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A tale set in a decaying Parisian porn theatre, where within its dark confines, male patrons--soldiers, transvestites, married men--regularly engage in anonymous sex acts. In the ticket booth of the theatre, a wise Italian woman serves as benevolent gatekeeper, observing--but never judging--the proceedings occurring under her watchful eyes. One day, one of her regulars engages her in a conversation that leads to an unusual friendship, as these two worldly souls share their common experiences. Written by
Sujit R. Varma
A Sector the Kinsey Report Missed: The World of Genet and Gide
'La Chatte à deux têtes' (PORN THEATER) is a somber study of a sector of life few know, an aspect of human sexuality that didn't make it into the Kinsey Report, a part of the underbelly of city life most would rather not accept existed. Does that mean it should not be examined, should not provide the impetus for an art film? Writer/director and actor Jacques Nolot thinks otherwise. In this dark little film we are invited into the inner sanctum of a dirty old movie house in Paris that shows only straight pornography for a clientele of men of various types: military men, straight men look for gay sex, married men in need of exploration of their senses, transvestites, old men for whom such places provide the only sexual outlet, and the regulars who spend their evenings in the dingy darkened atmosphere for anonymous sex.
The theater is a theater of life for these people, and the 'stage manager' is the sole female Italian ticket cashier (Vittoria Scognamiglio) who has seen every aspect of sexuality, embraced it, and therefore is wholly non-judgmental. She converses with her straight projectionist (Sébastien Viala) who is attracted to her on several levels, and with one of her regulars (Jacques Nolot), a man of fifty who is living with AIDS in a responsible way, but finds his only sexual outlet to be this theater scene. During the course of the film the cashier manages to discuss her open views of sexuality with these two men and the three of them seem headed for a communal experience.
This open view of human behavior is set with the background of the various acts within the theater. We watch transsexuals ply their wares, group encounters in bathrooms, and various odd approaches and rejections for gratification that in the end represent a group of men who find connection to each other as human beings far more difficult (?impossible?) than quick satisfaction in the dark. There is considerable frank acting out of encounters that are usually not seen on film and that may be more than the regular viewer can tolerate. But at least one director has the courage of Genet and Gide and Burroughs et al to tackle this subject matter in a wholly realistic way. The result is a film of social significance, even though it may not be for everyone. It is an art film, very well made, with a brave cast and an even braver writer and director. To not see it is to miss some important messages about human sexuality and about human needs too frequently dismissed as non-existent. In French with English subtitles. Grady Harp
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