddy that he'd nail Sue before the buddy did. Again, Sue is antagonistic and insulting, but that doesn't put off our intrepid Aslam. After Aslam gets insulted by Sue's drunk father, they move in together with Aslam's sister, who keeps them in separate rooms.

    Rita ends up having a miscarriage and Sue goes to see her at the hospital. Bob drives Sue home and Aslam goes into a jealous rage, accusing Sue of fucking Bob and threatening to wring her neck if she even so much as looks at another man again. Back at Rita and Bob's house, Bob calls out Sue's name during sex, which pisses off Rita, who promptly storms down to Sue's house to accuse her of sleeping with Bob.

    So far, NONE of this is sounding very poly, but it's a lot dysfunctional.

    Apparently, Rita runs into Aslam and tells him about the incident with Bob and her intentions for Sue ... at least I assume that's what happened, because we see the two of them stalking up to Aslam's house but Aslam makes Rita wait outside. Alsam goes into the house and starts screaming at Sue about being a slut and a whore and smacks her across the face. Sue has no idea what he's talking about, of course. Alsam lets Rita into the room to explain, but before she can say anything, Alsam attacks Sue and starts choking her. So Rita attacks Aslam, kicking him in the nuts and the two girls run away.

    Back at Rita and Bob's house, Rita puts ice packs on Sue's neck and they appear to have made up, as Rita apologizes for accusing Sue, resulting in Aslam's attack. Aslam arrives. Now, Rita and Sue live in a poor neighborhood, but Bob's house is in an extremely nice neighborhood. And Aslam is Pakistani. So naturally a brown person walking through a white, upper class neighborhood is justifiable cause to call the cops - or so the nosy neighbor who is always watering his lawn thinks, because he does so immediately upon seeing Aslam, before he even reaches the house. 

     Aslam, Rita, and Sue carry on a shouted conversation through the various windows around the house as Aslam begs to be let in to talk to Sue and Sue refuses. Eventually he threatens to take some pills and kill himself if Sue won't take him back. She not only calls his bluff, but she hands him a glass of water through the pet door. Alsam fakes a suicide but just before Sue backs down, the cops show up and Aslam takes off running.

    Now Bob comes home to find Sue and Rita sitting on the couch. Rita announces that Sue is moving in, that Rita and Sue will be sharing the master bedroom, and that Bob can sleep in the dog's bed from now on. The two girls leave the room. Bob wanders around the house aimlessly, probably wondering what the hell happened to his nice and tidy life, and eventually wanders upstairs ...

    ... where he finds Rita and Sue both in bed, topless, with a space between them, waiting for him. They say in unison "took you long enough!" and he leaps into the bed with them. The end.

    So, there's nothing poly about this movie until *maybe* the final 3 seconds of the film. The first part isn't poly because it's a married man cheating on his wife with two fucking teenagers. The middle part isn't poly because he chooses only one of the teens and the other gets into an abusive relationship. But since it could be argued that the very very end of the movie involves three people in a live-in, consensual relationship, that makes this a poly movie.

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

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

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

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

    You've been reading Poly-ish Movie Reviews, with your host, Joreth, where I watch the crap so you don't have to!

    To subscribe on iTunes or leave a review, visit

    I have since learned that this movie is based on a true story. Apparently this was first a play and the playwright really did have an affair with a married man with her best friend while they were teenagers. But it did not have a "happily ever after" ending and the author was very unhappy about that change in the screen adaptation. The playwright, Andrea Dunbar, really did live in Yorkshire in a poor neighborhood and apparently did have the kind of hard life that one expects from poverty, including dying very young - at age 29 of a brain hemorrhage in the same pub that we see the father of one of the girls stumble out of at the beginning of the film.

    Dunbar wrote 3 plays before she died, all based on her life as a poor young woman in Britain. She was considered "ahead of her time" and "brilliant" and was one of the first to showcase what it was like to live in poverty in her modern age, including domestic violence, teen pregnancy, alcoholism, etc. I suppose in 1987, seeing this story on the big screen was considered revolutionary, and maybe I would have had a different view of the film had I seen it closer to when it came out. 

