Woman in Revolt
A Podcast About Women in Film & TV

E13 Holidaze: 'Home for the Holidays' & 'Happiest Season'

“Home for the Holidays” is a 1995 film written by W. D. Richter (based on a story by Chris Radant) and directed by Jodie Foster. It’s about a woman named Claudia (Holly Hunter) who loses her art restoration job at a museum before going from Chicago to Baltimore to spend Thanksgiving with her family. Her parents, played by Anne Bancroft (who is fantastic) and Charles Durning, are well-meaning but kind of suffocating and not super attuned to what’s going on with their children. Her brother, Tommy (Robert Downey Jr.), is gay and seems to use immature humor as a coping mechanism while with his family. His longtime boyfriend isn’t with him and Claudia assumes this means they’ve broken up. Instead of his boyfriend, he brings some guy he works with named Leo Fish (Dylan McDermott), home. Claudia assumes they are together and treats Leo with a heavy dose of skepticism. Claudia and Tommy’s sister, Joanne (Cynthia Stevenson) is a super judgmental homophobe who is unhappy with her life and treats everyone else like garbage as a result. Family tensions collide at Thanksgiving dinner, but there is of course a happy ending. It turns out that Leo is not Tommy’s boyfriend, but a friend who saw a picture of Claudia and wanted to meet her. The movie ends with Leo boarding Claudia’s flight back to Chicago and asking if they can spend more time together. We also find out that Tommy is actually married to his longtime boyfriend but didn’t want to subject him to the madness of his family at Thanksgiving. It’s one of those movies that is not super compelling plot-wise but has a lot of great, small moments thanks in great part to the cast. It’s also fun to see actors like Claire Danes, who plays Claudia’s daughter, and Steve Guttenberg, who plays Joanne’s husband, pop up briefly.

“Happiest Season” is a 2020 film written by Mary Holland (based on a story by Clea DuVall, who also directed). It’s about a Pittsburgh couple named Abby (Kristen Stewart) and Harper (Mackenzie Davis) who have been dating for a while and decide to spend Christmas together for the first time. Harper invites Abby, whose parents are both dead, to her family’s house but neglects to mention that they don’t know she’s gay until they are already en route. Not only does she ask Abby to pretend they’re just roommates, she also requests that she pretend to be straight. As you can imagine, this creates several toxic, uncomfortable scenarios for Abby, who spends most of the movie floundering around, neglected, while Harper panders to her pretentious, narcissistic parents (played by Mary Steenburgen and Victor Garber), fights with her competitive sister (Alison Brie), and flirts with her ex-boyfriend (Jake McDorman) who shows up everywhere. Abby’s only allies are her hilarious friend, John (Dan Levy), and Riley (Aubrey Plaza), one of Harper’s high school ex-girlfriends who was also damaged by her dishonesty. Despite the total shit show that Abby is forced to endure, Harper does eventually come out to her parents and the film ends with everyone magically happy and smiling one year later. Harper and Abby are engaged and the whole blended family (including John) is at the movies together as some horribly cheesy song plays.

Other shit we mentioned:

E12 Teen Favorites: 'Teen Witch' With Candace Jane Opper

Louise (Robyn Lively) is a high school student who longs to be one of the cool kids but is teased or ignored by everyone … until she turns sixteen and finds out she’s a witch. With her new powers and the help of her psychic mentor, Madame Serena (Zelda Rubinstein), Louise has the ability to get everything she’s ever wanted. But do love and acceptance hold the same weight when they’re not earned organically? This kooky '80s movie has everything you could ever want: boys throwing footballs in midriff hoodies, rap battles between white people, choreographed musical numbers, one extremely overzealous child actor, and a classroom full of teens shouting “CONDOMS, CONDOMS.” It’s like a proto-”Jawbreaker” mixed with “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” and “Sixteen Candles.” It is batshit crazy, defies genre, and is something I would have watched 10,000 times had I seen it at the right age.

Here are some things we mentioned during the episode that we think you should check out:

For some reason, we never talked about the movie poster, which features Louise riding a broom even though this is something she never does in the film. As far as we know, she's not that kind of witch. The '80s were fucking weird and I wish I was around for more of them.

