What is the effect of sex scenes in film? Who decides what is “sexy”?
Jane Fonda is among the many artists featured in the documentary “Body Parts,” which addresses what it means to undress onscreen. While some movies act as an informal sexual education for audiences, others act as vehicles to deepen the patriarchal straight male fantastical definition of what it means to be “sexy.”
Filmmakers Kristy Guevara-Flanagan and Helen Hood Scheer capture Fonda, Rose McGowan, Karyn Kusama, Rosanna Arquette, Joey Soloway, Alexandra Billings, Angela Robinson, Emily Meade, and David Simon in the latest doc from Shout! Factory.
“I was at a place in my life where if you were asked to do something, especially by a man, you did it,” Fonda says in the film about filming the iconic “Barbella.”
Per the official synopsis, for too long cinema has been dominated by the male gaze. Innovative and incisive, “Body Parts” explores the evolution of desire and “sex” onscreen from a woman’s perspective. Demystifying the often invisible processes in creating intimacy for the screen, the film sheds light on the most closely-guarded secrets of an industry now at a crossroads. Deftly illustrated with movie clips stretching back to Eadweard Muybridge’s motion studies, “Body Parts” is part film-history lesson on the dominance of the heterosexual male gaze and part clarion call for employing intimacy coordinators across the industry. It neither shies away from uncomfortable conversations nor ignores image-makers trying to set a higher, more inclusive bar on set and onscreen in the wake of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements.
“Body Parts” debuted at the 2022 Tribeca Film Festival, where IndieWire critic Jude Dry wrote that the film covers iconic works like “Boogie Nights,” “The Graduate,” and “Showgirls,” placing segments in context within the male gaze and #MeToo.
“The film manages to lay out its concise thesis without digressing too far into the nitty gritty,” Dry wrote. “It’s a simple and powerful message, executed economically. This time, it’s not the women, but the emperor who has no clothes.”
“Body Parts” premieres in theaters and on VOD February 3 from Shout! Factory.
Check out the trailer below.