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Sundance Kills Your Darlings In Interior Leather Bars

"Sex. Sex. Sex." That's a far more accurate and truer statement than the clichéd "Sex Sells" isn't it? Sex often emphatically doesn't sell. Sometimes it severely limits your market penetration... excuse me, saturation. So "Sex Sells" is an overstatement with lots of conditional clauses. But "Sex. Sex. Sex." that's just true, unequivocally! I'm not saying this because of this Kill Your Darlings trio's photo op I've just posted...

Daniel, Dane, and their Director John


...even though yes, director John Krokidas is totally 100% sexable based on this photographic evidence. (Tangent: Dane DeHaan turns 27 next month. Is he going to look like he's 30 when he's 60?).

I began this post with "Sex. Sex. Sex." because that's all I keep reading about from Sundance. Yesterday we covered the Cougar Island sexcapades of Two Mothers but apparently Sundance just keeps presenting the world with future MPAA challenges. Quoth Carpetbagger:

“I’ve seen five movies today, and it has been nonstop,” said a senior executive at a major Hollywood studio on Saturday night. “I’m no prude, but it’s a little much.”

NSFW James Franco, Amanda Seyfried, and Gay blah blah blah after the jump...

Person That Gets People Talking:
James Franco. Not that they're always saying nice things about him. I'm not sure what TFE readers think  but among people I know opinions vary and are often ungenerous. The Boyfriend, for example, works in the art world and disapproves of Franco's overtures at becoming some sort of pseudo intellectual avante garde art star. And maybe he's right. I mean we already have a movie star (Tilda Swinton) who is also a genuine avante garde icon so why do we need him?  Recently Franco has been stealing much of his art cues from the gays that I'm surprised that Madonna and Gaga haven't taken out a hit on him. At first, to be honest, I thought it was cute. A straight star who fixated on My Own Private Idaho and Sal Mineo and other teen heartthrobs and gayish things and made little art pieces or movies about them? Sure. But lately it's bugging me. He has two films at Sundance, one called Interior. Leather Bar which looks at the infamous William Friedkin movie Cruising (about the serial killing of gay men) and attempts to recreate scenes that had to be cut from the movie in its initial controversial release. He's cast his friend Val Lauren (who I saw first in True Love which no one else saw but whatevs) in the Al Pacino role. Franco also made the documentary Kink which is about BDSM themed porn.

Val Lauren in dancing motion in a scene from "Interior. Leather Bar" and Franco filming another scene

Between Franco's straight man-gay hobbyist approach to his career and Daniel Radcliffe's PFLAG-IDOL persona and co-starring Allen Ginsberg role in the Beat drama Kill Your Darlings, which has prompted the press to ask him lots of questions about his gay sex scene (basically he gets a simulated blow job -- big whoop) I'm getting uncomfortable.

Why are these two straight men the epicenters of discussions about gay sex in the movies? Is this how African-Americans used to feel when all civil rights movies were about the kindly white person who took a stand? (I realize this is partially a false equivalency but the point is it's not their story)  If I have to listen to actors going on and on and on about "gay this and gay that" I'd really prefer it to be gay actors thank you very much. Asking straight actors in the movie making community what they think about THE GAY constantly when the move making community is still not supporting out male actors in the starring roles is just a new kind of tolerant tourettes for a nation of reformed homophobes. It's progress but it's ob-nox-ious. I have a solution: Hollywood - start casting openly gay stars; LGBT community - stop worshipping straight stars who are nice to us and start worshipping each other. If both sides do this we can hurdle this uncomfortable moment together. Then we'll all just be free to tell our own stories and enjoy each other's stories without all this us and them labelling. Please and thanks. 

Radcliffe and DeHaan filming a scene for "Kill Your Darlings"

Regarding Kill Your Darlings ... I haven't read any of the reviews yet but my only question really is "how does it compare to On the Road which, for all of its flaws, was pretty overtly horny. Tom Sturridge was beautiful as Ginsberg in that so I'm curious how Radcliffe, who has previously lacked anything like Sturridge's onscreen sexuality, can measure up.

Speaking of sex.sex.sex. and other people's stories...

Here's Amanda Seyfriend as "Linda Lovelace" in the biopic Lovelace which is also at Sundance (premiering tomorrow and many eyes in Utah will be on it). Remember when Lindsay Lohan was going to play Linda Lovelace (though I don't remember if it was a competing movie or this one)

What'cha think? Do you find her believable? Also what's with that score... I can't hear enough of it to tell but is it maybe a brilliant homage to bad 70s scoring (non-porn variety)?  


