The Letterboxd Show 2.17: Kate Hagen

Episode notes

[clip of Wild at Heart plays]

SAILOR Hey, my snakeskin jacket! Thanks, baby! Did I ever tell you that this here jacket represents a symbol of my individuality and my belief in personal freedom?

LULA About 50,000 times. I got us a room at the Cape Fear. And guess what? I heard Powermad is playing at The Hurricane.

SAILOR Stab it and steer.

[The Letterboxd Show theme music Vampiros Dancoteque by Moniker fades in, plays alone, fades down]

GEMMA Hello and welcome to The Letterboxd Show, a podcast about the movies people love watching from Letterboxd: the social network for people who love watching movies. Each episode your hosts Gemma—that’s me—and Slim are joined by a Letterboxd friend for a chat about their four favorite films. That is the four films you choose as your favorites on your Letterboxd profile. We have links in the episode notes as you listen along. So there is no excuse not to add these four films to your watchlists. Today, our guest is Cinematic Sex Sleuth, Kate Hagen.

KATE Hello! Thank you guys for having me.

SLIM Kate is the Director of Community for The Black List, the platform for script writers to showcase their work and she was the co-host with Black List founder Franklin Leonard of The Black List Podcast. Kate is also a writer, her long-form essay for Playboy on the unacceptable decline of sex scenes in Hollywood cinema is a must read. And Kate has just finished a new long form special on fat girls in film and why we need more large leading ladies for Letterboxd. She joins us today to talk about her four favorites: Near Dark, Baby, It’s You, Wild at Heart and Morvern Callar. 

GEMMA Yes!

SLIM First thing that jumps to mind—first of all, two phrases, Cinematic Sex Sleuth is that like the greatest nickname for anyone in the history of podcasting? [Kate laughs]

KATE I am trying to remember where that came from, if that was something I wrote, or if that was like Playboy copy that I then stole, but it’s accurate. I mean, I’ve been watching movies, just for the sex scenes for like, at least half of my life at this point. And I have watched a lot of really, really terrible garbage just because I was told that it had a good sex scene in it. So yeah, I would say it’s like a Ventura County PI but for sex scenes in movies.

GEMMA Oh my god. [Gemma laughs]

KATE Taking too many Tums and like drinking a lot of bad coffee, but I will find those sex scenes.

GEMMA Cinematic Sex Sleuth. I have an immediate follow up question. Off the top of your head. What is the worst film with the best sex scene?

KATE Oh! That’s a really great question. You know what has some good sex in it and I haven’t seen it in years, is Lee Daniels’ Shadowboxer, which is just like a bananas movie. But there’s some really interesting sex in there. I think there’s a Monique and Stephen Dorff sex scene and then there’s definitely one with Helen Mirren and Cuba Gooding Jr.

SLIM What?

KATE There’s like an incesty thread happening in that movie. 

GEMMA Wait whaaat?

KATE But I remember watching it and being like, you know, this was not great, but I have never seen these pairings of bodies on a screen before and that’s interesting.

SLIM That seems like a Letterboxd list in the making. Bad movies with great sex scenes. [Slim laughs]

KATE I mean there’s so many. So many erotic thrillers, you’re like this was not great, but like what a smokin hot sex scene this was. 

SLIM I watched it recently, first time in a long time, Basic Instinct, which I like. I thought the sex scene with Sharon Stone and Michael Douglas. I was like, holy moly. They’re going for it in this movie. It’s legit. [Slim laughs]

KATE Yeah. And then the scene with Jeanne Tripplehorn that’s like right on the edge of being not okay in terms of consent, but the movie somehow sort of makes it work. Even though it’s a little bit squeaky. I don’t know Basic Instinct to me and all the Verhoeven stuff really holds up. I love that obviously one of his kinks is unisex showers and like, all genders in the shower room. That’s just like, if it’s a Paul Verhoeven movie and we can do that, we’re doing that.

GEMMA Okay. And then what was your other catchphrase? Slim, you noticed something else.

SLIM Oh god, the other one. I wrote down the other one. Let’s see—terminally horny. I love that phrase. [Gemma laughs]

KATE Somebody’s gotta do it! There’s not enough sex in movies, and somebody’s got to keep eating that drop and I’ve decided it’s gonna be me.

GEMMA I think Slim is just jealous.

SLIM I am jealous! I feel like people who—if you’re listening to The Letterboxd Show right now, I need your help. You need to come up with a equally as cool phrase for myself. And if there are any notifications on my Twitter account, we’ll mention them next week.

GEMMA I am going to throw in a Patron membership for the winner for best nickname for Slim on The Letterboxd Show.

KATE Oh! Very exciting.

SLIM There are stakes now.

GEMMA This is good.

SLIM Shall we dig into the four favorites? 

KATE Yeah!

[music from Near Dark fades in]

SLIM For Kate this week. Number one, you know, it’s October. Why not go right into Near Dark,1987, Kathryn Bigelow. This is a 3.6 average on Letterboxd and I think shockingly low amount of fans. I feel like there should be thousands of fans that have Near Dark as their fave. 142 people. Midwestern farm boy reluctantly becomes a member of the undead. When a girl he meets turns out to be part of a band of Southern vampires who roam the highways in stolen cars. What was your first Near Dark experience like, Kate, do you remember? 

KATE Yeah, it’s funny. I actually was just talking to somebody else about this story because I grew up in a very permissive household when it came to media but there was still some stuff that was like borderline—but Near Dark is notable because it’s the only movie my parents ever argued about whether or not I could see it. It got put on DVD in like 2003, 2004 and it had been really unavailable for a long time. And my dad is the one who I would always watch the more sort of like violent genre stuff with and he was like, “Oh, we’ve got to watch this.” So we rented it from blockbuster we started watching it and my mom was like, this is unacceptable and so the movie stopped. They had an argument—and they do not get into fights, arguments. That’s just like, not their vibe. But I remember my mom was like, “This is too violent!” And my dad was like, “You guys literally just watched Kurt & Courtney together!” [Gemma laughs] What are you talking about in terms of like a content warning? Yeah, they’re vampires. But this is very fake. And Kurt & Courtney is very real and harrowing. My dad and I won that fight. I got to watch the rest of Near Dark and it just seared on my brain. I still—the barroom scene that is the famous scene from the movie to me is the pinnacle of cinema. You know, I think there’s just this pervasive coolness with Near Dark that’s kind of hard to find anywhere else. You know, I think there’s a reason there’s only ever been one sort of successful vampire Western because it’s an idea so wack that it should not work, but it’s somehow it does completely work. And what a statement from Kathryn Bigelow, you know? I think The Loveless is a really cool movie. But the leap forward in terms of craft and filmmaking from The Loveless to Near Dark is just pretty unbelievable. And you’ve got so many wonderful character actors in the film. I mean, Lance Henriksen, the late Bill Paxton, Jenette Goldstein, Joshua John Miller—all of these folks who really just fill out this incredible ensemble. And it’s just a movie that I come back to constantly. I do have a theory why more people don’t love it on Letterboxd, and that’s because it’s really hard to see! I think it’s getting a 4K re-release later this year or early next year. But it historically has not been on streaming. The only DVD is I think the DVD I rented from Blockbuster. There was a very brief blu ray when they tried to make it like Twilight and it has like a Twilight inspired cover up Adrian Pasdar and Jenny Wright. But yeah, it’s it’s hard to see I would imagine it’s a music rights question. You know, talking about that barroom scene. You’ve got that great use of the cover of Fever by The Cramps, and there’s a bunch of other great music throughout the movie and the Tangerine Dream score, but yeah, criminally underseen because it is criminally under available, I think.

