‘Body Parts’ review: Documentary covers a lot in viewing movie sex scenes from women’s perspective
Rosanna Arquette shares how she felt pressured to take off her top for director Blake Edwards while filming “SOB” in 1981, when she was just 19.
“I just remembered everyone was waiting for me…and I did,” Arquette said. “I felt very humbled and very sad about it. But [in] those days…it was a completely different consciousness. You were expected to do these things.
It’s just one of the resonating moments in Kristy Guevara-Flanagan’s insightful, comprehensive, and thought-provoking documentary, “Body Parts,” which covers a wide range of topics in a fast-paced 86-minute run, from ‘a historical look at how women have been portrayed in film from interviews with intimacy coordinators and body doubles to a discussion of representations of black and gay sexuality with actors from Arquette to Jane Fonda via Mishel Prada, Rose McGowan and Michelle Krusiec talking about the process of filming intimate scenes. It is timely and valuable work.
With film scholars such as Linda Williams providing crucial context, “Body Parts” reminds us that in the 1920s and 1930s about half of screenwriters in Hollywood were women, and that women were often depicted as strong and powerful figures. independent. “It was the sexiest time for movies,” says Fonda. “Bette Davis, Mae West, Garbo…they were dangerous women.”
After the introduction of the Hollywood Production Code in 1934 there were drastic changes and overt displays of sexuality all but disappeared until the late 1960s. These days there is a lot more sex at the television than in movies — 22 of the 25 highest-grossing movies of 2022 were rated PG or PG-13, and all three R-rated movies were in the horror genre — and while that’s a long time, Hollywood has become more more sensitive to the representation of women and the management of intimate scenes in the post-#MeToo era.
Actress Emily Meade talks about feeling uncomfortable with certain sex scenes on HBO’s “The Deuce,” and showrunner David Simon recalls, “Emily basically said, ‘We can do better,’ so it was our job to listen.”
Emily Meade, pictured at a 2017 premiere of her ‘The Deuce’, says she raised concerns about her sex scenes on the HBO series.
Says Meade: “The best thing I can come up with is that there should be a person…whose only job is to facilitate, protect and just be there for the sex scenes. Like a stunt coordinator. … ‘The Deuce’ ended up being the first network TV show to have an intimacy coordinator, and then HBO ended up being the first network to use network-wide intimacy coordinators.
Shelley Michelle, who was Julia Roberts’ lookalike in “Pretty Woman,” talks about the “cattle call” aspects of the audition. Filmmakers like Karyn Kusama, Joey Soloway, and Angela Robinson talk about hidden details like nudity jumpers in contracts that spell out exactly what an actor is set to do on screen.
Jane Fonda recounts how her then-husband, director Roger Vadim, assured her that the letters in the opening titles of “Barbarella” would cover certain body parts, only to learn that they did not. Visual effects editor Seven Najarian explains how he digitally removes blemishes and makes actors look younger and leaner and laments, “I feel like I’m part of the problem.”
Even though many segments are brief, Guevara-Flanagan does a remarkably thorough job of covering such a wide range of areas. The only complaint one could have about “Body Parts” is that it could easily have been twice as long.