Built upon a movie-history footnote, "Interior. Leather Bar." is an hourlong provocation from directors
Their jumping-off point is William Friedkin's controversial 1980 murder mystery, "Cruising," in which Al Pacino's undercover cop entered a lurid pre-
Franco and Mathews' ostensible mission was to reimagine the missing material. But with less than a quarter of screen time devoted to unsimulated sex — both S&M-tinged and loving-couple tender — most of their film is talk, smart and engaging.
The directors have shaped and scripted "documentary" scenes that place a lot within winking quotes. For the most part, that serves their earnest critique of conformity in an age of gay assimilation. Their shaken-and-stirred mix of fiction and nonfiction revolves around the making of "Leather Bar" and the ambivalent participation of actor Val Lauren, playing the Pacino character — or rather, playing Val Lauren playing the Pacino character, who in turn is a cop playing a gay man.
As Sal Mineo in Franco's
The movie-within-the-movie's seeming pointlessness is a running joke, and sometimes a problem. Unfocused lapses aside, though, the film is intriguing and discomforting in equal measure, using its brief running time to frame thoughtful, boundary-pushing questions.
— Sheri Linden
'Interior. Leather Bar.'
No MPAA rating
Running time: 1 hour
Playing: Cinefamily, Los Angeles