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This film promotes itself suggesting it re-imagines the 40 minutes
excised from the movie "Crusing". It is actually a contrived and boring
"behind the scenes" making of 10 re-imagined minutes from the original
movie and, as shown, I highly doubt they are what Friedkin would have
The re-shot "Crusing" minutes are provocative and very sexually explicit, but they don't make up for the other 50 minutes where we watch the straight actor in the Al Pachino role trying to come to terms with taking on a gay-themed role.
I thought the 60 minutes of this movie would never end.
I saw this film at the Berlinale film festival 2013, where I felt myself severely misled by the synopsis on the festival website. I saw a lot of meta-talk about cruising, about straight actors playing a gay role, about an actor being advised against getting involved in the project for the sake of his future career, and so on, with emphasis on "meta" and "about". And the bit of sex that was shown, was in a dancing atmosphere and not the traditional dark room. Maybe offensive for straight people but not very explicit, yet the festival website devoted a lot of attention to the revival of scenes deleted for fear for censors. Finally, I completely missed the insight in the film making process that was promised too. In short, an unnecessary film, not even a bit informative about this different universe we know nothing about.
This film is the behind the scenes of re-imagining and reproducing the
unseen footage of a film called "Crusing".
I am disappointed and I feel cheated after watching "Interior. Leather Bar.". The description says that it is the re-imagination of the lost 40 minutes of footage, too explicit to be shown in the cinema. However, it really is just a behind the scenes documentary of why James Franco wanted to make this film, then getting the actors to play it, then briefing the actors, the actors mingling, actors telling what they feel about making the film. That takes 50 minutes of the screen time already, and there is only 7 minutes of re-imagined scene in a leather bar. "Interior. Leather Bar." is marketed in such a misleading way, it's actually all sauce and no beef.
In 1980, Exorcist director William Friedkin made yet another movie that
found another great way to stir up controversy and etch itself onto the
front page of newspapers. His directorial effort Cruising was a film
about Al Pacino's cop character going undercover in seedy gay bars in
order to catch a series of murders in the specific area. The film
divided critics, enraged the homosexual community, who even held
boycotts and sent Friedkin death-threats over the film, and the film
forever lived with a looming cloud of infamy over its head, with more
comments being made about its impact over its quality.
As someone who has recently sat through Cruising, I fully understand why. It's an only adequate little thriller that is levied by the fact that it is such a curious piece of film history. There's not too much special about it other than a decently ambiguous Pacino performance and some well-photographed atmosphere, specifically inside the gay bars. Adding to the curiosity of the film, legend has it that forty minutes of the film had to be cut for it to achieve an R-rating rather than the ominous X-rating films were being stamped with during this time. The forty minutes are rumored to contain graphic gay sex as well as intimate scenes in the gay bars between its patrons.
This brings me to Interior. Leather Bar., a sixty-minute film by the likes of James Franco and Travis Mathews. The film is a mockumentary, following the Franco and Mathews as they attempt to assemble, cast, and reimagine the lost forty minutes of Cruising themselves. From the way Franco acts and interviews, one can easily see he's intrigued on how actors create an image once they begin and how they go about enforcing or affirming the image throughout careers.
Evidently, Franco has used his fascination for public personas and celebrity images as the basis for Interior. Leather Bar., a thoroughly intriguing and deeply-contemplative film that possesses lengthy dialogs on the public's perception of sex as well as mumblecore-esque aesthetics and structure. I walked in assuming I was going to see the full forty minutes from Cruising recreated to fit Franco and Mathews' idea of how the scenes were actually conducted. Instead, both men recreate the experience of working on the set of a film with graphic scenes of gay sex when a majority of the actors - at least the main ones - are straight males, many with wives and kids. We get the opinions of all the actors working on recreating this lost footage to Franco and Mathews' liking. This provides for a feeling of seeing unseen parts of a film without seeing the specific parts, if that makes even an inkling of sex.
A masterful scene comes about halfway through the film, with Franco talking to the project's main star Val Lauren, assuming the role of Al Pacino's character from Cruising. Lauren is a longtime friend of Franco, willing to help him out even on the most uncertain and unpredictable project thus far, but is having a hard time going through with a lot of the heavily gay scenes. He also has a difficult time understand the project's significance and Franco has a hard time explaining it. When Lauren and Franco (who, I believe, is playing himself here) sit down to talk about the scene, Franco goes into a discussion similar to the one I've had many times about how in many pieces of media, even something as minute and as trite as a commercial for toothpaste or toilet paper, we see a man and a woman. When we do see two men or two women together, presumably in a relationship, it isn't uncommon for there to be some uncomfortable vibes oozing through, to which Franco (and myself) blame on our exposure to one particular lifestyle for much of our life.
