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 22 - Whatever Works

    Whatever Works (2009) 
    www.imdb.com/title/tt1178663/ - Internet Movie Data Base
    http://dvd.netflix.com/Movie/Whatever-Works/70114945 - Netflix
    www.amazon.com/Whatever-Works-Larry-David/dp/B002LMV7RA/ - 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 Mar 15, 2017, 4:00 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
    www.amazon.com/Portrait-Marriage-Janet-McTeer/dp/B000F4RHBQ/ - 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 Feb 15, 2017, 1:25 PM by Joreth InnKeeper
  • Episode 20 - Summer Lovers

    Summer Lovers (1982) 
    www.imdb.com/title/tt0084737/ - Internet Movie Data Base
    movies.netflix.com/WiMovie/Summer_Lovers/60025215?trkid=2361637 - Netflix
    www.amazon.com/Summer-Lovers-82-Ws/dp/B0007XBKLI/ - 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 Jan 16, 2017, 2:37 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
    www.amazon.com/tu-mamá-también-Diego-Luna/dp/B00KE3B6H4 - 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 Dec 15, 2016, 6:28 AM 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
    www.amazon.com/My-Girlfriends-Boyfriend-Alyssa-Milano/dp/B004IN75DU - 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 Nov 15, 2016, 5:15 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
    www.amazon.com/Butch-Cassidy-Sundance-Two-Disc-Collectors/dp/B000EXDS5M/ - 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 Mar 11, 2017, 3:23 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
    www.amazon.com/Futurama-Beast-Billion-Brittany-Murphy/dp/B00158K0V0// - 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 Mar 11, 2017, 3:25 PM by Joreth InnKeeper
  • Episode 15 - Paint Your Wagon
    Paint Your Wagon (1969) 
    https://dvd.netflix.com/Movie/Paint-Your-Wagon/60010761 - Netflix
    www.amazon.com/Paint-Your-Wagon-Lee-Marvin/dp/B00003CXBX/ - 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 Mar 11, 2017, 3:30 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

    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 Oct 2, 2016, 5:55 PM by Joreth InnKeeper
  • Episode 12 - Micki & Maude
    Micki & Maude (1984) 
    www.imdb.com/title/tt0087718/ - IMDB
    www.amazon.com/Micki-Maude-Dudley-Moore/dp/B0000CBL7X/ - 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 Oct 2, 2016, 5:57 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://www.amazon.com/Cooper-Collection-Design-Ibbetson-General/dp/B0007RTB9M/ - 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!

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    Posted Oct 2, 2016, 5:58 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 Mar 11, 2017, 3:34 PM by Joreth InnKeeper
  • Episode 08 - Hyde Park on Hudson

    Hyde Park on Hudson (2012)
    www.imdb.com/title/tt1477855/ - Internet Movie DataBase
    www.dvd.netflix.com/Movie/Hyde-Park-on-Hudson/70243444 - Netflix
    www.amazon.com/Hyde-Park-Hudson-Bill-Murray/dp/B00B4ZN3XQ/ - Amazon

    This movie was recommended to me by several people, many of whom are not poly. When that happens, I go into the viewing with a dubious mindset. Most of the time, people who are not poly don't really understand what polyamory is, so when they identify something as "poly", it's not really. I was aware of 32nd President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's affairs. Not in any detail, but as a critic of American politics, I am superficially aware that many of our past politicians' indiscretions were more or less common knowledge but ignored, as the public back then focused on how they performed their jobs and not what they did in their bedrooms. I am aware of that because of the stark contrast for how we treat today's politicians and celebrities. But that's a rant for another time.

    This movie is from the perspective of Margaret Suckley, commonly called "Daisy", who was a sixth cousin* to FDR and a regular companion during his time in office. It is more or less a biography of FDR while he was president of the United States prior to his involvement in WWII and seeks to show him as a relatable human, rather than an impressive government official and leader of the Free World.

    It has been established that FDR was married to Eleanor Roosevelt, had a long-time affair with her secretary, Lucy, another two-decade-long affair with his own secretary, Missy, and rumors that are accepted as probably true about an affair with Princess Martha of Sweden while she lived at the White House during WWII. It is also "common knowledge" that these affairs killed the emotional connection between FDR and his wife Eleanor, who remained married to him as a political partnership until he died. Rumors of illicit affairs with the owner of the New York Post, Dorothy Schiff, and the main character, Daisy, are controversial, to say the least.

