Tribeca Film Festival 2022 review: ‘BODY PARTS’ is a cinematic sex education.

BODY PARTS

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.


DIRECTOR
Kristy Guevara-Flanagan
PRODUCER
Helen Hood Scheer
CINEMATOGRAPHER
Frazer Bradshaw, Jason Joseffer
EDITOR
Liz Kaar, Anne Alvergue
COMPOSER
Nainita Desai
EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS
Ruth Ann Harnisch, Abigail Disney, Daniel Chalfen, Adrienne Becker, Roger Clark
CAST
Jane Fonda, Joey Soloway, Angela Robinson, Karyn Kusama, Rose McGowan, David Simon.


Review: ‘A SEXPLANATION’ is the single most sex positive lesson of my entire life.

Just your typical queer, Asian American, comedic sex education documentary about the universal search for love, connection, and family acceptance.


Gloriously raw and unapologetic, A Sexplanation was the most informative lesson on sex I’ve ever seen. Like director Alex Liu, my parents never had “The Talk” with me. My Catholic school elementary sex-ed class was in 5th grade. Separating the boys and girls, we got the basics on menstrual health and body parts. That was it. I think I got that same lesson in my high school health class. Why are those classes always taught by gym teachers, anyway? Seriously, why don’t schools bring in experts? In A Sexplanation, Alex Liu does all the groundwork for those left to their own devices at slumber parties, sleep-away camps, and dial-up internet. 

Liu sits down with folks across the sexuality information spectrum; doctors, scientists, therapists, activists, a politician, and a priest! Some of the most intriguing moments happen when Alex speaks with his parents. They are honest, unfiltered, and make the viewer feel the need to talk to their parental figures to clear some shit up. The film also introduces us to programs like INclued, an LGBTQ-centered evidence-based sexual health education program for youth ages 14-19. I wish that existed when I was a teen!

Along with the interviews, visual gags featuring phallic objects and vibrant cartoon animation from Woodenmarker serves as quirky transitions. The biggest challenge in watching the film will be the same for everyone, and Liu understands this. Getting past our ingrained biases, owning each cringe at an image or word, and diving deep into the reasons those reactions occur in the first place. Tackling family dynamics, “The Talk” is so important and how we learn to talk about sex. Statistics do not lie. States teaching abstinence-only have higher teen pregnancy and STI rates. Families need to normalize open lines of communication. We need to step out of our comfort zones and embrace our own sex positivity to better the world. 

 Liu makes himself the guinea pig in a project that could actually save lives. The amount of information in the doc is mind-blowing. The lack of shame makes A Sexplanation a glorious watch and an honest-to-goodness celebration of sexual literacy.


Available on Digital Download from 6th June

Director’s Statement

Alex Liu, writer and director: “A Sexplanation follows my quest to confront my sex education — by finally getting a real one.

Growing up, sex felt shameful. My parents never brought it up. School focused on disease, pregnancy, and abstinence. By my 30s, I was surprised by how much shame I still carried. After talking with friends, I realized I wasn’t alone.

  The film documents my attempt to strip away this shame, no matter how awkward it might get — even masturbating in an MRI machine (for science!).

Through honest conversations with scientists, educators, and even my parents, I try to uncover some naked truths and hard facts that will get us to a healthier, sexier future.”

asexplanation.com

A Sexplanation will be available on Digital Download from 6th June on iTunes on GooglePlay.


Review: ‘JAMES WHITE’ makes escaping reality impossible.

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Josh Mond’s

JAMES WHITE

Starring Christopher Abbott, Cynthia Nixon, and Scott “Kid Cudi” Mescudi

James White poster

If you’ve ever watched someone die from cancer… if you’ve ever seen the downward spiral of a loved one… if you’ve ever been lost in a haze a grief and confusion, JAMES WHITE will speak to you. What does a young man, flailing in his own existence, do to cope with the idea that one of these days, his mother will not get better? Is escapism the answer? Josh Mond‘s directorial debut lets us into the skin and brain of one man’s story.

JAMES WHITE

JAMES WHITE- Christopher Abbot & Scott “Kid Cudi” Mescudi

As James’ mother’s health deteriorates, his ne’er do well lifestyle is forced to come to an end, but not before attempting to escape reality after the death of his estranged father. Triggering a getaway trip to Mexico with friends to avoid dealing with life, this drug, alcohol, and sex addled stay comes to an abrupt end when a call from Gail forces him to return to the couch of his childhood NYC home and take care of Mom 24 hrs a day. Struggling to put his bad boy behavior on the back burner, James walks the line between telling the world to fuck off and dropping his very existence to protect the woman he loves most in the world. As the plot progresses, we learn the this is not his first go round with mom’s illness. Do we forgive his behavior because of this? That’s for the individual to decide.

(L-R) CHRISTOPHER ABBOTT and CYNTHIA NIXON star in JAMES WHITE

(L-R) CHRISTOPHER ABBOTT and CYNTHIA NIXON star in JAMES WHITE

Mond’s script is partially based on his own experiences with his own mother. It is unapologetic and raw. You cannot take that away from Mond. No arguing that the film is ever dull or full of shit. It goes there fast and hard. Using cinematographer Mátyás Erdély was a genius move. Having recently seen Son of Saul at this year’s NYFF, his literal in your face, ultra close-up style of shooting, gives James White the immersive feeling the script calls for. I cannot imagine the film being in any other style. From the opening sequence, scored to perfection by co-star Scott “Kid Cudi” Mescudi, with it’s organic feel and LOUD introduction, we immediately enter the world of a man who is grasping at straws to figure out who he is and what kind of person he wants/needs to be.

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Christopher Abbott gives an purely award-winning performance. His truth is on his sleeve 1000%. Somehow, through all the distasteful behavior he exhibits, you love him. Scott Mescudi is outstanding. As James’ best friend and long time player inside the family, his genuine interactions with Christopher and Cynthia feel so authentic, it’s almost hard to believe that this film isn’t a documentary at moments. Cynthia Nixon‘s portrayal of Gail is epic. With the film’s structure presented from month to month like chapters in a book, we are privy to the physical and mental changes her character endures. No matter the form of media, Nixon creates her own presence and we are lucky enough to witness it. The entire cast deserves all the accolades in the world, as does Mond for delivering a bold story.

JAMES WHITE will capture part of your soul. It allows you to let go and perhaps forgive yourself for past transgressions. Do yourself a favor and see this film.


 

Nominated for Three IFP Gotham Awards:

Christopher Abbott (Best Actor)

Josh Mond (Bingham Ray Breakthrough Actor Award) 

Audience Award

About JAMES WHITE

James White (Christopher Abbott) is a troubled twenty-something trying to stay afloat in a frenzied New York City. He retreats further into a self-destructive, hedonistic lifestyle, but as his mother (Cynthia Nixon) battles a serious illness James is forced to take control of his life. As the pressure on him mounts, James must find new reserves of strength or risk imploding completely.  The directorial debut of MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE producer Josh Mond,  JAMES WHITE, which had its world premiere at Sundance Film Festival 2014 where it was the winner of the “Best of Next” Audience Award, is a confident and closely observed debut that explores loss and the deep relationship between a mother and son.  Abbott’s strong central performance is aided by a stellar supporting cast featuring Cynthia Nixon (“Sex and the City”), Scott “Kid Cudi” Mescudi (“Comedy Bang! Bang!”), and Ron Livingston (DRINKING BUDDIES). Shot on location in New York City with an intimate visual style, JAMES WHITE follows its lead into deep, affecting places while still maintaining its fragile humanity. 

The Film Arcade will release JAMES WHITE on November 13th