GEMMA The Twilight thing keeps coming up for me while I was watching. This was a first watch for me, and I don’t know why I keep thinking of—it was—wow, I loved it. Thank you so much.

KATE Oh I’m so glad!

GEMMA  I was like denim and scents and neck biters and—oh my god. Those poke holes in the in the windows of the motel and the combustible vampires. I don’t know, I just loved it all. Everything about it was wild. And especially I think the Twilight-ness of it came up because there’s—unusually for—no sex in Near Dark. It’s sexy!

KATE Yeah, you know, it’s an interesting one. They’re very chaste, Adrian Pasdar and Jenny Wright. I think probably the question because the movie so violent was like, you know, we’ve got to go one way or another. And if we throw like some big steamy sex scene in here, we might get into some ratings trouble. But it is interesting that they have this sort of very teenage romance. But I think that’s interesting in terms of Jenny Wright’s character, in terms of she’s just been stuck in this sort of perpetual adolescence. She’s obviously on the older side of being a teenager but, you know, hundreds of years old and just sort of stuck with these, these teenage levels of emotionality and teenage levels of depth. And that’s probably what attracts her to Adrian Pasdar, Caleb in the movie, just the idea that she can have this sort of teenage romance that she maybe did not get in her actual life.

SLIM The one thing that I knew of Near Dark before I watched it—and I think it was on Shudder for maybe like one month this year, and then it was gone again—was the scene at the end with the fire scene. And maybe people have seen on YouTube but when one of the characters is running, and they’re like, head is inflamed. It’s like, is this CGI? What year did this come out? It’s 1987 and it looks so like, scary real?

KATE Yeah, that seems really upsetting. Even though like it’s a little bit—it’s one of those that you have to look at and you’re like, okay, they were trying something in terms of like what was possible with technology, and it doesn’t fully land. But the visceral and the sort of like emotional experience of that scene, I think kind of supersedes some of the jankier technology, at least by 2021 standards. I actually got to see a print of new Near Dark a couple of years ago at the new Beverly here, which was awesome. And you know, it’s like you’ve seen a movie a bunch of times before, but seeing it in a print is a new experience. And I felt like in seeing the print—and maybe this is just being in the theater—but it felt like that scene went on a bit longer than it does in any of the home video versions. And I was wondering if there was like an edit before home video because it’s like oh, even in a movie filled with brutality, this is particularly brutal. But yeah, that whole sequence is is very upsetting to me. I mean, there’s a lot of very upsetting things in Near Dark but it’s also got such a good sense of humor! The bar scene, like it’s finger looking good. Like come on!

GEMMA I did in my review, shout out to image engineering, who get the best credit in the credit roll at the end—body smoking effect. [Slim laughs] And then someone followed up and was like, it was literally just tubing with cigars lit under their jackets, which I haven’t had a chance to look into whether that was true or not. But I love practical effects.

KATE I do too. I love the makeup in this. When Severen gets run over by the truck and he’s got like half a face and you’re like, this is the best thing I’ve ever seen. You do miss it. And you know, I’d be curious if there was any kind of—for listeners who might not know, Kathryn Bigelow was married to James Cameron at this point in the 80s. And there was a lot of sort of symbiotic stuff happening between the work they were making and I was wondering if she was able to call upon like some of the really good practical effects folks from Aliens and sort of be like, “Hey, do you want to do some really cool vampire makeup too?” But yeah, it’s just really stunning stuff. Even the Lance Henriksen after he gets burned and he’s got the really like black leathery skin is so cool! And you know, we’ve all seen a bunch of vampire movies. But I appreciate how this one really gets into the practicalities of living as a member of the undead.

GEMMA Can we talk about how Kathryn Bigelow stages action? Because—wow. We could pick any scene in this movie, but can we pick the motel shootout? The sunlight coming through the holes? The flames—how do you describe it? So bullets are flying, there’s sunlight bursting through holes, parts of vampires are bursting into flames. Meanwhile, there’s the guy that’s led the cops in the motel in the car outside. Then there’s the old guy who runs the motel who’s recognized Lance Hendrickson from like, 50 years earlier, but it hasn’t aged a day. There’s just so much going on in that one corner of America. So many guns and there’s so many people in different parts of this one single room. It just felt so well blocked. It’s so much fun!

KATE Yeah, I just—she’s fascinating to me, as a filmmaker. I just rewatched Point Break too, which I hadn’t seen in probably like five or six years. And just, you know, the great foot chase scene in Point Break. And I was thinking about that in terms of just like, how come nobody can do this anymore? Like, how come nobody has like this level of intensity and energy? And I don’t know that I have a definitive answer. But there is like a musculature to her action scenes that you don’t feel in a lot of other action scenes. And, you know, I wonder about does that come from the POV of being a female filmmaker who’s been reared on all these incredibly masculine, incredibly, you know, whether it’s westerns or crime films or action films and sort of looking at that holistically and being like, oh, I can do that better because I’m coming at this from a different POV than all the men who were making these things. Or is it something in her specific background that sort of has made her very able to capture action in a way that a lot of her peers cannot? But I even think about something like The Hurt Locker, which is—I don’t think it’s a true action movie. But I think about some of the super, super tense sequences in that and the way she’s able to just draw tension out of nothing. Like there’s that great moment in Point Break with the sprinkler and the dog right before the foot chase. And it’s like that great diffusion of tension. But yeah, I think too, you know, there’s this really interesting thing that happens in terms of getting into the Americana of it all. I would be curious to see how that was written on the page too, because you know, Kathryn Bigelow, I think shares a writing credit with Eric Red on this, but I believe Eric Red was the originator of the script. And, you know, does that seem read that way on the page? Is that something that Kathryn Bigelow has sort of come up with on her own? Is it a combination of the two, which is probably the most likely. But yeah, it’s I think Near Dark is a fascinating movie because you do have sequences like that hotel shootout and the the barroom sort of massacre that you’re like, practically this isn’t that hard, like it’s not anything anybody else couldn’t do but why does it work so much better here than it does anywhere else? And I wish I knew. It’s that Bigelow magic!

