My body no longer belongs to me
How very timely to see this very-well documented production of how the female body has been exploited by greedy producers and directors, even as long-ago teen film stars Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting are now suing Paramount Pictures for “sexual harassment” over Franco Zeffirelli’s Romeo and Juliet (cross-reference below) nude scene (1968). It can only beg the question, “Why now”?, but perhaps they were inspired by Trump’s nemesis, E. Jean Carroll.
With copious interviews and clips from the beginnings of film (the seldom-seen black-to-black love dance being an unexpected highlight)—notably with Jane Fonda, Angela Robinson and openly transgendered actor Alexandra Billings—the predominant exploitation of women by men is laid bare in films and television scripts where “only after being raped” can the shapely heroines take centre stage and mete out appropriate punishment on their bullies.
The new Hollywood Production Code after the far-too-permissive ‘20s and ‘30s (apparently proving America’s love of puritanism...) offered such “restrictions” as “kisses no longer than three seconds”!
But by the swinging ‘60s (especially from Europe) the kisses elongated even as clothes were doffed. This eventually led to the notion that “penises are pornography; tits are art”. Depends on how you look at it!
Closer to home, in the era of likes (dislikes) of Harvey Weinstein, forward-thinking studios began hiring Intimacy Coordinators to put some teeth into the woefully inadequate SAG “sex scene regulations”—barely a half page in the over 800-page agreement producers had to sign (stunt coordinators and body doubles had far more protection).
And with Trump’s “Grab them by the pussy” conclusively proving why the women amongst us need more respect AND protection, we can only hope that many more of the films of the future will offer as much balance as this timely documentary demands. JWR
This one I would keep
The plight of immigrants to the U.S. takes on a decidedly different approach in Jusu’s portrait of a Senegalese woman landing a plum job in New York City as the nanny of five-year-old Rose (who already has a therapist…). In the title role of Aisha (moving to the U.S. from Senegal herself at six years old), Anna Diop brings a compelling truth to the narrative.
For some, the pace will be too slow; for the rest of us, the gradual build up to the climax is riveting (Aisha’s own son’s—Lamine—expected reunification with his hard-working mom in NYC) thanks to her cash-only pay from an upscale couple who offer more demands than timely settling of bills.
To add cinematic spice, there are copious amounts of magic and visions. Viewers are left to sort out the truth from the deliberate alchemy.
With immigration a hot topic on both sides of the aisle in 2023, the film is well worth a look as it explores the reality of a world of “where can I live in peace?” turmoil. JWR
Don’t look up
What if you were a horse wrangler for Hollywood—Daniel Kaluuya is just right in the role—and your loud-mouth sister—Keke Palmer, a riot of characterization—threatens to wreck every potential deal…?
But then, look up into the sky where convincing footage video of a true, extraterritorial “saucer” would be worth millions to social media…
Do come along for the ride, but then have a long think about the differences between reality and fantasy. (The horses steal the show.) JWR