    With this kind of history, I had a few preconceptions going into the film. I thought it would be just another movie about cheating, which is pretty common. Many movies that get suggested to me are nothing more than movies about cheating. Occasionally the cheating is the result of a loving relationship and not just about sex, but it's still nevertheless about cheating. Every once in a blue moon, I will accept a cheating movie as a poly-ish movie if I give it a pass for the era in which the movie takes place if the story feels like it would have been the version of polyamory that I recognize had it not been for some heavy social penalties. In other words, if it was as close to polyamory as a non-monogamous relationship could get given the circumstances.

    This is what I feel that Hyde Park On Hudson is. From here I will be discussing the movie itself, with complete disregard to the question of historical accuracy. In the context of my Poly-ish Movie Reviews, I care less about the liberties a director takes with historical facts and more about how well the movie answers the question "is this a movie about polyamory or that has polyamory in it?"

    SPOILERS:

    In this movie, Daisy is a sweet, naive girl who falls in love with a powerful older man because he invites her in to his heart and shows her the human being he is, not the political office. He is caring and compassionate and frail and vulnerable. She knows that he is still married and she does not harbor a belief that he will leave his wife for her. She has heard the rumors that they have a loveless marriage, and usually that is enough justification for a mistress to accept the role. But Daisy observes the spouses together and believes that they still share an emotional connection. This observation does not seem to provoke any jealousy. She just seems to accept that her lover still loves his wife.  [inserted related movie clip]

    But soon enough, Daisy learns that Franklin is having sexual relations with his secretary, Missy. Missy runs after the fleeing Daisy to confront her and explain the situation. Up until this point, I still felt that this was a cheating movie, just one of those that included emotional connections and not just sex. Missy drops more bombs on the shaken Daisy when Missy reveals that Franklin is having other affairs too, and that Missy knew about Daisy from the moment their relationship began and accepted her. Missy insists that Daisy must accept that she will have to "share" Franklin. Daisy says that can't, but Missy tells her that she can.  [inserted movie clip of the confrontation]

    So, I could have included it on my Poly-ish list at this point because Franklin has what appears to be loving relationships with multiple women who know and "deal with it", but it would have held a wobbly position on that list. It's the next part that makes me feel that this is a poly movie. 

     Eventually Daisy forgives Franklin and they begin seeing each other again. Simultaneously, Daisy develops a friendship with Missy. The two women become very close, deliberately using their mutual connection to a lover as the springboard from which their own relationship blossoms. Daisy comes to admire and rely on Missy. Missy often fetches Daisy when Missy believes that Franklin will benefit from her presence.  [inserted related movie clip]  The two women do more than reach a truce regarding their respective roles; they forge an alliance.  [inserted movie clip narrating their relationship]  And both women have a somewhat more distant relationship with Eleanor, but a relationship built on respect and admiration nonetheless. 

    Eleanor has a separate home, but she is a constant fixture in the scenes in the movie. So the image that is portrayed to us is one of a loving family with Franklin, his smart and savvy political wife, his lover and assistant, and his companion, as well as his mother who appears to know all about who is sleeping with whom. His mother and his wife butt heads, naturally, but everyone seems to get along and to accept or cherish each other's roles in Franklin's life. For example, on the night that the White House hosted the King and Queen of England - the first time that British royals had ever set foot on US soil: [inserted movie clip about who is to attend the important dinner]. After Daisy learns that she is not the only one and is pressured into attending another social political function while still sulking about it, Missy is the first to approach Daisy and welcome her to the event. Franklin even publicly declares that Daisy belongs at VIP table, where everyone who is important to him ought to be, along with the royals, his wife, and his other mistress.  [inserted movie clip of the declaration]

    This movie is not solely about FDR's romantic life. It is also about the friendship forged between the US and England in the tenuous days before WWII, it's about the pressures of political life on an ailing man, about the effect of foreign wars on domestic issues, and about the dichotomy of being a private person in the public sphere. The movie included stellar acting and touching peeks into complex people in complex situations and I am charmed by this film apart from its poly (or not) leanings.