SLIM Yeah, and speaking of movies being unavailable or hard to find, Strange Days which she did, I feel like is also very well at that.

KATE It’s very hard to find. 

SLIM You know the scenes in the streets at the end are intense. I was pretty blown away by Strange Days when I watch it for the first time.

KATE Yeah, Strange Days is a movie that should have been available in moments like last year, sort of anticipating things like the Black Lives Matter conversation and the sort of organizing happening in the streets. And you look back on that and you’re like, oh my god, this is a studio sci fi movie with a black female lead from the 90s where it’s not at all about her like being tortured or having to go through something. She’s just the badass in the movie who gets to sort of win the day. Strange Days I think is—I have a UK Blu-ray of it. Get a region-free Blu-ray player, folks. That’s a great piece of advice. 

SLIM It’s worth $150 overall purchase. It’s funny that I think we’re getting into a theme of the movies today. You know, Morvern Callar, also hard to find, Lynne Ramsay’s catalog. I will scream into the heavens that someone needs to just get her entire catalogue, like remastered, make a box set or whatever.

KATE Oh please. I think it’s all music rights with these things! Because Morvern Callar has got such an amazing soundtrack and, you know, not wanting to do those music clearances again.

SLIM It makes me sick. It makes me sick to my stomach, Kate, just thinking about it.

KATE I agree. It’s one of my pet obsessions. And, you know, putting it out into the universe that if anybody wants a very deep dive on music rights and how they are hamstringing things like streaming services—[Slim laughs]

GEMMA Commissioned! Yeah, that can be your next long read for us. Honestly, I think it’s just we pay so much respect to filmmakers, and not enough respect to musicians, so much of this work defines so much of what we love about movies. And allow me to use that as a segue into your next favorite film because this is the movie that changed Chris Isaak’s life. [Wicked Game by Chris Isaak plays] David Lynch’s 1990 Wild at Heart.

KATE I just learned a fun fact about the video for Wicked Game. There are two versions of the video for Wicked Game, the one we have all seen many times with Helena Christensen, but there is a movie tie in version that involves Sailor and Lula from Wild at Heart that I was like, wow, imagine like it being so cool that like the David Lynch version of your video is not the coolest one that exists in the world. [Gemma laughs] It’s like no, that’s nice. We’ve got this other one with Helena Christensen, though. Wild at Heart, another movie I saw during a very sort of formative part of my adolescence. I was extremely cool in high school, as you can imagine. A lot of times I was home on Friday nights by myself and IFC did this series in the mid 2000s when it was like you know, whatever the Friday night movie was was like a big deal. And so that’s how I saw things like Blue Velvet and Breaking the Waves for the first time. But the first Lynch movie I ever saw was Wild at Heart and I was fifteen and the reason I watched Wild at Heart is because I had been told that they was very raunchy, and I was like, I will watch Wild at Heart if it’s supposed to have some good sex in it. And it indeed did!

GEMMA Oh boy, does it have good sex in it. [Slim laughs]

KATE Yeah, that is just one of the many things worth discussing in discussing Wild at Heart. But yeah, I I just did a big Lynch rewatch with my partner because they had never watched the majority of Lynch and hadn’t watched Twin Peaks, and it was so nice getting to experience it through there. Again and like especially showing them Wild at Heart, which is you know—I said this to them—but it’s like you know, David Lynch has made many masterpieces but like this is the one that really like speaks to my soul. This movie had a huge impact on me when I saw it because my first favorite movie was was The Wizard of Oz and sort of the ultimate perversion of The Wizard of Oz is Wild at Heart and I think they’re really fascinating sister movies, especially if you think about Lynch and the sort of like influence The Wizard of Oz has had on on more of his stuff just beyond this movie. But yeah, it was such a joy to go back to Wild at Heart. I hadn’t seen it in a couple of years. And it still hits so hard. I mean, if you follow me on Twitter, you’ve seen me bitching a lot recently about actor chemistry and how actors don’t have good chemistry anymore. And we’re to believe that these people are like in a romantic relationship and they might as well be talking to a brick wall. And then you watch something like Wild at Heart with Laura Dern and Nic Cage and you’re like, that’s it folks. I’m sorry, we’re fucking up. [Gemma laughs]

GEMMA Yeah, that is the masterclass in chemistry. I just—I don’t know when the right time is to make this confession, Kate. But Wild at Heart was my first Lynch and it will always be my last Lynch. I don’t have time for is bullshit. [Gemma & Kate laughs]

KATE Wow! Oh my god, Gemma, are we gonna have to fight about David Lynch on this podcast?

SLIM Only the second movie in and she’s doing it.

GEMMA I know! I have tried but basically it all comes back to Sailor and Lula. Yeah, it’s the one that has—it’s the chemistry. It 100% comes back to the chemistry, it’s not a bunch of fucking weirdos wandering around in David Lynch land.

KATE Have you tried Mulholland Drive?

GEMMA I have!

KATE Okay, alright. 

GEMMA So here’s the thing, I saw Wild at Heart in the cinema when it came out, I was also a teenager. It was so amazing. I saw a Mulholland Drive with one of my best girlfriends in the cinema when it came out. We walked out and we went and drank, I don’t know, several drinks and still like however many years later just look at each other and go what the fuck was that thing? What was that blue box? What the fuck? Maybe there’s just a part of my brain that doesn’t engage in that side of David Lynch’s puzzle world. And I feel like honestly, I’m going to get cancelled as a cinephile for saying this out loud, but I don’t mind because of it gives somebody else who struggles with Lynch the reassurance that it’s okay to just not watch the and I’m happy to be that person. However, Wild at Heart has a place of my heart forever. Forever and ever.

KATE You’re breaking my Wild at Heart. [Gemma laughs]

GEMMA At this point, I just will hand over to you and Slim. [Slim laughs]

SLIM Gemma’s bravery right now is off the charts on this podcast. [Gemma laughs] This is the first time I’ve seen Wild at Heart. I think I saw Mulholland Drive when it first came out when I was working at the video store. So didn’t love it. But Wild at Heart, was the first time I’ve seen this and man, Nicolas Cage and Laura Dern, man they’re off the charts in this movie. And so there’s a few scenes in this where they’re talking about, you know, he’s at a jail or wherever. He’s like, “We’re gonna go dancing.” He does Nicolas Cage voice, [Slim in Nicolas Cage impression] “We’re gonna go dancing.” 

GEMMA Wait, do that again.