    But the film was billed as a "comedy" and I didn't think it was funny in the slightest, and it was also billed as "gritty", which I think utterly fell flat since they were trying to make it "lighthearted" so it wasn't "gritty" to me either. Had there not been the cheesy "poly ever after" ending, and had they tried for more realism instead of "look, life here is hell, but we're having a good time anyway!" tone, I might have enjoyed the film more. Perhaps the play is more like that.

    Posted Sep 6, 2018, 5:22 PM by Joreth InnKeeper
  • Episode 34 - Blow Dry

    Blow Dry (2001) - Internet Movie Data Base - Amazon

    I don't know where this movie came from.  Did you know that the Netflix DVD queue has a limit?   I forget what it is now, but I've maxed it out.   On more than one occasion.  It's around 500 DVDs.  Eventually, movies become unavailable on Netflix, and if it's in your queue when this happens, they get moved out of the queue and into another queue of movies "waiting" to be added back to Netflix, freeing up a slot on my regular queue for more movies.

    Other movies have not yet been added to the Netflix library but they somehow use the User interest to help them get the rights?   I don't know if it actually does something to get the rights, or if it just tells them how to gauge what movies they should be fighting for, or what. I've been a Netflix member for so many years, and their system has changed so many times, that honestly I can't remember which of these movies used to be available and isn't now, and which never were but Netflix gave me the opportunity to express interest in.

    A few months ago, I took a peek at my "waiting" queue and I was shocked at how long it had gotten.  With Netflix cycling out so many movies every month, I got concerned that some of these movies would never make it into the queue, or back into the queue.  So I went searching for a bunch of alternative sources.

    Usually, when a movie has been in my queue long enough, I forget why I put it there.  It could be a potential poly movie, or it could be a skeptic movie, or it could be a Netflix recommendation based on something else I added, or it could be something that someone recommended for totally unrelated reasons.  But I can often guess why I put it on the queue based on what was added just before or just after it, since I'll often add similar movies in batches.   Without that associative reminder, though, I may have a movie here without really remembering why I have it.

    All that to say that I had no fucking idea why I had this movie lying around, so tonight I watched it just so I could identify it and move it to an appropriate place (the trash bin, if I didn't like it, or my movie shelf, or one of my collections, for instance).

    When it started up, I had even less fucking idea why I had this movie lying around.  I couldn't tell if this was satire or serious?  It reminds me of Cuban Fury, in that way.   Cuban Fury is supposed to be a satirical dance movie, but even though it's poking fun at dance movies, it turned out to be actually a good dance movie with some really amazing salsa dancing.  It's less satirical in that over-the-top Saturday Night Live kinda way, and more satirical in that "we know that we're making fun of a genre but we're going to do it utterly seriously", Shaun of the Dead sort of way.

    Blow Dry struck me as the latter sort of movie.   It's about a national hair styling competition in Britain, staring ... aw, shit, who isn't it starring?  Alan Rickman, Natasha Richardson, Rachel Griffiths, Rachel Leigh Cook, Josh Hartnett, Bill Nighy, Warren Clarke, Rosemary Harris, Peter McDonald, and freaking Heidi Klum.  A tiny, pissant of a British town who doesn't give two shits about high fashion or hair wins the rights to host this national hair competition.  So all the pompous, Capital City-esque hair designers come to the sticks in their gold lame and glitter (much to the total apathy of the townsfolk) including the trite and overdone Villain - a hair dressing diva who is legitimately talented but not above resorting to dirty tricks to ensure that he wins the trophy.

    The opening scenes were so ... Hairspray / A Dirty Shame / John Waters campy that I spent the first several minutes just boggling over why I thought this was important enough to acquire in the first place. But I liked Hairspray (the original), and I liked Cuban Fury, so I kept watching.

