When Isabella Rossellini began her first year of Green Porno, every interviewer asked: Why? The question was understandable; actresses don't often turn towards the world of short filmmaking to dig into science, to show the masses how insects reproduce ... especially by making themselves look like human incarnations of said creepy crawlies.
Rossellini told each interviewer how Robert Redford and the Sundance Channel were eager to relaunch and experiment with the short film format, and how they hoped the experimentation could be on environmental subjects. It was the perfect diving board for the actress and model. She'd always been interested in animal behavior, and had wanted to make a film about animals ever since she was 14 or 15 and read King Solomon's Ring. She dreamed of being like Jane Goodall, but life took her in a different direction, until some forty years later when she was able to revisit her childhood dream.
As someone who is often irked by the oft-used retort: "Go make it yourself then!" -- I love this story. It's never as simple as doing something yourself. There are a myriad of challenges that come into play, some that weed out the weak, and others that simply weed out those without mass amounts of time and funding to play with. There is a time and place for everything, whether it is fueled by youthful exuberance or the amalgamation of years of experience.
I love the idea that Rossellini had this creative desire hidden and simmering for decades, just waiting for the moment, twist, and venue to make it come alive. When Redford came calling, eager for something short and sassy for the Internet, it all fell into place. She could dive head-first into the animal world, exploring the laughter and curiosity the world of animal sex brought her, educating and entertaining in short and sweet swoops. As great as it would've been to see a young Isabella making home movies as a sort of Harriet the Spy of the insect world, the idea came to fruition during the right time and place.
And now she's back with a third installment. After forays with insects and creatures of the sea, Green Porno is now Seduce Me. As Rossellini states on the Sundance website: "After my comical series Green Porno, on how animals mate, I wanted to showcase a new series about how animals seduce each other with different, varied, and incredible strategies ... they might give us some new ideas about how to conquer our mates!" The camera details the seductive practices of cuttlefish, ducks, snakes, salmon, and bedbugs, and instead of the usual If I were a..., Isabella kicks off the new series with Is he seducing me? What am I? A [insert animal here]?
It's much like the dance between creator and viewer. Just as Isabella gets seduced by big, manly, disembodied hands eager for seduction, the three-season series plays out like a prolonged seduction. First comes the laughs and exuberance of something fresh, new, and audacious with Green Porno, followed by more of the familiar to increase the chemistry, and before it gets stale, the films pull back to seduce, changing up technique, opting for a more subtle approach introduced with Art Deco fonts and noir finger shadows.
And like any good seduction, it leaves me wanting more, well beyond what's been offered in the past. I can't help but wish that Rossellini's educational slants could be applied to other forms of typically boring studies. I can't help but wish that her funny and straight-forward approach to sex could be used to help the young and old sadly misinformed about sex and bodies. I can't help but envision a more clever, fun, and female Ace Ventura where humor is intermingled with animals and science on the big screen.
Can you imagine that? With the humor she's infused into quirky sex practices, one can only begin to wonder what would happen if those comedic impulses were channeled into the big screen. She may have gotten her start due to famous parents and stunning looks, which morphed from modeling into dramatic acting in the likes of Blue Velvet. She might be known for her indie roles (Big Night, Roger Dodger, Saddest Music in the World) and smattering of mainstream gigs (Death Becomes Her, Wyatt Earp, The Accidental Husband). But she's also a woman who has covered just about everything from the dark to light, typical to unconventional. She's not afraid to dig into the truth of life, and certainly isn't afraid to look ridiculous doing it. She's smart and seemingly fearless.
Beyond the shortage of female directors gracing the screens, there is definitely a shortage of funny women front and center and behind the camera when it comes to laughs. I can only hope that one day we get feature work from the woman who says: "Laughing has always been a big occupation in my life."
I can't think of a better statement to live by.