    I have to say that, although I knew that Bill Murray was a good actor and I've always loved his films, this was the first movie I've seen of his where he wasn't "Bill Murray" in it. You know how there are some actors that, even while they're good, you still know that they are who they are?  Like, Gary Oldman is the opposite of that. He's an actor that I usually make it halfway through the movie before I even realize that it's Gary Oldman. Leonardo DiCaprio is one of those actors that, even when he's doing a good job, he's still always Leo.

    But Bill Murray's performance in this role thoroughly distracted me from my jewelry-making (I often do physical projects while watching movies - my brain just can't focus on a story alone without my hands doing something) - it distracted me because I kept watching in fascination at a face that I just knew belonged to Peter Venkman but there was nothing of Dr. Venkman or Phil Connors or Frank Cross, or even of Bill Murray himself as seen in interviews in that face and in that body. I saw FDR, as I knew him from recordings and film reels. I heard FDR in his voice, I saw FDR in the tilt of his head and the way he held his hands. When I can't see Gary Oldman, I really can't see Gary Oldman at all. But to physically see Bill Murray and still not be able to "see" Bill Murray was disconcerting and wonderful.

    So I recommend this movie. I thought it was an engaging film that I was willing to enjoy as a narrative and not insist that it be taken as a biography, and I felt that the relationships portrayed in the film represented what I recognize as polyamorous - loving, consensual, accepting, family - in spite of the lack of intentional communication and apparent deception that I feel was characteristic of the era regarding romantic liaisons. Although the modern poly movement of the last 30 years prioritizes communication above all else (and I happen to agree that it is a necessary element to healthy poly relationships), people are still the products of their times and cultures. So a movie set in another time and culture will necessarily have a different perspective on appropriate and effective communication. I may still disagree with them, but I believe other elements are more important to classifying a relationship as poly than whether or not multiple adults sat down around a large table with health reports, spreadsheets, and Google calendars to discuss the future possibility of taking a new partner.

    There are many different ways to do poly. Some of them are wrong, some of them are right, some are healthy and some are outright abusive, but what makes it poly is that there are multiple, they are loving, and there is acceptance. It is not poly if there are only two partners and that is the preferred or prescripted state. It is not poly if it is purely based on sex with no emotional connections and that is the preferred or prescripted state. It is not poly if there is deception maintained throughout (and if that is the preferred state). It is not poly if the participants feel forced into the situation and begrudge the arrangement. Deception and poor communication certainly exist in poly relationships. But it's what the movie says about deception or communication, or how it's dealt with, that changes it from a movie condemning non-monogamy to a movie that merely presents one example of a loving relationship that happens to have some flaws.


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

    *Sixth cousins are really only barely related. It means that they shared a common ancestor roughly 6 generations in their past. So, in other words, you add 5 "greats" before the word "grandparent" to come up with "sixth cousins". The "once removed" bits in relationship taxonomy refer to whether or not the cousins are in the same generation as each other. So first cousins have the same grandparents. Second cousins have the same great-grandparents. First cousins once removed is your first cousin's child - you and that child have your grandparents (their great-grandparents) in common and are in different generations from each other, hence "once removed". None of this has anything to do with the movie. It was common both in the era and within the Roosevelt family itself for non-first cousins to marry or be involved and Daisy's "sixth cousin" status was completely irrelevant to her romantic relationship with Franklin. It was really only relevant to mention because it was her connection as a relative who had grown up as a child with Franklin that excused the President of the United States' mother for inviting a nobody like Daisy to the White House to attend the President when he fell ill. But I find genealogy interesting, and I know that a lot of people don't know how all those second/third/eighth cousins twice removed labels actually work, and I also know there are a lot of knee-jerk reactions to the idea of relatives having sexual relationships with each other. So I thought I'd mention it in a footnote.

    Posted Mar 11, 2017, 3:40 PM by Joreth InnKeeper
  • Episode 07 - Cafe au Lait

    Café au Lait (1993)
    www.imdb.com/title/tt0107642/ - Internet Movie DataBase
    www.netflix.com/Movie/Cafe_au_Lait/70032092?trkid=226870 - Netflix
    www.amazon.com/Cafe-au-Lait-Mathieu-Kassovitz/dp/B0007WQHDU/ - Amazon

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

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

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

    Understandably, they both get pissed and leave.

