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James Franco Has Sort-Of-Remade William Friedkin's 'Cruising' For An Art Project

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by Oliver Lyttelton
August 22, 2012 10:25 AM
28 Comments
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James Franco's Cruising

Is it just us who find it increasingly hard to get enthused about James Franco's new projects? We appreciate his broad-mindedness; the way he can go from blockbusters like "Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes" to cheap action movies like the  Jason Statham vehicle "Homefront" to indies like "About Cherry" to his own experimental directorial efforts like "Sal." But it's partly the sheer volume of the announcements -- with something new coming every few days, seemingly -- and partly how obscure some of them sound, that's given us something close to Franco fatigue.

Still, it's hard to be too cross about someone with such adventurous tastes, and his latest project might be his most eyebrow-raising to date. According to our colleagues at the Indiewire mothership, Franco has teamed up with avant-garde gay porn director Travis Mathews for "James Franco's Cruising," an installation/film inspired by William Friedkin's controversial 1980 Al Pacino thriller "Cruising." 

Apparently, the project began with Franco wanting to remake the Friedkin film (which involves Pacino as a cop delving into the gay S&M underground scene to track down a serial killer), but he was unable to get the rights. As such, he sought out Mathews, whose earlier films like "I Want Your Love" have featured explicit sexual scenes, to co-direct a film that would focus on a recreation of the 40 minutes that were cut out of the original film (and have since been destroyed), as well as being "an examination of people trying to make sense of Franco as star figure," according to Mathews, making it entirely different from all the other self-regarding, navel-gazing projects Franco's made (let's not forget, it's barely a week since the actor decided he was going to make an art film about himself and Lindsay Lohan, and on Monday a Samsung commercial directed by and starring the actor was revealed).

James Franco Cruising

Partly reconstructing the content of the scenes by interviewing extras from the original film, the project came together at lightning speed; it's only two months since their first conversations, and yet Mathews recently delivered a cut to Franco, and is likely to debut it at a gallery show next month, before prepping a longer cut for the festival circuit in early 2013. The director told Indiewire "He knew he wanted real gay sex in it. His people went looking for a filmmaker who had filmed real gay sex, and I suspect someone who would complement his vision. We talked about why we would be interested in still looking at this film.  We talked about his interest in the film and his interest more broadly in so many gay-themed stories and visionaries. He's worked with so many in front of and behind the cameras over the years."

Again, we admire Franco's forward-thinking nature, and the way in which he's able, as an A-lister, to engage with gay subject matter, but we can't help wishing he'd engage with the world around him, rather than using these projects to continually examine his own star persona in a way that isn't particularly interesting to anyone that isn't James Franco. Hopefully his currently-casting-up adaptation of William Faulkner's "As I Lay Dying," or his wrapped take on Cormac McCarthy's "Child Of God," will be more of a step in that direction. In the meantime, we cautiously await the debut of "James Franco's Cruising" sometime early next year; we're sure Disney are thrilled it's landing so near to their megabudget family-targeting Franco vehicle "Oz The Great & Powerful"...

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28 Comments

  • chop | February 15, 2013 4:13 PMReply

    let james franco make any kind of movie he wants to make. my thought is if you do not like it do no t watch it. i like james franco movies.i will go Just because so many people are talking about it. any who care today about who is gay or not. gay or straigh .so what. ido not care how sleep with who. everyone should have love and family no matter who you spouse is. life is to short so enjoy all of his movies and respect his choice.

  • Atasi | August 25, 2012 2:20 PMReply

    James Franco being “one of the best actors of his generation” an avid A- Lister who has a vision and carries out his craft in such fashion that other A-Listers fail to do which stands him out from the other successful actors in Hollywood. He’s one of the most talented directors an admirable man who has accomplished an indefinite amount of projects I see an Oscar headed toward his direction soon!!

  • chop | February 15, 2013 4:16 PM

    why does any care if he is bi gay straigh>?so what ,let him live his life the way he wants

  • Danny | August 24, 2012 1:23 AMReply

    Why doesn't James just come right out of the closet? I doubt it would hurt his career to declare he is gay or bisexual. I figured out James wasn't straight last year when I read the Playboy Interview he talked about blurring the lines of sexuality. Sad that James feels the need to stay in the closet.

  • ben | August 24, 2012 1:56 AM

    First of all, let's not jump to conclusions: we have no idea whether or not he's gay. But IF he is, I'm curious, how do you know he's in the closet? Could this be an Anderson Cooper-type situation, where he's out, but just hasn't or doesn't want to talk about his personal life with the press?

