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 28 - The Story of O

    The Story of O (1975) 
    www.imdb.com/title/tt0073115 - Internet Movie Data Base
    https://dvd.netflix.com/Movie/60020532 - Netflix
    http://amzn.to/2eZ4Dbw - Amazon

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

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

    As someone who likes pain and resistance play naturally, I call bullshit. I'd love to see a story of a girl who is inexperienced, maybe she had Abstinence Only education and is completely unaware of any sexual behaviour other than missionary position for procreation, an inexperienced girl who meets a worldly and charismatic man who wins her trust and awakens in her a sexual desire. Gradually, he gets her to relax and experiment and, one day he convinces her to visit a BDSM club with him. Only, instead of walking in and her lover ordering her on her knees to service the other patrons, she gazes in wide-eyed wonder and longing at the tall, statuesque woman in head-to-foot leather, impatiently tapping a riding crop against her thigh while her male subbie grovels at her feet.  

    When the lover introduces our protagonist to the local Florentine expert, she inquires not how the whips feel, but how he spins them. Instead of blushing prettily and baring her breasts to be bound, she surprises herself by suggesting, in a halting voice, that the rope master try a particular weaving pattern that she learned at summer camp when they made little plastic bracelets and keychains, on a rather fetching older lady who is bouncing eagerly, awaiting her turn at the hands of the rope master. And then the lover hands our budding young kinkster over to be trained, not as his slave, but as his master because it is HE who craves the whip and the rope and the desire to please.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


    *Exit To Eden is an exception to this, although it's clearer in the book. The main characters *did* seek out the training houses on their own: the female character, after thorough training as a submissive, eventually became one of the most famous and cruel dominants, and the male character was forced to give up his ego and bravado to accept the submissive side of himself that he kept denying. Whatever else you say about Exit To Eden (and there is plenty negative to say about it, particularly the movie version), the story did not fall into the stereotypes of the girls-are-all-subbies-men-are-all-masters or the girls-just-need-to-be-exposed-to-pain-to-awaken-natural-desire-for-it tripe.

    The best movie out there that shows a female submissive actively choosing her role is The Secretary, which has absolutely no polyamory whatsoever, so I won't be reviewing it. But the whole story is about the submissive finding herself and choosing her role, and it's a mainstream movie with big name actors, not a porn, so you should be able to find it readily.

    As for books, my favorite books that include a young, innocent woman who does not yet know that she is submissive, and her worldly male lover who sees the submissive buried inside of her and who takes it upon himself to train her into what she truly wants to be but does not yet know, who values consent and who also *does* know her better than she knows herself, is the Training of Eileen series by William Vitelli, which you can find on Amazon. But, as they're books and not movies (and also not polyamorous), I won't be reviewing these either. I just wanted to let y'all know that I am aware of some exceptions to my complaint and to give y'all some titles if this is something you're interested in.

    Posted Sep 15, 2017, 2:12 PM by Joreth InnKeeper
  • Episode 27 - Amelia

    Amelia (2009) 
    www.imdb.com/title/tt1129445/ - Internet Movie Data Base
    http://movies.netflix.com/WiMovie/Amelia/70108780?trkid=2361637 - Netflix
    http://amzn.to/2fVH3Ae - Amazon

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

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

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

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

    For those who have never read this letter, it goes like this:
    www.lettersofnote.com/2010/04/you-must-know-again-my-reluctance-to.html

    Dear GPP

    There are some things which should be writ before we are married -- things we have talked over before -- most of them.
    You must know again my reluctance to marry, my feelings that I shatter thereby chances in work which means most to me. I feel the move just now as foolish as anything I could do. I know there may be compensations but to have no heart to look ahead.

    On our life together, I want you to understand I shall not hold you to any midaevil code of faithfulness to me nor shall I consider myself bound to you similarly. If we can be honest I think the difficulties which arise may best be avoided should you or I become interested deeply (or increasing) in anyone else.

    Please let us not interfere with the others' work or play, nor let the world see our private joys or disagreements. In this connection I may have to keep some place where I can go to be myself, now and then, for I cannot guarantee to endure at all times the confinement of even an attractive cage.

    I must exact a cruel promise and that is you will let me go in a year if we find no happiness together.

    I will try to do my best in every way and give you that part of me you know and seem to want.

    A.E.

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

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

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

    So then I started to think "oh, I guess this is poly - it appears to be a poly vee." But next we see an argument between Amelia and George when Amelia suggests, because of their respective touring schedules, that she remain at home, with Gene, while George go on his trip. [inserted movie clip of this disagreement]  So, that threw me back in the Open Marriage-but-not-poly camp, because, in my opinion, it's not poly if someone is being dragged into it, appearances to the contrary.

    But really, George and Gene get along pretty well, and continue to get along for as long as the movie says that relationship lasts. There is no secret, everyone knows what's going on, even the kid. At one point, Gene's son asks Amelia to marry his dad. [inserted movie clip of the son asking Amelia to marry his dad] Amelia just smiles and closes the door. If that isn't poly, I don't know what is.

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

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

    [inserted movie clip]

    Fred: You and your old George, that's a touching love story.
    Amelia: An honest one if I say so myself.
    Fred: I wonder if it's honest enough for George.
    Amelia: If you mean Gene, we're not together anymore, in that way, not for a long time. You don't think I love my husband?
    Fred: Actually I do, in a certain way.
    Amelia: But you disapprove of how I live.
    Fred: Hell no, it's just like me. In fact it's like most guys I know.
    Amelia: Meaning?
    Fred: Guys love their wives, their girlfriends, doesn't mean they don't take advantage ... of an opportunity.
    Amelia: If you have a point, make it.
    Fred: I believe I have.
    So this conversation clearly shows that, not only was her relationship with Gene common knowledge, but Amelia admits it without hesitation, and that the relationship was not a symptom of any problem with her marriage. Although Amelia was a very private person and tried to keep her personal life out of the limelight, she also appeared to believe strongly in honesty in her relationships, in the lack of possession between partners, and, in fact, in the partnership between partners, not ownership.

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

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

    I'd call this a poly movie, even though the plot is not really focused on the relationships but the two male leads are fundamental supporters for her in her career. It's about daring adventurer and her passion for flight ... with a little love thrown in.

    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 https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/poly-ish-movie-reviews-by/id994404536?mt=2

    Posted Aug 19, 2017, 6:26 PM by Joreth InnKeeper
  • Episode 26 - The Wedding Banquet

    The Wedding Banquet (1993)

    www.imdb.com/title/tt0107156/ - Internet Movie Data Base
    www.netflix.com/title/60011421 - Netflix
    http://amzn.to/2uoDg3C - Amazon

    The DVD summary says "Successful New Yorker Wai Tung and his partner Simon are blissfully happy, except for one thing: Wai Tung's conservative Taiwanese parents are determined he find a nice girl to marry! To please them and get a tax break he arranges a sham marriage to Wei Wei, a sexy go-getter in need of a green card. But when his family swoops down for the extravaganza, Wai Tung would do well to remember that at a traditional Chinese wedding banquet, sexual repression takes the night off!"

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

    I am so happy to have been wrong.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    SPOILERS:

    It was Simon's idea for Wai-Tung and Wei-Wei to get married and, although he is against lying in the first place, because he loves Wai-Tung, once he has committed to the charade, he never wavers on that score. He never accuses Wai-Tung of turning on him, of switching teams, or of leaving him. He never accuses Wei-Wei of moving in on his turf, of trying to steal Wai-Tung, or of being a homewrecker. He embraces Wei-Wei as part of the family and does his best to smooth things along.

    Wai-Tung's parents insist, as part of their family honor, on throwing a huge wedding banquet after Wai-Tung "shames" them with a quickie City Hall wedding. The fraud starts to weigh heavily on the bride and groom as they are forced to go through tradition after tradition, meant to cement the marriage and instill the pressure of honor and family on the couple. But Simon goes through it all, supporting the couple and keeping the peace. As the best man, he gets to remain by Wai-Tung's side, but never as the jealous secret, always as the supportive partner whose lover is in a difficult position.

    His apparent enthusiasm for the wedding festivities is how I imagine any poly OSO would act when his partner marries another. It's how I imagine Franklin would have behaved if I had married my metamour Maxine for the health benefits - a business arrangement between trusted friends that he would celebrate and support. Even through the enforced kissing of the bride and groom, and the regular reminders of the hetero marriage while being completely ignored and left out by the entire wedding party who are unaware of his relationship to the groom, Simon faces the whole ordeal with good humor and compassion.

    Wei-Wei has a crush on Wai-Tung from the beginning. As the farce continues, she is reminded over and over again how serious and important marriage is, and she seems to be having doubts. But as the banquet drags on, and the alcohol flows, she appears to leave behind the tension of her secret and falls into the role of the happy bride.

    Eventually, the end of the reception draws near as wedding guests are passed out on the hotel ballroom floor and the bride and groom are obviously drunk and exhausted. The "happy" couple withdraws to their complimentary newlywed suite upstairs while Simon takes the groom's parents home. As Wai-Tung collapses on the bed, room service knocks on the door.

    But it's not room service.

    Too late to stop at Wai-Tung's command, Wei-Wei opens the door to yet another Chinese wedding tradition - the Newlywed Invasion. The peer group of the bride and groom invade the couple's room on their wedding night to drink and play games, both encouraging the consummation of the marriage and interfering with it. They bring card tables and folding chairs, and appear to be settling in for one hell of an all-night-long party. The guests demand that the bride and groom play little games, like blindfolding the groom and making him find maraschino cherries placed on the bride's stomach and chest with his mouth, while she writhes beneath him, tickled by his seeking.

    Wai-Tung tries to get his guests to leave, and they finally agree to leave after one more game. The bride and groom are to get under the covers and take off all their clothes. The guests will not leave until every single article of clothing has hit the floor. So the couple complies, and the guests leave. Finally, Wai-Tung and Wei-Wei are left alone, naked, in bed together.

    Wai-Tung starts to fall asleep, but Wei-Wei has other plans. In an alcohol-induced fugue, she seduces Wai-Tung and we are led to believe that they have sex.

    After the wedding, Wai-Tung, Wei-Wei, and Simon go back to their pretend family while Wai-Tung's parents hang around for a couple of weeks. They end up staying much longer than planned because Mr. Gao's blood pressure is too high to risk flying. So now things start to get a little tense. Simon, although he still supports the sham that was his idea and still does not resent Wei-Wei, is nevertheless getting irritable at not being allowed to sleep next to his partner, and at having their sex life curtailed. Wei-Wei is getting cranky because she is required to sleep every night next to a man she has a crush on, knowing that he would rather be in someone else's bed. Wai-Tung is stressed out because his parents are still there, he is married to someone he didn't want to be married to, Simon is continuing his social life without him, and he has to constantly soothe everyone else's hurt feelings.

    A couple more weeks later, we learn that Wei-Wei is pregnant from her wedding night. Simon throws a fit, but not because Wai-Tung had sex with Wei-Wei - Wai-Tung had already confessed to getting drunk and things getting "a little out of hand". No, Simon is pissed because Wai-Tung did not have *safe* sex, and now their family can't go back to normal after the parents leave, as was the plan. Simon decides that he is leaving when the parents do and Wei-Wei decides to have an abortion, since the marriage was never supposed to last anyway, so it's not fair to have a child in that situation - after all, once she has been granted citizenship, she will be free to divorce and marry again for love.

    Then Mr. Gao has another stroke, and after watching his life fall apart around him, Wai-Tung finally confesses everything to his mother. She is devastated, she doesn't understand what she did wrong to get a gay son, and she insists that the father never be told.

    One day, Simon is out walking with Mr. Gao. Simon regularly walks with and cares for him since his stroke. Mr. Gao says, in English, "happy birthday Simon" and hands him a red envelope. Simon, surprised, says "you speak English?" Mr. Gao has hidden this fact even from his son, who has had conversations and arguments in English around his parents, believing that they could not understand what was being said.

    Simon opens the envelope and discovers a thick wad of U.S. bills. Suddenly, it dawns on Simon that red is the Chinese color for marriage, and that Mr. Gao gave this exact same gift to Wei-Wei when he arrived, as the traditional wedding present. [inserted video clip of the conversation between Simon and Mr. Gao].

    The next day, Wei-Wei and Wai-Tung leave for the abortion clinic, and Mrs. Gao, suspecting what they're about to do, tries to stop them, or at least tries to go with them to make sure they are really only "going shopping". But the couple leaves without her. On the way to the clinic, Wei-Wei has a change of heart. She tells Wai-Tung that she wants to keep the baby, and if Wai-Tung wants to help, he can find her an apartment with no rent, but if he doesn't want to help, then to just stay out of her way.

    Wai-Tung, upon hearing that he is about to be a father, decides that he will be a part of his child's life. But first, he should ask Simon how he feels. Wei-Wei agrees that they ought to talk to Simon.