    The basic plot is that Alan Rickman's character, Phil, used to be a star hairdresser with his wife, Shelley a decade ago, until Shelley ran away with their model, Sandra.   Now, Phil, a devastated and bitter man, cuts men's hair in his barber shop with his son in this town as far away from the glamorous hair lifestyle as possible.   Shelly runs her own salon with Sandra in the same town, and is estranged from their son, Brian, because of his dad's bitterness about being left by his wife on the eve of the big competition 10 years ago.

    On the day that the mayor of the town makes the big announcement that they will be hosting that year's national hair dressing championships, Shelley gets the news from her doctor that her cancer is no longer in remission and they have exhausted all the options other than to make what time she has left comfortable.  Shelley gets some advice from an old woman whose hair she does regularly, to tie up her loose ends while she can, so that she's not like the old woman's husband who just dropped dead without even giving his wife a chance to say goodbye.

    So Shelley, without telling anyone about her diagnosis, decides to try and get her family back together by entering the competition.  Unlike the SNL style of satire movies, there were no "and hijinks ensue" plot lines.   It was a very standard, seriously done plot (if a goofy premise) where the protagonists face a series of challenges that the villain tries to rig, ending with the two teams that we give a shit about entering the final challenge neck-and-neck, only the protagonists are missing / thwarted / led astray!  Who will win?  It could be anyone!   Or, y'know, the protagonists with a last-minute save, because that's how this plot line works.

    So, why am I doing an episode on this movie?  There's nothing about this that says "poly" so far, and I made it to this final challenge still not knowing why I had the movie at all.  Until the "pep talk before the final challenge that puts the protagonist back in the game" scene.  Which means that I'm about to spoiler the end of this movie, but honestly, you already know how this movie turns out because of the genre it's in.


    Shelley has been hiding her diagnosis from her partner, Sandra.   In the middle of one of the conflicts earlier in the film, Shelley reveals her diagnosis to her ex-husband and son.  When Brian, her son, asks why she just told them and not Sandra, Shelley says that she can tell them because they don't care about her (as evidenced by Phil's biting snark and Brian's moody recalcitrance), but Sandra cares so much that telling her would rip her heart out.

    One night, while practicing for the next day's challenges, and being forcibly reminded yet again through Phil's bitter condescension of her worthlessness, Sandra walks in on Shelley throwing up and just *knows* that the cancer is back and that Shelley lied to her when she said her latest tests came back "all clear".  Sandra, the hair model for the competition, throws everyone out and quits the competition, going home to her mother at the edge of town.  With no model, with Phil refusing to join in the first place and only giving criticism, and with Brian's challenges already over, Shelley also throws in the towel.  She decides that this team is broken and gives up trying.

    After an epiphany, Phil finally gets off his sore ass and decides to move past all the hurt he's been grudgingly clinging to all these years.  He finally understands that Shelley never wanted to win the competition, that she really just wanted to put her family back together, to heal the hurt she helped to cause all those years ago and to be a support network for herself and for each other in the coming difficulty.

    Phil goes to speak to Sandra.  At this point, there's still nothing poly about it. He could very easily just be trying to bury the hatchet with his former model so that they're not constantly bickering and pulling at Shelley like a tug-of-war game.  But two things happen:  Earlier in the movie, Phil expresses hurt that Shelley left him for a woman, that he could have gotten over it if only it had been another bloke.   Shelley says, very pointedly, that there has *never* been another bloke for her, and there still isn't [long, pointed, significant look from Shelley, followed by confused and then dawning look from Phil].

    Now, Phil has a talk with Sandra, his dearest love's lover.  He tries to talk her into coming back, for Shelley's sake. [inserted movie clip where Phil makes amends with Sandra]

    There.   Right there.   "It's not me she needs, it's you."  "Maybe it's neither. It's us. ... Has to be worth a shot?"  Now, for most monogamous audiences, there's nothing inherently poly in this either.  Ex-spouses remain part of the family all the time, especially when there are children involved.  And admitting to an ex-spouse that he is the only person of his gender that one has ever loved also doesn't *necessarily* mean that that she still loves him *in the same way* as she did back then, or that there is an implied promise of a future together.  Especially, given her rather short expiration date.

