This movie is part of an ongoing trend in Brazilian cinema (and arts) - the artistic representation of the low brow poor (in this case northeastern) other for the consumption of the high brow modern Brazilian art consumer. It is a motif of Brazilian art that goes at least as far back as Aluizio Azevedo's depictions of 19th century poor people in Casa de Pensao and o Cortico (and includes paintings by Portinari and books by authors like Graciliano Ramos). When done right, I suppose such art serves to bridge the gap between the represented other - the Sertanejo, the urban poor, the nordestino - and the art consumer - the urban Paulistano or Carioca moviegoer or book reader. When done right, the sophisticated, urban Brazilian consumer might feel more empathy with and sympathy for the social classes whose very selection as the object of artistic representation is testament to great distance that separates such modern, urban Brazilians from the people whose lives are represented in such films and books.
But this film does it all wrong. Every character in the film produces a certain repulsion in the viewer. We are shown the grotesque private perversions of each character, their crude habits, lack of manners, lack of morals, and secret fantasies - there is the necrophiliac, the drunken leftists, the girl who never wears panties, the girl whose sexual fantasies include raping a man with a hair brush handle, the uncontrollably faithless and disloyal husband, the corrupt city bureacrat, the ridiculously stereotyped gay cook, the hotel owner who uses his underwear as a wallet, the old lady who masturbates with an oxygen machine, the girl who can only form sexual and emotional attachments to married men... the list goes on. The style of the plotting was very Altman-esque, but that where Robert Altman sought to give a cross-section of society in "Short Cuts", here we are left with Azevedo's "O Cortico" recreated as the "Texas Hotel" and "Avenida Bar" in the 21st century. This movie is just a widening of the psychological gap between rich and poor, nordestino and Paulistano/carioca, a gap that continues to warp Brazilian social life. It is disappointing to see artists reinforce so many stereotypes in their art.