Kat and Samm return from a lengthy hiatus with this personal, boisterous episode that explores desire, consent, and sexuality by comparing two very different films: Nelson Lyon’s forgotten erotic classic, The Telephone Book (1971), and Paul Verhoeven’s challenging rape-revenge drama, Elle (2016). Made early in the porno chic period, before mainstream titles like Deep Throat (1972), The Telephone Book follows a young woman who becomes the target of an obscene caller. Instead of feeling victimized, she’s excited by the encounter and goes on a ribald odyssey through New York City to find her loquacious love.
And though Elle’s approach is quite different, Kat and Samm discuss how it serves as an important counter example to the idea that such films can’t be made in recent years. Marking Verhoeven’s return to filmmaking in a decade, Elle stars the great Isabelle Huppert as Michele Leblanc, an unconventional business executive who is raped in her home by a masked attacker. Refusing to see herself as a victim, Michele becomes determined to learn her rapist’s identity and uncover his potential motivations. Hovering somewhere between domestic drama, rape revenge film, and black comedy, Elle explores complicated notions of power, consent, and intimacy.
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