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directed by James Franco, Travis Mathews
USA 2013


Actor James Franco (HOWL) teams up with filmmaker Travis Mathews (the provocative short film I WANT YOUR LOVE and its feature expansion) to "imagine" the forty minutes that William Friedkin claimed to have cut from his film CRUISING to appease the MPAA. Cast in Al Pacino's lead role - and alternately instructed to interpret Pacino's character by Mathews and to be "Pacino-esque" by Franco - is one of Franco's "Playhouse West" colleagues Val Lauren (who had previously essayed the lead in Franco's Sal Mineo biopic SAL) heading a cast of actors, models, and other sorts of performers who are either fans of the film, interested in pushing their limits, or just eager to be James Franco-adjacent (including some who were under the impression that they might actually be having sex with the actor). Without a script and hazily directed (Mathews is shown engaging in a complex choreography of the many extras and featured players while Franco offers Lauren little beyond encouragement), Lauren - straight and attached - doubts his abilities and questions the value of depicting certain acts onscreen, but steadfastly supports Franco even as he struggles to find meaning and sincerity in his collegue's intent more so than worrying about whether his own preconceptions about his sexuality will be challenged.

Once one realizes that this is actually a semi-scripted/improvised narrative piece disguised as a documentary, the pointlessness of "imagining" deleted scenes - without consultation of Friedkin, his script or notes, or any vault materials (which may not even exist) - becomes less of an issue compared to the imbalance of power between Lauren and Franco. Franco tries to justify his motives by expressing a resentment at how he has been raised to perceive normality as well as an argument about how graphic violence is more acceptable than graphic sex (especially gay sex) in American cinema; but Franco's mainstream career has survived the "risks" the provocateur has taken thus far, while it seems that a relative unknown like Lauren is taking the greater risk given the subject matter as well as being the one to appear onscreen as far as the film-within-a-film is concerned (Franco is seen photographic some scenes from other angles, but it is not clear whether he is actually shooting footage to be used in the finished short or behind the scenes video). Franco as a filmmaker (onscreen) is off-putting here, but it is difficult to determine how much of what we see is caricature (he doesn't seem far off from his body pillow-loving guest shot on 30 ROCK); and the ambiguity the ending seems to suggest isn't that of the protagonist but that of the filmmakers.

Eric Cotenas


Theatrical Release: 3 October 2013 (Portugal)

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DVD Review: Strand Releasing - Region 1 - NTSC

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for the Review!

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Strand Releasing

Region 1 - NTSC

Runtime 1:00:24

1.78:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 5.96 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.


Audio English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo
Subtitles English SDH, none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Strand Releasing

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.78:1

Edition Details:
• James Franco short film 'Feast of Stephen' (4:26)
• Travis Mathews short film 'In Their Room' (20:12)
• Interview with co-director James Franco (6:22)
• Interview with writer/co-director Travis Mathews (8:09)
• Trailer (1:49)
• Trailers for 'Yossi', 'Mysterious Skin', 'The Missing Picture', and 'Stranger by the Lake'

DVD Release Date: April 15th, 2014

Chapters 8



Strand Releasing's progressive, anamorphic transfer of this hour-long short is variable, but in keeping with the vérité aesthetic with great close-ups and the film-within-a-film bits looking slicker. Franco contributes a rambling interview that suggests he still doesn't know the point of his own project while Mathews discusses the origins of the project (being contacted by Franco's producer on the basis of Mathews' feature I WANT YOUR LOVE, a narrative film with hardcore sex scenes) and finding the "making-of" angle more rife with opportunity for incident than a just imagining and visualizing the missing footage itself. Franco and Mathews are also represented with short films (with Franco's film suggesting a more accomplished artist than the main feature). The film's trailer and trailers for other Strand titles make up the rest of the extras.

  - Eric Cotenas


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Region 1 - NTSC


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