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Reader Comments (17)

Seyfried was always on board for this "Lovelace." The competing project, with Lohan, never seems to have gotten out of development. (Let's hope it never does!)

BTW, "Lovelace" also stars James Franco, who played Allen Ginsberg in "Howl," which was directed by "Lovelace" directors Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, who also directed the documentary version of the Harvey Milk story, not the fictional version, which of course starred James Franco. All gay roads lead back to Franco. It's a big insular cluster-Franc!

January 21, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSan FranCinema

Having seen Kill Your Darlings I can tell you that there's more than just Dan Rad getting a blow job lol But I totally agree with your sentiment. The film is more adolescent in its sexual desires because Ginsberg himself was figuring it out during his days at Columbia.

Side Note: I love that you singled out Sturridge, he was phenomenal in On the Road.

January 21, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTerence

As a straight supporter of gay rights I've always been vaguely annoyed by what I saw as James Franco's attempts to claim himself as a gay icon, but you pretty much just cleared up any confusion I had over why I find it obnoxious. Although, generally I find James Franco obnoxious so maybe I'm biased. Also uncharismatic.

January 21, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCasey Fiore

The Lohan Lovelace themed project was 'Inferno,' which was recast with Malin Akerman a year or two back and seems to have gone by the wayside.

Also, wonderful point about the similarities between the civil rights movement of the 60s and the recent crop of movies featuring straight actors being "risky' and playing gay roles. It's a real shame that 2011's 'Weekend' never got more traction. The few people I know who watched loved it for its simple romantic nature that had a very universal appeal, skipping over the risque or tragic elements of much of the more mainstream cinema feature gay or lesbian characters.

January 21, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBrianZ

This is a...thorny issue to divulge into. What it reminds me most of is when I was doing literary theory and the concept of feminist writers came up and in discussing who were *allowed* to write stories of women we'd examine theorists who felt that gender precluded writers from examining some story aspects - so, theoretically, male writers examine male emotion and female writers examine female because - intrinsically - one party could not fully understand, or do justice, to the issues of the other. And that's true, I suppose, in a way and yet I feel it's debilitating to the general thrust of artistic merit of that's the main arc in artistic conversation.

I understand, and agree, with your complaints in theory because it does get frustrating when gay persons aren't seen as meritorious when they examine their own stories and yet I feel that objecting to the non-gays usurping gay territory (to to speak) is a...well, problematic tact to take.

As I said, though, thorny issue and one I'll probably need to ruminate on more.

(On Franco, he doesn't rub me in the wrong way that he seems to rub everyone else - even with his penchant for excess I've never found him disingenuous.)

January 21, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew K.

I don't completely agree with you. Maybe James Franco has been trying too hard, that's true, although I think that's how he's always been, about everything. But I think Radcliffe is just a different story. He is a really kind young man, and the way he'd always being supportive, even if that has caused him a lot of criticism and laughs, and the way he always talks is wonderful. Plus, he has been trying to say the exact same thing you are saying here, he doesn't understand why some people make such a big deal of him playing a character who is gay. He chose to make this film because the script is brilliant, and he sees no difference from playing a straight character. It's not his fault interviewers ask him about that aspect of his character all the time. They are not trying to sell this movie for the sex, in fact I think they would like people to talk less about that and more about what the movie is really about, because the movie is really good and can be sell for the quality of the script, performances and direction.
Also, you can not compare him with Sturridge, because Radcliffe plays a very young Ginsberg when he was very unexperienced. And I don't know why being more sexual would help playing this particular character better? (Especially when you are complaining about too much sex sex sex). Ginsberg was quite the opposite in my opinion.
For what I'm reading one of the best things of the film is the great chemistry between Radcliffe and Dehaan, so I think you'll be surprised.
And I'm sure there are many gay actors in Hollywood, they are just not open about it. So I don't think it's a question of having more gay actors in movies, because what difference does it makes if they hide they are gay anyway? It's a question of them being more open, and for that to happen, people has to stop making a big deal about it. And maybe all of this will help in that direction.
Some years ago we would have killed for seeing actors having no problem playing gay characters, and talking about it. And now we complain about it?
Why shouldn't straight actors play gay characters? That's as senseless as the stupid people who think gay actors can not play straight characters.

January 21, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLeo

DeHaan looks 12.