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

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

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

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

    SPOILERS:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


    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, 6:07 PM by Joreth InnKeeper
  • Episode 06 - My 5 Wives

    My 5 Wives (2000) 
    www.imdb.com/title/tt0216930 - Internet Movie Data Base
    http://dvd.netflix.com/Movie/My-5-Wives/60002855 - Netflix
    http://www.amazon.com/Five-Wives-artisan-Rodney-Dangerfield/dp/B00004YKS9/ - Amazon

    I like Rodney Dangerfield. Two of my favorite classic '80s films are Caddyshack and Back To School. But let's be honest here, he's a sexist prick and his movies are terrible. I like terrible films. I never said I had good taste in cinema. So when people started talking about this movie being a poly film, I was dubious. I mean, Rodney Dangerfield isn't exactly known for his sensitivity regarding multiple sex partners. Pretty much every film he's ever done and all his stand-up revolves around cheating, money-grubbing wives. So I was hoping that I could say, either A) this wasn't a poly film but it was a classic Dangerfield comedy and I enjoyed it; or B) it wasn't enjoyable at all but it had some poly stuff in it. Sadly, I can say neither.

    The premise is of a poor-kid-turned-rich-man who is on his third divorce from yet another hot, young gold digger with a sexual appetite that he couldn't satisfy. His plan now that he's free is to build his dream ski lodge, and he just got a tip for the perfect piece of land in Utah. So he heads up north from Los Angeles to bid in the estate auction, only to find that the land comes with some interesting legal strings attached.

    See, it's Utah. So that means that all women are considered property, because it's Utah. And the estate of the dead man that he just purchased includes all his land, his house, his cabin, and his 3 wives. Cuz Utah. Oh, and in order to be legally allowed to own all that property, the owner has to convert to the town's religion. Cuz Utah. The movie never says what the religion is, but it looks like the writers, directors, set, and costume designers all got together and between all of them could only come up with half-remembered memories of elementary school coloring books about the First Thanksgiving and life in early Pennsylvania and have confused Mormonism with the Amish.

    The religion apparently consists entirely of women wearing shapeless prairie dresses, white bonnets, and black ankle boots, while the men wear linen shirts, suspenders, and straw hats, and requires complete abstinence from smoking or drinking. That's the entirety of the religion, as far as I can tell. Oh, that and the man being responsible for keeping his wives modest as his role as gatekeeper for his wives' entry to Heaven. But it's totally OK to buy your way into the church, and to tell dirty jokes and make sexual innuendo! Even in mixed gender gatherings and in public! Because the whole town finds him HI-larious!

    I'll give the movie a point for explaining that this is, indeed, non-consensual. It's explained to Dangerfield that the women don't have a choice in this, but then it's also explained that, since they don't know any other way, they're totes cool with the whole women-as-property thing. All of the women. Totes cool with it. They revel in it, apparently.

    Dangerfield does resist the idea, at first. He's disillusioned with marriage after his recent divorce, he's old and can't keep up with his husbandly duties of satisfying a woman (let alone 3), and he's not so keen on the whole non-consensual marriage thing. Until he sees his wives-to-be. Although I didn't check the casting on this, I'm pretty sure this movie was really just one of those porn-to-mainstream vehicles for several adult stars.

    So, while he's putting up a token resistance, the camera shot switches to a slow-motion walk-up of 3 women with porn star-sized & -shaped boobs, porn star makeup, porn star confidence and movement, and porn star acting ability. It's made very clear to the audience that these women have awesome bodies underneath their shapeless gunnysack dresses because of the way they bounce and literally rub their dresses against their bodies to show that they are not wearing foundation garments underneath. The cinematographer really wanted us to know that there weren't any foundation garments under those dresses. And that it was sunny but really cold outside, yet, I guess they were too dumb to put on jackets. Or something.

    Anyway, Dangerfield changes his objection right then and there and takes control of his new property. He weds the women that afternoon, to which they show their gratitude by showing us their porn star sexual libidos. I'm guessing the writers assumed that, as widows, they didn't have to write the women as demure, naive girls since that doesn't work with Dangerfield's shtick of an old man who is still highly desirable and yet unable to perform. If they even thought that clearly about motivations at all. Eventually, Dangerfield ends up with 2 more wives when the sister of one of his wives becomes a widow (with her sister-wife) and Dangerfield is talked into taking their financial burden as his own, thereby passing off the wives as well as the tax debt. Hey, at least these porn stars can cook! That way Dangerfield can stop taking pot-shots at being stuck with 3 hot women who want a lot of sex but can't do what he really wants, which is make a decent pot roast.