SLIM [Slim in Nicolas Cage impression] “We’re gonna go dancing.” [Slim & Gemma laughs] He’s doing his Nicolas Cage Elvis essentially in this movie. And they’re gonna go to dance club tonight, what kind of concert they going to? They’re going to like a rock concert. It was like the most unexpected scene for me and he’s doing like these kicks. They’re dancing and she’s like losing control, she’s so attracted by his moves on the dance floor, his cowboy boots. I was totally blown away by Cage in this. And Cage is getting kind of a resurgence now with Pig. It happens every few years. He’ll do a really amazing movie. And then he’ll continue on and we’ll hear from another few years. But I still don’t think he gets enough credit.

KATE He doesn’t! I think it’s GQ did it, but there’s a great video on YouTube, that’s one of those, ‘I’m going to talk you through my filmography’ videos. But it’s like all this stuff that looks super off the walls to us, you hear him talk about it. He’s like, “Oh, vampire’s kiss. I was actually trying to do German expressionists, Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. That’s what I was going for.” And you’re like, okay, I see that! Thank you for that context! The Cage thing is fascinating to me, because it’s like, yeah, he makes some direct video stuff that nobody sees, and that’s fine. But pretending like he’s still not one of our greatest actors. It’s just nuts. Like, he’s such a presence. He makes everything he’s in better and I would love to see something like Pig in the way that Mandy a couple years ago sort of reminded people that he’s a real serious actor. Yeah Mandy is like my favorite movie the last ten years.

GEMMA Oh my god. Can I just say—also, so I was at TIFF I think when Mandy was in the Midnight Madness section and I was on that red carpet and nobody turns up to a red carpet like Nic Cage. Like he doesn’t just bring it on screen, he brings it off screen. He had the black states and the massive belt buckle. He was the black leather jacket, the cohort of I don’t know who these people were around him, but he just he owned it. He owned it in a way that no one owns it enough anymore. And I really appreciate that.

KATE He’s a movie star, an actual movie star. Incredible.

SLIM It’s funny to go back because a couple years ago that documentary came out about Superman Lives, you know, his work that almost landed him a Superman role. What a strange universe we’d be in right now if those movies got made. Nicolas Cage as Superman. I mean, he looked good with that long hair in that costume. What an amazing time capsule of the home video, Tim Burton and Nicolas Cage just kind of like shooting the shit with the costume designers.

KATE Maybe that’s the better timeline we’re supposed to be on if that happened. [Slim laughs]

SLIM That was the diversion that we were not expecting to happen. That movie not getting made changed everything. [Gemma laughs]

KATE Didn’t somebody discover that there was a LaserDisc that was an Angelo Badalamenti musical performance that I guess that Cage and Dern are sort of like sailor and Lula in it, which I got to track down I think it’s on a certain free video streaming site that sometimes these things appear on. But yeah, you know, I’ve read that they were sort of method in making the movie too. Which I’m like, I think we know probably know what that means. But you know, you feel it in the movie, and you feel that real sort of, oh these people want each other in a way that I don’t feel for many co-stars today.

SLIM You’ve recently written and you just mentioned it, the kind of lack of sex in cinema and you’ve written the Playboy article that came out a few years ago, where you kind of lamented the fact that the studio releases aren’t really keeping up with the kind of current conversation happening. And you have this long list of essential erotic thrillers on Letterboxd which we have a link to in the episode notes. So has anything changed in the last two years since you had those thoughts? I know it’s kind of been like a slow burn where we’re kind of missing out here, the percentages of sexy movies coming out, they’re gone. What has changed if anything in the last couple of years?

KATE I should do the numbers for 2020. I don’t think they would be much improved, if anything I think they’re probably on a continual downslope. But it’s the same trend that I kind of mentioned in the piece. All the interesting sex is mostly happening on TV. It’s not really happening in movies. You know, there are a couple things I can sort of point to this year like PVT Chat or Titane that have some really interesting, envelope pushing sex in them. But we’ll see how Titane does in the award season, but they’re certainly not like mainstream Hollywood movies. It’s funny to me that sex is sort of circled back around to like, “Oh, that’s a European film. I’ve got to watch a European film.” [Gemma laughs] But you know, I was really floored watching the final two episodes of HBO’s Scenes from a Marriage because there are two very graphic sex scenes with Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain in those final two episodes and you’re like, oh right, it’s possible and we’re just not doing it. We’re just not engaging with this in movies. And the sex scenes in Scenes from a Marriage are like emotionally complex, they’re physically very demanding I imagine for the actors, but it reveals some pretty big stuff about them as characters and the sort of context of the show and it’s like yes, this is what we’re missing like, sex can reveal so much more about a character than any sort of conversation ever could. Also, you know, we’re all just lizard brain. Who doesn’t want to watch Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain smooch? Like yes, I would like to see it!

GEMMA Even just this week that motions publicity still of Oscar and Rebecca Ferguson—oh my god, for Dune, just drove everyone wild. And all he’s doing is moving his thumb by like a millimeter on the back of her neck. That’s all it takes directors. That’s all it takes.

SLIM I mean, even the publicity of them promoting Scenes from a Marriage. Remember when that video circulated on Twitter, people were losing their minds. It was like smoldering on Twitter, people couldn’t contain themselves. It was like yes, we need more of this please.

GEMMA I’m looking at the list of films that are coming in the next few months to see if I can—if we’ve got any sex coming our way and. I mean, wow, it gets pretty hardcore in Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn. That’s a whole kettle of fish, it’s a movie starts with an entire leaked sex tape. A little bit different to what we’re looking for, but still part of the conversation, right?

KATE I’m excited for Blonde, the Andrew Dominik Marilyn Monroe movie, which apparently Netflix is letting go through with it what would be an NC-17. That’s a fascinating level to this that to me that nobody talks about. Like I noticed that PVT Chat was released unrated, because it definitely would have been an NC-17 otherwise. But it’s been five years since a theatrical release received an NC-17. And in the age of streaming, I don’t know that we’ll ever get one again, which is pretty, pretty wild to think about. But yeah, I mean, most of the interesting sex from last year for me it’s been on TV, it’s things like White Lotus or Brand New Cherry Flavor. And I realized that’s like a tier of sort of, you know, like premium even among the sort of streaming content but yeah, guys, we got to make movies sexy again, please!

GEMMA Oh, yeah. Oh, actually, The Beta Test. Jim Cummings’ The Beta Test is entirely built around—well, partly the writers strike—but also around some purple envelopes that invite you to a tryst in a hotel that will remain secret.

SLIM Excuse me?

KATE Uh oh.

GEMMA Yeah, you’ve got another list on Letterboxd called 365 sex scenes. Wild at Heart is in that. So if anyone listening needs a year of a film a day with some decent sex in it, Kate has got you covered. But there’s also a list that’s titled with just three eggplant emojis. Are we talking male front-bum here?

