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In order to avoid an X rating, 40 minutes of gay S&M footage was rumored to be cut and destroyed from Cruising (1980). Inspired by the mythology of this controversial film, filmmakers James Franco and Travis Mathews collaborate to imagine their own lost footage. Amid the backdrop of a frenzied film set actor Val Lauren reluctantly agrees to take the lead in the film. Val is repeatedly forced to negotiate his boundaries during scenes on and "off camera," as unsimulated gay sex happens around him. The film itself is constructed as a play with boundaries remaining queer in subject and form. As much a film about filmmaking as it is about an exploration of sexual and creative freedom, "Interior. Leather Bar." defies easy categorization.Written by
Disingenuous twaddle from those who weren't there.
"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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