    This is the part that people will argue makes it a poly movie. The wives seem to like Dangerfield and he is clearly fond of them. I disagree because it's not consensual. I do not believe that consent or love can be true without freedom and choice. Consent is meaningless if you can't say no. Y'all can argue about the sexism in the movie if you want, but even sidestepping that issue, these women are not given any other option. They know no other life and they are in an insulated community which would have serious repercussions if someone did manage to come up with the harebrained notion that women are people. Forget the sexist bullshit, this is coercive. So I'm gonna say that, even though the women seem content being married to Dangerfield, because of the coercive, non-consensual nature of their life and the fact that they marry him within hours of being introduced, "love" is not the emotion they feel. And even though Dangerfield uses the word "love" to describe the women, I think, at best, it's a fondness that grows from having personal slave girls who fall over backwards to please him, unlike his previous wives who seemed to hate him. It's non-monogamy, sure, but it's not polyamory. And I don't even want to include it on a list of poly-ish movies because of the ending, which I'll get to in a moment.

    The rest of the movie is typical Dangerfield - a rich but dumb man find himself accidentally and through no fault of his own but his naivete the target of Big Bad Men whose nefarious get-rich schemes are thwarted by Dangerfield's innocent meddling and he has to bumble his way out of trouble.

    The one ... well I hate to call it a "saving grace", but the part of the plot that I didn't hate was at the very end. And yes, I'm going to ruin the ending of this movie because fuck this movie. It's a Dangerfield movie - how suspenseful do you think it's going to be? So, Dangerfield takes his wives with him to Las Vegas, where he introduces them to thong bikinis and they meet other women without any overbearing male presence looming over them. The other women introduce the wives to Molly Shannon, a ball-busting self-help feminazi who tells them to "kick your husbands where it hurts ladies! It's in the book!"

    So the wives come back with a new sense of feminism and a whole new sexy wardrobe, they get jobs, and they stick Dangerfield with the household chores. Now, don't get me wrong, this is still a misogynist's version of "feminism", but I did like that part. But that's not even the part I was alluding to. So, skipping over the big climax with the Big Bad Men and how Dangerfield manages to dig himself out of trouble, at the very end, Dangerfield's foreman advises that Dangerfield read this book that has the wives being all feminist now. See, Dangerfield is at a loss as to deal with his wives gaining their agency, and the foreman suggests that, if he reads the book, he'll know what it is that the wives are wanting out of their marriage and their lives.

    So he reads the book. And he actually comes to understand. He doesn't use the book as a script for the right language to get back into the wives' good graces - y'know, how misogynists think that feminist men are just parroting back feminist language to get laid by feminists. No, Dangerfield actually learns "what women want". So when it's all over, he sits the wives down and tells them that, now that they've found themselves, he will support them in whatever choice they want to make, although he hopes to remain married to them. But no matter what they want, he's got their back.

    So all five of the wives ... leave. That's the part I like and that's the part that says "not poly" to me. The second, I mean literally the second the wives are given, and understand that they have a choice, they do not choose this life. Even with the apparently fond feelings that everyone has for each other, I refuse to support a relationship as "poly" that does not honor consent. I know there are lots of people out there in relationships that look like poly relationships but that are coercive and violate consent. Hell, I was part of a family like that without realizing it. And it can be argued that those relationships are poly. But when it comes to poly representation in film, I won't endorse it when it's clearly a polygynous, non-consensual arrangement and not more than two people who love each other in a romantic relationship. As my soundbite goes: Polyamory is multiple loves, there may or may not be marriage; polygamy is multiple marriages, there may or may not be love.

    But how is that different from Paint Your Wagons (which, if you're not familiar with it, you'll hear all about it in an upcoming review)? They were stuck in a culture that treated women as property too, weren't they? Well, yes, but the 3 of them sat down as equals (or, rather, they stood up and yelled at each other as equals) and they negotiated a mutually beneficial arrangement that developed and fostered loving feelings for all the participants. You could argue that their triad also broke up as soon as they had the option, but I say that they always had the option and only chose to do so when their arrangement no longer suited their changing situation. And, I say that the tone was sympathetic whereas this movie was not. Dangerfield never wanted to have multiple wives. He remarks in several places that he's an old-fashioned romantic and he really just wants the standard mono-centric fantasy. The implication in this movie is that plural marriages are not what people want nor what we should be wishing for. Tone is much more difficult to point to tangible evidence, but this movie did not have a poly tone, in my opinion. So, combine that with the lack of consent, and I do not want to recommend it as a poly movie.

