Interior. Leather Bar. + Cruising (1/3)

Interior. Leather Bar. – 8:00pm
Some movie stars have creative projects on the side: a rock band, a painting habit, maybe a cookbook — and on the other end of the spectrum is James Franco, who, more than any other artist in the 21st century, has squeezed into his every spare minute a cornucopia of wide-ranging theater, writing and behind-the-scenes film work that staggers the imagination. One of his latest many directorial efforts, Interior. Leather Bar. slyly pushes the limits of the meta-documentary form. Legend has it that forty rumored minutes of gay S&M footage were cut from William Friedkin’s 1980 thriller Cruising, in order to avoid an “X” rating. Inspired by this controversial mythology, Franco and co-director Travis Mathews collaborate to imagine their own lost footage. Amid the backdrop of a frenzied film set, actor Val Lauren reluctantly takes the film’s “Al Pacino” lead role — and must repeatedly negotiate his boundaries during scenes “on-” and “off-camera”, as unsimulated gay sex happens around him. As much a film about filmmaking as it is about sexual and creative freedom, “[t]he result is a provocative exploration of…engaging with things that scare us” (Sundance.)
Dirs. James Franco & Travis Mathews, 2013, digital presentation, 60 min.

Cruising – approx. 9:15pm
In depicting the leather-clad NYC gay scene of 1980 through the most raw, uncompromising lens possible, and in piling on layer after layer of claustrophobic red herrings (to deliberately make the audience as confused as Al Pacino’s lead character), William Friedkin created a masterwork of ill ease — one of his greatest films to stand alongside The Exorcist and The French Connection. Back in the day, Cruising sparked a firestorm of protests and controversial skepticism over its caustic storyline featuring Pacino as a young cop going deep down undercover as a hanky-code-observing bar rat. As Al closes in on a serial killer plaguing this S&M underworld, he learns how to sniff poppers and thrash around on the dance floor — but at what cost to his own mind? No matter how closely you track Cruising’s labyrinthine corridors of misdirection, Friedkin is always two steps ahead of you, with a bevy of subliminal tricks and a stone-cold awesome cast at his disposal. Topped off with one of the coolest rock soundtracks ever assembled, this is a damned fine movie from every single angle.
Dir. William Friedkin, 1980, DCP, 102 min.

Watch the trailers for “Interior. Leather Bar.” & “Cruising”!