Vinagre’s film “Novo Dubai,” from Brazil, playing at The Art of the Real program,
opens with a guy giving a rimjob at a construction site. The scene is followed
by one in which the two guys talk about fucking their hot fathers. Later in the
film, one of the guys actually does
fuck his friend’s father against a car in a graphic sex scene. It is hardly the
most erotic moment in this compelling film, which includes many raging erections,
anal sex scenes, masturbatory moments (one on a bridge includes a cum shot into
passing traffic), and a disturbing episode in which a realtor is abused and forced
to perform fellatio.
Vinagre is not shy when it comes to
presenting the grittiness of these sexual escapades. He films them in a raw style
that gives the film its texture. From video clips of the Miley Cyrus “Wrecking
Ball” video to a shot of a field as seen through the stream of one man
urinating, the film assembles a series of images to create meanings about
building up and breaking down of society.
“Novo Dubai” is also candid when it comes in the film’s periodic
interview sequences. A handful of construction workers talk about their obvious
desire to live in the expensive condos they are building. Another man talks
about being gang raped as a youth, with some surprising revelations. There are
also scenes of a shirtless tattooed youth recounting the plots of horror films
from “The Suicide Club” and the “Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” to “Scream” and “A
Nightmare on Elm Street.” A young man with the words “TRUST NO ONE” tattooed in
big block letters across his chest is interviewed about his poetry and life.
How Vinagre juxtaposes these
individuals with explicit sex scenes is admittedly haphazard, and it is tough
to feel much emotion for these individuals, especially the ones who have
fleeting appearances. But “Novo Dubai” is certainly compelling as viewers not
put off by the crude footage wait to see where this peculiar film will go next.
The climax, in particular, is shocking, and it raises the question: How much in
the film is art and how much is artifice? If Vinagre is ultimately coy in this
regard, it only makes his fascinating film more intriguing.
“Novo Dubai” plays at Art of the
Real Thursday April 23, at 9:30 pm with the short “Androids Dream.” Gustavo
Vinagre will do a post-screening Q&A.