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Movie Review: Porn Theater

Review for 'Porn Theater'
(no rating)
Porn Theater
Genre: Comedy Drama
Running Time: 88 min
MPAA rating: Unrated
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By "Chicago Tribune"

By Allison Benedikt, Tribune Staff Writer
"Porn Theatre," as the title suggests, is not for the sexually conservative. Not even for the sexually moderate liberal. It is, however, for the right crowd in the right mood, a very fine film.
Writer/director Jacques Nolot wrote "Porn Theatre" ("La Chatte a Deux Tetes") first as a short story, and it maintains that vignette feel, with characters developed but never completely discovered, shot with a meandering eye.
The characters are male patrons of a porn movie house in Paris. All of them - black, white, Arab, Asian, young, old, skinny, buff, transvestite, transsexual - float into the theater's lobby, pay the omniscient cashier (Vittoria Scognamiglio) and disappear through yellowed double doors, taking us along. Like a choreographed dance, most pull lighters or matches from their pockets - flick - and check seats for the remnants of anonymous men who came before them.
Nolot's theater, a character unto itself, is filled with moans in the darkness, the air thick with sweat and smoke. The sex on screen is heterosexual, but off screen - in the seats, the shadows of the aisles and the bathroom - it's all gay, leading a cop who stops by for a routine sweep to ask, "Why don't these faggots see gay films?"
The answer, though never explicitly stated, is that many of these men are presumably straight in the world outside of the theater, stealing away to the movies for anonymous sex under the cover of dimmed lights and typical macho entertainment. Nolot provides no back stories, but one can assume that many of these men have wives and children along with their sodomy.
Then there are the drag queens, and the drag queens on their way to becoming better drag queens through the magic of hormone therapy. They cruise the rows, looking for men clutching their crotches in lust with money to spend on a stand-in woman.
It's a difficult movie to watch: perverse and sexually charged - a confusing turn-on at times - but also slowly suffocating. Nolot knows this, and when the heat and the smoke and the stifling sexual tension get too overwhelming, he gives us air.
Back through the double doors, passing two men in the vestibule, we're in the lobby again, able to breathe. Here is where Nolot attempts to give us deeper glimpses into three of his nameless characters: a 50-year-old gigolo (Nolot) tired of the game, infected with HIV but comfortable only in the dark theater; the cashier who covets him; and the young, sexually naive, male projectionist whom the cashier uses to attract the gigolo.
Out in the comparatively bright, carpeted lobby, the three exchange stories, philosophize and drink whiskey. But their conversations are plodding, and the pull of those double doors is strong. Though we learn specifics about the lobby's threesome - where they're from, whom they've slept with - and watch them connect in a traditional sense, in "Porn Theatre," the most revealing moments unfold between strangers in the dark.
"Porn Theatre"
Written and directed by Jacques Nolot; photographed by Germain Desmoulins; edited by Sophie Reine; music by Nino; produced by Pauline Duhault. In French, with English subtitles. A Strand release; opens Friday. Running time: 1:30. No MPAA rating (strong sexual content, language, adult themes).
50-year-old man - Jacques Nolot
Cashier - Vittoria Scognamiglio
Projectionist - Sebastien Viala

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(no rating) Feb 26, 2009 - Chicago Tribune

"Porn Theatre," as the title suggests, is not for the sexually conservative. Not even for the sexually moderate liberal. It is, however, for the right crowd in the right mood, a very fine film.

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