  • Joy Gimbel | August 23, 2012 9:57 PMReply

    I welcome any actor who comes out as openly gay or bi in the ironically and sadly restrictive homophobic atmosphere that is Hollywood leading man. So if James Franco does it, it will be something about his narcissistic personality that I will admire!!!

  • Joy Gimbel | August 23, 2012 9:46 PMReply

    Havent we had James Franco fatigue all year!!!
    Gawd, just because he's a celebrity he can call it art??? And I wouldn't say his Planet of the Apes movie was a high point of his career!!! I can think of far better descriptions than "fatigue", and the first begins with F as well! Add Mo- to it and we have the first word!!!!

  • Carrey | August 23, 2012 11:56 AMReply

    LOL..actually,I kinda care about why Franco has interest in gay culture, he starred in many movies about gay theme. maybe he is bi(I guess) :P besides I would rather watch Cruising than OZ

  • Manny Espinola | August 23, 2012 12:48 AMReply

    Viva Franco!

  • the blog | August 22, 2012 10:46 PMReply

    Did you know that instead of living his life, opening himself to other things and being happy he spends most of his time on blogs who talk about him?
    Did you know that he is a phony person who CANNOT stand the fact that others are more talented than him?
    Did you know that he is a mathematician trying to be an artist?
    Did you know that he was a gay mathematician trying to appear as a straight artist?

  • vtyyu | August 22, 2012 10:41 PMReply

    yeah, I agree with you beard.
    He is gay because if he wasn't he wouldn't do all those things.
    It's true that he is not interested in women.
    And I'm sure he will never have a family of his own either.
    He doesn't look like he's aiming at that anyway.
    I wouldn't like to have him as a father.
    "oh sorry kids, i have to go to work and be obsessed with myself, film a couple of porn movies, post 5000 pictures of myself. i only have 5 minutes for you, wait no, 3 now, and oh, no, don't worry, i wasn't really kissing that man in the street, it wasn't cheating, don't tell your mom, it's only art, i'm doing it because i have to practice for my 3000 gay role....."

  • nonononono | August 22, 2012 10:35 PMReply

    He's had to lie about someone else's identity/job for so long and now he's doing the exact same thing.
    He's living the same life.
    He's repeating the same things.
    He needs to have a double life jus like his......

  • D.F. | August 22, 2012 10:33 PMReply

    The thing is, he's leading a double life because his mainstream career stresses him out so much so he needs to reveal and express his real self in his homo-themed projects.
    In an interview in London in early july he talked about the mineo character in rebel without a cause.
    He said that it was so obvious that that character was gay because he followed James dean around and had a guy's picture in his locker or something.
    Well, he's revealing himself right there. He does even more than mineo so he's basically saying that it's just so obvious that he is gay.
    But since he's a hollywood actor (and he loves to say that because he's more attracted to fame and celebrity than the actual movies and the artform) he can't really come out because other people are invested in his image.
    I think the whole is he gay is he not gay is over.
    He's giving you a straight answer. :)

  • beard | August 22, 2012 10:06 PMReply

    I think one of the reasons why james is working so much is that he needs to get away from himself or he has difficulty accepting things he feels.
    The thing is, he's clearly saying that he is gay (and has for a long time) through his work. It's just so obvious.
    The more he "risks" his career with gay themed projects the more he gets to see if it's accepted and if he can still have a career as an openly-gay man.
    Nobody would go that far if they weren't directly concerned and consumed by a subject.
    Right now it might be a safer way to express all his homosexual feelings.
    Let's face it, if he was really interested and only attracted to women he wouldn't go that far because if you seek love and want to attract women that is the best way to push them away and never make it happen.
    So all the answers are there.
    He's sending signals to men. And no matter what: we always speak about ourselves in our art work. ALWAYS.

  • venisonfurs | August 22, 2012 8:12 PMReply

    There are a lot of presumptions going on here, a lot of decisions already made without the luxury of having actually seen any of the work in question. I'm a bit baffled as to how anyone who has seen Travis' work could presume that he would come up with a Franco vanity vehicle. He is by his own nature and necessity a film-maker with astonishing emotional intelligence. I cannot speak to Franco coming to him merely because of explicit gay sex- that seems to sell them both a bit short. Regardless of the initial instincts that led him to Mathews there is surely something commendable in his desire to collaborate with and even take a backseat to a director who is virtually untested and therefore so unadulterated in his own thoroughly modern and thoroughly gay vision.

