Saturday, December 4, 2010
"Who's here? I'm here. You're here."
Al Pacino's finest work! I got a chance to check this out on a big screen last night and it was a great way to watch a film that I had only seen on my old murky VHS tape. Even though the film print was a bit scratchy here and there it looked awesome on a real movie-screen the way God intended it to be seen. Protested by gay groups, William Friedkin's CRUISING has been a controversial film since it was first released. Personally I love this film as the sleazy look at a subculture that I know next to nothing about. Right up front we are told that the events depicted are not meant to represent all homosexuals but a small subset of the population and what a wacky group it is. You get tons of scenes of very masculine(non-stereotypical at the time) gay men with crazy 70's mustaches boogieing down at underground nightclubs with public blow-jobs, fucking and even a greasy fisting scene. Amongst all this insanity is Al Pacino as an undercover cop looking for a deranged killer. The amazing thing is that Friedkin shot these scenes at real clubs using actual patrons at the time just doing what came natural to them and although it does, today, come off as some type of bizarre Village People convention it does convey a trip into a scary underworld pretty convincingly. Joe Spinell puts in a good job as a dirty cop and you also get the killer from Charles Bronson's 10 TO MIDNIGHT as a very weird leather-daddy/transvestite character. Plus you get a song by great L.A. punk band THE GERMS. The whole movie is wrapped up in a way that leaves it ambiguous enough that we're not entirely sure what really happened and even who the real killer is and that ambiguity seems to be the central point of the film. The movie supposedly contains subliminal messages of hardcore gay porn inserted at certain points. Not sure what effect that was suppose to have but I do have a strange desire to go out and buy me some snazzy leather pants.
All the hip-hop asshole/ wannabe gangsters can keep SCARFACE and mainstream Amerikkka can keep all his Hollywood garbage after that(where he basically just played a parody of himself anyway). For my money this is the high-point of Pacino's career. It's too bad Mr. Al seems to disagree. I mean I assume he disagrees since he appears to be embarrassed by this film and never comments on it in interviews or anywhere. Apparently the original version of this film was over 140 minutes long and that version was forced to be cut down to the 100 minute cut we have now before it was released. This seems to be a major point of disappointment for many of the people involved. Unfortunately those cuts look like they were destroyed but it would be pretty amazing if somehow that lost footage is found and a truly complete print of this was made available. There are so many great performances besides the lead. You get Nancy Allen who would go on to become INDIANA JONES' girlfriend as Pacino's girfriend here, Joe "MANIAC" Spinell as a self-hating homosexual cop who specializes in gay-bashing, Paul Sorvino who would go on to be the boss in GOODFELLAS as the boss here, Gene Davis who would go on to be that crazy naked killer in 10 TO MIDNIGHT as a not-quite as crazy cross-dressing homo-prostitute and pretty much everyone right down to the leather-clad gay bar Village People look-a-likes. Everyone works amazingly well and I'm sure it's thanks to Mr. Friedkin's direction. Of course the man also made one the greatest horror films of all time THE EXORCIST so it's not very shocking that he knows what he's doing here. The guy knew how to create mood and tension and it's a shame that this film was a pretty big flop when it came out and set his career back at the time. The public wasn't ready for a film like this 30 years ago. This movie was picketed at the time of release by gay-rights groups for defaming the homosexual community. I can see there point but the movie, as stated right in the opening, isn't supposed to represent the whole gay community anymore than your typical boob-filled slasher movie represents the morals of the mainstream straight community. There's also at least one decent gay character in the movie. This might also be the only R-rated film to feature a fisting scene. You also get a memorably bizarre scene where a black man in a jockstrap appears in the middle of a police interrogation, leather drag queens, bloody gay serial killing and an amazingly totally 70's New York City setting. There's nothing I can really say bad about this movie besides maybe the unclear ending and I think that even works in it's favor at least for me. It keeps everything from being neatly summed up and simplified. This is a movie I've seen many times and I've enjoyed it every time.
The Pacino dance!: