Interior. Leather Bar.
The 1980 film Cruising, starring Al Pacino as an undercover cop investigating a murder in the New York City gay, leather, bar scene, was plagued with controversy, and its director was forced by the Motion Picture Association of America to cut 40 minutes of sexually explicit material. Those 40 minutes have never been screened publicly. Filmmakers James Franco and Travis Mathews set out to reimagine what might have transpired in those lost scenes in this intriguing film about the making of a film.
The cameras roll as Franco assembles a mix of gay and straight men, including the likeable Val Lauren in the lead role. What emerges is a portrait of the fascinating dynamics that drive the filmmakers’ need to challenge normalcy, the interplay of celebrity and experimentation, and the dilemma faced by actors struggling to reconcile who they are with the idea of performing in a sexually explicit, gay, S&M film. The result is a provocative exploration of the importance of the radical and transgressive in society and the value of engaging with things that scare us.