    Wai-Tung and Wei-Wei come home, and Simon approaches them, his face full of concern, and asks if everything went OK and how does Wei-Wei feel? [inserted move clip where Simon is asked to be one of the fathers of the baby].

    And THAT'S where this movie became a poly movie for me.

    Simon looks at them incredulously for a moment, then a tentative smile appears as he realizes what they're asking. The three embrace in a group hug. It became a poly movie here because it was no longer a business arrangement, and it wasn't even really a Vee anymore, in spite of who is having sex with whom. Even if, sexually, the arrangement is still two gay men and a single mother, the inclusion of Simon as a parental participant made this, to me, a poly family. It wasn't a gay couple and a single mother, and it wasn't a gay man with his lover, and his baby-mama as two arms in a Vee. It was a family of three parents. And that made it poly in my eyes.

    Finally, the parents leave and the movie ends with the three main characters in a group hug, watching the parents go, with Wai-Tung in the middle.

    Even though this movie ended happily with a baby on the way, I do not believe that it falls under the RBAMP fallacy (Relationship Broken Add More People). The group relationship was not hopelessly flawed and only "saved" by the addition of a baby. The group relationship actually worked just fine. At first, it was little more than a business arrangement, but the characters grew closer together as they lived together. The conflict came from outside, from the parents, who represented all of society and the social disapproval of alternative relationships. Once there was honest communication, and once the family was able to stand on its own and the parents left, things worked out just fine.

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

    This is yet another one of those fuzzy-border poly-ish situations. I enjoyed the movie, and I recommend watching it.


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

    Posted Jul 16, 2017, 12:32 PM by Joreth InnKeeper
  • Episode 25 - A Woman Is A Woman

    A Woman Is A Woman (1961) 
    www.imdb.com/title/tt0055572/ - Internet Movie Data Base
    https://dvd.netflix.com/Movie/70000934 - Netflix
    http://amzn.to/2rfXqIt - Amazon

    What do you get when you take two people who don't like each other, who want totally different things out of a relationship, who are pigheaded and argumentative, and throw them together in a movie with odd music cues that stop abruptly whenever there is dialog, and random breaking of the 4th wall?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    What. The. Fuck.

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


     
    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 https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/poly-ish-movie-reviews-by/id994404536?mt=2

    Posted Jun 17, 2017, 12:02 AM by Joreth InnKeeper
  • Episode 24 - Trois


    Trois (2000) 
    www.imdb.com/title/tt0217107/ - Internet Movie Data Base
    https://dvd.netflix.com/Movie/Trois/60001053 - Netflix
    http://amzn.to/2fU7GWk - Amazon

    Content Note: This review contains the sardonic use of ableist language & possibly sex-negative sex worker language intending to mock the sorts of writers who use "crazy" as a scapegoat and their poor depiction of mental illness as well as their obviously one-dimensional and low opinion of sex work. I am using the language to describe what the *writers* of these sorts of behaviours think and by using these words, I am intending to show my disapproval and contempt for this viewpoint in my tone. I apologize if my intention does not come across or if readers are unable to read or listen because of the language.

    Is it possible for someone with an American accent to say "ménage à trois" and not sound pretentious? I have yet to hear it.

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

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

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

    This was not a poly movie. This was a cautionary tale against non-monogamy, against same-sex desires, and against kink. This was a third-rate Fatal Attraction. In addition to it being completely sex-negative, it was also poorly written.  As per my usual pattern, if the movie sucks and I don't think you should bother, I'm going to spoiler the hell out of it because fuck this movie.

    Jasmine is a young wife, married to an up-and-coming lawyer, who has just applied to grad school. She works with battered women and has regular nightmares about her own abusive relationship. Jasmine wants nothing more than to have her husband hold her.

    Jermaine wants to have a threesome with his wife, but he insists that he just wants to share something "freaky" with his wife and that it's not about the other woman at all. He tries to explain that it's not about the other woman, that he's just trying to be honest about his sexuality and he thinks his marriage is strong enough to handle anything. Considering it's a movie, I thought that was a pretty good start, in spite of the whole forgetting-the-other-woman-is-a-person-too thing. But then they both make one mistake after another.

    Jasmine just won't talk to Jermaine. She won't tell him what her nightmares are about, she won't tell him that she doesn't want sex but that she wants to be held, and she won't tell him how his request makes her feel. She just gets mad at the request.

    Eventually, Jasmine talks to her best friend about the threesome idea, and her friend actually convinces her that, not only can threesomes be fun, but that it's Jasmine's duty to her husband. The scene with each spouse talking to their respective best friends about their motivations is like textbook sexism - the dialog is absolutely classic Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus - the guys just want some sex and the women just want to be held. I swear, these writers have never actually TALKED to women.  It's my not-so-secret hypothesis that most people who become script writers do so because they don't have real connections with real people.  So they make up shit based on what they *think* other people do and say and feel, without really knowing anything about real people.  Movies like this are why I suspect that. 

     Later that night, Jasmine wakes up from one of her nightmares about being beat by her ex-boyfriend, but when Jermaine tries to get her to open up and talk to him, Jasmine agrees to the threesome "for her man", mostly to distract him from probing about her secret abusive past.  Jermaine immediately drops the subject of nightmares and why his wife won't confide in him and the next day has his buddy fix him up with a stripper he knows. Yeah, we can see where this is going. Next, we meet the stripper, Jade. Our introduction to her is at a bar, drunk, and her baby-daddy shows up with a subpoena to take her kid away from her. 

    The writer went out of their way to set up Jade as a "crazy bitch". So, the not-so-happy couple meets up with the "crazy stripper" and they have a threesome. The next morning, Jasmine wakes up, regretting her night and now harboring fears that she might be gay, or "freaky", because apparently both options are horrible. As Jasmine gets weird about their threesome, Jermaine confides in his buddy that the threesome was great, but the aftermath wasn't so great. In the process of trying to figure out what happened, the buddy ends up sowing suspicion in Jermaine's mind about his wife and Jade. So Jermaine stays out half the night drinking.

    Meanwhile, Jasmine is back at home having battered nightmares and wakes up to find herself alone. For some reason, this vanilla, likable, popular woman doesn't call up her family or friends for support. She calls up the stripper from the freaky weekend that made her feel all confused and upset and goes out with her. So when Jermaine finally comes home, he finds an empty house.

    The next morning, after calling Jasmine's dozens of friends looking for her, he finally thinks to call Jade as a last-ditch effort and learns that his wife did, indeed, turn to Jade for support, which only cements his suspicions ... of what, I'm not entirely sure - that Jasmine is cheating on her husband with the woman her husband insisted she sleep with?  But Jermaine gets jealous, and when Jasmine finally comes home, he begs her to promise him that nothing happened between Jasmine and Jade and that nothing WILL happen between them.

    So, now that things could have been settled, we go back to Jade, who needs a babysitter for her kid because she's about to lose the kid in her custody battle, so she can't go out hitting the bars and leaving her 4-year old son at home alone anymore ... at least until the court hearing is over. So her boyfriend suggests that Jade ask Jasmine to babysit, since Jasmine "seems like a homebody". Jade calls up Jasmine, but Jermaine answers. Instead of being polite and honest, Jade demands to speak to Jasmine, telling Jermaine that it's none of his business why she's calling and that Jasmine is a grown woman who can make up her own mind. Yeah, like that's gonna go over well.

    Of course, Jermaine tells Jade to leave them alone or he'll put in a bad word for her with the judge in her custody case. So Jade throws a huge, screaming tantrum, throwing things, and pretty much destroying her own house. Her boyfriend comes out of the bathroom to find out what the problem is, and when he attempts to calm her down, Jade pulls a gun on him, aimed at his dick, and tells him to get out. By now, I'm rooting for the baby-daddy to win the kid in court.

    Next we see a series of increasingly aggressive "pranks" being pulled on Jermaine. The Chinese food he orders for a business lunch is actually boxes of worms, his car gets egged and his tires get slashed, stuff like that. One night, Jermaine and Jasmine are taking a romantic bubble bath, and we see a shadow outside of the bathroom window. The next morning, Jermaine finds one of Jade's hairpins in the trampled rose bushes. So Jermaine pulls some strings, and the judge orders the child to be made a ward of the state until either Jade gets a steady job, or the baby-daddy stops travelling (he's a baseball player). Stupidly foolishly, Jermaine is waiting outside the courthouse so that Jade can see him when she comes running and screaming outside, scratching up her face and neck in her grief.

    Next, a massive fucking rattlesnake lunges up out of the foot-well of Jermaine's car while he's driving, sending him to the hospital. So Jermaine puts a restraining order on Jade as soon as he's out of the hospital. While he's at home recovering, Jasmine gets a special delivery VHS tape of her husband fucking some girl in Jasmine's own car.

    Now, at this point, I was already on my laptop and writing this review, so the couple of clues before this point caught my attention, but I didn't put it together until this now. How would some unknown stripper have gotten into a legal office to place the stupid trite and cliché pseudo-ransom-font threatening letter in Jermaine's inbox during business hours without anyone noticing? How would she have known enough about their business lunch to have set up the whole worm thing? And now, how could this woman, who was only introduced to them the night of their threesome, have gotten a video tape of something illicit that supposedly happened years before*? Hmm, could it be that the writers only gave us a totally "psycho patsy" to throw us off the trail؟

    So now Jasmine has had enough and she wants a divorce. But Jermaine begs her not to leave him, and to prove that he knows he was wrong, he'll leave her instead. And go right over to Jade's house to beat her unconscious! Jermaine comes back to beg Jasmine to just stay with him for that night, when lightening flashes, rain comes pouring down, and the fucking lights go out.

    Seriously.

    They hear a noise in the other room, so Jermaine goes out to investigate. Someone in all black with a black mask jumps him and a fight ensues. Jasmine tries to call the cops, but the phone is dead, so she grabs the gun hidden under the bed (do all writers just have no experience with firearms? Why else do they give people guns with no establishing story for why white collar pacifists would have a gun and make them hide them under the mattress? And revolvers? Really؟).

    So Jasmine bursts out of the bedroom with a gun, telling the bad guy to back off (don't pull out a gun as a defense unless you're going to use it!), giving him time to pull of his mask and reveal ... Jasmine's old wife-beater boyfriend ... and Jermaine's "buddy" from work who set the whole threesome thing up in the first place.

    Next follows the usual bad-guy exposition where everyone has weapons but no one is using them because the bad guy has to explain why he's doing what he's doing and to take credit for every misdeed in the movie.  He told Jasmine years before, while she lay on the floor, bleeding and that if she ever left him, he'd "find her ass".  Jasmine is so distraught over seeing him again, that she DROPS THE GUN and just starts crying.

    Jermaine goes for Eric's gun, and while they wrestle, Jasmine finally notices that she's dropped her gun and picks it up. Of course, there's a gunshot while the camera isn't pointed at anyone, so we are supposed to sit there and wonder who got shot for a moment. Of course, it's Jasmine. So Jermaine lets go of Eric while Eric goes completely off his rocker, randomly pointing the gun at his own head and then to Jermaine, and back again, screaming something about how they all have to die now.

    So, rather than picking up the gun that Jasmine has dropped again, Jermaine stands up, takes his fucking shirt off, and screams "you wanna kill me? Go ahead and kill me motherfucker!" while Eric stands there looking "crazy". Another gunshot, again while the camera isn't on anyone, and surprise surprise, Eric is shot.

    As he falls down, he reveals barking moonbat Jade standing behind him screaming "you thought you could put your hands on me and I wouldn't come and getcha?" But Jermaine promises to do anything if Jade will just call 911 for him. So she agrees, but discovers that the phone is still dead. So Jermaine tells her that there's a cell phone in the desk drawer (where the hell were the cell phones throughout the rest of the movie, like when Jermaine was trying to find his missing wife‽).

    Now the torture is almost over. We're back in the courtroom, where the judge pronounces that Jade is to get her kid back due to "evidence" presented by Jade's new lawyer, Jermaine. Frankly, I think he only traded his wife's life for the kid's life. Jermaine walks towards the exit only to find Jasmine blocking the way. The camera work tries unsuccessfully to hide the height difference between the two characters while they give us more exposition so that we can learn that Jasmine has left her husband, served him with divorce papers, is now setting up her own abuse center, and that Jermaine wants to try and make it "like it used to be" but that Jasmine says it can never be the way it used to be. And she wheels herself out of the courtroom, now disabled from being shot.

    Apparently I'm a masochist, because I went to look at the special features and found an alternate ending. And I watched it. Thank goodness they cut that out. So, while Jermaine is on the floor begging his wife not to die, and Jade is looking for the cell phone, Eric is lying dead on the floor. But since this is a movie, we all know that the bad guy never dies the first time. So he gets up and puts his foot on Jermaine's hand when Jermaine notices and goes for the gun on the floor. Eric takes his time aiming his gun at Jermaine's head. He takes exactly the amount of time necessary for Jade to shoot him in the back ... again. So it's not so much an alternate ending as a shoddy horror-movie double-take ending, because everything else is pretty much the same. Eric is still dead, Jasmine is still shot, Jade is still the one who kills Eric, and Jermaine still owes Jade.

    *According to the director commentary (yes, I watched it), the video of Jermaine having sex in his wife's car happened within the last couple of weeks, not several years ago, even though that's what Jermaine said when Jasmine got the tape.  Eric, back when we thought he was "Terrance the buddy", actually helped Jermaine hookup with the waitress so that he could be there to secretly tape them in the parking lot.  But the scene where all this happens never got filmed, so the only thing we know about that affair is what Jermaine said about it, which is that it happened after they got married, but "years ago".

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

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

    By the way, this is the movie that gave me the inspiration for ending my reviews with "where I watch the crap so you don't have to".  You're welcome.


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

    Posted Aug 19, 2017, 5:42 PM by Joreth InnKeeper
  • Episode 23 - Same Time, Next Year

    ?
    Same Time, Next Year (1978) 
    http://movies.netflix.com/WiMovie/Same_Time_Next_Year/60010851 - Netflix
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0078199/ - IMDB Database
    http://amzn.to/2ig28Gn - Amazon
    http://amzn.to/2vT2VAb - Amazon Instant Video

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

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

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

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

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

    [inserted movie clip about agonizing over cheating]

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

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

    And now, 2 small spoilers, but not the end of the film.

    SPOILERS:

    There are 2 particular scenes that make me hesitate to strike this movie from the list. In one of them, Doris confides that her husband may leave her, and she is distraught. In spite of her relationship with George, she does not want to lose her relationship with her husband. Doris goes to the car to get something, and her husband calls at that moment looking for her, believing it to be the number of the room where Doris is staying at the convent.

    Although this is George's chance to finally get Doris away from her husband, he doesn't. He does his best to patch up their marriage and, when given the perfect chance to reveal the nature of his relationship with Doris, he covers it up for the sake of restoring their marriage. Yes, it's a lie, and I can't overlook that. But George's intentions are to do what he thinks would make Doris happiest, not what he can get out of the situation.

    [inserted movie clip of George trying to fix Doris' marriage and rejecting the opportunity to reveal the deception]

    The other scene is when George reveals that his wife found out about Doris, and has known for many years. But George's wife never said a word. She kept silent and allowed George to continue his annual trips, knowing full well that another woman was waiting for him. She loved George that much. And George, upon learning of her silence to allow him his indiscretion, falls in love with his wife all over again for her strength, her courage, and her compassion. Doris, too, admires the woman.

    [inserted movie clip of George telling Doris that his wife learned of their affair]

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

    This is a movie about 4 people, even though we only ever meet 2 of them - about the love and desire that encompass them, through presidential terms, through wars, through changing fashions and political ideals, and over the course of a quarter of a century. So you may disagree with me about whether or not this is a poly movie, and I think some very valid points can be made on that side of the debate that I can't argue with. But I'm going to keep it on the list anyway.

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

    Posted Aug 19, 2017, 5:44 PM by Joreth InnKeeper
  • Episode 22 - Whatever Works

    Whatever Works (2009) 
    www.imdb.com/title/tt1178663/ - Internet Movie Data Base
    http://dvd.netflix.com/Movie/Whatever-Works/70114945 - Netflix
    http://amzn.to/2wdfZCT - Amazon

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

    So I did.

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

    [inserted movie clip of description of Boris]

    I'll have to spoil some of the plot in order to introduce the poly sub-plot, but I'll try to leave off as many details about the main story as possible and I'll avoid the ending. The short story is that the poly sub-plot really is poly.

    One day, Boris comes home to find a pretty, homeless girl from Mississippi on his doorstep begging for food. Against his better judgement, he lets Melody come inside to eat, where she weasels her way into free room and board for the next month. She's a stereotypical "dumb blonde", cheerful, and religious. And yet she manages to develop a crush on cranky old Boris anyway.

    He resists her for a while, but eventually she grows on him and they end up married, as people who have nothing in common and don't seem to like each other much seem to do in movies. About a year later, her fundie Christian mother shows up on their doorstep, prayin' to Jaysus and trying to save her daughter from the sinful life in New York and marriage (that she refuses to acknowledge) to a man old enough to be her daughter's grandfather. We find out that Marrietta (Melody's mom) was recently dumped by her husband, John, for her best friend and she is now homeless, broke, and divorced.

    As she plots to find another man for her daughter, Marietta ends up getting introduced to one of Boris' friends, a professor of philosophy named Brockman (of course) who finds her physically attractive in spite of her out-of-touch religious views. He asks her out on a date, where she gets drunk and shows him pictures of Melody as a child pageant queen. Brockman thinks her pictures have a "primitive" brilliance to them and convinces Marietta to show them to an art critic friend. Brockman also seduces Marietta and all her religious views fly right out the window.

    The art critic friend, Howard, falls in love with Marietta's "primitive" photography, and also with Marietta, and the two men move in with her in a happy threesome, where the fundie religious southern Christian turns into a hedonistic, polyamorous, artist living in New York.

    [inserted movie clips describing the triad]

    So I liked the movie because the protagonist was a cranky, atheist, son of a bitch, and the poly triad had no drama or issues whatsoever. Marietta discovered much more of herself through her relationship with her two male partners, which is exactly what happens in good poly relationships, or any complex and healthy relationship, really. The relationship worked and the movie ended with the triad still functioning and happy.

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

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

    Posted Aug 19, 2017, 5:44 PM by Joreth InnKeeper
  • Episode 21 - Portrait Of A Marriage

    Portrait Of A Marriage (1990) 

    www.imdb.com/title/tt0098897/ - Internet Movie Data Base
    https://dvd.netflix.com/Movie/Portrait-of-a-Marriage/70050529 - Netflix
    http://amzn.to/2vT98fn - Amazon

    I had such high hopes for this movie!  It's based on the true story of renowned feminist writer Vita Sackville-West, during the early part of the 20th century.  It follows her through her marriage to diplomat and writer Harold Nicolson, and her affair with her childhood friend, novelist Violet Keppel.  Vita and her husband Harold had several same-sex affairs each during their life-long marriage, including a relationship between Vita and famous author Virginia Woolf.  So I was expecting this movie to rank up there with Carrington, which I also reviewed and loved.

    But this movie did not have the same feel.

    On to the spoilers, because the entire plot of this movie is the reason why I'm not going to recommend it, so I can't explain why without giving away the whole thing.  

    So, Vita has a best friend named Violet, as a teen.  Later, she marries Harold, and they have 2 sons.  Then, one day, he comes home from one of his extended diplomatic missions, and confesses that they cannot have sex for 2 months because he has contracted some kind of STD.  He then reassures his wife that she is the ONLY woman in his life.  After realizing this means that her husband is gay, or at least bi, Vita gradually shakes off the shock and decides that it doesn't matter, since he remains devoted to her and the children.

    Before she reaches acceptance, however, she has to adjust to the shock of the news, and turns to her best friend, Violet, for support, only to have Violet use the opportunity of vulnerability to seduce Vita.  What follows next is a torrid love affair filled with train-wreck drama that I just can't understand.

    Vita and Harold develop an "understanding" that Harold will have "friends" while he is out of town, but he loves his wife and puts her as his priority.  This is the perfect setup for introducing a lesbian relationship for Vita, right?  Harold has his own same-sex partners, and he *gets* the idea of loving more than one, or at least loving one and having sex with many, so she should be able to do something similar, right?

    No, he hates the idea of his wife spending time with Violet, although it is quite some time before it is revealed that their relationship is sexual.  He suspects early on, but there is a lot of secrecy and deception.  Which brings me to the next part of the drama that shouldn't be there.

    Vita has a husband who has lovers on the side and she accepts it in a sort of DADT arrangement.  So she should totally be expecting her husband to now allow her the same freedom, right?  Particularly since she's a feminist and flaunts "tradition" by wearing masculine clothing (which her husband loves, by the way).  So, once she learns of her husband's infidelity, and once she reaches the conclusion that their marriage will continue and she will overlook them, it seems a natural next step to come clean to her husband and admit a love for women too.  What's good for the gander is good for the goose and all.  

    But no, she tries to hide her relationship with Violet for a long time, using the convenient excuse that women often develop close friendships and often go on vacations and such together.  So Vita tries to hide her lesbian relationship from her husband, while her husband gets jealous over the idea of his wife having another lover.  To his credit, however, he bends over backwards to give her the freedom to write and go on trips, and even to remain friends with Violet, providing their marriage & family isn't thrown into disarray.  I have to say that's a reasonable request, given the circumstances.

    Next is Violet.  She absolutely loathes the fact that Vita is married and begs on more than one occasion for Vita to dump her husband and run away with her instead.  Remember, this is the 1920s and '30s.  Women just didn't *do* that.  But Violet absolutely cannot understand when Vita says she loves both her husband and her girlfriend and cannot choose between them.  Vita feels there are too many sides to her personality to be encompassed by only one partner.  With her husband, she can be the happy homemaker, wife, mother, and gardener that she feels truly content as.  But with her girlfriend, she can be the proud and powerful Amazon, running wild and free, that she *also* enjoys.  This sounds PERFECT for a poly setup.

    Again, no.

    Violet wants Vita all to herself and constantly tries to sabotage Vita's marriage.  She even steals Vita away for a few weeks while Harold is out of town and not around to notice.  Vita dresses as a young soldier on honeymoon with his "wife" and they pass as a hetero married couple.  They exchange vows, and both women feel as though they are truly married.

    Eventually, however, Violet announces that she is getting married to Dennys, who is smart, charming, handsome, and completely besotted with Violet.  He is so besotted, in fact, that he will "do as he's told", meaning he will agree to whatever stipulations in the marriage that Violet insists on, just to be married to her.  Violet insists on having a "business arrangement" marriage, where there is absolutely no sex, and Dennys agrees.  Again, a perfect poly setup.  Violet gets to marry a man who will not touch her, and would probably agree to an open arrangement if it had been offered, and with the marriage, Violet gets a degree of freedom not otherwise granted to women in this era.  Violet could have her relationship with Vita, if Vita only pointed out how her husband has his lovers on the side, and if Vita acknowledged Harold's legitimate concern about the family and kids.  Everyone could get what they want!

    Instead, everyone is completely and utterly miserable.

    So, the wedding day for Violet and Dennys approaches, and Violet begs Vita to "save her".  Remember, this is a marriage that Violet herself arranged, and arranged to suit her orientation, no less.  Vita refuses to "rescue" her because Harold admonishes her for even considering the chaos and disruption this would bring to Dennys, himself, and their families.  So instead, Vita kidnaps Violet on her wedding day and brutally rapes her, screaming "is this how he feels?"  What. The. Fuck?

    Then, Vita and Violet make up and Violet convinces Vita to run away with her and they hatch an elaborate plot to "elope" again.  Dennys gets wind of it and sets up a meeting with Vita, in which he tries to convince her not to steal his wife.  He points out that neither woman understands anything about money and asks how they will support themselves (sounding very much like a father who disapproves of his daughter's choice in boyfriends).  Neither woman can answer how they will support themselves, but that doesn't stop them.  Caught in the middle, Violet announces that she will go to stay with her mother for a few weeks to think about things before making any sort of decision.  Dennys gives her an ultimatum, telling her if they want to elope, they will do it now or never.  Violet says she'll be gone by the next evening.

    So the women make their plans and Dennys discovers the details, running to stop them from leaving at the train station.  Violet has gone on ahead and Dennys finds only Vita.  He proceeds to badger her into telling him where Violet has gone, which she does, and then insists on going with Vita to join her.  And for some unfathomable reason, Vita tells him when and how she plans to meet up.

    So the next morning, Vita arrives at the dock only to find Dennys already at the head of the line to buy tickets, when the cashier announces that he only has 2 single occupancy rooms left.  Dennys buys them both, then gives one ticket to Vita.  They take the voyage together, seeming to become friends as they laugh and share meals together on the trip.

    When they arrive, Vita sees Violet in the hotel lobby before Dennys enters, and runs up to her to demand to know why Violet is still there (apparently they were supposed to meet somewhere else), but Violet is hysterical for a reason I never found out.  Vita tries to get Violet to hide before Dennys finds her, but Dennys arrives just at that time and everyone goes up to Violet's room.  While there, Violet lays in bed to "recover" from whatever frightened her, and she says how lovely it is to be with the two people she loves most in the world, and to have them getting along.  The 3 of them seem to be having a grand old time, with Dennys toasting over champagne "to the three of us!"  Then, without warning, Dennys gets up, writes a note, and storms out of the room.

