Jan 27, 2014
Fuck The Exorcist (1973), I think Cruising (1980) is easily the most aesthetically/thematically audacious and least monetary-motivated film Hollywood Hebrew auteur William Friedkin (The French Connection, Sorcerer) has ever directed, so naturally I was intrigued upon learning that the obscenely popular mainstream actor James Franco was purportedly directing a film based on 40 minutes of documentary-like S&M scenes cut from the infamous leather-fag slasher flick. Of course, like so many other people that heard about Franco’s film, Interior. Leather Bar. (2013) aka James Franco's Cruising, I did not realize that it was not really actual straight interpretation of the scenes cut from Cruising, but a postmodern pseudo-documentary film-within-a-film about the Hollywood star turned auteur and his gay hipster co-director Travis Mathews (I Want Your Love, In Their Room: London) ostensibly ‘playing themselves’ and documenting themselves making a “re-imagined idea” about what the deleted scenes from Cruising might have been like. In short, Interior. Leather Bar. is a piece of patently pretentious pomo homo pseudo-intellectual posturing featuring a couple minutes of the re-imagined Cruising scenes co-directed by a hot Hollywood celeb who wants to prove he has no problem watching homos giving each other head and whatnot. Franco began his directing career with the crappy comedy The Ape (2005), which mixes a gorilla suit with a pseudo-Allen-esque tribute to Russian literature, and made a couple more forgettable/unseen non-gay-themed features since then, but ever since directing the homoerotic short The Feast of Stephen (2009)—a rather unfortunate tribute to Kenneth Anger featuring pedomorphic brown boys—he has almost exclusively focused on queer-themed material of the rather contrived sort. With his black-and-white feature The Broken Tower (2011)—a work that the auteur not surprisingly created as his graduate school thesis project at NYC—Franco portrayed the gay American poet Hart Crane and even gives head to another man (a prosthetic prick was used, of course) in what is easily one of the most aesthetically barren and eclectically vapid 'avant-garde' features I have ever seen. With My Own Private River (2012), he paid tribute to River Phoenix’s role as a gay hustler in Gus van Sant’s My Own Private Idaho (1991) by simply re-editing the film in a seemingly Asperger-addled fashion where Phoenix is the focus and Keanu Reeves is mostly cut out. Undoubtedly, what virtually all of Franco’s films demonstrate is that he might know more about queer cinema than the average Brokeback Mountain (2005) fan yet he does not seem to have a personal vision nor original ideas of his own, so he simply caters to the preposterously politically correct LGBT-cuckolded sensibilities of mainstream film critics to prove he is an ‘edgy’ and ‘open-minded’ artiste and not a spoiled Hollywood superstar who has enough money to do whatever he wants whenever he wants. Indeed, at best, Interior. Leather Bar. seems like a fanboy film school project that goes so far as to liberalize, multiculturalize, and metrosexualize Friedkin’s original film to the point where it lacks any of the true anti-p.c. gay grit of Cruising.
After beginning with an inter-title revealing that Cruising was plagued by protests (homos thought it was homophobic), that director William Friedkin received death threats, and 40 minutes of the film (which has never been publicly shown and is now assumed lost) was cut to avoid an X rating, Interior. Leather Bar. cuts to co-directors James Franco and Travis Mathews as they discuss ‘re-imagining’ the long lost scenes of Cruising. Seemingly like a fidgety stoner who needs to smoke a bowl, Franco mentions how he was partly inspired to direct the film after reading his homo professor Michael Warner’s book The Trouble with Normal: Sex, Politics, and the Ethics of Queer Life (2000) and coming to the realization that gay marriage might go against the original anti-bourgeois spirit of true queer politics. While I concur with Franco, Interior. Leather Bar. could not be any more politically correct and socially accessible. For their re-imagining, the filmmakers make the would-be-provocative decision to cast mostly heterosexual actors in the roles, including a seemingly gay but apparently married heterosexual fellow named Val (played by Franco's real-life friend Val Lauren who played the eponymous lead in Franco’s 2011 Sal Mineo biopic Sal)—a man of dubious racial origin who seems to have as much testosterone as Richard Simmons—to play Al Pacino’s character from Cruising. As the director wants the viewer to know, hysterical homophobia is lurking everywhere as demonstrated by the fact that Val gets an urgent call from a friend who demonstrates concern for his friend playing a leather-fag in a movie by stating, “I know you’re at the Franco-fag project today and I gotta tell ya man, I don’t know where your head is on this and I think we really need to talk about this right away.” Homos are not the only ones who feel Franco’s intentions with the film are dubious, as gay extras on the film question why a heterosexual would want to make a gay film. In a nice nod to Franco’s unprejudiced narcissism, the extras also discuss how they hope the director gets naked in the film, which, of course, he does not do (in fact, Franco seems M.I.A. anytime gay sex scenes are shot). When star Val discusses his feeling of unease being around guys fisting each other in the ass and whatnot, Franco becomes pseudo-irate and goes on a rant where he complains: “Here’s how I feel… I don’t like the fact that I feel like I have been brought up to think a certain way. I don’t like thinking that. I don’t like realizing that my mind has been twisted by the way the world has been setup around me and what that is, is straight, normative, kind of behavior…and its fucking instilled into my fucking brain.” Indeed, Franco seems to believe that bareback buttfucking, fisting, and gay orgies should be everyday images that should bother no one, especially heterosexual men who like big tits and asses. As a man brainwashed by the pink fascist LGBT beast, Franco cannot handle the fact that seeing a man plowing another man’s bunghole is not ‘normative’ enough for him or something. In the end, two erect dicks are shown and the emotionally and physically debased star Val gets all moody broody as a fellow who has ultimately been debased and has his masculinity undermined for the sake of pseudo-fag Franco's ‘art.’