KATE I wonder what that could be! Yeah, it’s male frontal with nudity, which is still so rare. And it’s insane that it’s rare. You know, nudity, I would say is down on the whole. And I think for probably a lot of good reasons, when you really think about it in terms of intimacy coordinators, and not having the sort of gratuitous boob shot that we all grew up on on the ’80s and ’90s. But the pendulum can’t go fully the other way and just pretend that nobody is ever naked. I’m a big advocate for non sexual nudity in stuff. I don’t understand why we haven’t gotten more comfortable with that. Sometimes people are just naked and it has nothing to do with sexy stuff. And it would be nice if we had more of that. But yeah, that’s one of those big sort of roadblocks that I feel like is still has a crazy amount of stigma attached to it, is the sort of male full-frontal shot. I’m really hard pressed to think of the last sort of mainstream thing I saw with a male frontal shot. Whereas even you know, I grew up in the golden age of like, ‘Ah, Ewan McGregor is naked again in a movie! Yes I will watch Young Adam on HBO see what’s going on here.’ [Gemma laughs] And we don’t even have that anymore! Or like Kevin Bacon in Wild Things. It’s like that miniscule glimpse we got of Ben Affleck in Gone Girl for like 0.2 seconds.

GEMMA And this is this a genre genre context penis, but Violation which came out earlier this year and I mean, oh my god.

SIM That’s two episodes in a row we’re talking about Violation. I’m starting to sweat again.

KATE I still haven’t seen that because I know it’s gonna fuck me up and I’m like ah, we’ll pick the right moment.

GEMMA I’m never eating soft serve ice cream again, let’s just put it that way. Anyway. [Kate laughs] I did want to say, Kate, that I feel like this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship between you and Slim because your three eggplant emojis list goes nicely—I was gonna say hand in hand, but it’s more like hand in cheek, I don’t know—with Slim’s now infamous Man Ass list.

SLIM I do. I do have a Man Ass list. This needs to be documented. You know, the first time that I felt like I needed to make a list that will slowly grow over time was in Showgirls where Kyle MacLachlan’s stunt double showed that supple behind on screen. It was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen in a movie. I had to like pause the movie to look around, is anybody else seeing this? This is incredible. That guy should have gotten an Oscar.

KATE Oh, butt doubles. I would love that memoir, like a true body double memoir. [Gemma laughs] Can you even imagine?

GEMMA Well, it is holiday season, fast approaching. We’re right in the middle of spooky Halloween month. But holiday season is on its way so let’s move on to one of the greatest Christmas films ever made in Scotland. And then as Lynne Ramsay’s 2002 Morvern Callar.

KATE Please if you are looking for an actual Christmas movie, do not watch Morvern Callar. [Gemma & Slim laugh] You will be very disappointed. Unless you’re a sicko like me and us!

[music from Morvern Callar plays]

SLIM Lynne Ramsay, 2002. Another movie that’s a bit hard to find, but it’s streaming for free on a few services, I think Roku and IMDb. And more Morvern wakes up on Christmas morning to discover her troubled boyfriend has died by suicide, leaving behind the unpublished manuscript to his first novel, and a sum of money intended to pay for his burial. Instead, she attempts to use both to reinvent her life. This is a Lynne Ramsay film, maybe folks that are listening now are kind of familiar with her work and how powerful it can be. But what’s your relationship with this film?

KATE Yeah, I had seen Ratcatcher and some of the shorts in film school and was like, oh, I really liked this. And, you know, I need to check out more of her stuff. And I actually remembered, AV Club used to do this great, they might still do it, called the New Cult canon, where they would talk about like newer films that sort of had a cult reputation. And I remember reading the one for that and being like, why haven’t I seen this movie? And in the summer of 2011, I did an internship at Facets in Chicago. And one of the benefits of that was you could rent anything from the Facets library. And so it was my first opportunity to see Morvern Callar. And I remember I watched it just on my laptop. And it was one of those movies that I just immediately was like, oh, if I ever make a movie, I would like it to be like this movie. I love movies about women trying to get their shit together. I love a really unlikable female character. I love sort of like tortured female friendships on film, incredible soundtracks, and this movie just checks all of those boxes. You know, Samantha Morton is unbelievably good in this. It’s a really sort of subtle and measured performance. It’s not showing in the way that she would like ever win an Oscar for. But it’s just, it’s unforgettable. Yeah and I mean to like, open your movie around a character whose partner has died by suicide. And then we’re supposed to empathize with them when they steal their book and pass it off as their own as well as the money that they have set aside for their final arrangements. And she’s like, “I’m gonna go on holiday to Ibiza with my best friend.” And yeah, it’s like, what are you possibly going to do with this? Like, how am I possibly going to be invested in this character in the movie such a magic trick in terms of pulling it off and making us really invested in Morvern’s story. I think about the shots still, like once a week when she at that whole sequence when she decides she’s going to dismember the boyfriend’s body. And it should be so gross and horrible, but it’s like really tender and loving even there’s that—the shot I’m talking about is when she’s cutting into something and there’s that like very gentle blood spray on her face. And you’re like, oh, in another context, this is a horror movie. But the way it’s being presented it’s this like very tender sort of happening. And I just love the way Lynne Ramsay is able to do that throughout. It’s funny when I saw You Were Never Really Here, the moment that reminded me of that moment in You Were Never Really Here is when Joaquin is finally in the mansion at the end. And there’s the shot of the dinner plate with like the little blood streaks on it. And it’s stuff like that, that you’re like, yes, it’s a hard world. It’s a violent world, the world has some of the worst people imaginable in it. But there’s still these little grace notes and these moments of like, empathy and joy within all of this badness. And that’s what you look for. And that’s what you sort of attach to through your life. But yeah, Morvern Callar I think is just like a perfect movie. I understand why it sort of launched her in a bigger way than Ratcatcher did. Ratcatcher is great, but it’s a more difficult watch, I would say. Whereas Morvern Callar you just have this unbelievable soundtrack and the cinematography is so gorgeous and you’re in this like very sunbaked Spain and you’re like, I would like to say fuck my life and go on a vacation with my best friend and see where the chips fall.

SLIM Yeah, I recently watched There’s Something About Kevin for the first time. And I think my review for that just kind of called Lynne Ramsay my David Cronenberg. [Kate & Gemma laugh] She does kind of like horror and emotion in a way that no other director can in my opinion, and I’ve seen Ratcatcher, I love that. But You Were Never Really Here, amazing film. I mean, I think the last 30 seconds of that movie are maybe some of the best 30 seconds in a film have ever seen. You know, that diner scene. Getting you to empathize with characters that maybe you don’t think you’ll ever be in a situation with. But you’re somehow right alongside them, you know the working class, isolated person as called out by Brendan, Letterboxd review: “Lynne’s a master the isolated working class person shifting through terrible events, like evaporating through a wall.” You know, she goes through this stuff and you’re like, oh, god, I would never do this. But then you’re like, well, I’ve never been in this situation, I don’t know! You never really know what you would do in this situation in her circumstance. And one of the notes too, I think that you called out in your Playboy piece was the sex scene in this movie. You know, she stumbles upon someone who is also going through an event. And they have this moment where they’re kind of both grieving. And then it cycles through this kind of like fun, jovial, love scene between the two of them. 

