I know this is Cafe Society and not the Pit, but c’mon. Take that shot in context of the audio tracks happening around it, AND in context of the time period that they keep referring to, AND in context of what the two men are doing.
The Roaring 20’s were known as such for a reason. A lot of partying, illegal boozing and such. Although Prohibition was in force, people still found ways to cut loose.
To me, that shot is shocking because it hits the viewer with subliminal urgent messages. “Unmask, Unmask” indeed- the two men are engaged in oral sex. The shot is brief, but if you either remember it fully or watch it in slow-motion tracking in VHS or DVD you will see that just as the cut happens and you are brought to that shot, one man’s face is buried in the other man’s lap. There is no exposure of genitalia, however as you are hearing " Unmask, Unmask", ( to me at least ), we’re being told that these men are coming out of the closet. To each other, and to us. The elaborate costumes only serve to heighten the drama of that moment.
They don’t pull a face or laugh outrageously, they simply stop what they are both doing and stare at us. It’s a defiance, a challenge to stop judging and just let them be.
I’ve watched Kubrick’s “The Shining” over a dozen times on tape, and seen it screened several times. For personal ( and former career reasons ) it was very important for me to dig as much information on the style and shooting of that movie out as I could.
My two cents.