E11 New French Extremity: 'Trouble Every Day' With Dr. Kate Robertson

“Trouble Every Day” (2001), co-written by Claire Denis and Jean-Pol Fargeau and directed by Denis, follows the intersecting stories of two couples: Léo (Alex Descas) and Coré (Beatrice Dalle) Semeneau and Shane (Vincent Gallo) and June (Tricia Vessey) Brown. Shane and Léo previously met on a research expedition to the South American jungle in search of a plant that would lead to a breakthrough in neurobiology. Léo led the expedition and Shane was there on behalf of a US pharmaceutical company. When the film begins, the Browns are on their honeymoon in Paris, but we eventually learn that it’s all just an excuse so that Shane can find Léo. It turns out that at some point, Shane was infected with the disease that Léo is working to solve through his research and that his own wife, Coré also suffers from. The disease creates an unquenchable hunger in its host, compelling them to fuck, murder, and consume people. Eventually, Shane finds the Semeneau house, but Léo isn’t there … it’s just Coré, alone, covered in blood, and wandering around in a daze.

While I was able to summarize it, this isn’t the type of film that has a clear plot with spelled out motivations. Many questions are left unanswered and certain story threads never quite come together. The film is less about a linear narrative and more about feelings, overarching themes, and fleeting impressions.

Here are some things we mentioned during the episode that we think you should check out:

Other films we recommend watching if "Trouble Every Day" piqued your interest:

  • "In My Skin" (Marina de Van, 2002) -- Lindsay's favorite NFE
  • "The Addiction" (Abel Ferrara, 1995) -- Young Edie Falco!
  • "Dressed to Kill" (Brian De Palma, 1980)
  • "Shivers" (David Cronenberg, 1975)
  • "Un Chien Andalou" (Luis Buñuel, 1929)
  • "Cat People" (Jacques Tourneur, 1942)
  • "Poison" (Todd Haynes, 1991)
  • "Raw" and "Titane" (Julia Ducournau, 2016 and 2021)
  • "A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night" (Ana Lily Amirpour, 2014)
  • "Caché" (Michael Haneke, 2005)
  • "Fat Girl" (Catherine Breillat, 2001)
  • "The Hunger" (Tony Scott, 1983)
  • "After Midnight" (Jeremy Gardner and Christian Stella, 2019)
  • "Spring" (Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead, 2014)
  • "Crimson Peak" (Guillermo del Toro, 2015) -- Mia Wasikowska!

E10 Video Nasty: 'The Witch Who Came from the Sea'

TW: child sexual abuse by a parent

In "The Witch Who Came from the Sea" (1976), written by Robert Thom and directed by Matt Cimber, Molly (Millie Perkins) confronts her childhood trauma in unsettling and destructive ways. Through flashbacks and conversations with her sister, Cathy (Vanessa Brown), we learn that the sea captain father Molly idolizes was actually an abusive piece of shit. Unable to acknowledge the reality of her childhood, Molly creates a fictional world in her head that begins to splinter when her own violent impulses take form. Based on the poster and the film's video nasty status, I expected something titillating that favors style over substance. Instead, I got a character-driven meditation on the downsides of trying to compartmentalize abuse.

Here are some things we mentioned during the episode and/or that we think you should check out:

Assorted fun facts that we didn't get to mention:

  • Matt Cimber is the co-creator and director of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling (GLOW) professional wrestling promotion and syndicated television series (the OG, not the Netflix show).
  • Robert Thom wrote the scripts for four of the most significant and best of the drive-in exploitation movies: 1968's “Wild in the Streets” (Barry Shear), 1970's “Bloody Mama” (Roger Corman), 1975's “Death Race 2000” (Paul Bartel), and 1975's “Crazy Mama” (Jonathan Demme).
  • Young Molly (Verkina Flower) and Molly’s dad (George 'Buck' Flower) were played by real life father and daughter. George ‘Buck’ Flower was also the casting director and known for playing a lot of drunk/homeless roles. He previously worked with Matt Cimber on “The Candy Tangerine Man” (1975) and had a cameo in almost every ‘80s John Carpenter movie. Verkina Flower went on to act in other drive-in exploitation films but then started working more steadily as a costume designer. Notably, she was a wardrobe supervisor for a few episodes of Nickelodeon's “All That” in the early aughts.
  • The Boathouse restaurant was also featured in “Funny Girl” (1968), “They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?” (1969), “The Sting” (1973), “Forrest Gump” (1994) and “The Majestic” (2001).

