There’s a frustrating almost-ness to James Franco—not in his perfectly sleazy wanksta pimp from Spring Breakers, but everything else: his Oscar hosting, his op-ed writing and his directorial efforts, of which there are now 23. Brief yet underdeveloped, Interior. Leather Bar. has a faux-documentary vibe about it, involving two directors (Franco and his collaborator, Travis Mathews) who attempt to re-create the notorious 40 minutes shorn from William Friedkin’s gay-panic police drama Cruising (1980), starring Al Pacino.
You won’t see Franco himself getting in on the action, of what little there is. Rather, the most interesting angle here is the role the Oz the Great and Powerful star allows himself: a glib, cell-phone-hypnotized weekend auteur who throws around words like heteronormative, yet abandons his nervous Pacino-playing actor, Val (Val Lauren), right at the moment of truth. The endgame can’t be taken seriously: Is Franco bettered by witnessing gay sex? Is Val, lonely and driving at night, somehow compromised? The vagueness feels like a term paper you have to grade.
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