    And considering some of the really terrible movies with terrible messages that I do recommend (grudgingly) as poly films, that's saying something. The one thing that all those movies had in common was consent. Fucked up, they may have been, but the characters all chose their relationships. And given that they were all choosing something unusual, they could hardly be accused of false consent due to cultural pressure. I think that's an important distinction. Consent is why cheating movies don't make the list. So non-consensual polygamy shouldn't get a pass either.


    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, 6:08 PM by Joreth InnKeeper
  • Episode 05 - Head In The Clouds

    Head In The Clouds
    (2004)
    www.imdb.com/title/tt0338097 - Internet Movie Database
    http://dvd.netflix.com/Movie/Head-in-the-Clouds/70001231 - Netflix
    www.amazon.com/Head-Clouds-Charlize-Theron/dp/B0006J27WO - Amazon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    SPOILERS:

    Eventually, Guy and Mia decide to enlist in the Spanish Civil War, much to Gilda's horror. She renounces them both, feeling this as a betrayal of the loving home the three of them have built. Guy and Mia write to Gilda often, trying to reassure her that they both love her, but feel the world is bigger than just them. Gilda doesn't open their letters and never responds.

    One day, Guy shows up at Mia's nursing station. They embrace, relieved to find out they are both still alive. After Mia's shift, she travels to the barn where Guy's unit is stationed for the night to take comfort in the midst of the horror they are now living. Guy and Mia talk about Gilda and both confess to past jealousy of each other with her. They also both confess their own deepening feelings for each other. It is implied that Guy and Mia have sex that night.

    The next morning, Mia heads back to her nursing station and is killed by a landmine close enough that Guy hears the blast and can run to the explosion. Guy is devastated and writes to Gilda who actually reads that letter.

    Normally, I really hate the story lines that make one person's love for two people only possible by killing off one of the two love interests (think Pearl Harbor). That's the belief that we can only romantically love more than one person if one of them is dead when clearly this is not true, it's just the only socially-acceptable way to love two people at once. But, in this case, I do not think this was the message implied here.

    Gilda already loved both of them and was already living with both of them. They had a happy little triad for over a year. Guy and Mia had not expressed their feelings for each other sexually, and I suppose one could argue that as soon as they did, Mia was killed off. But, unlike movies like Pearl Harbor, there was no personal torment about loving multiple people and no social scorn and pressure on their living arrangements. Although Guy and Mia were both jealous over each other's relationship with Gilda in the beginning, that jealousy waned as they all grew to love each other and accept that they were both in her life and that's just how it was. In their final moments before they made love, Guy and Mia both made their confessions, not with hate or anger or fear, but more in a sense of nostalgia, such as "y'know, it's kind of funny, but when I first met you, I was jealous, but now I love you" kind of way. Even after they both realized they loved each other, the audience is left with the impression that their goal is to someday get out of the war and go back home to Gilda to resume their happy family. Their love does not replace the love they have for Gilda, it enhances it, grew out of it, and they both know this. They both still love Gilda and wish to return to her.

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

    Like Carrington, this movie was horribly depressing but treated multiple-adult relationships well. I heartily recommend including this movie on any list of poly movies and I recommend watching it just because it was a good movie (although I really wanted to shake Gilda a couple of times for her immature and needlessly antagonistic behaviour).


    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, 6:10 PM by Joreth InnKeeper
  • Episode 04 - Two Girls And A Guy

    Two Girls And A Guy (1997)
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0124179/ - IMDB
    http://dvd.netflix.com/Movie/Two-Girls-and-a-Guy/60020481 - Netflix
    http://www.amazon.com/Two-Girls-Guy-Robert-Downey/dp/B0071HPP1Y/ - Amazon

    With Robert Downey, Jr., Heather Grahm, and Natasha Gregson Wagner

    I had low expectations for this one. It was recommended to me by Netflix after I added a bunch of other movies from so-called "poly movie lists" around the web. It has big names in it. It's American. It's within the last couple decades. These points usually mean the movie will either suck, or not be poly, or both. After watching it, I'm not sure what to think of it.