    The note says he cannot do this and he leaves, only to go back to England where he tells Vita's mother (I have no idea why) that Dennys and Violet had sex all the time.  Why Vita's mother needs to know that a married couple she is not related to has regular sex, I haven't a clue.  Then he finds Harold and tells him where the women are staying and the two men go to get their wives back (Harold, who had been told by Vita that she was leaving him for Violet, was totally distraught and can't understand how Violet managed to make Vita turn her back on her children and blames Violet for the whole thing).

    So the men show up, and again there is a huge screaming match between all involved where the women insist on being together and the men insist that the women come home.  Eventually, the men leave the women's hotel room, dejected.  Vita goes to a nearby cafe to smoke and brood, as she does, and Harold finds her and has a chat.  He tries to sow dissension and suspicion by asking Vita if she is *sure* that Violet was really faithful (again, the hypocrisy - why the fuck does it matter to Vita? She was married to Harold & had sex with her husband, so why Vita flies into jealous rages at the thought of Violet having sex with anyone else, let alone her own husband, is a constant source of bafflement to me).

    Naturally, Vita runs screaming back to the hotel "when was the last time you had sex with him?" and "how dare you lie to me!" as she corners Violet on the stairs and slams her up against a wall.  Then, for some unknown reason, she tears up the stairs and backs herself into their room, brandishing a chair like a lion tamer, as the other three come skidding into the room after her.  Literally, they all run into the room and slide to a stop.

    Violet begs Dennys to tell Vita the truth, that they have never had sex as per their arrangement, to which he does.  Vita then looks with horror at Violet (more bafflement on my part) and says "I just can't trust you" and leaves.

    She never sees Violet again.

    What looks like 20 years later, Vita gets a call from Violet while she's out in her garden with her husband, apparently happy and settled in monogamous, married life.  Vita freaks out until Violet reassures her that nothing is wrong.  But Vita refuses to go see her and hangs up the phone in tears, runs to her tower bedroom and locks herself in to smoke and brood, which brings us back to the very beginning of the movie, where she starts the tale in flashbacks.

    Next, we see a very, very old Harold, writing a letter to Violet, where it is implied that Vita has just died and Harold is sending Violet a ring that Vita used to wear, believing that Vita would want Violet to have it because Violet gave that ring to Vita when they were teens.  It is also implied that Vita and Violet never saw each other after that train-wreck of a fight amongst the four of them, but that Harold knows how important Violet was to Vita and he is happy that Vita had such a strong love with Violet.  Like, what?  He's happy that the two women had such a strong bond even though the last time anyone saw each other was like 40 years ago and he was part of the scheme that broke them up.  But yay, they loved each other?

    So, we have 4 people: 2 married couples, each with an "arrangement" of sorts that should have allowed for a quad or N poly relationship and a natural understanding of how it is possible to love more than one person, to love someone and have sex with others, or to have different kinds of love for different kinds of people.  I could see there being personality clashes, but I just did not understand the drama, the screaming, the tears, the rages.  I don't understand how a person can themself love more than one person and yet be insanely jealous at even the thought of their lover having other partners.  And bisexuality seems to be the easiest way for non-poly people to grasp the whole poly thing - one of each where one can provide what the other can't.  And then there's the real life biography itself, which explicitly stated that Vita and her husband each had multiple lovers while remaining married to each other for decades.

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

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

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

    Posted Aug 19, 2017, 5:45 PM by Joreth InnKeeper
  • Episode 20 - Summer Lovers

    Summer Lovers (1982) 
    www.imdb.com/title/tt0084737/ - Internet Movie Data Base
    www.www.netflix.com/title/60025215 - Netflix
    http://amzn.to/2igHfLe - Amazon

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

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

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

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

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

    I think this is probably the best example of polyamory in film out there. It shows us the whole range of emotions and gives us characters we can relate to and situations in which we can understand how the characters got there, probably because most of us have been there ourselves. No poly movie list would be complete without this film on it.

    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 https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/poly-ish-movie-reviews-by/id994404536?mt=2
    Posted Aug 19, 2017, 5:55 PM by Joreth InnKeeper
  • Episode 19 - Y Tu Mamá También

    Y Tu Mamá También (2002) 
    www.imdb.com/title/tt0245574/  - Internet Movie Data Base
    www.netflix.com/title/60023237 - Netflix
    http://amzn.to/2fUO4Bl - Amazon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    I didn't like the characters. The two boys are rich, spoiled, entitled, potheads who spend their entire time drugged out of their heads, drunk, and masturbating. When they're not actively masturbating, they're talking about women's body parts or insulting each others' body parts. They don't seem to have any other interests at all besides pot, beer, and tits. Not "women" or "girls", but boobs, specifically. Maybe vulvas too, they just talk about boobs incessantly. I'm not even sure how they got girlfriends in the first place, except I seem to remember being a teenager and not really having much in common with some boyfriends except that we liked to fuck so that probably explains how a couple of douches like these kids found partners.

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

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

    So, it was an interesting film. It was a sexual exploration movie. If you're into that, you might want to see this film. But it wasn't a poly movie. It wasn't about relationships or love. It was about sex. Which has its place, just not on a poly movie list.

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

    Posted Aug 19, 2017, 5:56 PM by Joreth InnKeeper
  • Episode 18 - My Girlfriend's Boyfriend

    My Girlfriend's Boyfriend (2010) 
    www.imdb.com/title/tt1447793/ - Internet Movie Data Base
    https://dvd.netflix.com/Movie/My-Girlfriend-s-Boyfriend/70125551 - Netflix
    http://amzn.to/2vTn897 - Amazon

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

    This had more potential than almost any other possibly-poly movie I'd seen in a long time, especially for a movie that wasn't on any poly lists but that Netflix recommended to me based on adding other poly movies to my queue. The title and the line "Can she find true love with two men at the same time" made the cynical part of my brain pause in condemning it for yet another Hollywood choose-between-them romantic comedy plot. "This one," I thought "might actually be poly." I went into watching this movie with high hopes, but wary that those high hopes would lead me to a big fall.

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

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

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

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

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

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

    This is not a poly movie.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    So, it's not a poly movie. It was a romantic comedy. And I recommend it anyway.

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

    The word "drama" gets a bad rap in poly circles because of its misuse.  I write about this problem often, so if you're interested in more discussion about it, visit my blog or Facebook page.  But the short footnote is that when *I* use the word "drama", I do not mean any old conflict.  All relationships have conflict.  When I use that term, I mean that when conflict arises (or, more likely, is manufactured), the response to the conflict is so extreme as to be performative in nature.  Meaning that sometimes shit happens like a death in the family or personality clashes and that's to be expected, but when a person goes out of their way to arrange their life in such a manner as to invite conflict, and then to deal with the conflict in unproductive ways that almost seem deliberate, that invite attention or an audience or participation from those outside the conflict, and do so repeatedly without any attempt made to learn more productive behaviour for dealing with conflict in the future, that's "drama".

    These are the people who follow their partners to public venues and then have shouting matches in the parking lot, perhaps with the throwing of chairs or beer bottles, that result in venue security intervening, instead of attempting productive conflict resolution techniques or simply leaving someone, mostly because the only examples they've seen of dealing with conflict is from people who have an audience like reality TV or movies.  As some article once said, we often learn how to fight by watching things like Friends, where people who are supposed to be buddies throw out some zinger to hurt each other.  This doesn't make any sense for friends to fight this way, but it makes perfect sense if those friends have writers who have to entertain an audience with the fight.  So we then grow up thinking that flinging insults at the people we care about that other people will laugh or "oooh" at is the way that people fight.  This is what I mean by "drama".  It's performative.  That's why I use that term specifically, because drama invokes "the theatre" and is "dramatic", or perhaps even melodramatic.  It most definitely does not include all forms of conflict, or even strong emotional feelings during conflict.

    To subscribe on iTunes or leave a review, visit https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/poly-ish-movie-reviews-by/id994404536?mt=2

    Posted Aug 19, 2017, 5:57 PM by Joreth InnKeeper
  • Episode 17 - Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid

    Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid (1969) 
    www.imdb.com/title/tt0064115/ - Internet Movie Data Base
    www.netflix.com/title/26308213 - Netflix
    http://amzn.to/2vOxN6v - Amazon

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

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

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

    In the second main scene with Etta, after she has spent a night with Sundance, Butch comes riding up on a new bicycle and tempts her outside for a romantic and touching bike ride. Afterwards, Etta asks him a loaded question ... [inserted movie clip]  So clearly, there are also very strong romantic feelings between Etta and Butch. But Etta does not consider it to be a "relationship" and they do not have a sexual relationship at all.

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

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

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

    So, in a rare move for me, I think I'll add it to the list so that people can see it, but I'm going to leave it up to you all to decide for yourselves if this is a poly movie or not without me giving a declarative statement about whether it is or is not a poly movie. I do, however, think it's a terrific example of how messy relationships are and why, although we can have clear-cut definitions that say X definitely IS but Z definitely ISN'T, when it comes to taxonomy, either in biology or sociology, X and Z may be clear, but Y might be something in between. And that's OK.


    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 https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/poly-ish-movie-reviews-by/id994404536?mt=2

    Posted Aug 19, 2017, 5:59 PM by Joreth InnKeeper
  • Episode 16 - Futurama
    Futurama:  The Beast With A Billion Backs (2008) 
    https://dvd.netflix.com/Movie/Futurama-The-Beast-with-a-Billion-Backs/70096914 - Netflix
    http://amzn.to/2vNQsPF - Amazon

    On the recommendation of an ex partner of mine, I watched Futurama: The Beast With A Billion Backs.  It's a poly story.  Seriously.  No, I mean it, it is!

    I enjoy Futurama, but I wouldn't call myself a "fan".  I find it mildly amusing and don't object to it being on, but I like Simpsons and older South Park better, as far as adult-oriented animated series go.  Futurama goes higher on the preferred watch list than most of the other adult cartoons, however.  So I found this movie to be about on par with my overall impression of Futurama - mildly amusing.  But, personal preferences aside, it did, indeed, have a strong poly content, albeit with a lot of sarcasm and self-referential humor.

    Spoiler alert!  This whole review is going to spoil the plot because the whole movie is about multiple relationships, one way or another.  Sorry!

    SPOILERS:


    So Fry (basically the main character) falls in love with this girl, Colleen, and on the day he moves in with her, he discovers that she's living with 4 other guys.  For the record, this is not the time to reveal that you're poly.  There is some controversy over whether to bring up the P-word before or after the first date, but we all pretty much agree that sooner is better than later.  After you move in together is *way* too late.  

    [inserted movie clip where Fry is introduced to his new metamours]

    What follows is an amusing hyperbolic dinner conversation (amusing for it's not so-hyperbolic content) that spans enthusiastic embrace of polyamory to in-fighting & ad hominem attacks.  [inserted movie clip of the dinner conversation]  Remember, this is the first time Fry is learning about polyamory, *and* their first night of living together.  Then goes back to his crew mates (the rest of the regular cast of the show) to sulk, where he once again decides he can't live without her. 

    So, while Fry is bouncing back and forth between desire for Colleen and feelings of rejection and abandonment because of her interest in other men, the universe is threatened by a giant tentacle monster from a rift in the universe.  The tentacle monster finds Fry and attaches a tentacle to the top of his spinal column, whereby Fry becomes the tentacles' spokesman and champion.  He founds a new religion preaching the gospel of the tentacles, which is to love the tentacles and the tentacles will love you.  That seems to be the entire message.

    Eventually, it is discovered that the tentacles are not just hooking into the brain stem and causing feelings of love, but that the tentacles are actually "genticals", er, having sex with the humans and other aliens through the tentacle and the spinal column.  So the people all get grossed out, and now the tentacle monster comes forward to speak with his own voice.

    Yivo, the tentacle monster, admits to originally wanting a quickie with all the sentients, but when he hooked up, he discovered our loneliness.  He is lonely too.  You see, "he" is actually an entire universe with no one to talk to.  So, although it was originally "just sex" for him, now he's in love and he wants the chance to woo everyone properly.

    So, all the sentients get together and decide to give the tentacle universe a chance at a first date, to see if they really do have something special together without the subterfuge.  A bunch of humans and aliens go on dates and report back.  At the meeting, it's decided to continue dating the tentacle universe.

    But soon, that's not enough.  Fry proclaims that he has received no intentions of a commitment, and he doesn't think he can go through the heartache again of a commitment-less relationship (because, that's what polyamory is, right?).  It is then decided that they should all "break up" with Yivo.  So they go in person to do the deed, whereby Yivo surprises the emissaries with a giant diamond engagement ring.  Once again, the humans and aliens in our universe are convinced to remain in a relationship with the tentacle universe.  Yivo then invites everyone to move in with him and sends down golden escalators to bring everyone through the rift to the tentacle universe. 