Admittedly, I wanted to like Interior. Leather Bar., but it ultimately felt like a piss poor premature ejaculation from two hipster fanboys with seemingly nil life experience and a pedantic understanding of queer cinema history. Featuring a largely effeminate multicultural cast and none of the naughty neo-fascist imagery associated with the clubs of Friedkin’s film, Interior. Leather Bar. ultimately seems like a parody of what two politically correct poofs might calculatingly direct so as not to offend the ass-munching authoritarian gatekeepers of mainstream gaydom. Pseudo-Godardarian behind-the-scenes banality of the redundantly reflexive and mind numbingly banal yet academically vogue ‘meta-filmmaking’ variety, Interior. Leather Bar. is certainly a film that will bore to death most of its target audiences (i.e. filmmakers, leather-fags, cinephiles, Francophiles, etc.), most especially loyal Cruising fans like myself. Not surprisingly, in April 2013, James Franco was awarded the so-called “Ally Award” at the 15th annual Miami Gay & Lesbian Film Festival, thus proving his servile celluloid ass-licking of the politically powerfully sodomite community has paid off. After watching Interior. Leather Bar., I decided to view Franco’s most recent auteur piece As I Lay Dying (2013)—a jumbled mess that attempts to juggle Faulkner, the iconic spit-screen technique of Warhol and Paul Morrissey’s Chelsea Girls (1966), and Hollywood Heebs playing hapless impoverished hicks—and it proved to be a totally unwatchable mess of a movie without any objective aside from demonstrating the director is classy enough to cinematically adapt classic American literature in a would-be-avant-garde fashion. A mockery of a mockumentary posing as chic postmodern queer theory swill co-directed by the sort of brainwashed morons that use made-up fag fascist words like ‘heteronormative” in a sad slave-morality-driven attempt to molest and sodomize language itself to 'empower' the already preposterously empowered, Interior. Leather Bar. is a marvelously mundane manipulation of cinema as well that does not attempt anything that was not done half a century ago by Godard, Jean-Marie Straub, and other soulless and intellectually masturbatory pansy postmodernist filmmakers who get a pathetic kick out of alienating viewers. Indeed, if you’re looking for real gritty and uncompromising celluloid leather-faggotry, make sure to skip Franco’s failed film-within-a-film and hunt down Jacques Scandelari’s New York City Inferno (1978) aka Cock Tales, which probably offers more than what you expect the 40 minutes of missing scenes from Cruising might be like as a recklessly wanton work that features real Greenwich Village-based sadomasochistic sodomites engaging in what they do best. Additionally, contemporary queer art-porn auteur filmmakers Todd Verow (Frisk, Bottom X) and Bruce LaBruce (Hustler White, The Raspberry Reich) have been doing what Franco and Mathew attempted with Interior. Leather Bar. for decades and I must admit they certainly do it much better. Of course, what should one expect from an actor who seems at his best playing degenerate stoners as demonstrated by his roles in Freaks and Geeks (1999–2000), Pineapple Express (2008), and Spring Breakers (2013). Indeed, at best, Franco's attempt at becoming a controversial avant-garde auteur seems nothing more than another scripted role played by the swarthy pretty boy actor and until he develops a real vision and complex Weltanschauung as all great filmmakers do as opposed to pandering to mainstream queers and leftist intellectuals, his cinematic works will never amount to much more than soulless celluloid exercises in poof puffery and shallow con-artistry.
Posted by Soiled Sinema at 8:02 PM
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