James Franco, when not reciting poems about President Obama, can be found floating around Sundance promoting not two, but three films. There’s the BDSM documentary he produced, Kink, his role as Hugh Hefner in Rob Epstein’s Lovelace, and the divisive Interior. Leather bar. Co-directed with Travis Mathews, Leather Bar., attempts to recreate the lost 40 minutes of William Friedkin’s Cuising, the controversial 1980 film about a cop (played by Al Pacino) who goes undercover as gay leather enthusiast to apprehend a killer. The film premiered this weekend and this is what people are saying about it thus far:
- But while Leather Bar will surely make some viewers itchy, its most compelling subject isn’t whether straight guys can stand to watch one man pleasuring another. More interesting is the question of what would make this project art as opposed to porn. Is it just the participation of a movie star? Is it heady intent? (The Hollywood Reporter)
- Occasionally, we glimpse an evasive Franco sounding off about social norms. "Beautiful and attractive" is how he describes gay sex. His friend Lauren fires back, "You’re going to be in a Disney movie for Christsakes." Like many of his pet projects, it’s mercifully short (albeit, a drawn-out 60 minutes) and odd. (The Guardian)
- "Interior. Leather Bar" visualizes the discourse its subjects struggle to put into words. Mathews says the project aims to help "inform choices," but mainly showcases choices that have already been made. Lauren voices the central issue plaguing the movie with the biggest question it leaves unresolved — whether the filmmakers intend to use the footage "to make a certain point or want it to be what it is." (Indiewire)
Interesting points, surely. But if you’d rather just hear what Franco and Mathwws has to say about it, check out the video from this weekend’s Sundance Q&A.