E9 Video Nasty: 'Possession'

In Andrzej Żuławski’s "Possession" (1981), Anna (Isabelle Adjani) and Marc (Sam Neill) are a married couple in turmoil. When Marc, some kind of international spy (it’s never specified) comes home to West Berlin after a mission in East Berlin, he and Anna are on thin ice. Marc suspects she’s having an affair and when he finds confirmation of this news, has a brief depressive spiral. Their son, Bob (Michael Hogben), seems to be the only thing keeping both of them in contact with each other, although he is severely neglected by both throughout the film. In Anna’s absence, Marc clings to other women like Helen, Bob’s teacher (also played by Adjani), who is Anna’s double but with lighter hair, eyes, and a more easy-going attitude; and Margie, Anna’s best friend who pops in as a surrogate caregiver when Marc needs her. In order to figure out WTF is going on with Anna, Marc decides to hire a detective to look into her whereabouts/affairs. What he finds is more than Marc could have ever predicted. Not only is Anna killing men, she’s feeding parts of them to a monster that she is also fucking. The monster is a project and when “ready,” will become Marc’s double … the version of him that Anna finds most palatable. The film’s structure has been compared to that of a spiral staircase (a common visual in many Żuławski films, including this one) … at each new level, it builds on what is already there, transcending to something the same but different.

Here are some things we mentioned during the episode and/or that we think you should check out:

Other cerebral horror movies about fucked up relationships where people try to possess each other:

  • Lars von Trier’s “Antichrist” (2009)
  • David Cronenberg’s “The Brood” (1979)
  • Nicolas Roeg’s “Don’t Look Now” (1973)
  • Claire Denis’ “Trouble Every Day” (2001)
  • Roman Polanski’s “Bitter Moon” (1992)
  • Ingmar Bergman’s “Through a Glass Darkly” (1961)

Other cerebral horror movies about women losing their shit:

  • Roman Polanski’s “Repulsion” (1965) and “Rosemary’s Baby” (1968)
  • David Fincher’s “Gone Girl” (2014)
  • Julia Ducournau’s "Raw" (2017) and “Titane” (2021)
  • David Lynch’s "Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me" (1992), “Mulholland Drive” (2001), and “Inland Empire” (2008)
  • Ingmar Bergman's "Persona" (1966)

E8 Queer Horror: 'Alucarda'

"Alucarda" (1975) opens on a woman (Tina Romero) who has just given birth and knows she’s not long for this world. She asks an old man who is with her to make sure her child, named Alucarda, goes to live in the local convent. The mother, presumably speaking of the devil, says, “Don’t let him take her away.” After the old man leaves with the baby, the scene that transpires suggests that an evil force has come for the mother. Slithering, death rattle-like noises intensify and there are quick edits between close-ups of the mother’s face and the faces of cobwebbed statues in the room.

After the title cards, the film jumps forward 15 years. Alucarda (also played by Tina Romero) has been living at the convent. When Justine (Susana Kamini), another orphan around the same age, arrives, Alucarda bonds with her instantly. When the two stumble upon the place where Alucarda’s mother died, they release a satanic force that possesses them and wreaks havoc upon the convent. The film, directed and co-written by Juan Lopez Moctezuma, has become a cult classic over the years, especially following the 2002 DVD release from media distributor Mondo Macabro. Underlying themes are breaking free from tradition (the Catholic Church, heteronormativity) by burning it all down in an attempt to embrace individuality (queer identity, atheism, feminism).