    But something that I've been arguing about for nearly 20 years now, since way before this whole Relationship Anarchy thing came up, is that who is having sex with whom is not the most important criteria for "family", and that it's "family" that really makes polyamory different from other forms of non-monogamy.  Polyamory has been used interchangeably with "intentional family" since the word was coined, what with the neo-pagan movement that coined it explicitly creating the culture around the idea of "intentional family".

    So, we can argue all day about where the line is drawn - what makes it "polyamory" when you take the sex and romance out of the equation and just talk about "love" and "family" - but in the end, where that very specific line is drawn isn't really the point.  This podcast is even named "Poly-ISH Movie Reviews", and one lover being spurned for another, only to have both of them reach an understanding that their mutual love needs them both and that family is the important lesson here, is about as poly as it gets.

    The poly content is ambiguous.   And I'd be willing to bet actual money that the writer, director, and all the actors did NOT interpret any of this as leading to a polyamorous family.  But all of my poly lessons came from my own Christian, hetero, monogamous family (which I write about in my blog, if you're interested on how *that* works out).  So, with the level of ambiguity, I'm going to deliberately interpret this as a poly-ish movie.

    I choose to believe that the implications of Shelley's admission earlier about Phil being the one and only "bloke" for her, and his later suggestion to Sandra that they give "us" a try, *could lead* to a poly family.   With Shelley's illness, sex and romance are not going to be defining features of her future anyway.  What she will need is emotional support.   This is the "worse" part of "for better or for worse" and the literal "sickness" part of "in sickness and in health" and is the ultimate challenge of "until death do we part".

    Sex and romance is great and all, but what good is "family" if not for the hard stuff?   Why bother calling our groups "family" or "tribe" or any of the other words we use if the only thing that makes them significant is the sex or the romance?  Polyamory certainly isn't the only relationship style that values "family", even extended or non-traditional ones like in this movie. Plenty of versions of monogamy do that too, even.

    But it's a value that we claim is integral to our relationship style, a value that we use as a motivation for what we do.   So I'm letting the ambiguity in this film point me in the direction of a poly-ish future for these characters, short though it may be.  And, who knows?  Maybe Sandra and Phil will become family again on their own after Shelley is gone, not opposing forces tied together through a mutual pivot point and likely to drift apart on their own momentum without that pivot point holding them together.  They did, after all, have a close friendship through their model / hairdresser relationship before all the hurt.

    If you don't think that the ambiguity is enough to justify calling it a "poly-ish movie", that's fine.  This is not one of those cases where I'm out to convince people to change their minds.  *I* felt it was poly-ish and I'm content with the nebulous, indeterminate quality of that conclusion.  I'll be including it on my list. If you like campy, if you like that satire-but-actually-kinda-serious style of "comedy", and if you like Alan Rickman, I recommend this movie.

    You've been reading Poly-ish Movie Reviews, with your host, Joreth, where I watch the crap so you don't have to! 
    Posted Sep 6, 2018, 5:24 PM by Joreth InnKeeper
  • Episode 33 - Sex Monster

    Sex Monster (1999) - Internet Movie Data Base - Netflix - Amazon

    I just watched the most godawful movie ever.  Well, to be fair, this movie was not on a poly movie list, it was recommended to me by Netflix when I added a bunch of movies from some poly movie list.  And, historically, Netflix's suggestions based on poly movie additions are shit.  So I was expecting this to be bad.

    This movie completely lived up to all my expectations.

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

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

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

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

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

    Now, we all know the fable of RBAMP (Relationship Broken Add More People) and the Ballad Of The Unicorn Hunters, so we know how Didi's part in this story plays out.

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

    Here's what I hated about this movie:

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

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

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

    4. The assumption that lesbian sex is automatically better than hetero sex because of the "home-court advantage";

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

    6. That this only happens to hot women;

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

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

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

    10. Marty was right and his paranoid accusations were justified;

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

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

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

    Here's where it gets really bad, because all that other stuff wasn't bad enough؟

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

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

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

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

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

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

    But no.

