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The Bottom Shelf #137

12.06.2007

Sex and all of its twists and turns can make a person dizzy at the end of the day. Especially in the following circumstances.

ZEROPHILIA (2005)
Directed by: Martin Curland
Starring: Taylor Handley, Marieh Delfino

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I think that the question of whether or not you could change genders, would you, is one that people like to pass around regularly. Women ponder what it would be like to have hard-ons, guys think about the multitude of hours that they would spend feeling up their own tits. Even the idea of the hermaphrodite is one of mythical reverence. I hear the word and think of Randal going over to Big Choice so that he can track down those beautiful chicks with dicks that put his to shame. It's a salacious topic even if it's just one of individual (and quite personal) biology.

The concept of being able to gender change is explored in ZEROPHILIA, where the main character of Luke (Taylor Handley) starts to exhibit female genitalia whenever he becomes aroused. Greeted by a female doctor that his roommate finds on the internet, he is told that he has an extra chromosome, the "Z" chromosome which makes him transition between being a male and being a female when turned on. (Or directly preceding orgasm.) The doctor tries fruitlessly to get him to have sex with her, another "Z," in order to "lock in" his gender. In the meantime Luke falls in love with Michelle (Rebecca Mozo), a cute co-ed, and has to avoid her when tits appear every time she is near. As a female, Luke finds himself attracted to Michelle's brother Max (Kyle Schmid) a Calvin Klein model-looking fellow who would most likely turn out a few of the straight guys I know. Flippity, floppity, whichity, whatity, how the hell do you deal with sexual urges and how do those urges apply to your gender?

What I really liked about this movie is that while there were times that the dialog got a little clunky, it still didn't shy away from the material. Had it been made on a bigger budget scale, it would have become a slapstick riot, meant simply to make people laugh and vacuum up yet even more of the precious few brain cells that they have left. Instead, the film is able to be subtly funny, unpretentious and even insightful when it comes to gender, sexual identification and arousal preferences. You get the feeling that these are all real people who are dealing with something borderline supernatural and trying to make sense of (and peace with) it. Plus, Alison Folland (TO DIE FOR, THINGS BEHIND THE SUN) and Marieh Delfino (DORM DAZE, DORM DAZE 2) as Janine and Luca respectively, rock my f*cking face off. I couldn't pinpoint what it is about those two actresses that is so intensely appealing, but I think that's a great parallel for the movie as well. Sometimes fluidity and uncertainty is a good thing.

Favorite Scene:

After changing into a girl, Luca discovers that it's not so easy to make the transition back to Luke, because, well... you gotta be in the mood.

Favorite Line:

"That's the thing about the truth. It'll set you free, but first it'll really piss you off."

Trivia Tidbit:

Gender-switching is a main plot point of F.M. Busby's science fiction novel The Breeds of Man, as well as a plotline of an episode "The X-Files," where a group of aliens living among humans had the capacity to change gender. The female version of the rogue alien was played by Kate Twa.

See if you liked:

SHORTBUS, TRANSAMERICA, BUT I'M A CHEERLEADER

STRANGE CIRCUS (2005)
Directed by: Sion Sono
Starring: Masumi Miyazaki, Issei Ishida

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We'd all like to think we're a little dark. Mainly because the alternative; being a card-carrying member of the Happy Police, with fond memories of owning My Little Ponies or Hot Wheels, nap time and kisses on the forehead from mommy has become so, like, yesterday. So we giggle over cartoonish violence and make mental tallies of body counts in comedies. We bash programming that isn't bloody enough for the post-9 pm hour. We go looking for things that are so ridiculously over the top that laughing at them isn't going to get us renounced from our families for being an unbalanced psychopath. There's just one moral concept that can't be viewed in a blackly humourous way. Child molestation. Because that's like, taking it too far, dude.

Which is the first thing that I thought when I started watching STRANGE CIRCUS. I hadn't queued it up for my own viewing needs, it was something that my sister had requested after being told by other Asi-Cine fanatics that it was really good. She'd already watched Sono's SUICIDE CLUB (I haven't, but I might catch that now) and figured this was going to be like that one. About 15 minutes into watching the movie, she declared that it was too much and walked away. Oddly enough, I kept watching. I wouldn't know whether I was drawn to the story of a 12 year old girl being raped by her father while her mother watched from inside a cello case (and the girl watching her parents from the same case as well) because as the mother of a little girl the idea that there are people in this world that do these kinds of things is... I don't want to dwell on it for too long. I'd have to honestly say that after I'd gotten half-way in I was more interested in figuring out what was really going on with the fiction writer and whether or not what she was writing was fiction or a suppressed reality.

Without giving anything away, I will say this: I've watched kids go through the junior high school system for years (my mother teaches 8th grade English). Through stories that she would whisper at the dinner table and being around these kids in school, I know that abuse cracks your mind in ways that you couldn't find with a microscope and greater than 20/20 vision. I've seen people in my line of work (I work with adults with developmental disabilities) who have also been abused in ways that you couldn't imagine in the most expressive director's bag of tricks. I've seen the fall-out, heard the non-fictional stories and I get what this film is trying to say. For those people who would complain that it is shot in a "too graphic," unflinching style, I will simply say that you're one of the lucky people to have never even been slightly brushed by the fall-out. Good for you. This is dark. This is black. In the non-fictional kind of way. Now stop bashing yourself for having owned My Little Ponies.

Favorite Scene:

The moral concept behind this movie is so nauseatingly appalling (albeit excellently, fantastically delivered) that picking a favorite scene seems crass.

Favorite Line:

Frankly, I don't have one.

Trivia Tidbit:

This film marks the comeback of actress Miyazaki Masumi after a decade off the screen.

See if you liked:

SUICIDE CLUB, UZUMAKI, OLDBOY

I figured... most people aren't cheerful during the holidays, so why try to thrust that upon you? You can jingle bells and roast chestnuts in another lifetime, right?

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