Here are some things we mentioned during the episode and/or that we think you should check out:

  • This piece on the history of nunsploitation films by James Newton
  • Sheridan Le Fanu's "Carmilla" (1872), edited by Carmen Maria Machado (2019)
  • This bizarre/incredible interview with Carmen Maria Machado
  • A tiny bit of information on "Alucardos: Retrato de un vampiro" (2011), the fan-made documentary about Juan López Moctezuma (kinda)

Here are some other films we mentioned during the episode:

  • "The Devils" (Ken Russell, 1971)
  • "The Exorcist" (William Friedkin, 1973) — Sound effects engineer, Gonzalo Gavira, worked on this film, along with "El Topo," and "Alucarda."
  • "Fando y Lis" (1968), "El Topo" (1970), "The Holy Mountain" (1973), and "The Dance of Reality" (2013) — all by Alejandro Jodorowsky. You should probably also watch "Jodorowsky's Dune" (2013), Frank Pavich's documentary about this fucking weirdo and his quest to make the most absurd, impossible adaptation of "Dune"
  • "Possession" (1981, Andrzej Żuławski)
  • "Frankenstein" (1931, James Whale)
  • "Child's Play" (1988, Tom Holland)
  • "Scream" (1996, Wes Craven)
  • "Black Narcissus" (1947, Powell and Pressburger)
  • "The Mansion of Madness" (1973) and "Mary, Mary, Bloody Mary" (1974) are Moctezuma's other most popular films.
  • The film that Jo mentioned where someone takes a two-minute shit onscreen is Wim Wenders' "Kings of the Road" (1976).

If you know anything about Alexis Arroyo, please email us at [email protected]!

E7 Teen Favorites: 'Tender Mercies'

"Tender Mercies" (1983) is about a former successful musician named Mac Sledge (Robert Duvall) who lost everything good in his life due to alcohol. When the film opens, he and a friend are staying in a motel, getting drunk and fighting while the proprietor, Rosa Lee (Tess Harper), and her young son, Carl (known as Sonny, played by Allan Hubbard), watch from their porch. When the friend skips out before paying the bill the next day, Mac offers to work for Rosa Lee in order to compensate for the room. She agrees, but tells him that he can’t drink while he’s working there.

Thus begins Mac’s slow streak of improving his life. He sticks with sobriety, marries Rosa Lee, and starts writing music again. It’s the kind of movie that’s not really plot-driven … more slice of life, at arm’s length, character study about Mac’s quiet redemption. Other highlights are Betty Buckley, who plays Mac’s successful country star ex-wife, Dixie, and Ellen Barkin as Mac’s estranged teen daughter, Sue Ann. The screenplay is written by Horton Foote, who won the best adapted screenplay Oscar for “To Kill a Mockingbird” in 1962. He also won a best original screenplay Oscar for “Tender Mercies” in 1983 and has a Pulitzer Prize for drama for his play, “The Young Man From Atlanta” and an Emmy for a TV adaptation of William Faulkner’s “Old Man.” The director, Bruce Beresford (who we completely forgot to mention by name — sorry, Bruce), is probably best known for “Driving Miss Daisy” (1989), although my personal favorite film of his is “Double Jeopardy” (1999).

Here are some things we mentioned during the episode and/or that we think you should check out:

Some interesting trivia:

