On today’s podcast we’re talking about a long-running preoccupation of cinema: sex work. From Taxi Driver to Pretty Woman, sex workers have frequently appeared in the movies as both tragic and romantic figures, but rarely as, well, workers. Two recent releases offer a different, more complex perspective: Lizzie Borden’s 1986 cult classic Working Girls, which was restored and released in July, and Tsai Ming-liang’s latest feature, Days. 

We sat down with critics So Mayer and Sarah Fonseca to talk about the ways in which these films reflect on questions of labor, representation, performance, and care. The conversation quickly branched out to many more films, including Leilah Weinraub’s Shakedown, Hou Hsiao-hsien’s Flowers of Shanghai, Antonio Pietrangeli’s Adua and Her Friends, Fassbinder’s Querelle, and others.

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