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Directed by Bette Gordon

United States 1983 97 mins. In English

From a viciously layered script by legendary playwright and novelist Kathy Acker and featuring a who’s-who crew of the downtown scene like John Lurie (music), Tom DiCillo (cinematography), Spalding Gray and Luis Guzman (small roles), Gordon’s debut feature is a landmark feminist film following Christine (Sandy McLeod), a young woman who takes a job selling tickets at an all-night adult movie theater. Christine slowly begins to develop an interest in what goes on inside the theater, putting her relationship to the test—a development countered and brushed aside as she becomes increasingly obsessed with a frequent theater-goer who seems to be connected to the mafia. With Variety, “the specific question is ‘how do men change when women move into spaces that were previously theirs?’ and while the film doesn’t have all the answers, it forces us as viewers to investigate for ourselves through images how these men become more cautious around a woman, and in some cases more cunning, lecherous, and hate-filled. Christine’s power as a woman in this space is that she’s asserting her body’s right to exist among men, and in that regard it’s one of the most deeply layered, complex pictures in the wake of women moving into the workforce.”—Willow Catelyn Maclay, Mubi Notebook.

Appears in: Essential Cinema