Friday, August 2, 2013

Walter Hugo Khouri - Men and Women (Noite Vazia, 1964)

Men and Women (1964)

I'm really in pure disbelief that something this definitive in its subject matter (the old battle of the sexes) could have been made 50 years ago. It's one of the strongest statements on society's deeply rooted sexism and the complicity on both sides that perpetuates it.

In it, two married men prowl the streets of Sao Paulo looking for sex. They turn down some advances at a couple of bars, preferring something "unfamiliar". They finally find two prostitutes at a teahouse, and bring them back to a 'communal apartment'.

The two men, one a little older, fatter, insecure, and ragingly sexist, the other, younger, more handsome, and reluctant, then begin the game with the women. They swap partners, watch porn, even pay the two women to have sex with each other, ever seeking the more out-of-the-ordinary thrill.

The drama progresses as both parties, so strongly willed, engage in a game of progression and resistance/acceptance.

This is the first film by Walter Hugo Khouri, and something that I could only imagine would have had its actors and director alike arrested in the United States if it were even attempted to be filmed here when it was made. It would certainly never have been approved within the Hollywood system, and judging by the reaction to the tame Lolita by religious groups, surely, the Right's collective head would have exploded if it were ever shown here. And on top of that, the sex and nudity that's present isn't even explicit, but just too . . . honest.

I could never, ever recommend a film more highly than this one.

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