Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex
Dir. Jody Shapiro, US, 2015, 66 minutes
World Premiere at the San Francisco International Film Festival
We like watching sex. If we didn’t, the movie business would have to find other things to show. We also like talking about it.
It makes sense that the San Francisco International Film Festival premiered Isabella Rossellini’s Green Porno Live, directed by Jody Shapiro (director of Burt’s Buzz). After all, it is exploring the sexual lives of animals. And the film that tracks and distills Rossellini’s clever short films and her tour of live performances gives a lot of pleasure. And …. where better to have the SFIFF annual gala than in the Armory in San Francisco that houses the porn conglomerate kink.com.
With Rossellini’s film, we’re not talking about anything kinky. Her view is that it’s not pornographic, just obscene. That makes for a great punchline in three languages, but I found the film anything but obscene – it’s deeply wholesome. It should be shown to schoolchildren.
Here’s a taste from her short Seduce Me. Lots more is on the internet.
Green Porno is an honest look at reproduction, among many other things. And reproduction, as Darwin and Rossellini would say, is a form of self-preservation. So, by the way, is birth control. And where else, in one film, will you learn about the sado-masochistic sex habits of snails, complete with Rossellini, in costume, moaning in the pain that she says the snails love. We meet a hamster (Rossellini) who eats her young after she gives birth to nine of them. We enter a tent-like duck’s vagina, constructed to confuse the sperm that will pour in. We observe penis-impaired spider sex, as simulated by our star. We also meet a few automobile-sized sea lions, at a distance. It turns out that these are the rare creatures that can frighten Rossellini.
This is real entertainment – no surprise for a show that Rossellini took on the road for two years. When she’s talking about what’s considered to be natural, or about what’s considered to be unnatural and therefore wrong for our species, like promiscuity or homosexuality, she has a gentle way of deflating the conventional wisdom and promoting Biology 101 in a way that a five year old might understand. I’m hoping that she’ll take on climate change or evolution. Don’t hold your breath.
Rossellini was a model for years, and she knows the power of clothes. All the more reason to flaunt the imaginatively designed costumes that call the dance group Pilobolus to mind, and her clever use of costuming to make dramatic and cinematic points. Think of frog intercourse – their ardor tops the chain of being — and consider bringing the kids.
Green Porno will be shown next month on Ovation.
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