    Make note that this whole courtship was only towards the biological sentient beings in the universe.  Robots were not included.  This means that Bender, the robot with the attitude ("bite my shiny metal ass!") and companion to Fry and the rest of his crew, is left alone on Earth with only other robots & he has lost his entire crew.

    Back in the tentacle universe, the people have arrived via golden escalators to a world of fluffy white clouds with harps just lying around everywhere, and a species of dumb "birds" that look suspiciously like human angels with white wings and robes that eat the parasites off Yivo in a mutually beneficial sort of symbiotic relationship.  Fry finds himself lying in a post-orgiastic puppy pile on Mattress Island wondering why they used to all be so jealous, and isn't this so much better?

    Back in our universe, Bender decides that it's up to him to rescue his crew from Yivo, now that (as he imagines) the rush of infatuation must be wearing off and the realities of cohabiting life must be disillusioning Fry and the rest of the crew.  So ensues a quest to the rift and a battle between Bender and his demonic robot army dressed as pirates, and the tentacle universe.

    Fry tries to stop the battle & convince Bender that he's actually really happy there and to please leave, when Yivo stops to question how Bender got the mysterious material he coated his sword with that allows him to penetrate the previously impenetrable hide of the tentacles.  Fry has to admit to sending a letter back to Bender telling him how happy he is, in direct violation of their explicit agreement for Fry not to have any contact with any other universes.  Apparently the tentacle universe wants an OUP - One Universe Policy.  And those of us who have been around the poly block a few times know how terrible those are!  Anyway, the letter was written on the material that Bender used to coat his sword that gave him the ability to chop through the tentacles.

    Yivo decides he can no longer trust Fry for breaking what amounts to a fundamentally abusive agreement & the relationship is too damaged to continue, and sends everyone else back to their own universe.  Yivo does keep Colleen, though, as the only one who truly understands him, leaving Fry still partner-less.  Fry asks why Bender caused all the trouble in the first place, after all, everyone was happy and in love.  [inserted movie clip: "Love? That's not love!  ... Bender knows love!  And love doesn't share itself with the world.  Love is suspicious.  Love is needy.  Love is fearful.  Love is greedy.  My friends!  There is no great love without great jealousy!" and he proceeds to choke his crewmates with his hug and his proclamation "I love you meatbags!"]

    I could use this to write a whole blog piece about how the Monogamous Mindset* does, indeed see love in such terms and why and how that's the problem with the world.  But I won't.  I'll let you all hear those words tinged with the irony and sarcasm I'm so well known for and let that make my point, for now.  I enjoy sarcasm and irony, and I, in particular, enjoy media that uses irony and sarcasm to make political and social commentary.  So if you enjoy Matt Groening's animation and humor style, I recommend this movie.  If you don't, I still recommend that it go on a list of poly-ish movies, even though it seems to cast the poly characters in a negative light.  I recommend it because it pretty much casts *everyone* in a negative light, and the final comment about the selfishness and possessiveness of "love" seems to me to be a much more negative commentary on how mono society does romantic relationships.  Plus, we can poke a little fun at ourselves now and then, and some aspects of our poly community deserve a little teasing and mocking.

    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 https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/poly-ish-movie-reviews-by/id994404536?mt=2



    *The Monogamous Mindset is a particular mindset found within monogamous societies that seek to justify and protect the institution of monogamy in direct opposition to contrary evidence and with many faulty assumptions as premises.  It does not imply every single person who engages in monogamous relationships - that is why it is in capital letters and why I didn't just say "monogamy" or "monogamous people".  One can be monogamous without having the Monogamous Mindset, and one can attempt to engage in non-monogamous relationships while still maintaining the Monogamous Mindset.  In other words, if you're monogamous and don't do this, then I'm not talking about you.
    Posted Aug 19, 2017, 6:01 PM by Joreth InnKeeper
  • Episode 15 - Paint Your Wagon
    Paint Your Wagon (1969) 
    https://dvd.netflix.com/Movie/Paint-Your-Wagon/60010761 - Netflix
    http://amzn.to/2vP5ODL - Amazon

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

    I watched Paint Your Wagon, a cheesy movie made in the 1960s very loosely based on a musical written in the 1940s based on life in California in the 1840s. Although, the movie has almost nothing to do with the play, other than the names of a couple of characters and some of the songs force-fed into the script.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    As usual, in order to explain whether or not this deserves to be added to any poly movie list, I'm going to move on to the spoilers. I figure this movie has been out for roughly 50 years, which is more than adequate for giving away spoilers. However, if you still haven't seen it and want to watch it for the first time fresh, skip down to the conclusion.

    SPOILERS:


    There were a few objectors to the plan of kidnapping the prostitutes, and it was pointed out that they would be, effectively, entering the white slave trade with the plan, but the miners went along with it anyway and the women eventually arrived on the doorstep of a brand, new two-story saloon and whorehouse, built just for them. With the addition of prostitutes, the little mining community turned into a boom town called No Name City, with 4 gambling houses and a huge influx of miners with their gold dust to spend.

    But, while Ben was off rustling himself some prostitutes, Pardner was asked to stay home and guard Elizabeth from the rest of the miners. Naturally, they fall in love. Pardner tells Ben, when he comes back, that he's in love with his wife and therefore has to leave. Ben goes back to the house to pack up the shared property that Ben has decided to part with in favor of Pardner's leaving, and Elizabeth discovers Pardner's plan. She begs Ben not to let him leave, since she loves him back.

    Heartbroken, but so in love with Elizabeth that he can't refuse and being a good friend and partner who won't stand in the way of love, Ben goes back to Pardner and orders him to stay - telling him that Elizabeth loves Pardner and Ben is leaving instead. Pardner refuses, they fight, Ben knocks him out and carries him back to the house where he packs up his things instead. To which Elizabeth begs Ben not to leave, that she loves him.

    Pardner wakes up just in time to hear that, and a wild conversation takes place where Elizabeth asks both men to live with her, and why not? She points out that she was previously married to a man with two wives, so what's wrong with a wife having two husbands?

    [inserted movie clip where Elizabeth proposes two husbands]

    They live happily like this for a while, each man rotating nights spent in town so the other can spend the night alone with his wife. The town, having been built up around them, treats this as normal [inserted movie clip of normalizing behaviour]. There is a charming scene of the 3 of them at dinner where Ben and Elizabeth start bickering, and Pardner jumps in to defend Elizabeth, who promptly turns on him for arguing with Ben, who then stands up for Pardner, and it all ends in a chuckle as the 3 of them realize how much they care for each other and how silly the argument is.

    Of course, we couldn't just leave it at that.

    One day, news comes in about some farmers fallen ill in the middle of winter up on the mountain while trying to cross. When the rescue party finds them, they discover the farmers to be "good folk", meaning conservative Christian, and decide that the family can't possibly be taken into the den of inequity that is No Name city. So they're housed at the Triad's house, being set outside of town.

    Elizabeth is so overcome with shame at her lifestyle in the face of the farmers' piety that she lies about having two husbands, telling them that Pardner is, not Ben. she then makes Ben take lodgings in town until the farmers are well enough to leave, to keep the story.

    Now, having a happy triad, in which the woman suggests it, and it involves 2 men, not 2 women, instantly made me like the movie in spite of the cheese factor (OK, I like old musicals, so the cheese wasn't actually too strong for me). But here's where I really started to get drawn to the characters. Here's where Ben starts to look like a multi-dimensional person. He is, naturally, angered at being ousted of his own home, and he is very hurt over not being allowed to acknowledge his relationship to his wife, who was his wife first & to whom he has done everything in his power to show his love for her, from protecting her from harm from the other miners to backing away when she loved another to sharing her (and being the first of the two of them to agree to sharing) when that was what she wanted in spite of his knee-jerk reaction that it was "wrong". He leaves the home he built for his wife and helps keep her secret because it's what she wants, but it tears him up inside that they are being forced to hide who they are and what they have because someone else has a problem with it.

    Pardner is also torn up about the split, but he doesn't feel there is anything he can do about it - this is what Elizabeth wants. He tries to maintain friendly ties with Ben in town and at the mine, but Ben's hurt feelings push them apart.

    One day, the farmers' son is in town with Ben and insists that Ben come to dinner that night - a dinner invitation he had previously rejected when Pardner offered. Ben shows up to find Elizabeth and Pardner dressed up, saying Grace, and entertaining, just as happy as you please. Ben's rough language and coarse ways offend the pious farmers and embarrasses and angers Elizabeth. She orders Ben out of the house, but Pardner finally stands up for Ben and says that a man can't be ordered out of his own home. Then the truth comes out and both men end up kicked out.

    At this time, the town is starting to dry up, and people are moving on to other parts, where rumor has suggested more gold in fresh hills. The town literally collapses in on itself, and everyone packs up to leave. Pardner goes back to the house to get his things and Elizabeth begs him to stay and re-create the happy triad they once had. Here's where the movie turns to shit for me.

    Pardner tells her that when it was just the two of them, he got a taste of living with her "like a real husband and wife" (because, she wasn't a real wife before, or something) and he can't go back to sharing her again. Since she is "really" Ben's wife, Pardner is taking off. On the way out of town, he meets up with Ben, who talks of also leaving. The farmers and the radical, proselytizing parson have settled nearby and are building a church and a courthouse, which means civilization. Ben can't be anywhere near civilization, so he's hightailing it outta there. When Pardner learns that Ben absolutely cannot be persuaded to stay with Elizabeth, who won't give up her home [inserted movie clip where Ben describes how attached Elizabeth is to her home], Pardner decides to stay with Elizabeth after all.

    I absolutely hate movies that take 3 perfectly companionable people, and give one of them some major flaw, either character or plot, that conveniently eliminates one of them so two can live happily ever after. Usually it's death, but almost as often it's turning one guy into an asshole that the girl eventually sees and rejects, but occasionally it's making one guy so sweet that he voluntarily steps aside for the other one. Because it's not a "real marriage" if there are 3 of them (Pearl Harbor, I'm looking at you here, which managed to do all three).

    It's such a shame, because the story portrayed their relationship as happy, as normal, as natural, and as *right*, up until the pressure of what other people thought broke things. Ben says in one of the more memorable lines, [inserted movie clip "If he hadn't brought his goddamn piety into this house, we'd still be a happily married triple!"]. Elizabeth sings "no fears, no fools, no lies, no rules, just doing with my life what life is for," and at one point, someone tells of a prostitute that had to go into hiding for a while because of a jealous death threat. [inserted movie clip "He wanted to marry her but said she'd have to quit working." "Well that's a narrow-minded attitude!"] These kinds of progressive ideals of letting everyone find their own happiness made me like the story and seemed to me to be in favor of those ideas, not spouting them so they could tear them down - they didn't seem to be satire or straw men, they seemed to show happy people - although the "population: drunk" sign at the city limits was a bit over the top, I admit.

    Then they had to go and ruin it. Granted, Ben's wanderlust and dislike of "civilization" were established at the beginning of the movie, and Elizabeth's stubbornness was established the moment we met her. But everyone was happy as long as the town remained a boom town, with no real law and order. Ben was happy, Elizabeth, although she hated the town, was happy because without law and order, they could be a family [inserted movie clip where Elizabeth says she's happy to be with both of them], and Pardner was just happy to be with Elizabeth and he genuinely liked Ben. It didn't HAVE to end. They could have gone on indefinitely. But no, the writers had to punish people for living how they wanted, and they had to bring "civilization" with its rules and structure and one way to exist.

    So if you stop the movie about 2/3 of the way into it - before the farmers come to town, it's a great poly story. If you keep watching, it's a typical, American morality play. Supposedly the lesson is that law and order are inevitable and to be desired, and for the best of all involved, but in this story the only thing I see is people losing the very things they hold most dear: freedom, love, and family, for the sake of being respected by uptight, narrow-minded, priggish neighbors. However, if the writers intended the story to say that "civilization" and telling other people how to live causes people to lose that which makes them happy, then that would be a moral I could support.

    In conclusion, my official Criteria list, specifically the section on whether or not it's poly when poly doesn't "win" in the end, says that if a movie's moral is that poly is doomed and monogamy is the better choice, then it's not a poly movie. But, if a movie's moral is that prejudice or social pressure to conform destroys lives even when polyamory is otherwise working, then it may be a poly movie. So I'm going to include this on the list so that people can see it, but with caveats. If you interpret the movie's moral lesson as suggesting that conforming to "normal" societal rules makes people lose things that make them happy and aren't hurting anyone else, and considering that the movie did show negotiations between three people where each of them were empowered to negotiate for themselves in the process and it resulted in a happy triad arrangement, this could be said to be a poly movie. And, I liked the characters and I also like old musicals, so I'd also recommend watching the movie for that reason, if cheesy technicolor musicals are your thing.