KATE Yeah, I mean, I think that’s like the tonal tight rope that you’re talking about with her stuff. It’s like, if if anybody else was doing this, it would not work, it would go too far in one direction or the other. But I don’t know I think we don’t like to talk about—we can barely talk about sex and movies, and to then try to explore sex from a POV of like, well, you know what, sometimes it isn’t always sunshine and roses. But that doesn’t mean it’s not important or healing or leads to some great revelation. And that’s what I think I love most about that scene is just like, clearly the guy she’s hooking up with is not in a great place, either. But they have this moment of, you know, it’s sort of like, touching infinite time together in the moment that their bodies are together and it’s like, oh well, you know, we can’t fix each other. We can’t fix each other’s problems, but we can like share this one sort of moment in this hotel room. And I love in that scene when we see her follow the ant on the wall, those sort of just like, tiny little things of just like, oh, we’re all part of this bigger conversation about life and the way we flow through it. But yeah, I mean, those are the kind of sex scenes to that I’m talking about. It’s not an explicit sex scene. It’s not over long. It’s not any of the sort of traditional billowing curtains and sexy jazz saxophone on the soundtrack. But it’s stuff like that, where it’s just the stuff of life. It’s not particularly titillating, it’s just, you know, a layer of human existence I would like to see. And yeah, I always appreciate how Lynne Ramsay explores these characters that you’re just like, how in the world am I going to attach to a, you know, a school shooter and the mother who like, you know, impacted that journey? How am I going to attach to this vigilante killer who’s just merciless in what he does, except for when we find what his soft spot is? And it’s an incredible feat to be able to do that. And I’m glad you mentioned Cronenberg. That’s a really interesting comparison that I hadn’t really considered before. But I think it’s a good one because it’s like all of these ideas of like, emotional violence. How do you externalize that? How do you show that? Obviously, Cronenberg goes in more of a supernatural direction, but they are closer I think then a lot of people would assume. I’m very excited than Ramsey is doing this Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon adaptation, because that’s such a psychological Stephen King book. And I think she is like the perfect person for that in terms of, you know, it’s so character based even if we’re going in a little bit more of a sort of genre direction.

SLIM Can’t wait.

GEMMA Every week on this show, I feel like I say thank you to our guest for one particular movie. And your final four—the final of your four favorites is that one for this episode. John Sayles’ 1983 high school to college romance, Baby It’s You. I just want to say thank you, Kate. This was my watch of the week.

KATE Aw. I’m so glad to hear it!

GEMMA I mean, it’s hard to find. And I don’t think I’ve ever really heard of it before and I do consider myself to be a bit of a 80s high school movie aficionado but this one just slipped through the cracks and I’m so grateful to you.

[music from Baby It’s You plays]

KATE Oh I’m so glad! This has been one of my movies the last three or four years that it’s just, I tell everybody about because it also took me a very long time to find it. It was something that my—I’m a big also ’80s teen movie fan and I was like oh, I’ve seen all of them. But it was one that my dad in the way that he like you know stumped for Near Dark for me, it was like you got to find this, you’re going to love this. But it was really hard to find! The way I saw it the first time was I rented it on VHS from Eddie Brand Saturday matinee in LA which no longer exists. And I was about six months out of a long term relationship that had lasted about seven years and was very much like the first big time relationship of my life. And getting to the end of Baby It’s You and having just the most cathartic cry I think I’ve had in a movie and maybe my life. I love this movie. I’m so sad this movie is not more widely available. I do think there’s an all in films blu-ray, but I’m not sure if it’s currently in print. But Baby It’s You is incredible guys. It kind of beats the ’80s teen movie wave. It’s 83. So it’s before you get into the real John Hughes thrust of everything. And it sort of anticipates what those movies are going to be. But it’s a much better version of all of them. And I think, you know, because it’s John Sayles, he’s like, oh, it’s a teen romance. This is a movie about like class and the structures that our lives put on us and the ways in which we function in those structures. Another movie that is made on the chemistry of its lead two actors Rosanna Arquette and Vincent Spano. Another movie with a great soundtrack that if there might be a theme, I do love a great soundtrack. [Gemma laughs] I think also the magic trick of Baby It’s You is that it doesn’t stop when high school stops it goes through the next couple of years and that is so rare in these kinds of movies to like be like okay, but what happens to these characters next? And so I love that we get the book end in the third act of this movie of seeing these characters as they get into their elder teen years in their lower 20s and the effect that they still have on each other. But yeah, Baby It’s You is an incredibly special film. I don’t know why we don’t talk about John Sayles all the time. Like he does not miss, he’s one of our greatest American filmmakers. He’s one of the few American filmmakers that actively has engaged with things like class, social structures failures of institutions throughout his career and like should be talked about like a Martin Scorsese. Like guys, look at the filmography! Every single one of these movies is really great. But I’m so glad that I could share a Baby It’s You with you and hopefully you will share it with more people and people listening will seek it out because it is kind of, for me at least, like the crown jewel of all those ’80s teen movies

GEMMA 100%. I think for especially given the age that we are, for a long time we were subjected to your classic rom-com with the classic happy ending and bookending those rom-coms are these films that acknowledge that love is more complicated and lives are more complicated and that actually people have their time together but that doesn’t necessarily last, and it’s okay to—I know that there’s a thing I always, you know, couples. My husband doesn’t really want to hear about any of my previous relationships, but for me every single person he was ever with brought him to me. And so I feel like it’s sort of deeply important to acknowledge those we have known. And I feel like Baby It’s You does that and in a sense for the character of Jill and also for Sheik. So Jill is a Jewish Jersey girl. Sheik is as an Italian American Jersey boy. They live in Trenton, New Jersey which is a working class town but very near Princeton, very near an Ivy League University. And he’s like—why does he even turn up in this? Does he even go to that school? [Slim laughs]

KATE Who can really say?

SLIM He shows up there, he might as well be the principal of that school. He walks around, he’s like grabbing food off people’s plates, wearing a suit. The whole movie I couldn’t even figure out if he went to that school. It was amazing.

