I remember the buzz when Halle Berry reportedly got a half-million-dollar payday when she bared her naked breasts in Swordfish. I thought she was a total badass for demanding more money. It was as if a shift in the patriarchal Hollywood structure had been unlocked. Berry has since denied the payment, explaining that she was taking ownership of her body. Until then, audiences had become desensitized to women’s bodies as public currency. Tribeca 2022 audiences got a revelatory education in Kristy Guevara-Flanagan’s documentary, BODY PARTS.
The list of things I learned watching the doc is endless. Intimacy coordinators should be on every single set. I didn’t even know this occupation existed. I believe I audibly exclaimed, “Oh! Huh,” as I discovered the art of simulating oral sex. The technical aspects of intimate scenes are paramount to understanding how actresses should feel on a set. These scenes were enthralling for a performer and a writer like myself.
The power of female leads in the 20s and 30s got squashed by the introduction of the Hollywood Censors. These scenes shaped our perceptions of ourselves for decades and told us what intimacy “should” look like. That warped perspective has created generations of unhealthy relationships, unreported assaults, and continued abuse. This is not merely a film industry issue. We see men continue to be indoctrinated into believing they are entitled to women’s bodies. The social commentary on each era in relation to what was acceptable in cinema is ceaselessly fascinating. “Penises are pornography. Tits are art,” might be one of the most relevant comments in the entire film. The male gaze has dominated cinema since the very beginning. #MeToo and the prosecution of Harvey Weinstein ignited a shift in culture.
BODY PARTS is one of the Tribeca 2022’s best documentaries. The editing is a triumph. As figureheads speak, recreations and famous scenes throughout history play out, making the doc incredibly accessible to a wide audience, cinephiles and casual film fans alike. BODY PARTS is such a conversation starter. It’s nothing short of a Wow.