    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 https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/poly-ish-movie-reviews-by/id994404536?mt=2



    Posted Aug 19, 2017, 6:02 PM by Joreth InnKeeper
  • Episode 14 - Compersion

    Compersion (2016) 
    www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL1ejN_rwrAWkDESDh3X6cTrxwSjj_59IR - YouTube
    www.imdb.com/title/tt5745320/ - IMDB

    Wow. So, I've made it through the first 4 episodes aired so far. I'm blown away. OK, first of all, this is a new series airing on a "new digital network", aka YouTube. Enchant TV is the name of the network using YouTube as its channel or delivery mechanism. Second of all, the entire cast is people of color. When's the last fucking time anything poly centered the experience of people of color? The creator, Jackie J. Stone says she wants this network “to be home to dynamic and creative programming that highlights the complexities and the rich and diverse stories of people of color, particularly women.” Which brings me to the third point, which is that the move to polyamory for the characters is instigated by a woman who wants to start dating men. NO GODDAMN UNICORN HUNTING! Can you tell how thrilled I am about this?

    All of this makes the fact that it's still a hetero couple "opening up" their marriage a reasonable compromise for me. This show is already blowing past so many other cultural tropes that I'm totally willing to hear this story be told again, because it's being told from a different, under-represented perspective. However, that hetero couple "opening up" is still a trope that I'm going to complain about, but don't let those complaints distract you from my overall reaction, which is that I loved this show so far. Those complaints are really about the trope itself, not necessarily this show.

    In the handful of YouTube media I've reviewed so far, I've consistently complained about the time limitations of the medium. I keep saying that the 10-15 minute time restriction makes each show feel rushed and like they are skipping over the complexity of the emotions in order to get to the conclusion or the point they want to make. I absolutely did not feel that way watching this show. Even though it's true that it only took 4 YouTube-length episodes to get from the very first "honey, I want to see other people" conversation to having the first date, I felt that the script writing and editing was brilliantly done and managed to convey the nuance and complexity of the characters and what they might be going through. Having good actors certainly helps too. I really believed the anger, the shock, the hurt on both sides, and I really believed that they were processing a multitude of conflicting emotions when they reached their various plateaus of acceptance in between the fear and the anger.

    Something that is usually concerning is that no one involved in the production is poly. The producer got the idea to make the show after meeting a couple who maintains their marriage while also maintaining full romantic relationships in addition to their spouse. I have not had a very good track record with shows that attempt to tackle this subject without direct input from the poly community. However, 4 episodes in, I feel that the cast and crew are taking this project very seriously. Unlike the atrocity that is the 50 Shades movie, the actors seem to respect and admire their characters and the choices the characters make, even though the actors are new to the ideas.

    Now, about the production. What can I say? This was more than just getting a hold of a decent camera so that it doesn't look like a home movie. There is obviously experience here, or at least raw talent. The camera work featured a good use of the handheld technique that usually represents "intimacy" and "raw" and "emotional" without overusing it. The first episode is entirely about the big reveal. Keena has to broach the subject with her husband of 15 years, Josh. I fell in love by the second scene, which is Keena having a personal monologue trying to get the courage to bring it up for the first time. I really believed her fear. I really believed her determination. I really believed her dichotomy of psyching herself into having the conversation. I have never "opened up" a relationship because I started out poly as a single person and made sure all my poly relationships were open from the beginning, but for this moment, I really felt like I could have been in Keena's position. Between her acting, the script, and the camera work, I really empathized with her right from the beginning.

    Then, when Josh gets the bomb dropped on him, his reaction felt natural. His anger looked real. Again, that takes a combination of acting and script. You can have a good actor deliver crappy lines, and you can have really good dialog delivered with crappy acting. But this conversation felt organic. It felt natural. It felt real. Like with Keena, since I chose polyamory when I was single, I have never had someone throw a world-disrupting challenge at my long-term relationship so I don't really know what it's like to be in Josh's position. But for that scene, I *did* feel that shock and betrayal.

    The way that the cinematography was handled, it implies that some time has passed between episodes and that events have taken place in that space, so that helps with the time constraints and the feelings of "rushing past" the complicated stuff. Using some standard movie-making techniques like cutting back and forth between two different times, we get the impression of more depth to the story than we actually see on screen. There's some interesting psychology science behind movie editing, but that could take an entire semester's worth of classes to really go into. Suffice to say, there are some standard tips and tricks that movie makers have been employing and refining over the years that have allowed us to increase the pacing in a film from the early days of film-making and still leave the viewer with the weight of time and the impression of nuance and depth that happens off-screen. There's an episode of the podcast called The Skeptics' Guide To The Universe that actually had a professional in the film industry come on to talk about the science behind editing, so if you're interested, you can listen to that. But I don't want to digress too far. I call them "standard techniques" because the entertainment business uses them so often and so well that audiences mostly don't even see them. That's how you know when your technical skills are good - when the audience gets so immersed in the story that they don't take the time to notice the technique.

    But web series in particular often miss some of these tried and true methods. Because new media venues like YouTube and cheaper equipment can bring the medium into more hands than ever before, which is a good thing in general, we also often see the downside to letting "just anyone" make movies - a lack of skill or knowledge or experience about what makes popular media, well, popular. But, as someone *in* the business, I noticed here. This series feels more like a "regular TV show" or "regular movie" than a lot of other web series I've seen. Not that I haven't enjoyed other web series, but I can feel a difference. A lot of time, that difference is chalked up to "it's a different medium" and we're supposed to give it more latitude to actually *be* different. Kinda like when television first hit the scene - we couldn't do the same things that movies did and we ended up inventing all different kinds of entertainment because of it. But sometimes, that difference really isn't anything more than lacking in knowledge or skill about how to accomplish effective techniques or *why* they're effective, and therefore used, in the first place. I don't know about the education or experience of the director or the crew, but these episodes so far *feel* like they know the business.

    SPOILERS:

    Now, onto some criticisms. This is going to reveal some spoilers, but if you go to the YouTube page to watch the show and happen to see the titles of each episode, it's not really all that spoilery. But I am going to harp on one particular conversation in one episode, so that is kinda spoilery. By the 4th episode, there is an acceptance of sorts. If you've either seen up to the 3rd episode or you've read all the titles, or you've guessed by the name of the show, then you know that the couple eventually does attempt to start dating people other than each other. So, we're now at the point where that dating has been given the green light. Through a series of cut-backs, we see part of the conversation where the couple moves into acceptance and planning. And here is my criticism: the conversation is absolutely typical of everything I'm against in the poly community.

    I want to reiterate here that this is not really a criticism of the show itself but of the very concept the show is choosing to highlight. I think that, given the premise of a couple opening up a marriage, this is actually the correct way to start out this journey for the characters precisely because it's so typical. It just also happens to be so "wrong". But it's such a natural progression for people who exist in a culture where polyamory is not just one acceptable choice among many, so of course our characters here would go there. I just hope that they eventually learn how unethical and cruel the kinds of rules that they choose to make are. We see veto, we see an agreement to close up if things get difficult, we see restrictions on other people's behaviour, and we see all of these rules being made without the input of the other people involved. In their haste to "protect the marriage", we see the all-too typical disempowerment and putting the relationship ahead of the people in the relationship. I wanted so bad to jump into the screen and hand the couple a copy of the Relationship Bill of Rights and More Than Two.

    I think I read somewhere that all the filming was already over, at least for this first season, so it probably won't help, but I do hope the director gets her hands on a copy of More Than Two and of The Game Changer, especially, and they influence the writing of upcoming seasons. I have no idea where this story will go past episode 4 because it's not out yet, but judging by the completely predictable trajectory thus far and the fact that the show so far hasn't tried to rush past all the hard stuff yet, I'm betting that the couple doesn't magically jump from totally normal couple privilege hierarchy fear straight to a more ethical open structure before the first season is over. I'm betting that they're going to show us all the growing pains, and therefore will have still plenty of room to grow in future seasons that The Game Changer book can influence, if the director reads it.

    So, in conclusion, I loved, loved, loved the first episodes I've seen, criticisms and all. I'm assuming that, just as it's unlikely to jump straight to totally ethical, totally open, no issues polyamory, it's probably also unlikely to start from such a sensitive and honest examination of open relationships and end on a sour, "polyamory is doomed to fail, here watch this train wreck to see why" note too, especially given the show title of Compersion. So, unless the series surprises me with one of the commonly trite, finger-wagging morality lessons against ethical non-monogamy, I'm gonna go ahead and declare this to be, both, a definite must-include on the Poly-ish Movie List and a must-see show.

    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 https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/poly-ish-movie-reviews-by/id994404536?mt=2

    Posted Oct 2, 2016, 11:58 AM by Joreth InnKeeper
  • Episode 13 - You Me Her

    You Me Her (2016) 
    www.directv.com/tv/You-Me-Her-dktTOGJpV3BITzZGby9GckxSaXJvUT09 - DirectTV
    www.imdb.com/title/tt5179408/ - IMDB
    http://amzn.to/2vTBMNw - Amazon
     

    I'm gonna review this new TV show one episode at a time. Which means that I don't know how it ends or where things go when I review it. And this whole thing is going to be spoilerific for each episode. This is one of those new kinds of "original shows" that the alternative entertainment providers have been producing to compete with the good ol' boys networks and cable shows. Since they don't have sponsors to appease or censors to bow to and they are trying to create a niche market where the heavy hitters don't already have a stranglehold, they can afford to do things a little differently. I have been nothing but impressed with Netflix originals, for their unique content and brilliant and sensitive writing. You Me Her is not Netflix, but an AT&T original, showing on Direct TV, a service that normally provides access to networks and cable channels here in the US. DirectTV is a pay service, like satellite or cable, so I don't have it, which is why I'm getting a late start on this series. I think this is going to hinder their ratings because so many of us don't have pay-for-TV services anymore, but perhaps if you do have DirectTV, you could host viewing parties for your friends who don't?

    You Me Her explicitly advertises a moresome kind of relationship and it comes very highly recommended by reputable sources who have seen all the episodes available so far. IMDB even says "Centers around a three-way romantic relationship involving a suburban married couple." The cast has been quoted in interviews as recognizing that the poly community is watching and they want to be careful about how they tackle the subject matter because our eyes are on them. So I'm going to be very kind about it starting out with an infidelity, at least until I see where this goes. As per my Criteria List, an infidelity isn't an automatic disqualification; it depends on what the show does with the infidelity. Some of my favorite poly movies started with an infidelity. Many people come to open relationships through an infidelity. I am a bit irked about the whole starting-from-a-couple-opening-up-with-a-bi-woman perspective yet again, but that's also not surprising because so many polys did become poly by opening up a couple and because it's the least threatening configuration so it's the most likely one to get the first foray into mainstream television. I understand entertainment business - if it's *too* out there, no one will watch it and those who do will complain about it because they can't relate. I'm grumpy about it, but that's also how progress is made - with baby steps.

    So, the plot. The official website says "Suburban Portland couple Emma and Jack Trakarsky are totally in love but seriously lacking spice. They end up tangled up with an escort (grad student Izzy) to get the mojo back, setting into motion a life-changing series of events for the trio." A married couple, Jack & Emma, are trying to have a baby, but there's no romance or passion, or sex for that matter, in their relationship. Jack takes some terrible advice from his brother to hire an escort as a way to, I dunno, restore that passion by osmosis or something? Suck out the sexyfuntimes vibe from the escort and transfer it to the wife? Relieve the pressure by sex with a stranger so that the wife doesn't have to perform the function? I'm unclear on how he thinks this will help. There are ways that an outside partner can help an existing relationship, but it's not clear how the *brother*, as someone who isn't involved in the ethical non-monogamous community where he would learn these ways, thinks this will help. So Jack hires an escort who doesn't have sex because "no penetration doesn't count". Don't get me started on the problem of ranking sex acts and PIV sex being some magical pinnacle of sex elevated above everything else. If you're interested, I have lots of rants on that subject on my own blog.

    Anyway, Jack hires an escort, freaks out, tries to cancel but it's too late, and then gets to know Izzy, his escort, and falls in like with her. So he immediately runs home and comes clean. Emma does what a lot of people do when they find out their love is interested in someone else - she stalks her. Emma also hires Izzy to see what the big deal was and also immediately falls in like with her. Sounds a lot like Summer Lovers, other than the exchange of currency, actually. Emma reveals herself to Izzy, and Jack actually calls Izzy up to "break up" with her, even though Izzy explains that he doesn't have to break up with an escort, he just doesn't have to call her anymore.

    And *then*, Emma comes clean to Jack about her own encounter with Izzy. So, even though the first episode starts with an infidelity, it's actually the most ethical and considerate infidelity I've seen on screen. The first episode ends with everyone knowing the whole truth about everyone else, which is a much better place to start from if you have to go through the broken relationship agreement method. Like, with Kiss Me Again, it took the couple forever to finally reveal all the secrets and lies involving their mutual tryst. So, already this show is one-up on lots of other movies with similar plots.