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


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

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

    "Don't take this wrong, but Laura does not want to to be part of your little club. ... Yes, OK, she had a trial membership and we're not going to renew. It's not about you, no offense, but we're not going to renew the membership, OK?"

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

    In the final scene, Marty comes to pick up Laura at work to take her to lunch, and we see that Laura has hired a replacement for Didi - a male hairdresser named Henry.  At lunch, Laura starts the exact same conversation with Marty that started this whole mess [inserted movie clip about Henry being bisexual and how experimenting might be good for Marty]  And that's where it ends.

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

    So Sex Monster was not on a poly movie list, but it was recommended by Netflix as being "similar" to movies that are on a poly movie list.  And, since the time that I first wrote this review, I have seen someone suggest this in the poly forums as a poly movie to watch. Whether it's similar or not, this movie is not poly and it was not good.

    You've been reading Poly-ish Movie Reviews, with your host, Joreth, where I watch the crap so you don't have to! 
    Posted Sep 6, 2018, 5:25 PM by Joreth InnKeeper
  • Episode 32 - Lutine

    Lutine (2018)

    I was a little nervous about reviewing this film. This is an independent film from french director, whose name my American tongue is going to butcher so I'll let Cunning Minx, who speaks French, say it for me: Isabelle Broué, also known as Isa Lutine. This movie is pretty recent, having been released in 2016 having been completed in 2016 and due to premiere on French screens in April of 2018. I don't usually like what I call "artsy" films and I also am *quite* Ameri-centric so I have a really hard time getting into films made in other countries with other film conventions like differences in pacing and music cues and composition.

    What made me nervous is that I contacted the director herself to ask permission to view and review this film. I've had other filmmakers reach out to me and ask me to review their films, and when I saw them, I thought they were terrible but I felt really bad about reviewing them knowing that they would hear first-hand my opinions of their film. These really old or really big films that I typically review are made by people who will never hear my opinion, so I feel a bit of freedom in being critical because I'm pretty confident that I'm not going to really affect the people involved. Now, as with my practice in affecting different tones depending on who I'm talking to, that doesn't mean that I *won't* be honest about a film just because the artists involved will hear it, it just means that I might be a little kinder in the delivery of my criticism.

    So I watched Lutine with a little bit of trepidation, but I found myself surprised to feel really invested in the characters and the outcome of the film. The director, Isa, describes her movie as: [inserted audio of director description from Poly Weekly interview of a film that is a fictional documentary where the audience can't tell what part is fiction and what isn't]. For the full interview, which I recommend listening to, visit and listen to episode 541 French Filmmaker Isa Lutine.

    I think this may be one of those cultural differences. She considers her movie to be a comedy, I'm assuming, because of the absurdism of blurring the lines between fiction and documentary reality, but it's not what a typical American might think of when we think of the word "comedy", with our strong roots in slapstick and hilarity, as opposed to absurdism. I didn't feel the way I usually feel watching what I consider a "comedy"; when I watched this film, I felt more like when I watch a drama. However, that's not a criticism, I think that's more of an observance of cultural differences because I still really liked it.

    When I was taking film in college, a couple of film buddies and I got together to form a production company, under which all our class projects were produced (and then later, we intended to actually go commercial with our company, but we ended up all going in different directions after school). The first big film we tried to make that wasn't a class project was a mockumentary. We wrote a script for a fake documentary a la Spinal Tap that followed a group of college students making their first film, and we played an exaggerated version of ourselves in the film. So it was a little bit like trying to look into one of those repeating mirrors, where we just kept going down like a fractal. Except the movie that our documentary-selves was making was not a documentary, but a romantic comedy.

    But we had actors who were playing actors who were hired to perform in a romantic comedy - so, like Lisa was a friend that we got to play "Ariel" who was an actress who was hired to play "Linda", the romantic lead in our rom-com. "Ariel" was directed by a group of "film students", who we, my buddies and I, were playing, while we were actual film students. It was all very circular and hilarious as we played up various personality traits to absurdist levels, like the time we blew up a section of a suburb because our Technical Director thought our rom-com needed more explosions, and the argument that our rom-com characters get into that required a "plate-apult" - a catapult intended to launch a dinner plate at the male actor's head at a speed of 88 miles per hour.

