James Franco, Voyeur
By Adam Feldman
James Franco’s been winking at gay audiences for years, and it’s sometimes hard to tell if he’s flirting or kidding. Both are possibilities in his latest project, Interior. Leather Bar., a “docufiction” that riffs on the idea of recreating 40 minutes of footage that were cut from William Friedkin’s lurid 1980 film Cruising to avoid an X rating (it's in select theaters beginning March 5).
Friedkin’s movie, which starred Al Pacino as an undercover cop investigating a serial killer in New York’s seedy S&M demimonde, was once the target of furious protests by LGBT activists, who thought it presented gay sexuality in scary and stereotypical ways.
“There seems to be a generational divide,” says Travis Mathews, whom Franco recruited to write and codirect. “Most guys in their thirties or younger are in some way amused by the murderous and homophobic content — it’s almost quaint. But for older men it still brings up bad feelings.”
Only a few minutes of Interior. Leather Bar. actually reproduce Cruising’s heady, sweaty atmosphere; instead, the bulk of the hourlong film follows actor Val Lauren, in the Pacino role, as he comes to terms with the project. Moments of cinematic pastiche — and a smattering of hardcore gay sex, sometimes with Franco watching — are nestled in a pseudo-doc that explores how sexuality can be depicted. “Our Val character is in a constant state of agitation and confusion,” Mathews says. “We wanted the audience in a similar space.” Confused or not, Francophiles should find plenty here to keep them looking.
Watch the trailer below: