James Franco can be accused of anything but never of being a conformist. His documentary fiction from last year ‘Interior Leather Bar’, which was meant to recreate the footage that was censured out of the 1990’s film Cruising, is one such film. The media attention surrounding it focussed on how gay sex was going to be at the forefront of the film and how never seen before things were being attempted. Having viewed the film two days ago, I must summarize in one phrase what the film is trying to do ‘anti male voyeur’.
While Franco and his co-director Travis Mathews have taken the canvas of the 1990’s film ‘Crusing’ as their inspiration, which had an undercover cop (played by Al Pacino) try and penetrate the underground world of LGBT New York, the 21st version has Franco’s close friend (played by actor Val Lauren) play Pacino, marred with discomfort, lack of belief in the project and more than anything deep rooted homophobic tendencies, that are not obviously manifested. But the similarities end right there. This is a mixed critique of the ‘male voyeur’ in popular culture and how gay sex has been so taboo, while female sexualization continues unchecked.
This forty minute experiment is not a sex overdose, neither is it self indulgent nor shockingly perverse to scare off even the moral police. The film is about Franco’s personal issue with the portrayal or normative sexual representation and violence in cinema. His question is simple, why is LGBT sex excluded from the mainstream of cinema? Why is it ok to show hundreds of people being killed, shot to death, their heads chopped and blood splashing all over the cinema screen, while two men having sex is not? His questions are pointed, hard hitting and very daring. I give him full credit for putting himself out there like this.
While the film loosely has a plot running through and somewhat interesting nuances of characters and their interaction with each other; its when Franco speaks to his audience, looking straight into the camera, we see his crusade like eyes staring right at us, forcing us to find answers to his questions.
An average film effort in terms of narrative, wobbly camera movements and somewhat incoherent story telling; this was more a brave effort for a mainstream actor like Franco.
image source: toutlecine.com