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The Reeler Blog

Cruising Altitude: Friedkin's Reviled Drama Resurfaces

On the very weekend his nightmarish new Bug opens to mostly favorable reviews, William Friedkin's grueling 1980 drama Cruising may be the runaway beneficiary of the year's most eager critical revisionism. We wrote about its revival a few months ago, so perhaps you know this one: Largely despised by critics and gay activists alike more than 27 years ago, the New York cop-in-leather saga is finally emerging on DVD this fall. Viewers in Cannes got an early look at the restoration, with The Reeler's own Eric Kohn blogging for the NY Press that Cruising "serves up endless waves of uniquely idiosyncratic entertainment":

Any given scene seems likely to careen from unsettling drama to guffaw-worthy cheese. ... At once resolute in its thematic construction and refusing to take the overarching plot too seriously, Cruising shows us the loony world that Grindhouse should’ve embodied. (It was no great surprise when Friedkin singled out Death Proof director Quentin Tarantino in the audience.) Pacino is terrifically over-the-top, yet remains undeniably chilling, thanks to those hypnotic full moon eyes and a fearsome portrayal of morbid schizophrenia.

Meanwhile, Melissa Anderson got back on the TONY blog for a more underwhelmed period of reflection:

After receiving a standing ovation, Friedkin ambled out to the stage in Dockers and a windbreaker, cracking wise about his film maudit. “We ran Cruising for an audience of ‘tastemakers’ in New York City,” the director recalled. “People were yelling and screaming—it was like the Rite of Spring!” ...

While I’m not sure I’d call myself a revisionist, I can’t help but marvel at Cruising. Am I simply nostalgic? The Meatpacking District, with bars like the Anvil, Ramrod and the Eagle, are filmed as sexy, stygian pleasure/terrordomes (“Look -- isn’t that where Stella McCartney is now?” joked [a friend]). My group of four celebrated the experience by heading to Zanzibar, the gay boîte of Cannes. Alas, instead of an elaborate leatherwear, I saw only neatly pressed cotton garments. One gentleman wore a shirt that said SAILOR -- which surely must herald a restoration of Fassbinder’s Querelle.

See, Luke Thompson? New York film bloggers have all the fun.

Posted at May 25, 2007 12:39 PM

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