Ay yi yi!
Actor/writer/artist/provocateur James Franco continues to intrigue us with his latest project. No, we’re not talking about his upcoming spring big studio film “Oz: The Great and Powerful” directed by Sam Raimi, though we ARE excited about the possibilities for that film…after all, it’s a prequel to “The Wizard of Oz”. We’re referring to his OTHER film project, set to debut at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival: “Interior. Leather Bar” his art house film project with gay filmmaker Travis Matthews, best known for both the short and long version of “I Want Your Love” the explicit gay mumblecore film that attracted a lot of attention in queer filmmaking circles last year, with the feature length version making its local debut at the Seattle Lesbian & Gay Film Festival in October.
Mr. Matthews and Mr. Franco’s recent project, “Interior. Leather Bar” was originally titled “James Franco’s 40 Minutes” and focuses as a homage/tribute/re-imagining of the 40 minutes of material cut from William Friedkin’s controversial 1980 film “Cruising” which starred Al Pacino as a NYC cop investigating a series of murders in the gay S&M community. The film outraged both the right and the left, with gay rights groups protesting and attempting to block the production while it filmed in New York, and there were further protests from the gay community after the film was released objecting to the negative portrayal of sexually active gay men and S&M culture. The explicit nature of the original cut of the film resulted in an X rating from the MPAA and Friedkin had to edit out much of the harder edged sexual content to get the R rating required by the studio.
The new film apparently explores those harder edged scenes cut from the original film and the process by which Travis Matthews and James Franco explore the nature of that material…in other words, it appears to be a film that combines recreations of those scenes with documentary material about the creation of the reenactment, basically combining narrative and non-fiction filming to tell their story. In other words, it’s a project made in queer indie film nerd heaven and we’re anxious to check it out…hopefully at the Seattle International Film Festival in May/June and/or SLGFF in October.
As for James Franco, he might be the most chameleon-esque of actors, rather cleverly combining a mainstream film career with small, personal projects frequently collaborating with independent film artists and exploring stories that could never be pursued by the commercial film industry. He’s done everything from appearing in big CGI movies like “Spiderman 3” and “Rise of the Planet of the Apes”, to mainstream art house hits like “Milk” and “127 Hours” to head scratching turns on TV soap “General Hospital” and hosting the Academy Awards two years ago. You’re never sure what he’s going to do next, which makes James Franco that rarest of commodities, an actual working artist in a medium that tends to discourage any sort of actual intellectual artistry. Bravo to him.
That said, we’re now going to give in to our prurient side and wonder if “Interior. Leather Bar” is actually going to contain any content involving explicit gay sex and exposed wing wang: Just how far is James Franco willing to go?