January 21, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMatt

I saw a work print of LOVELACE about a year ago, with a temp score from THE HOURS (!), so I'm curious to see how it's turned out. TECHNICALLY, I'm not supposed to talk about it, but suffice to say that I wrote on the comment card to start a campaign for Seyfried as soon as possible. Of course, maybe it's not in the Academy's wheelhouse, and maybe the final cut is vastly different, but she is incredible in this movie.

January 21, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterWalter L. Hollmann

Andrew -- i don't object to straight people telling gay stories at all. I do take issue with straight people who only tell gay stories while gay people meanwhile aren't celebrating for telling them. I mean seriously. If you think about the projects James Franco has done *just* since MILK (2008)

- an art piece about My Own Private Idaho (gay film)
- a film about Hart Crane (gay poet)
- a film about Allen Ginsberg (gay poet)
- a film about sal mineo (gay icon)
- a thing about deceased teen heartthrob Brad Renfro (kinda gay)
- an award winning short film called "feast of stephen" (gay)

and that's just the strictly gay stuff. I mean STEP OFF.

haha. it was cute at first but come on. Either come out (truth: i don't think he's gay) or tell your own stories and stop pulling your artistic cachet from a marginalized community.

January 21, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNathaniel R

Very good post, Nat. I am happy that mainstream culture is becoming more comfortable with the LGBTQ community, and I think actors should have license to play a wide range of roles not strictly based on their own identty; but the way the culture is being appropriated concerns me, especially since it seems like straight actors are now using the sensationalism factor as a "how-brave-and-subversive" segue into artistic respect. This is especially true in Franco's case -- his whole brand bothers me, even though I enjoy his work. I do wonder if, like /w the white savior cliche in African-American focused cinema, we're going to start seeing the ally savior.

Also, gay men =/= LGBTQ culture on the whole, but it would be tough to tell from the Hollywood standard. Huh, and it looked in the nineties like lesbians were going to be the big crossover queers. ;-)

January 21, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTim

This is pretty much true. James Franco can do all the gay projects he wants while retaining the opportunities and respectability of a straight leading man and none of the stigma. It reminds me of the controversy around Django, when people pointed out that only a white director like Quentin Tarantino could have made a revisionist revenge slavery movie. The plus is that these kinds of stories are at least told, but the negative is that the privileged (white, male, straight, etc.) receive artistic credentials and praise for something bordering on appropriation. It's definitely weird and double-edged and I think it's great for Nathaniel to explore this.

January 21, 2013 | Unregistered Commentercaroline

Franco is bisexual, so he does identify with the LGBT movement. It is still a problem that he's somewhat posing as straight while using the culture, though.

January 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKate

I think I might understand where you're coming from but I think it's dangerous territory to head. True, gay culture is still young so the need for gays to claim it is an issue but if we think of male writers who penned female centric dramas half a decade ago (Williams for example) would it be said that he was appropriating female stories too?

My issue is if we have to draw the line for Franco (from a "straight" non-disenfranchised group) in telling stories from a dis-enfranchised group where does the line drawing stop?

January 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew K.

What do we feel about the fact that Interior.Leather Bar is actually billed as a collaboration between Franco and indie queer filmmaker Travis Matthews? (Whose work I think you admire, Nathaniel?)

Does that change our opinion of the gesture? Or is it a case where Matthews is doing the filmmaking and Franco is along to add celebrity cachet. The film 'Cruising' was incredibly controversial amongst the gay community even before filming was completed. I'm way more interested to see this once I realized that Matthews was involved....

January 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBrian

Brian -- oh me too, make no mistake. I think its a worthy topic of a film. In fact, right after posting that I felt guilty that I didn't mention Travis Mathews which is kind of a bad call on my part considering the point of the post.

Andrew -- i undrstand that concern and the line drawing argument and normally i wouldn't draw one. I mean Ang Lee has done two fully gay movies but I didn't feel the need to complain about it even though he's straight. In fact, I really endorse both films. My issue is with the totality of James Franco's career. Seems to me at this point like it's all borrowed glories since that's basically all he does when left to his own devices.

Kate -- and we know this how? (i see your point but this is not public record as far as I know. and at least from the coverage i've seen it's very much like "Franco talks about gay sex as a straight man"

January 23, 2013 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I don't want to ruin your weekend, but according to IMDB James Franco has a Mapplethorpe biopic in-development.

January 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue


July 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDesain Minimalis 2013

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