    I did feel that, for the sake of getting to the meat of the story, the first episode kind of rushed past the difficulties that actual real people would be having in this situation. The two separate hookups with the escort happened literally within a single 24 hour period, and the "betrayed" wife managed to get over her feelings of shock and betrayal by the end of that same period. In my experience, when people feel betrayed, even if they go out and do something out of revenge or even if they're also guilty of their own secret betrayal, lots of people still manage to hold onto their own feelings of being betrayed. I don't think I've ever seen someone find out their spouse "cheated" on them one night, run out and have revenge sex the next day, or meet the Other Person the spouse cheated on them with the next day, and then have smooth, passionate, makeup sex that very night. Not that I think it's never happened in the history of ever, but I doubt it's very common and I've certainly never seen it before.

    Emotions are complex, especially when there's entitlement involved (which is what usually sparks feelings of betrayal - the idea that one's partner owes one sexual or emotional fidelity) and also when there's insecurity involved as evidenced by Emma's concern over her age and comparing herself to the "hotter, newer model". I would expect Emma's feelings of betrayal and guilt, or betrayal and vindication to take longer to get past and to make the next several interactions with her husband much messier with confusing emotional twists and turns. People whose emotions are a complicated mess of conflicting feelings tend to act out in unpredictable ways. However, the first episode ends with Emma's confession, Jack's confusion, and Izzy's belief that she messed up a marriage and that she just lost two people she likes very much, so there is plenty of time for all that confusion and messy emotional stuff to still make an appearance in upcoming episodes. Plus, Emma's seemingly overnight forgiveness of Jack that turns into sex on the kitchen floor could also be interpreted as partly made up of her own feelings of sexiness, worthiness, and validation because of her experience with Izzy as well as maybe some vengeful feelings about having sex with him while she held her own secret, which she didn't reveal until after the sex. So maybe it wasn't that simple after all.

    All in all, I'd have to say that, knowing ahead of time that the series definitely goes towards a poly relationship and that those involved in the show are aware of and sensitive to the poly community, I liked the first episode. The characters seemed mostly realistic with their awkwardness and confusion, and my concerns could easily be addressed in later episodes so I'm not holding them against the show ... yet. But even if my concern about rushing past the complicated emotions remains consistent, this is still a poly show on mainstream television that actually cares whether or not they're portraying us considerately and accurately. So I recommend watching the show and I will put it on the Poly-ish Movie List, barring some unforeseen anti-poly situation in upcoming seasons.

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

    Posted Aug 19, 2017, 6:03 PM by Joreth InnKeeper
  • Episode 12 - Micki & Maude
    Micki & Maude (1984) 
    www.imdb.com/title/tt0087718/ - IMDB
    http://amzn.to/2vOcq5l - Amazon
    http://dvd.netflix.com/Movie/Micki-Maude/60031788 - Netflix

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    In order to understand why I'm including it on the poly-ish movie list, I gonna have to give away the ending, so: Spoiler Alert!

    SPOILERS:

    Well, Rob can't break her heart after this revelation, but he already promised Maude that he'd marry her. So Rob decides to "marry" Maude and lie to both women because, y'know, he loves them. Now, I have to admit that I got a little distracted at this part, so I'm not entirely sure how the story justifies how he managed to keep both women from discovering his secret throughout the next 7 months, but he does. We see a handful of scenes over time where the women get suspicious and then Rob comes up with some ludicrous story that they buy, holes and all. And, eventually, the end of the pregnancies come about ...

    ... on the same day of course.

    Both Micki and Maude go into labor on the same day. They have different doctors, but, of course, both doctors are located in the same office complex, and both women go to the same hospital to deliver. There ensues hilarity as charts get mixed up for two Mrs. Salingers - one having a Cesarean and one delivering naturally, one with anesthetic and one without, etc. Eventually the two women learn that there is another Mrs. Salinger in the hospital delivering at the same time and they both want to meet each other. Rob, of course, comes up with even more bizarre tales to try and keep the women apart. Fortunately, Micki is so doped up that she can't even tell that the kitty on her hospital bed is a hallucination.

    Totally unrealistically, they get moved into next-door rooms while they're in labor, before they deliver, when one or the other of them requests to be closer to the "other Mrs. Salinger". Which means, of course, that when they get wheeled into the adjoining delivery rooms at exactly the same time, Rob has an entire hallway to walk down between them where he can't hide and he can't prevent them from hearing each other address him familiarly.

    So both women go right into their deliveries at the exact moment they find out that they're married to a liar and a cheat. In the ensuing chaos, he gets rejected from both delivery rooms, and the women deliver alone. Afterwards, the women have some time to talk to each other and they reach an agreement. They call Rob into one of their rooms and they tell him, together, that they want a divorce and that he will be forbidden from ever seeing their daughters. Dejected, he leaves.

    Next is a series of scenes of Rob trying to sneak into his daughters' lives, like racing from tree to tree to hide and spy while Micki walks her daughter in the park. Eventually, he gets caught, has an emotional scene, and ends up hooking up with both women again because, in spite of the betrayal, everyone really does love each other. Cut to another scene of him lamenting to his best friend in the bar where he once again promises to tell them both the truth.  Rob does this frequently throughout the movie because his best friend acts as the Jiminy Cricket of the story.  Each time, the friend pushes for honesty and convinces Rob that he has to tell both women what's up.

    And here's the second redeeming feature of the movie. We cut to a scene of Micki taking the stand as a judge, then of Maude playing the cello in a huge orchestra hall, and the final scene with Rob sitting on a park bench, surrounded by a pack of children of varying ages, all calling him "Daddy".

    The movie doesn't explicitly say whether he continues his lying or if he honestly manages a relationship with both women, or even if he only manages to keep one. But the sheer number of kids calling him "Daddy" implies that he is maintaining SOME KIND of relationship with both, and that scene implies an honest agreement because, otherwise, surely he wouldn't mix the kids up into one big bunch, would he? One way or another it would get back to their respective mothers that some other set of kids was also calling him "Daddy".

    I suppose, if one were cynical (as I am wont to be), one could surmise that he simply continued his pattern of sleeping with them both, lying about it, getting caught, getting dumped, and then getting back together to make another baby. But the lack of details in that scene and the aura of happiness of each of the characters gives me enough freedom to think of it as a happy poly ending.  Back when the two women have their first babies but before Rob manages to hook up either one of them and he is still estranged from them, the women form a close friendship of their own.  Throughout the movie, Rob's best friend had been telling each of the women that Rob loves them both too. So I like to think, and the ending strongly suggests, that Rob ends up with both women, whose careers take off in the directions they always wanted them to go, and he is the happy, stay-at-home dad with the huge family he always dreamed of.

    And, regardless of anyone's like or dislike of bedroom farces, that makes this a poly-ish 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 Aug 19, 2017, 6:04 PM by Joreth InnKeeper
  • Episode 11 - Design For Living

    Design For Living (1933)
    www.imdb.com/title/tt0023940/ - Internet Movie Data Base
    http://dvd.netflix.com/Movie/Design-for-Living-Peter-Ibbetson/70031810 - Netflix
    http://amzn.to/2vNQbw7 - Amazon

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

    Packing double éntendres and boudoir innuendos galore, director Ernst Lubitsch's racy comedy Design for Living stars Gary Cooper, Frederic March and Miriam Hopkins as an inseparable threesome living in a Parisian garret and immersed in a ménage à trois.
    Made in the '30s, I sat down to watch it thoroughly prepared to hate it.

    I loved it.

    This was a quirky little film that, for once, didn't feature people doing foolhardy indefensible things. An ex-partner of mine decided about 4 movies ago that all poly movies should come with a lable that says "Warning! Irrational People Inside" because they all seem to feature people doing the most godawful, inane things to each other.

    But not this one.

    And it was made in 1933!

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

    That simply isn't true. Popular media and entertainment created in previous eras still exist and reflect the morality of their society. Look up "pre-code Hollywood" or "the Hayes Code" on Wikipedia. Basically, in the 1930s, Hollywood started enforcing censorship guidelines due to immense pressure from the Catholic Church, but for the few years prior to that yet after the introduction of sound in motion pictures, movies included all sorts of things like sexual innuendo, profanity, illegal drug use, promiscuity, prostitution, abortion, homosexuality, and very strong female characters and female-centric subjects. I could devote an entire episode just to the details of this Code and how it changed the face of American cinema alone, so I do recommend looking it up. There's a good documentary on the MPAA's movie rating system too, which highlights the influence the Catholic Church has had on the Motion Picture Industry from the beginning and continues to today. Point is, if you look at entertainment and art underneath the censors, you find the topics that were important and of interest to the society of the time and sex is ALWAYS of interest when the Church isn't busy trying to cover it up. Non-traditional lifestyles existed and were popular enough in the past for art and entertainment to be made featuring them.

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

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

    At this point in the movie, I could easily consider this to be poly-ish and add it to the list right here. But wait! There's more! Unfortunately, in order to explain what else there could possibly be to make this more poly, I'm going to give away spoilers by telling the story of the entire plot including the ending, because that's important to why I think it's a poly movie. If you don't want spoilers, maybe because you want to watch the movie and enjoy being surprised by the plot twists, then you can just stop listening now and take my word for it that the rest of the movie, including the conflicts that put pressure on being in a triad, is still poly-ish. You can always come back and listen to the rest after you see the movie. Otherwise, keep listening while I defend this movie even with the pressures put on the three-way relationship.

    SPOILERS:

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

    Unfortunately, the very first night Tom is gone, the sexual tension between Gilda and George rises without the inhibiting influence of Tom, and they have sex. Tom becomes a rising superstar in London with money and fame and begins dictating a letter to Gilda and George about how much he misses them both and how he can't wait until they are reunited in 6 weeks for the opening. In the middle of his dictation, a letter arrives for him. It's not clear which one wrote the letter, or if they both did, but Gilda and George admit their "infidelity" to Tom, who immediately changes his letter to a coldly formal letter of congratulations with wishes for their happiness together. So, it sounds like it's not terribly poly if they broke up. Or, one could argue that it actually sounds a lot like one of the "wrong ways" to do poly where the "third" isn't allowed to develop a relationship with one that differs from the relationship with the other. But, I digress.

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

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

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

    George and Tom reconcile after reading these notes and go back to being friends, without Gilda. Once again, it sounds like it's not very poly, since the two men keep fighting over who gets to be romantically involved with the woman. But her love for them both is very much poly, and there's still more to come.

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

    Finally, George and Tom decide that they are both unhappy without her and they propose to go and get her together. They crash a party at Max's house where Gilda has had enough. She rejoices in seeing them both and in seeing that they are both still friends. She manages to orchestrate her leaving Max in such a way that his business actually improves due to sympathy from his clients that the unfaithful wife has ditched him. So Max gets what he wants, which is more money, she gets both George and Tom, George and Tom get her, and all the friendships remain intact.

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

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

    I had to keep reminding myself that it was made in 1933 to get past the whole "no sex" rule, and the glances at the end allow me the freedom to interpret them as saying that the "no sex" rule will not last. It makes me happy to think that they eventually break the rule again only this time they learn from the past and do not break up over it. I doubt that was the original intention, but it's just open-ended enough that I can think that if I want to. Then again, given the innuendo popular at the time, perhaps it was the original intention? The original screenwriters have not commented on that, and the play that the movie was based on ends similarly open-ended but the characters are laughing and the playwright says in response to the ambiguity of the final scene that he thinks of the characters as "laughing at themselves". So, who knows?

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

    I thought this was a great film and I highly recommend it!

    P.S. - you may only find this movie on a DVD bundled with another Gary Cooper movie called Peter Ibbetson, with a red box titled The Gary Cooper Collection or something similar. That's how I got it from Netflix.

    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 https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/poly-ish-movie-reviews-by/id994404536?mt=2

    Posted Aug 19, 2017, 6:05 PM by Joreth InnKeeper
  • Episode 10 - The Ethical Slut

    The Ethical Slut (2014) 
    www.imdb.com/title/tt3181912/ - IMDB
    www.youtube.com/watch?v=6LU_LH5g6Sk&list=PL8M4cXiriiE_ZPl6ZBwy3Q-R23GpsRsls - YouTube

    As the Chief Media Archivist for the Polyamory Library at the Kinsey Institute, I got a sneak preview of the new web series, The Ethical Slut, "inspired by" the book of the same name by Dossie Easton and Janet Hardy, but then I didn't finish my review of it at the time and now there are 4 seasons out. I'll be honest, I thought the book was OK when I first read it, although I never thought it was a poly book. I considered it to be a book on communication in open relationships that just happens to include polyamory but also covered a lot of other types of non-monogamy. Over time, however, I've come to really dislike how it gets touted as "the poly bible" because it's not. It's still just a book on communication in open relationships and now there are better ones out there, in my opinion. Not only is polyamory not the focus, but when it does touch on polyamory, it's usually on a very specific form of polyamory that I happen to think does more harm than good to our community - couple-centric polyamory.

