Saturday, March 11, 2017

Christian Slater in KING COBRA

It's like eating a large, delicious gourmet pizza that was delivered to your cheap motel room while a couple is making loud love in the room right next to yours.  Some could say that KING COBRA has seedy material with its porn film-making story line.  But I was really gripped by the terrific performance Christian Slater gave.  I saw KING COBRA on Netflix.  It runs a little under 90 minutes.  Christian Slater plays a single middle-aged man who lives alone in the suburbs in a big house.  He photographs and records young men for gay porn photos and movies.  He's closeted.  His sister is still trying to fix him up with available women.  Online, when he's scouting for new talent, this suburban man goes by the handle KING COBRA.
This movie is based on a real-life story that led to an arrest.  With the porn angle, it's not as good a film as BOOGIE NIGHTS but that film had a different tone.  It showed misfit characters coming together to form a dysfunctional family.  Think of how Dirk Diggler was propelled out of his Southern California home by an angry, critical mother who made home life for son and father miserable.  The porn community made him feel welcomed.  There was something innocent about the generously endowed and heartbroken Dirk Diggler.  There's nothing innocent about the young gay male porn actor in this story. Initially, I wanted to KING COBRA because of co-star James Franco (on the far left in the photo below with cast members Christian Slater and Garrett Clayton).
Franco is a good actor and I'm fascinated with the sexual fluidity of his image and film choices.  In MILK, he played Harvey Milk's boyfriend.  In the comedy PINEAPPLE EXPRESS, he has a serious man-crush on his bear of buddy -- and that buddy is played by Seth Rogen.  In another comedy, THIS IS THE END, Franco and Seth Rogen play themselves.  All the characters play themselves as Franco's friends meet at his house in L.A. for what winds up being the start of the apocalypse.  As they panic and plan to save themselves from the end of the world, one of the running gags is the fact that Franco definitely has had sex with other dudes.  In the documentary INTERIOR. LEATHER BAR  (also on Netflix) we see Franco directing a film based on the reportedly lost X-rated footage to the controversial crime thriller called CRUISING, an X-rated 1980 film starring Al Pacino.  Word had it that the missing footage had gay leather bar sex scenes.  Franco wants to recreate and shoot those scenes.  The unknown actor friend he hires to play Pacino's character as rather uptight.  Franco personally takes the hand-held camera and shoots two naked men having graphic sex with each other.  Franco shoots this with the nonchalance of a TV sports cameraman shooting a golf tournament.  Meanwhile, the actor playing the Pacino character is practically fainting like Aunt PittyPat in GONE WITH THE WIND.
In KING COBRA, Franco plays the manager/boyfriend of a porn actor who sees "clients" for extra cash.  Joe (Franco) likes to live large even when he's broke.  He sets up his boyfriend with the side clients.  He's a rival porn producer.  He wants to steal the hot Brent Corrigan away from KING COBRA producer Stephen (Slater).  Joe, as you'll see, is what some circles would call a "power bottom."  Franco didn't disappoint.  He gave me that "You did not just take me there" moment I hoped to get.  

Stephen seeks young men.  They must be at least 18.  The sensation that he discovered and named Brent Corrigan has lied to his single mother about the work he's doing and he's lied to Stephen.  They're in business together, but Stephen is lonely and, against his better judgment, gets romantically attracted to Brent.  In one very economical early scene, we see exactly what sort of inner quality Brent has.  He turns on the TV.  There's a TV news update on the recent devastation of Hurricane Katrina.  Bored, he switches over to Animal Planet.  Click onto this link to see a trailer for KING COBRA:

Slater is great at playing a conflicted man who has learned how to hide in plain sight.  A same-sex encounter in his young adult years was romantically fulfilling for a night but he was treated like an outcast the following day.  When he photographs Brent, you see the combination of business, longing and lust.  He shoots porn yet he's sexually frustrated.  Notice the emotions that wash over his face when he takes Brent out to a restaurant to talk business after their first sessions.  He wants to sign a client and he also making subtle signs of sexual attraction.  Notice Slater's physical language.

Christian Slater was one of my favorite guests on my VH1 show in the late 80s.  That's when critics categorized him as a young new actor who was imitating Jack Nicholson.  I've been a fan since 1986's THE NAME OF THE ROSE.  (I sat right behind him at the screening of that movie as we both watched his character lose his virginity.)   I haven't been able to see Slater in the MR. ROBOT series but I read raves about that TV show on social media.

Christian Slater's performance in KING COBRA makes me wonder if he's getting A-list movie role offers.  He should.  Christian Slater is a mighty fine actor.

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