    Netflix calls it "a contemporary love triangle ... [w]hen two girls find themselves waiting outside an apartment building, they come to realize they're there to meet the same guy -- who's been sleeping with them both! Armed with this knowledge, the girls break into the guy's apartment and prepare for the ambush." So you can see why I'd expect this to be terrible.

    This movie was ... painful. It was dramatic. It was brutal and abusive. It was stereotypical and cliche. It came across as so fucking honest, but it kinda wasn't. I thought at first that it sounded like the writer had actually tried to open a relationship before and used the movie to cram in an entire relationship's worth of conversation about it into a single afternoon confrontation, but not only did it have a few lines here and there that tweaked my spidey-poly sense, I also listened to the director's commentary and discovered that, no, the director has no idea about open and honest relationships, nor really about accountability. The director is a narcissist who wrote what he thought sounded like an honest dialog, and he got really, really close with it too. Close enough that I actually like the movie for it's painful, dramatic, brutality.

    I have this problem. See, I've been openly poly for, at the time of this review, 17 years now and I decided to engage in only open relationships when I was single so I never had to "open up" a relationship that was formerly monogamous. When I cheated before that point, I never got caught, or if I did, I wasn't confronted about it. Nor have I ever caught a monogamous partner cheating on me. So I never had to have these specific conversations. I've had just about every other difficult poly conversation, though, in all my years of dating different kinds of people and trying out different kinds of poly relationships. I've even had the "why the fuck did you lie about dating other women when you were in an open relationship that gave you permission?!" argument. But I also stopped dating poly newbies or trying to "convert" monos ages ago. This doesn't remove the drama or conflict from relationships, it just gives us different kinds of drama and conflict. So I kind of live in this bubble now where watching other people make certain mistakes that we as a community collectively know how to avoid or how to solve is ... torturous for me. But in spite of never having had the "what do we do about us now that we've discovered infidelity" talk, this movie put me right back at the beginning, as if nearly two decades of successful open relating hadn't already passed by.

    For the first half of the movie, I had decided that this "love triangle" fell into my "do not add" category, because it was clearly dysfunctional and clearly not open. Cheating doesn't make it onto the Poly-ish Movie List without some exceptional poly elements, and two women shouting at a man who keeps trying to lie his way out of trouble certainly doesn't count as "poly elements". But by the halfway mark, I was actually kind of rooting for the characters to find a way to work things out because the confrontations had such valuable, painfully true exchanges. This wouldn't have been an example to show to monos to explain polyamory, but it might have been a good movie for in-group solidarity - y'know, something that those of us on the inside of polyamory could watch and relate to, maybe learn from.

    Unfortunately, I'm still not going to include this on the Poly-ish Movie List because of the cheating and the ending. The ending is actually ambiguous enough that I think some people can and will make a case for it, but the director / writer and actors clearly do not think that some kind of open relationship is in these people's future. None of them are even aware that multi-partner relationships, of any sort, exist ... anywhere. Seriously. It seemed to me that there was one character who could have, even likely would have, been open to a group sort of thing, but the other two were more ... "conservative" was the word the director used to describe them. Their relationship was all kinds of fucked up and there was actually no hope of ever moving past the betrayal as discovered throughout the course of the film (the director says), but they couldn't stay apart anyway. In the end, this movie reinforced the cultural narrative that dysfunctionally monogamish was the inevitable path to take. Their love would carry them through, even though they, and the relationship, were obviously broken. The director seems to think that this is just how fucked up people are in relationships and he was congratulating himself on having the personal bravery and honesty to admit it (he sees himself as the cheating guy in this story, only he was good enough never to have been caught).

    I do want to talk about one part of the film in particular, though, and it's not about polyamory. I want to talk about it because our community is becoming more and more aware of abuse in these recent days, and this movie illustrated a distressingly common abuse tactic that I am seeing become revealed in relationships with the light being shined on them through this new awareness of abuse in our community.

    As we know from the Netflix description, Blake has been cheating on Lou and Carla. Blake is in the wrong here, there is no ambiguity or grey area in this. The girls were flat-out told that they were each the only one. He outright lied. Period. Now Blake has been caught and is being confronted. Blake is very uncomfortable being confronted and he is unhappy that the girls are mad at him. Blake is hurt by their pain. So Blake turns around and accuses them of being abusive and manipulative and toxic. All his words.