Franco then dives into a discussion about how censorship boards shiver at the thought of graphic sexual content but barely flinch when they see explicit violence on screen. 'So violence is natural but sex, something everyone does, thinks about, and even views, isn't?' is a question he asks Lauren. Franco basically settles on the idea that he is making this film to try and steer us away from the thought of one particular lifestyle, as well as breaking down his own personal apprehension and uncomfortableness around this kind of material.
Interior. Leather Bar. also seems to be acceptable to view as a time capsule for how gays are portrayed in cinema. Cruising wasn't blatantly homophobic in my eyes, but did possess somewhat understanding apprehension and caution to the lifestyle it greatly involved itself with. Interior. Leather Bar. presents its club scenes (when we do get a chance to see them, though they make up less than ten percent of the film) and even one major gay sex scene with a beautiful tenderness that would be given to an explicit sex scene between two women. Franco and Mathews' depiction of gay sex is a harmonious and wonderfully raw approach and an experience that could very well emphasize the theme of equality in the regard of how gay sex and straight sex are depicted.
What a beautiful film Interior. Leather Bar. is, centering its sights on conversation and emotion rather than basic shock and awe. I'm still not one-hundred percent show I know what to make of it, but to speak fairly, I don't believe Franco really is either. However, I believe he has made something that he will likely look back on as one of his most audacious and daring films ever, which says a lot for an actor in his thirties who, judging by some risky choices recently, is just getting started.
I like James Franco as an actor, and he seems like he'd be a cool
person to hang out with. It's James Franco the
writer/director/artist/poet/musician/provocateur that's a problem for
me. Part of it is envy, I'll admit (I wish I had freedom and funding to
indulge all MY creative whims), but a larger part of it is I suspect
that James Franco the Multifaceted Artist is a total poser.
"Interior. Leather Bar." doesn't dispel my belief that Franco is a poser, but it also re-enforces my belief that he'd be a cool friend. Val Lauren, the actor playing Al Pacino's character from the movie "Cruising," thinks Franco is a cool friend, Franco's involvement the primary reason he's agreed to participate in this project, even as his agent strongly advises him not to (his wife just wants him home in time for dinner). He seems more intrigued by playing a role originated by Pacino than Franco's and co-director Travis Mathews' stated thesis that the leather bars of "Cruising" represent a subculture that's fading away as homosexuals gain greater acceptance in mainstream society. (AIDS might also have had something to do with it but I guess that's too sad. Also: "Cruising" as a gay culture touchstone? Not sure about that.) When Lauren questions James Franco directly about why he thinks the missing 40 minutes from William Friedkin's "Cruising" needs to be explored, Franco says something about needing to confront the world of gay leather bars to challenge fears he has only because he was raised to have them. This seems like something that could be challenged by getting a trial subscription to any one of a number of gay porn sites, or while making all the gay-themed movies he's been a part of ("Milk," "Howl," "The Broken Tower"), but maybe he just wants to be sure he's been thoroughly challenged.
But "Interior. Leather Bar." does more meandering than challenging. Actors, both gay and straight, spend most of their time wondering what's expected of them. Some of wonder if James Franco will be in the movie and if he will get naked (not really and no, respectively). Others wonder just how far they are expected to go. Pretty far, as it turns out: real, non-simulated sex takes place, though it barely makes up five minutes of screen time in the total ten minutes of leather bar footage. Consequently, the movie is labeled porn by some, though I don't think it is. In fact, one sex scene seems realer than most, and you actually sense an emotional connection between the couple involved. Pretty impressive when you consider they've got an audience including an Oscar-nominated actor circling them as they get busy on a sofa. It's not a surprise to learn immediately after that the actors are a couple off-screen. Though Lauren seems pretty shell-shocked by the action on set, he compliments the two men, telling them they appear to have a great relationship. For his part, Franco isn't a co-director so much as the project's instigator. Mathews does the bulk of the directing, with Franco shown leaving early, right after watching two dudes have sex. Make of that what you will.
"Interior. Leather Bar." is presented as being the re-creation of the missing 40 minutes from "Cruising," but it's more like a glorified DVD extra accompanying a movie that was never finished. It's strangely fascinating but also frustratingly pointless.
How this 60 minute piece of drivel ever got made, or was released, is beyond comprehension. It is nothing more than an extremely tedious version of what used to be known as "vanity press". Franco should be ashamed of himself. Why he, his collaborator, and the "actors" in this piece of garbage thought they had anything constructive to say about "rumored" cuts made to a 50-year old film, borders on the incredulous. Anyone can "imagine" what those phantom 40 minutes of sex in a leather bar might actually have shown. I imagine it would be a whole lot less boring and painful to watch than this waste of film (or tape). Anyone who had anything to do with this dreadful enterprise should be forever banned from film-making!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
After watching this video, I feel like I've been cheated. This is
neither excellent nor awful. But a complete waste of time.