    So this sort of recursive, Inception-like story-telling holds a special place in my heart. But that also means that I might be especially critical of a film that doesn't do it well. This movie, I think, does this well. The blurring between fact and fiction makes this film feel almost Memento-like with an unreliable narrator but in this rabbit-hole sort of Inception way. Films with unreliable narrators can be difficult to follow, and that's the part that makes this film a "comedy", I think, as we, the audience, are never sure which part of this is fiction and which part of this is reality so the whole thing becomes completely absurd.

    Now, onto the meat of the film. This was definitely a poly film, as the whole point was to be a documentary about polyamory. It's highly unlikely that any filmmaker would attempt a documentary OR a mockumentary about polyamory and not be at least sympathetic to polyamory. It's just not a big enough subject, in my opinion, to attract anyone's attention for making a documentary film that explicitly uses the words and the communities, unless that person has some kind of personal connection. So I was at least pretty confident that this was not going to be an outsider making fun of polyamory (insiders poking fun at ourselves is a totally different, and hilariously acceptable, situation), or someone who was openly antagonistic about the subject and wanting to use the film as a vehicle to moralize about polyamory.

    But something that *could* have been problematic is in the viewpoints that were chosen to describe polyamory. In the US, there are a *ton* of polys who set themselves up as "leaders" but who do polyamory in one of the ways that I label as "wrong" - i.e. in ways that are harmful and/or ineffective at leading to successful, long-term, ethical, empowering relationships. In almost every interview and media event that I watch, I end up yelling at my screen that polyamory is not something that "couples" do, it's something that people do, that not all polys "open up" existing monogamous relationships and some of us started out as single people, and to the reporters to stop giving platforms to people who do couple-centric, hierarchical, rules-based descriptions of polyamory so that the newbies who are introduced to the concept from this medium won't start out at a deficit thinking that this is the way you get into it.

    None of that happened here. Everyone that was interviewed gave very practical, sensible soundbites about polyamory. It starts right out with a poly meeting where the third speaker talks about how reassuring it is to not be the only person in his partner's life, as opposed to all the benefits we receive to having 500 people all dedicated to us, servicing our "needs", being the receptacles of our extreme libidos, stuff like that. When we meet our first poly "expert", she talks about each of them having their own lovers, not about "opening up" or "sharing" someone, and about the dangers of "passion" that I might refer to as NRE (New Relationship Excitement or New Relationship Energy).

    Then we actually spend a long time setting up the premise of the film, which is watching spontaneous conversations, then watching Isa construct scenes based on those conversations, and then watching the re-film of those conversations into a better, more editable scene. Or, are they really spontaneous conversations? We don't know! That's the point. After seeing how everything is set up to be fiction, we even start to suspect the original scenes of being part of the fiction too.

    Eventually we meet Meta, a polyamorist, who is asked about the feminist aspect of polyamory. She unambiguously declares "yes, it's totally feminist, because everyone has the same rights. No one takes any liberties that are denied to the other. For a man, being polyamorous means giving up male privilege." I think this negates the whole Unicorn Hunting thing by implicitly acknowledging that a woman has the same rights to choose her own partners of her own orientation preferences as the men do, whereas Unicorn Hunting tends to defend it's "fairness" by insisting both of the male/female partners "share" a woman. People equate "sameness" with "fairness", and those words are totally not interchangeable. Having things exactly the same is not necessarily "fair". If a woman is straight or bisexual, limiting her to only women partners (and the same partner as her male partner at that!) is not "fair" just because it's the "same" as her straight male partner's options.