    The Ethical Slut webseries is a fictionalized narrative of two women, Dottie and Jackie, who start out in monogamous married couples (not with each other) but find themselves opening up their marriages to try polyamory. I think the characters are loosely based on the authors' real experiences, but the characters are clearly modern day (whereas the authors started their journey quite a few years ago) and the book The Ethical Slut is already out in that universe for the characters to read as a guidebook in their explorations.

    The format is a web series, so the episodes are all less than 10 minutes long, some as short as 4 or 5 minutes. I will say that the production value is excellent. They clearly went out of their way to do this with a professional look, and as someone with a background in broadcast and video production, I definitely approve of the effort to produce a quality show. Given the time constraints, I think the story line was clear and well-paced, but as a personal preference, I think the time constraints of the medium, by necessity, keep the plot and character development too shallow for my taste. For example, in one scene, our resident therapist, Dottie, counsels a couple whose chemistry has gone out of their marriage. One woman wants the other to be her "everything" while the other woman is too stressed from carrying the burden to want to be anything. They bicker, the sex is gone, and they don't even seem to like each other anymore.

    So Dottie recommends opening up their relationship in order to relieve the pressure of making one person be everything to the other. Immediately both clients accept the idea as a possibility and end hugging and proclaiming to just want to see the other happy. I totally get that this is the nature of the medium. As I said, I think the pace was actually pretty good, all things considered. This is not a complaint so much as an explanation of a personal preference. I just couldn't buy that scene, or many of the others that had to rush on past the deep, hard stuff in order to get to the point. But, then again, I sat for something like 15 hours in a darkened movie theater to watch every single Marvel movie (Thor, Hulk, Captain America, etc.) in a single marathon, culminating in the premiere of the first Avengers movie and I've also watched the extra 20-whatever hours of "extra footage" on the Lord of the Rings special edition box sets - more than once. So take that with a grain of salt.

    Anyway, this is clearly a show marketed towards the poly community, and the word "polyamory" is mentioned several times as something the characters are intentionally exploring. So it definitely belongs on the poly movie list. So far it focuses exclusively on the "opening up your marriage" variation of polyamory and using the new partners as experiments and personal growth tools and relationship salvage teams.

    Some day, I'd like to see a movie or read a book that shows us polyamory from the perspective of an individual who just happens to fall in love with several people for no other reason than because each of them are awesome people, not to fix a flagging sex life, not to be a pressure valve for the original couple, not to meet some specific "need" that the pre-existing partner can't or won't meet, not to be a shared experience that a couple does "together" as if they were a single unit with no individual identities of their own, not to avoid developing emotional attachments with anyone by having too many partners to adequately get attached to, not to boost the ego or feel flattered or to fulfill some Oedipal complex when the established older couple "hunts" the young hot bi babe and captures her for their own, not to secure a line of sex or love from one person by promising an equal amount of sex or love to their pre-existing partner, not to own an animate sex toy for a narcissistic womanizer or insecure patriarch, not to be a surrogate parent or nanny or housekeeper for the commune and to give the wife an unpaid assistant, and definitely not to have some woo-woo spiritual justification that elevates the act of sex to something mystical and sacred in order to enjoy it wile condemning anyone who just likes to fuck as something "base" or animalistic, not rising to some "higher plane".

    Y'know, just a good ol' "hey, you're kinda neat, let's get to know each other ... I really like you, let's spend more time together ... you have become something really special to me ... hey, you're also kinda neat, let's get to know each other ... I really like you too, let's spend more time together ... hey that other person you're dating is kinda neat, I'd like to be friends ..." sort of thing. Like the natural development of a good, healthy monogamous relationship where the two characters take their time growing into each other and finding their natural rhythm together without externally imposed limitations and with the full liberty and exuberance that falling in love entails, only each of those two characters also has the freedom to do that and does that with other people who are also main characters. Where's THAT movie?

    Later seasons do start introducing more diversity, at least in terms of demographic representation, if not so much with relationship structure diversity. In fact, one of my favorite characters is a queer kinky black woman who seems to have her shit together. She introduces the characters to things that stretch their comfort zones and even introduces the concept of white privilege in a much later episode. But, for the most part, we see mostly white, middle-class couples (at least wealthy enough to afford private marriage counseling), some straight and some gay, struggling with monogamy and various attempts to "open up" their relationships.

    I do recommend this show. It definitely has polyamory and it seems to be written by people who actually know what polyamory is, for a change. And I also think that it's important for our entertainment and our art to show poly people making mistakes. These characters do pretty much everything "wrong", in my opinion. There is cheating, there is lying, there is making rules, there is prioritizing the primary couple, there is using poly and using partners to "fix" broken relationships or to fulfill "needs" or to experiment. I didn't see a single character say "there's absolutely nothing wrong with my existing relationship, my partner is perfect and compliments me well, and our conflicts are totally reasonable and healthy differences, and yet I still met this other person who is also awesome and I'd like to explore a relationship with them because they're a whole and complete person who is amazing and enriches my life, which is already whole and balanced," or who said anything remotely like that.

    Not all of our media needs to show the Pollyanna version of polyamory, especially if the media is for ourselves. Our art can show the dark side, can show the mistakes we make, can show the pain and heartache that exists within poly relationships. One of my favorite book series is the Anita Blake series because I identified with the main character. I felt that she had all of my bad traits and none of my good traits, so reading her story was a lesson for me in how not to fuck up my own life. So I don't think it's necessarily problematic that all of the characters make decisions that I think are examples of poor polyamory. I just don't know if that's the motivation for why the characters make those decisions, or if the writers think this is actually how polyamory ought to go. I couldn't tell from the show. This is most definitely not "polyamory is doomed to fail, here, watch this trainwreck to see why." The characters experience both ups and downs to polyamory, as they should. I'm just not sure if the mistakes the characters make, some of which lead to their conflicts and some of which are lucky and have no long lasting negative consequences, were intended to be seen by the audience as mistakes, or if the writers intended them as positive examples. What I mean is that the writers may not agree with me that some of the actions the characters take were, indeed, mistakes.

    So, definitely poly, definitely belongs on the list, and entertaining. I'd recommend this show with the proposition that you consider the actions of the characters as mistakes to learn from and do differently. Consider that not all poly people are white, middle-class, conventionally attractive, able-bodied, fit, cis people. Consider that a large percentage of the poly community is not "coupled" (whether they have romantic or sexual partners, or not) or did not start out by "opening up a relationship". Consider that seeking out people to fulfill a particular role or a particular duty is not the most ethical approach to relating to other human beings. Consider that, while exploring non-monogamous relationships, the people you're exploring with are human beings with feelings and needs and lives of their own and do not exist to serve a purpose for you or to support your own character arc, but have their own story to tell for which you may be their supporting character.

    We all like to think of ourselves as the hero of our own stories. But in the stories of other people, we may be supporting characters or even villains. They do not exist for us. Some of these stories get more visibility than others. The Ethical Slut webseries is one set of such stories. It's well produced and well written for its medium, and I am recommending it, but I'd still like to see more visibility for other stories and less support for couple-centric poly structures.


    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 2, 2016, 5:59 PM by Joreth InnKeeper
  • Episode 09 - Sex & Breakfast

    Sex And Breakfast
     (2007)
    www.imdb.com/title/tt0837803/ - Internet Movie DataBase

    As an ex-partner of mine used to say, they ought to put a label on "poly" movies to warn us that "this movie contains idiots".  This whole review is going to be filled with spoilers, because fuck this movie.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Somehow or another, Renee ends up with the waitress' phone number and schedules a get-together. Ellis insists on coming along. They show up, the waitress offers marijuana, and while stoned out of their minds, Ellis interprets their totally platonic agreeableness as flirting and shouts at the waitress to keep her hands to herself because Ellis has the supercock and he won't let her get between them. And, I'm not paraphrasing. [inserted movie clip of Ellis yelling about his supercock]

    Naturally, the waitress throws them both out.

    Somewhere in there (I forget when exactly, 'cause their fights all seem to blend together), Renee and Ellis have one fight where she has to insist "I love your penis", and in another one, they fight in the elevator over Rene's supposed lesbianism that threatens Ellis' masculinity, sparking a bout of angry-sex. [inserted movie clip of arguing] Because when you're pissed off at your partner, the thing you want to do most is fuck him, right? Sorry, but I do not have pity sex. I will not fuck someone just to reassure him. I will have sex because I want to have sex and have hopefully found a partner who also wants to have sex with me, but a pity-fuck* is never a good idea for the long-term stability or reassurance of someone's ego. Then he's likely to wonder how much of the sex was a pity-fuck and if you really are attracted to him or just feel sorry for him.

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

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

    All 4 people arrive at the same time and wait for the same elevator. They all try to surreptitiously scope each other out. Then, an old couple shows up and waits for the same elevator. Everyone has a moment of panic as they consider that it might be the old couple, but, obviously, it's not.  So now the two couples enter the counselor's waiting room. In a very awkward silence, they sit and wait. Finally, Heather breaks the silence by asking if Ellis and Renee are the other couple and expressing relief that they look so clean. Everyone looks around uncomfortably.

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

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

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

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

    Renee and Ellis don't seem all that happy about the group sex and when Ellis goes to the bathroom, the waitress talks to Renee and expresses her wish to continue being friends (and maybe more) as long as Renee doesn't bring Ellis with her. Renee seems receptive. In the bathroom, Ellis runs into James and they have a fairly pleasant chat. James returns with Ellis to say hi to Renee and for some reason, this makes Renee decide to throw away the waitress' phone number.  James goes back out to his patio table to discover that Heather ditched him.  Surprise, surprise, she doesn't want to continue breakfast with someone who just dumped her.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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




    * I want to clarify what I mean by "pity-fuck" here.  In a relationship, where two people care about each other and want to support each other, it is common for one person to do things for the other that they might not necessarily wish to do on their own.  That, if it wasn't for their partner wanting to do it, they wouldn't do at all.  Sometimes, this even extends to sex.  People's reasons for having sex are complex, and "I want to do this thing that will make you happy and feel better because I love you" can be a valid reason for having sex.  This is not what I'm talking about.

    The way that I'm using it, "pity-fuck" means to have sex with someone because you feel *sorry* for them or you are being challenged.  It's a condescending, arrogant sort of "help" where the reasons for doing it center around the person doing the "favor", not on the person who wants the help - being a "white knight" or a "florence nightingale" or to "prove" one's virility / masculinity / sexual orientation / attractiveness / whatever or maybe even just to shut up someone's whining because it's annoying.  It's sort of like "little white lies" in this way.  When a person who is suffering from an insecurity or low self-esteem has people doing "favors" for them because these people feel sorry for them (as opposed to empathizing with them), it often makes them feel worse because they then can't trust the sincerity of those people in that or other contexts.  

    So, for example, let's say that Bob feels unattractive.  He feels ugly and unlovable.  Now let's say that Sally feels sorry for him and wants to have sex with him to boost his self-esteem.  But that doesn't actually mean that Sally finds him attractive.  If Bob learns (or knows) that Sally is just having sex with him to make him feel better, but that she doesn't actually find him attractive, that doesn't solve the problem that Bob has, which is that he feels unattractive.  The wanting of the sex is a symptom of, or incidental to, feelings about one's physical appearance.  All that this kind of pity-fuck is liable to do is reinforce Bob's insecurity by supporting the hypothesis that he is unattractive and it calls into question in his mind any other time any other girl ever had sex with him or told him that he was attractive.  If Sally's goal was to help Bob, she failed.  She only set up a reinforcing cycle where Bob has plenty of reasons not to trust Sally anymore or even to trust anyone else because he can't count on sex as a sign that someone finds him attractive.  Now, we can argue whether or not he *should* count on sex for that reason, but the point is that Sally wanted to make him feel attractive by having sex with him, and now he does not feel attractive just because she had sex with him.

    Little white lies do the same thing.  If you are willing to lie about a compliment just to make someone feel better, then they have reason to question the sincerity of every compliment they get, either from you or from anyone, because they can't tell the difference between a sincere compliment and a lie intended to make them feel better.  This does not help solve the underlying problem and it does not fix things in the long run.  And, depending on where in the cycle the other person is with respect to the pity-fuck or the little white lies or whatever it is you're using to "help" them, it may not even fix things in the short run.  It may actually make things worse for them right away.  And, if they're the ones demanding it of you and it's not addressing the root issue, they'll just keep demanding it of you because it's not addressing the root issue.  Kinda like most rules in poly relationships.  If you really want to help someone, you have to address the root issue, not the symptom.  Using sex to address a surface issue is not helpful and, because of all the ways our culture has fucked up sex, it'll probably just make things worse.  So, don't do anyone any "favors" by having sex with them because you feel sorry for them or to "prove" something.
    Posted Aug 19, 2017, 6:06 PM by Joreth InnKeeper
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