  • Andy Humm | August 22, 2012 5:44 PMReply

    I helped lead protests against the making of the movie "Cruising" in 1980 in the Village after Arthur Bell of the Village Voice got a hold of the script and condemned Friedkin as the "worm of worms." This was at a time when there were virtually no positive portrayals of gay people in the movies--and Al Pacino was starring in a stupid and evil film about a gay killer. There were literally thousands of people downtown protesting this shit. Can't say what Franco's fascination with the material is, but it is disturbing.

  • ddddd | August 23, 2012 12:10 AM

    It's not so reviled nowadays. There's been some re-assessment.

  • Dood | August 22, 2012 3:57 PMReply

    Quality, not quantity Franco, quality, not quantity.

  • N | August 22, 2012 12:26 PMReply

    So the same guy who wrote that turd called Palo Alto: Stories (2011) is directing an adoption of Faulkner's As I Lay Dying, talk about arrogance.

  • Pedro | August 22, 2012 11:59 AMReply

    So, Franco's M.O. is "do a massive amount of shit, maybe something will stick". His feature films have all been sub par (the gorilla one and the SNL "documentary" being the worst) and now he labels his work as "art projects" to persuade people from judging his artistic credibility.

  • Carrey | August 23, 2012 12:05 PM

    if you think the films he made are shit,then why did you watch them?! if you didn't watch them,then so could you say they are shit!!there is no doubt that James is a talanted actor and artist

  • ddddd | August 23, 2012 12:12 AM

    @NO: I believe Pedro is referring to Franco's "The Ape." According to IMDB, the second film he directed.

  • NO | August 22, 2012 5:18 PM

    Rise of the Planet of Apes was a fun movie. And there was only one gorilla in it, thank you very much.

  • Whatever Pedro - James Rules | August 22, 2012 1:16 PM

    1. No one is forcing you or anyone to watch anything that James Franco does but majority of people seem to think he has real talent as an actor "one of the best actors of his generation" and as a director etc.

    2."do a massive amount of shit, maybe something will stick", the funny thing is, a majority to things he does do in fact STICK, hence the man has received countless amount of awards including an Oscar nomination. For example, his directing for Good Time Max received nomination for Best Performance in a Feature Film - Supporting Young Actor - Fantasy or Drama, or his win at the Berlin International Film Festival for The Feast of Stephen regarding Best Short Film.

    You clearly haven't had enough of James Franco because you are still investigating his work = WHY? If he is so bad? If he hasn't persuaded you fine but he has persuaded others and they already no that he has artistic credibility or whatever you want to label it this week.

    3. Again, in my opinion with his own directing projects which might seem complex to others at times but I think some of his movies like The Broken Tower, Francophrenia (Or Don't Kill Me, I Know Where the Baby Is) (documentary), will become much more clearer in years to come. By the way, when exactly did you see SNL documentary? I thought, it was still on lockdown for legal reasons, anyway, everybody in the movie business has good and bad times at least James Franco TRIES and does what he likes = GOOD FOR HIM.

  • Hok | August 22, 2012 11:21 AMReply

    Probably doesn't help Franco's reputation of being a self-absorbed hipster but if nothing else it'll be interesting.

  • Cruise away Franco | August 22, 2012 11:12 AMReply

    James Franco sure likes to take risks, which 70% of other Actors especially A-list fail to do. Come to think of it, he sometimes goes further than more established Directors too.

    I enjoy his work, as in a true talent and underrated at times, so James keep doing your own thing, it works hence the Hollywood Walk of Fame next year.

    This project should be interesting to see. So, I guess I have to watch the William Friedkin's "Cruising" movie to get ready for his. There are so many WTF moments with James Franco (his Facebook page alone) that it's hard not to love the guy, no matter what.

  • Alex | August 22, 2012 11:04 AMReply

    If Franco is straight, and let's presume he is, the filmmaker has a positively intriguing fascination with sexuality and homosexuality. Milk, two gay themed poems adapted for student films, the gay indie Blind Spot, Allen Ginsberg and now this.

  • Jesse | August 22, 2012 2:14 PM

    But why should we presume he is ? People seem to have more trouble accepting the fluidity of male sexuality than that of female sexuality. Just look at Lindsay Lohan, with whom Franco is supposed to collaborate...

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