When William Friedkin's Cruising was released in 1979, it was met with protests. The movie, starring Al Pacino, follows an undercover cop as he delves into the gay S&M scene looking for a serial killer, and the gay community protested the negative portrayal. Forty minutes of the film were famously cut because of sexually explicit material.
In his newest film, director Travis Mathews (In Their Room and I Want Your Love) collaborated with actor James Franco to use Cruising as a jumping-off point for a many-layered, fascinating movie that pushes boundaries of all sorts. Billed as an attempt to re-create those lost forty minutes, Interior. Leather Bar. is a compelling piece of docufiction that purports to show the behind-the-scenes making of Cruising . The drama focuses on Val Lauren, the real-life actor playing the Al Pacino character and his real-life reservations about his involvement in the sexually explicit film.
In advance of his appearance Friday, July 19, at the Cinema Q Film Festival at the Sie FilmCenter (full disclosure: I work there scooping popcorn), Westword spoke with Mathews about Interior. Leather Bar. , working with James Franco, the unspoken merits of Cruising, and his continuing project of examining gay male intimacy and sexuality.
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