  • Duvall’s only Oscar is for this film. He had been nominated for the following films (but did not win): “The Godfather” (1972), “Apocalypse Now” (1979), “The Great Santini” (1979), “The Apostle” (1997), “A Civil Action” (1998), and “The Judge” (2014).
  • Duvall’s contract stipulated that all of the songs had to be sung by him.
  • “Over You,” the song Dixie performs at the Opry, was also nominated for an Oscar.
  • Duvall wrote two of Mac's songs, "Fool's Waltz" and "I've Decided to Leave Here Forever.” Others were country classics and not written for the film.
  • Universal Studio lost faith in the film after it performed poorly at test screenings. They also sort of ignored Willie Nelson’s offers to promote the film.
  • David Lynch was a contender for director at one point. Can you imagine this film with him at the helm? Actually, it probably would have been like “The Straight Story" (1999).
  • The film was selected to screen in competition for the prestigious Palme d'Or (Golden Palm) Award at the Cannes Film Festival in 1983.
  • Robert Duvall made his official cinema movie debut as Arthur "Boo" Radley in “To Kill a Mockingbird” (1962), whose screenplay was written by Horton Foote.
  • Horton Foote and Duvall worked together on five projects: “TKAM,” William Faulkner’s “Tomorrow” (1972), “Tender Mercies,” “The Midnight Caller” (play, 1958 debut), and “The Chase” (1966, based on his 1956 novel).
  • Tess Harper and Bruce Beresford worked together on three films: “Tender Mercies,” “Crime of the Heart” (1986), and “Alibi” (1989). 
  • Jeannine Oppewall was hired as art director. Beresford praised her as "absolutely brilliant," especially for her attention to very small details, "going from the curtains to the color of the quilts on the floors." It was Oppewall who named the motel Mariposa, Spanish for "butterfly," which symbolizes the spiritual resurrection Mac Sledge would experience there. Oppewall has four academy award nominations for best art direction:  "Seabiscuit" (2003), "LA Confidential" (1997), "Pleasantville" (1998), and "The Good Shepherd" (2006).

E6 Teen Favorites: 'Jawbreaker'

In Darren Stein's 1999 cult classic, "Jawbreaker," Courtney (Rose McGowan), Marcie (Julie Benz), and Julie (Rebecca Gayheart) kidnap their best friend, Lizz Purr (Charlotte Ayanna) on her birthday and end up accidentally killing her. The original plan was to tie Liz up, throw her in the trunk of Courtney’s car, and drive her to a local coffee shop for some pancakes. Only ... when the girls open the trunk, ready to take a surprised pic of Liz on a Polaroid camera, she’s completely unresponsive, choked to death on a jawbreaker that Courtney used as a makeshift gag. While Marcie and Courtney freak the fuck out, Courtney coolly devises a plan for how they’ll handle the situation. What she doesn’t account for is nerdy Fern Mayo (Judy Greer) catching the girls in the midst of the cover up and throwing a wrench in their plans.

Here are some things we mentioned during the episode:

  • As of now, the full movie is available for free on YouTube.
  • We highly recommend watching the ModernGurlz video breakdown of the film's iconic fashion and the way it's used to complement the character development.
  • Vice's oral history of the film is excellent.
  • EW's oral history is also worth reading, especially for the comments from costume designer Vikki Barrett.
  • This is not "Jawbreaker" specific, but cinematographer Amy Vincent did a quick interview for ARRI Cameras that is worth watching if you're interested in learning more about her.
  • This Paste article by Carli Scolforo is an interesting comparison of "Jawbreaker" and "Jennifer's Body."

Also, IDK what I was thinking ... "Jawbreaker" came out on DVD shortly after the VHS release. I probably did watch it on DVD, but who knows. My memories from the early aughts are hazy at best. I can't even remember the last name of the boyfriend I first watched this movie with.

Oh, and to give you an idea of how wild the late '90s were when it comes to teen movies, here are some others that came out right before or after "Jawbreaker" in 1999:

  • “Cruel Intentions” (Roger Kumble)
  • “Drop Dead Gorgeous” (​​Michael Patrick Jann)
  • “Election” (Alexander Payne)
  • “But I'm a Cheerleader” (Jamie Babbit)
  • “She’s All That” (Robert Iscove)
  • “Never Been Kissed” (Raja Gosnell)
  • “American Pie” (Paul Weitz)
  • “Drive Me Crazy” (John Schultz)
  • “Varsity Blues” (Brian Robbins)
  • “10 Things I Hate About You” (Gil Junger)
  • “Dick” (Andrew Fleming)
  • “Teaching Mrs. Tingle” (Kevin Williamson)
  • “Idle Hands” (Rodman Flender)
  • This was also the same year Ryan Murphy’s “Popular” premiered.
E5 30th Anniversary: 'A League of Their Own'
E4 Queer Classics: 'The Watermelon Woman'
E3 Deep Dive: Maila Nurmi AKA Vampira
E2 Recent TV: 'Conversations with Friends'
E1 2022 Favorites: 'Anaïs in Love'