GEMMA Man, and when he sees it for the first time, and then he steps up to her and his sharp suit and he’s just, he’s all business. He’s like, you. You are the one. And then this is an amazing moment, amazing conversation. Where she is, she’s an aspiring actress. She’s in the drama club. She gets the lead role in the school play. And meanwhile, she’s being distracted by this romance and her drama teacher pulls her aside at one point and says—

[clip of Baby It’s You plays]

TEACHER I heard a really distressing rumor in the faculty lounge the other day about you and some young man. 

JILL About me?

[clip of Baby It’s You ends]

GEMMA Essentially along the lines of he is right now, but this is your future and you need to focus on it. It’s one of those conversations we’ve probably all had in our time either at high school or university. I know I had one of those and you’re thinking and your lizard brain teenage years, you’re right. But actually those are the conversations that you think back on and go wow, I should have paid attention or glad I didn’t pay attention. Anyway, it’s just I love the complexity of it. 

KATE I’m so glad you brought up the point of like, movies about people that you don’t end up with in the long run because what does that even mean? Right? Like nobody knows if, you know, this is gonna be the one but this is the version of love that movie so often present us. But give me a bitter sweet love story any day of the week, because it’s just so much closer to the heart. It’s like, you know, I was talking about my previous long term relationship, but honestly, like the Sheik most reminds me of the guy I was attached to in high school that just like, oh god, there is no way we could have been together on a long term, but like, oh, you have such an impact on me in such a formative time. And like, I will never forget that. And I love too that Baby It’s You doesn’t pretend that the Sheik is a white-knight Sheik nor is Jill this like damsel in distress. Like the Sheik has got a lot of things to work out. The Sheik is like, not a great partner for anybody, because he can’t really deal with himself in the way that Jill—

GEMMA He’s also not that great of a lip syncer, either, to be honest.

KATE I know! I love when we see him, he’s just like, not very good at his job. 

GEMMA If you’re listening and you’re still not yet sold on seeking out what our Baby It’s Youand by the way, it actually is on iTunes and Prime to rent. So there you go. If you’re still not sold on it, and you watched Normal People, then this is your Normal People, but from 1983. Like it operates in that same space. High school through to college and they’re sort of acknowledgment that these that these people are so important to each other, that maybe can’t be together long term. And there’s a heartbreak and a joy in it. I don’t know, Slim, what did you think of this film?

SLIM I enjoyed it. I loved Rosanna Arquette in this.  And I thought about like what movies have I seen her in? Because I was struck by the date that she went on at the restaurant where she got really drunk. That was a hilarious and real moment of just like hanging out with people that you might not see again, you know, like this, this might not work out. The fact that they don’t end up together, you know, very real. And just those real relationships, they need to be represented more in film, especially mainstream film.

GEMMA One thing I often think about is how hungry, the world’s actresses, and indeed actors, must be all the goddamn time in order to conform to a standard that somebody somewhere has decided, is the standard by which you can be a leading lady or man on screen. And you created a list this year on Letterboxd called the cinematic canon for fat grrls, which is in fact, depressingly short as a list. I think, you know, the reasoning behind it is here are some roles were being large on screen as just part of the character. It’s not the butt of a joke. It’s not, you know, a transformation tale. It’s just who these actresses are. Do you want to talk a bit about it?

KATE It’s one of those things that it’s like you’re always sort of subconsciously aware of, but it’s kind of like the unspeakable. I feel like in Hollywood, like I love watching people’s expression change, like in professional context, when I refer myself as fat. And then they’ll, you know, if it’s a talking point later, will use words like plus size or curvy or all of those sort of, it’s like—bleh. Yeah, exactly. And, you know, I do not fit the Hollywood mold, like, I’m a short fat Midwesterner with a bunch of tattoos, who is not the most fashionable person in the world. And so to be in these rooms with people who are obsessed with image and obsessed with, you know, how much they’ve murdered their body, doing CrossFit, or how little they’ve eaten in a day, to see somebody like me just being like, “I’ll take two cookies, thank you!” is alarming to a lot of them. And I think that sort of bias and this call to perfection that’s been presented in Hollywood has a direct result on why we don’t see more of these characters in movies. You know, we were talking a bit about film finance. And I think that’s a huge part of it, too. You know, these sort of mysterious agency powers that be say Viola Davis might be worth more than Queen Latifah. And like, we can make the argument about things like box office revenue, roles, awards, accolades, like let’s have that conversation. But then you also have to think about the layer of just like, oh, is Queen Latifah not considered as financial as Viola Davis, because her body is bigger? Like is that the sort of the line in the sand? And yeah, there are breakouts like Melissa McCarthy, who sort of transcend traditional ideas of who’s bankable and who people want to see in an audience. But you know, Melissa McCarthy’s only been a star really for about fifteen years, and that’s all very new. And it’s very telling that a lot of the movies on that list I put together are from the last five to ten years. I mean, like I remember being a kid and going through like in the way back of like the IMDb list and be like oh, I’m gonna like comb through these lists for movies about fat girls, and it’s like, well, would you like to watch Hairspray, and have you also considered Hairspray? [Slim laughs] I found other stuff eventually. But it was hard. And just like feeling like, you know—I talk a bit about this in the piece, but it’s like, it is so beat into your brain from an early age when you’re a fat kid that like your life is not gonna start until you lose weight and you become the better version of yourself. And so you grow up for an entire childhood, just thinking that your story is not important until you lose weight, your story is never going to be validated until you lose weight, and you’re the idiot for even thinking that you should deserve to see that. It’s like, no, no, no, you need to assimilate and comply. And then maybe you can attach to some of these these movie and TV characters. But then things happen like I so vividly remember when Tumblr discovered My Mad Fat Diary. And I started watching it and I was like, oh my god, that’s a character I can relate to for literally the first time in my life, like as a 23-year-old. And that definitely got the wheels turning. But it’s just as we continue having all of these conversations around diversity and what representation actually means on screen. I really think in a lot of ways the conversation around fat bodies is the last—is at least one of the last lines that people have a hard time crossing, because people can’t talk about it in their own lives. They can’t deal with their own fatphobia. They can’t deal with their own body hatred. They can’t deal with all of these just sort of societal questions we have around bodies, and especially fat bodies. And so if they have to engage with it, when it comes to media, they’re like, oh, I’m just not gonna touch it. That’s too hard. But then you end up with a bunch of movies and TV that don’t represent most of the world’s fat population. And it just, it feels insane. It feels like you’re in this very weird vacuum of like, but what about me?

SLIM Right. The list that we’ll have linked to in the episode notes is short and I’ve only seen one of the movies. So I’ll call myself out right away.

KATE That’s the thing! They’re so obscure!

GEMMA Immediately after you published that list, I was like, can you can you write a few thousand words on that for us, Kate? And Kate diligently delivered 7,000 beautiful, urgent, gorgeous, rageful and hopeful words on why we need more fat girls on film.

