Friday, January 25, 2013

Interior. Leather Bar. (2012)

Directors: James Franco & Travis Matthews

Starring: Val Lauren, James Franco, Travis Mathews, Christian Patrick, Brenden Gregory

More info: IMDb

Plot: The 1980 film Cruising, starring Al Pacino as an undercover cop investigating a murder in the New York City gay, leather, bar scene, was plagued with controversy, and its director was forced by the Motion Picture Association of America to cut 40 minutes of sexually explicit material. Those 40 minutes have never been screened publicly. Filmmakers James Franco and Travis Mathews set out to reimagine what might have transpired in those lost scenes in this intriguing film about the making of a film.

The cameras roll as Franco assembles a mix of gay and straight men, including the likable Val Lauren in the lead role. What emerges is a portrait of the fascinating dynamics that drive the filmmakers’ need to challenge normalcy, the interplay of celebrity and experimentation, and the dilemma faced by actors struggling to reconcile who they are with the idea of performing in a sexually explicit, gay, S&M film. The result is a provocative exploration of the importance of the radical and transgressive in society and the value of engaging with things that scare us.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again? No.

Well, this in an interesting piece of work.  If you come into this thinking you're going to see someone's interpretation of what that 40 minutes of excised footage is, you'll be disappointed.  There are only a few minutes of leather bar footage.  What it seemed to be is an experiment in either trying to see how far Franco could get straight actors to go into a gay sex bar (as a power trip, maybe?) or just to simply push people's buttons.

In the film he says how he hates that Hollywood censors sex (and by sex he means full on fellatio, penetration, etc.) yet allows extreme violence in its films.  In case you're wondering, Franco does not get naked or participate in the bar scenes.  He's only there as an observer and crutch for actor Val Lauren (and he's not much help to him at that).  There are a few guy on guy fellatio scenes - the real deal, too, not cleverly faked or with camera angles to hide it.  Dicks are clearly slapped against faces and sucked by guys.  And in case you might think that shocked or bothered me (hence only a 6 out of 10 score), it didn't affect me at all.

Val Lauren seemed genuine for the most part but I suspected he was given direction and bullet points to hit.  In the end (it's only 60 minutes long) I was left scratching my head wondering what the point was.  I had a few ideas but none of them felt like this film did enough to bring them home.

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