Just like everybody, I thought this is a movie 'made' by James Franco and Travis Mathews. But this is not a movie. This is not even a documentary. Surprisingly this is not even 'behind the scenes' of a movie. This is just a video of a 'supposedly' behind the scenes of a movie never made by James Franco and Travis Mathews. The whole reference to Al Pacino's 1980 movie "Cruising" is completely irrelevant, misleading and a lie. This is just gay porn which does not include James Franco. He is just either filming it or watching it. Which is kind of funny. LOL. I think his involvement in this movie is to make this main stream and attract large number of audience.
There are explicit gay sex scenes which are nice(wink). Which is the message of this Video. This is "Art Porn" as described by the cutest guy in the cast. About the cast, there are only four guys we see a few times in the movie, the rest are seen in the beginning introductions and again in the end during credits.
The so-called lead 'Val' is fine, but what's disappointing is that he 'almost' looks into the camera, sometimes, during the so-called behind the scenes, when none of the supporting cast does that.
During these behind the scenes conversations, James Franco and Val, always have a 'refraining smile' on their faces. Which is horrible.
I don't recommend this, but this isn't even an hour long. So go ahead.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I don't know where to start with this piece of rubbish.
I had read about the controversy surrounding the "film" (??) and thought it would be interesting to see what the fuss was all about.
First we sit through auditions of gay men "cruising" into the camera, which is just unbearable to watch. Then we see everyone questioning why this is being made, what's the purpose, what's the point?? James Franco says that gay sex should be shown, as sex is a beautiful thing. Unfortunately we don't see gay men have sex. We see one man have his penis sucked and one man lick shoes.
The end. Pointless.
James Franco was trying to be daring and controversial, instead to me it has come across as completely vain and boring.
James Franco - clearly a bisexual man, just wanted to grab some attention. He hasn't got the guts to come out of the closet, yet wants to gain attention from the gay community. Vain - yes. Creative - not at all in any way.
If you need to see a great gay film, watch "GBF" or "Another Gay Sequel" these REAL films are creative, colorful, fun and would have been made on much smaller budgets than this piece of utter garbage.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is pure crap. A group of amateur actors/producers/directors,
whatever they are, talking about the craft and their ideas and frankly
They barely touched on any aspects of the original film which, although dated and not shocking by any stretch in 2014, has been re-mastered.
This 'film' does the original injustice. It does not compliment Cruising by any means. It actually mocks it however inadvertent that may be.
Watch Cruising and leave this indulgent little piece of money waste on the shelves. You won't be disappointed and will definitely not miss anything.
"Interior. Leather Bar" shouldn't have been made. It didn't need to be
made. Only the reigning poseur king of "art" filmaking James Franco and
his idiot director friend Travis Mathews would have thrown this sixty
minute hairball up on any screen.
Yes, William Friedkin's "Cruising" was controversial. The bad press it received before and after being made and released effectively killed it. It was pretty much forgotten by everyone, even those gay men who arrived in the life long after it was made and rejected. The stories that sprang up around "Cruising" are more interesting than the film itself, i.e. the crowds of LGBT activists picketing and disrupting the actual filming, the disclaimer Friedkin was forced to add to the credit sequences which stated the film was not a blanket condemnation of the entire gay community, and the "lost" sex scenes filmed at actual NYC leather bars. As it is now known, there never were explicit sex scenes filmed. It's an urban legend.
"Interior.Leather Bar" is a sham from beginning to end. Nothing looks correct, the music is wrong, and let's not get started on the eyeshadow being applied to the men in their borrowed leather gear. Franco and Mathews simply wanted to make an "important statement" buried under gay porn so they hitched their exploitation horse to an antique cart full of actors (both gay and straight) who were never actually there during the leather heydays of the late 70s. Everyone is acting and discussing their motivations in the spaces between filming. You know there's going to be trouble when the camera searches actor Val Lauren (who's pretending to be Al Pacino) driving to the shoot and listening to his phone messages. The first call from his wife or girlfriend establishes his heterosexuality and the second is from an unknown man who dismisses Lauren's decision to appear in "Franco's f*ggot movie". Lauren agonizes for an hour about the sex that may or not happen and tries to find his inner Pacino. He can't find it and comes across as both whiny and pretentious, as if his involvement in this project is beneath him.
Leather bars are a dying institution. Their function was derailed by the AIDS crisis and more recently by the tsunami of "normalization" for LGBT people over the past decades. The raw acting out of men who played games without rules has been traded for SUVs, parenting, and PTA meetings once a month. Franco's soggy pretend leathermen can all be found waiting tables at any West Hollywood restaurants. The exposure and decline of the leather and backroom world began with "Cruising" and deserves a better, more fitting eulogy than this stupid mess. Two stars for the exposed dicks and at least one actor who actually looks like he stepped out of the 70s onto the floor of the Mineshaft NYC.
This ridiculous twaddle was made only to pad the resumes of Franco and Mathews, who think they're really saying something about sexual freedom. It's disingenuous in the extreme and not worth losing an hour of your life to view it.
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