Sundance Review: Interior. Leather Bar.


Director:Travis Matthews, James Franco

Cast:Val Lauren, James Franco, Travis Matthews, Christian Patrick

Running Time:60.00


The 1980 film Cruising, starring Al Pacino as an undercover cop investigating a murder in the gay leather bar scene of New York City, was plagued by immense controversy.  The MPAA forced the film's director, William Friedkin, to cut 40 minutes of sexually explicit material.  Those 40 minutes have never been seen publicly, and many believe the footage to have been destroyed.  Filmmakers Travis Matthews and James Franco have set out to reimagine what might have been on the lost tape.

Featured as a film about the making of a film, Interior. Leather Bar. contains some memorable scenes and dialogue exchanges, most notably between Franco and star Val Lauren.  But at the end of the day,the film appears uncertain of its main goals as it gets lost within the shuffle, trying desperately to bring about social awareness of gay sex, an action that is often seen as an impossible inclusion in mainstream cinema.

James Franco teams with Travis Matthews for the project, using the 1980 controversial film as a launching pad for their main mission.  But the connection between the two pictures is quickly lost as Interior. Leather Bar. attempts to be more than it has to be, using in-your-face tactics to get across a point.

Val Lauren is often perceived as the "villain" of the picture, though his lines regularly appear to be both scripted and forced as he questions Franco's vision, ultimately putting his career on the line for a friend.  And while his career won't likely be affected by his involvement here, I honestly don't see it improving as a result either.

Two intense sex sequences bring about the question of gay sex in mainstream cinema, but the immense indie look and feel of Interior. Leather Bar. nearly depletes the comparison -- not to mention that the other 50 minutes of the film are a bit of a mess.  Intentions are good, and "community" involvement high, but signs of a heavy dosage of script usage and a loss of focus prevents Franco's social experiment from reaching the level is could and very well should have.


About Stephen Davis

Stephen Davis
I owe this hobby/career to the one and only Stephanie Peterman who, while interning at Fox, told me that I had too many opinions and irrelevant information to keep it all bottled up inside. I survived my first rated R film, Alive, at the ripe age of 8, it took me months to grasp the fact that Julia Roberts actually died at the end of Steel Magnolias, and I might be the only person alive who actually enjoyed Sorority Row…for its comedic value of course. While my friends can drink you under the table, I can outwatch you when it comes iconic, yet horrid 80s films like Adventures in Babysitting and Troop Beverly Hills. I have no shame when it comes to what I like, and if you have a problem with that, then we’ll settle it on the racquetball court. I see too many movies to actually win any film trivia contest, so don’t waste your first pick on me. My friends rent movies from my bookcase shelves, and one day I do plan to start charging. I long to live in LA, where my movie obsession will actually help me fit in, but for now I am content with my home in Austin. I prefer indies to blockbusters, Longhorns to Sooners and Halloween to Friday the 13th. I miss the classics, as well as John Ritter, and I hope to one day sit down and interview the amazing Kate Winslet.

Leave a Reply