    One common tactic of an abuser is to cry "victim". It's one of the most effective tools that they have. An emotional abuser metaphorically strikes his victim and then when his metaphorical fist gets bloodied on her metaphorical teeth, he cries out "how could you hurt me like that?!" In some cases, the abuser actually, legitimately, believes that he is the one who was wronged. I'm using gendered pronouns because this is the arrangement that I am most familiar with and on which most research on abuse is done, but you could swap around pronouns and still have it apply. I think a lot of people really do see situations where one person has provoked another, and when the other returns fire or defends themselves, the first person gets to claim victimhood. This is what happened in the Treyvon Martin case - That Asshole* brought a gun to a situation where he and his gun shouldn't have been, Treyvon knew his life was in danger and reached for the gun, then That Asshole got to claim "self defense", when he set up the whole fucking situation in the first place. I think a lot of people will watch this film, see Blake get literally cornered by the two women, and feel that his accusations of "abuse" are reasonable because far too many people are unwilling to see how someone might have set himself up for a totally justified return attack, or how someone might get his own hands bruised up when it was his decision to throw the first punch.

    I recommend reading the article The Community Response To Abuse by Emma Shea Fett on their blogspot.

    ""I was victimized by acts of control" is not the same as "I was victimized by the other person's resistance to my control." It seems simple, but it is not. And I feel that not being able to tell the difference between these things allows us to harbor abuse in our communities and abusive behaviors in ourselves. Being able to see the difference between these statements will allow you to really, truly and solidly hear the story of a survivor."
    I also recommend reading the preceding article, What It Feels Like To Be Emotionally Abused.
    "If you ever wondered why abusers don't seem to realize they are being abusive, it's because they honestly feel powerless and victimized by your autonomy."
    I won't turn this review into a whole thing on abuse. I wanted to highlight this aspect because it's part of why I do recommend the movie, if you have the emotional resources for a film like this. It was a deeply uncomfortable movie where the actual victims in the scenario lash out and fight back because people who are being hurt are not always the epitome of compassion for the one causing them pain, and the manipulator tries every trick in the book to get control of the situation back into his hands. Every trick. Which means that some people, some of the time, might start to sympathize with him, poor guy, being berated and attacked like that. I'm not saying that he isn't deserving of empathy. As a former cheater myself, I totally get some of his rationalizations. No one is pure Lawful Good or Chaotic Evil. We all do things that are not our best selves and often we believe we are doing the right thing, or the wrong thing for the right reasons. But I do think it helps us to move in the direction of greater courage, and towards the better versions of ourselves, to be aware of when we are not - to be aware of what that looks like and how it hurts others. And I think this movie illustrates some of those times.

    So, not poly, tense, uncomfortable, abusive, and nevertheless, I'm recommending watching it for the brutally honest-feeling dialog about infidelity, trust, and alternative options.


    *I am refusing to use the names of various attention-seeking real-life villains like mass shooters and others who have made the news in the last several years because notoriety is partly what they are seeking with their crimes and violence. I prefer to remember their victims and reduce the assholes' power by simply calling them That Asshole. Yes, that makes it hard to tell one from another and context is needed to do so. That lack of distinction only further serves my goal.


    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, 6:15 PM by Joreth InnKeeper
  • Episode 03 - Belle Epoque

    Belle Epoque
     (1992)
    www.imdb.com/title/tt0103791/ - Internet Movie Database

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

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

    This wasn't poly at all. But it was amusing, as the story is told in sort of a charming bedroom-farce kind of way.  If you aren't familiar with that term, a bedroom farce is the kind of comedy where people are running in and out of doors trying to either catch someone or not get caught and it's often shown as a long hallway with doors opening and closing across from each other, and in some of the more absurd movies, some characters exiting through doors they didn't enter.  It's silly, and although bedroom farces usually imply cheating or lying, this movie didn't so I found it amusing.  But, as I said, it wasn't poly.

    What WAS valuable, however, were the subplots.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Her manager breaks down crying.

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

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

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

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

    Or, maybe that's just me.

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


    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, 6:11 PM by Joreth InnKeeper
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