    It's also rare in that, a lot of times when people have labeled polyamory as "feminist", they tend to not get the definition right, instead describing more of a matriarchal culture that is basically patriarchy in reverse. When, of course, that's not what feminism means. Having a gendered term like "feminism" doesn't mean that it seeks to replace one gender's authority with another gender, it means to elevate an oppressed gender to an equal level so that there are no more oppressed genders, which is why it singles out a gender at all rather than just going by "equal-ism" or whatever. So I was thrilled to hear them not shy away from the term "feminist" and to define it as "equality", not "women get to be in charge".

    Later, more words of wisdom from Meta. She says "polyamory is not about couples. It deconstructs the very notion." When asked if she is not a "couple" with her partner, she says "if a couple is two people, we're several couples," and she points out the connection between the non-sexual metamours as its own relationship as well. Later, we see a scripted conversation where Isa and her boyfriend are talking about him being interested in another woman, and Isa wants to meet her. The boyfriend asks if she wants to meet her or sleep with her, and then accuses her of wanting to sleep with the same person he's dating as a form of controlling everyone and everything in the relationship. I think this is a pointed but subtle jab at Unicorn Hunting again, even though I don't know if it was deliberate or not.

    This film even discusses the whole poly vs. swinging debate with, what I feel, is just the right approach - that poly and swinging "are inherently different concepts but not mutually exclusive" and swinging being about recreational sex while polyamory is about autonomy in relationships, and how a person can be either or both, as well as the ever-salacious question about group sex - it's not fundamentally a part of polyamory, you can have it or not as you all choose. And, it touches on one of my own catch phrases (not that it got it from me, but it's something I say), how the real trick to polyamory is not in feeling love for multiple people, but in how you deal with your *partner* wanting others.

    I found this film to be touching and ridiculous and poignant and refreshing and real in its fantasy world.

    Because this is an independent film without a production studio behind it, accessing this film is a little different than most of the movies I review, but I do recommend doing what you can to watch this movie. You can't see it on Netflix or in major theaters. You can, however, contact the director at and ask permission to host a viewing party. The requirements are that your viewing party needs to be a public or semi-public screening with around 20 or more people and advertised on social media, to create online buzz for her film. It's entirely crowdfunded and advertised by word-of-mouth, so it really needs for lots of people to talk about it for a distributor to think it's worth investing in the film.

    When you have interest in a screening or viewing party, contact Isa and let her know when and where it will be held. Film festivals charge an entrance fee to submit an entry, so one of the best ways we can support polyamory in the arts is to financially support polyamorous artists. If you can charge your audience $5 or so, for an audience of 20 or more people, that will help Isa submit this film into international film festivals, to bring the concept of polyamory to a broad, world-wide audience. And, considering, as I said earlier, that this movie doesn't idolize the couple "opening up", but instead highlights the concepts of feminism, autonomy, and freedom, I would very much like to see more films like this getting attention rather than our typical Unicorn Hunting films and TV shows that somehow manage to find cable sponsors and Hollywood producers.

    After you contact her with the size, date, and location of your proposed viewing party, Isa will send you a link to a watermarked version of the film that you can download and then show in whatever medium you're using for your screening. This helps track down copyright violations - again with the whole supporting poly artists thing. The director will even join your screening remotely through Skype after the viewing to take questions, if you'd like. After seeing the movie, if you can actually write out a review on real dead-tree paper to include on her website (in your own language), that would also be welcome.

    So, definitely poly, I found it engaging, and I recommend supporting poly in the arts and this poly art in particular by hosting screenings and talking about the film on social media.

    You've been reading Poly-ish Movie Reviews, with your host, Joreth, where I watch the crap so you don't have to!
    Posted Sep 6, 2018, 5:29 PM by Joreth InnKeeper
  • Episode 31 - Shortbus

    Shortbus (2006) - Internet Movie Data Base - Netflix - Amazon

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

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

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

    But just about everyone I know loved that movie, so don't avoid seeing it just because of my review. We might have different tastes in films, and I seem to be an outlier on this one.

    You've been reading Poly-ish Movie Reviews, with your host, Joreth, where I watch the crap so you don't have to!

    Posted Sep 6, 2018, 5:30 PM by Joreth InnKeeper
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