SLIM Well worth the read. I read it today. Here’s the segment that I spotlighted. “If any other marginalized group was poorly represented as fat women on film, we would be storming the gates of every major studio and streamer in town. But because we as an audience haven’t even begun to deal with our own internalized fatphobia, explore an empathetic understanding of the fat experience, or the omniscient, oppressive diet culture that surrounds almost every interaction around food movement and bodies in our daily lives. Many viewers still see fat characters as a second class citizen.” And after reading the piece, I looked at the list. And I was like, oh, I’m a part of that. You know, I haven’t seen any of these films. And in the piece, you called out one movie, which I instantly added to my watchlist, which was She-Devil with Roseanne Barr, and you had talked about this movie, as you know, her, almost kind of being painted as the villain, but really comes out as like this really strong heroine. Can you kind of give a little background on this movie that I had never heard of until the piece?

KATE She-Devil is great. I think Susan Seidelman is one of the most underrated comedy directors of all time. She has such a specific sensibility when you watch all of her ’80s output in a row and you’re like, oh my god, like the industry absolutely did not pick up on what Susan Seidelman was doing. But yeah, I had seen She-Devil as a kid. We were a big Roseanne household. And I watched it and was like, oh, like this Roseanne character is not likable and like does a bunch of questionable things. But is the heroine of the movie? I don’t know what to do with that. Like, I’m still in this phase of like, I gotta change myself. It’s my fault I’m fat. I gotta fix this body. You know, until I can lose weight, I don’t deserve anything good. And then I was like, you know, ten or fifteen years before I saw She-Devil again and I had a completely different experience. But, you know, you even think about the way that movie was received at the time and the way Roseanne sort of was represented in the consciousness despite having one of the most successful TV shows. She was still seen as this just like, odious woman, like how dare you try to be a movie star? How dare you have this really successful sitcom? How dare you stay fat? And you know, I think She-Devil is so have seen is like it was supposed to be a launch for her movie career and then it didn’t materialize. But it’s a really interesting film to go back to, especially because it’s, you know, her rival in the movie is Meryl Streep who’s deeply unlikable and doing this very weird sort of comedic romantic novelist performance. But it’s interesting looking back at things like that, or like Roseanne the series and just being like, thank god, we had that at least, you know? Even if I didn’t like grapple with the implications of what it was saying. At least it was there to sort of be like, okay, it’s not just a total wilderness. There are other people out there like you who want to make stuff. But yeah, She-Devil is on another level of just like comedic wackiness that’s also coming from this very grounded character place.

GEMMA And Susan Seidelman is an absolute queen. I’ve been working on quite separately a long essay about breastfeeding on screen, and the ways in which it’s been ridiculed and made grotesque and mocked and turned into comedy and in horror, and the few positive and good examples we have of it over a history of cinema. And one of the things I find most interesting in terms of that issue and this issue is how, in real life, you have all of these women who work in this industry. So on the breastfeeding front, from Audrey Hepburn, who was breastfeeding on the seat of Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and was for many, many years with UNICEF as a champion of ensuring that babies were nourished in all of the possible ways they could be better, especially at the breast, right through to Ilana Glazer this year, posting on Instagram photos and her compression socks breastfeeding her three week old. And similarly, with fat girls and filmmaking, you’ve got even just this week alone, Lena Dunham on her Instagram writing extraordinary line that has lodged in my brain. “I say this for any other person whose appearance has been changed with time, illness or circumstance. It’s okay to live in your present body without treating it as transitional. I am and I’m really enjoying it.” And then you have Lizzo walking up in that fishnet see through dress to Cardi B’s birthday party, and I’m like, oh, here it is. We’re all out here in real life in this industry living who we are, how do we get that onto the screen?

KATE Yeah, I mean, for me a lot of it comes down to these financial models in the ways in which movies get financed at not at the studio level. I would love to think that we’re going to live in a utopia where, you know, five or ten years from now, like fat women are being cast as the lead in studio movies. But I think to get there, we need to have some independent films sort of in the gap or at least at those sort of, like smaller studio level. And in order to do that, like we need to change how we think about this stuff. We need to think that you know, somebody like Danielle MacDonald is every bit as financial as her thin peers in that same age bracket. We need to not just go to the sort of like, you know, standard pretty white lady list for a strong female lead. There’s just so many terrific actors that are being overlooked. And, you know, I’m talking about fat women. And historically, obviously fat men have fared better in film, but it’s not like they have some great utopia either. You know, for every Seth Rogen I’m sure they’re 100 super-talented, fat male actors who are not getting those opportunities.

GEMMA Yeah, I want to see a holiday romance where the Jack Black character is played by a lady. That’s what I want for Christmas. What do you want for Christmas, Kate Hagen?

KATE Oh, man. I mean, like, listen, if anybody wants to like give me some dollars to make an erotic thriller about a fat lady. I got some ideas.

GEMMA I changed my mind. I know what I want for Christmas. It’s an erotic thriller written, directed and produced by Kate Hagen. [Slim laughs] I am starting the GoFundMe Kickstarter right now. [Slim & Kate laugh]

[The Letterboxd Show theme music Vampiros Dancoteque by Moniker fades in, plays alone, fades down]

GEMMA And that is The Letterboxd Show for another week and thanks to our guest this episode, Kate Hagen. Jump on Letterboxd and have a read of Kate’s excellent new essay for us about why we need more fabulous fat leading ladies and films. Thanks to our crew. Composing dynamos Moniker for the theme music Vampiros Dancoteque. Thanks to Jack as always for the facts, our booker Linda Moulton for looking after our guests, and Sophie Shin for the episode transcript. And thank you for listening.

SLIM Shout out to NWorbb for listening closely to last week’s Chvrches episode and sending through a list of Films in the Splatter-Cannibal She-Devil Vein. We have sent you a gift card for another year of Letterboxd Pro. Also quick shout out to my dear friend Ian who says that The Exorcist chapter image from that episode is the first instance of a podcast and jumpscare. [Gemma & Slim laugh]

GEMMA Sorry, I was just looking at the image and got it like in real time.

SLIM Don’t forget you can follow Slim—that’s me—Gemma and our HQ page on Letterboxd using the links in our episode notes. The Letterboxd Show is a TAPEDECK production.

GEMMA And that’s the show. Hey, let’s go out into this crazy world of New Orleans, go to Ronnie’s and get a fried banana sandwich.

[clip of Wild at Heart plays]

SPARKY Bobby just rolled into town a couple days ago.

BUDDY Yeah Bobby here it’s most exciting night him to hit big tuna since the 86 cyclone shear the roof off the high school. 

LULA You from Texas Mr. Peru?

BOBBY I’m from all over. 

[TAPEDECK bumper plays] This is a TAPEDECK podcast.