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|Index||51 reviews in total|
Ellen Hovde, Muffie Meyer, David Maysles and his brother Albert
Maysles' documentary feature about American socialites Edith Ewing
Bouvier Beale (1895-1977) and Edith Bouvier Beale (1917-2002) was shot
on location in the town of East Hampton in southeastern Suffolk, New
York in USA and is an American production which was produced by
American documentary filmmakers Albert Maysles and David Maysles
(1932-1987). It tells the story about Edith aka Little Edie and her
mother Edith aka Big Edie who whilst living on an estate called Grey
Gardens in the mid 1970s where they had been living quite isolated for
many years, were faced with eviction after being ordered to clean up
the house by the Suffolk County Health Commission.
This Direct Cinema documentary which examines the everyday life, relationship and personalities of a singer in her early 80s and a fashion model and cabaret performer in her mid-50s, draws an utterly intimate and condensed portrayal of a very contradictory relationship between a mother and daughter who ever since the daughter put her career on hold and left New York in the early 1950s, lived on their own in a descending house with eight cats and other wild animals. Besides the fact that Little Edie was the first cousin and Big Edie the aunt of former First Lady of the United States and book editor Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis (1929-1994), it early on becomes evident why this somewhat eccentric pair was chosen as subjects for a documentary feature.
In this close look into the private and personal lives of two human beings who was in a far from ideal situation, one becomes more concerned with the people who are unveiling their lives in the most candid way than the story itself, and begins to question if this is more than just a quest for attention and fame and weather or not they really wanted someone to see as much of themselves and their lifestyle as this revealing portrait shows. As the outgoing and outspoken Little Edie unlike her mother acts as if she is the center of this documentary, she becomes the main character and it is therefore also mostly narrated by and from her point of view.
Due to a style of filmmaking where surprises are frequent and where anything can happen at any given moment, this real-life soap opera which was screened Out of competition at the 29th Cannes International Film Festival in 1976, becomes an at times melodramatic and very truthful depiction of two adult women who despite hardly ever, while on camera, being able to maintain a civilized conversation, is tightly connected and cares for as much as they resent one another. A lingering and astonishing true story that underlines the theory about the truth being stranger than fiction.
Grey Gardens (1975)
*** (out of 4)
Bizarre "documentary" about Edith Bouvier Beale and her daughter Edie - cousin and niece of Jacqueline Onassis - living in a dump of a mansion where we get to see their day-to-day lives. I'm really not sure if bizarre really covers everything in this film and I'm really not sure that this should or could be called a documentary. The content has come under attack by many critics. I think most agree that it's a very entertaining movie but at the same time it makes you feel more like a voyeur looking in on a couple obviously sick people. I understand the directors getting attacked for filming these two as it seems clear that there's really no point to it other than to show what wacky behaviors they have and to see how someone with so much money and connections to greatness can be living like bums off the street. The film opens up with newspaper clips of the two about to be kicked out of their mansion because of how dirty it is and then we see that Onassis had to place cleaned so that the could stay. From here we see the mother and daughter talk about their lives, scream and shout and do other things including feed the raccoons that are living in their attack. We also see their countless cats that are constantly running around. It's rather funny watching this film today because of all the connections it has to reality TV and shows like Springer where people just show all their troubles, bad behaviors and other issues that really should be kept private. We see the two women go off on wild subjects ranging from who they should have married to whether or not they've made mistakes in their lives and a strange bit where the daughter talks about a local repairman wanting her sexually. There's really no "direction" to the film or story trying to be told. It really doesn't seem as if the directors are wanting us to get to know these people or understand them. It seems like the main goal is just to show these two rather eccentric people go off on rants, wild off-topic discussions and other bits of weirdness. It's not a masterpiece and one could question showing these two but there's no doubt that it's impossible to turn away.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
My film review is on the documentary Grey Gardens. It is set in East
Hampton, New York, in a once beautiful mansion with spectacular ocean
views. This is the true story of Mrs. Edith Bouvier Beale and her
daughter Edie. Our film makers Albert and David Maysles shot the film
in 1975, but time seems to stand still for the Beale women who are
living in the days of yester year. They film the mother/daughter duo
who are wary of their intentions at first, but relent upon learning
that they will be in the movies! The once beautiful mansion is falling
down around them, but they don't seem to notice that they are living
amid squalor. The surroundings are overgrown and choked by vegetation
that seems to have swallowed the property and the contents and life
within. They spend their time arguing and entertaining each other and
our film makers with singing and dancing and stories of days gone by.
They share their home with their beloved cats which number in the hundreds and raccoons who make their home inside the walls and come out at night to scavenger on the cat food and bread that Little Edie leaves out for them. Both women share a room and everything together almost as if the umbilical cord was never severed, although Little Edie goes back and forth between a feeling of contentment and bitterness for a life she was denied.
The film maker's narrative was very informative and concise and their gentle coaxing and prompting of the two women provided many entertaining stories during the filming. The film makers were subjected to the stench and filth every day during filming as they followed the women around as they gave tours of the home. The women were constantly changing their "costumes" for the men, especially Little Edie who took great care to explain why a "costume" was appropriate for the day.
The documentary is both unique and intriguing and the women will keep us entertained with their outlandish ways and views of the world and their scenario. It will leave you in astonishment how with dogged determination the women survived and flourished when all they had was each other. You will walk away with an appreciation of life and family and the special relationships that develop within.
After much thought this play gave me the impression that its message is about changes. It has been said that the only constancy in the universe is change. Changes in our society, government, moral structure, etc. is ever present. Survivors change with the times, the modes and the structure of business. Act One is about the good times; money, position, prestige, social standing. Act two reflects that these two ladies, totally into supporting each other without reflection on the changes outside their homes in society, lost in the race to maintain their lives in sync with society. To me Act Two is more complex yet glosses over the complexities of the how these ladies go to be into sad a state of affairs. No mention of failures except for the daughter's inabilities to find a career due to constant worry about her mother's well being. Act One does have some degree of fluff but develops well their situation. Act Two should be the more extensive one as it is more difficult to understand how well educated people can get into this sad state of affairs. And without any explanation presented the characters' inability to handle cleaning, money matters, etc. we must conclude the cause to be mental breakdown and lack of family support. To focus on their relationship exclusively, the author depends on the audience to be entertained and to be focused on the personalities of the characters. This is not enough. On a larger scale, changes in our society at the wealthy and prestige levels for the worse is not news. Our landscape is full of families that lived with splendor upon the wealth and social standing of the patriarch only to fall as generations that follow fail to keep up with business, practices and taxes and or spend all of it. Some have been successful. But so many have failed running out of money and unable to change with the times. In short, Act One should be a bit shorter as it is easier for the audience to understand wealth due to business or inheritances (such as the Kennedy family. Act Two needs to expand the why of the change, for the worse in this case, prior to giving us a glimpse into the minds of these two ladies that while unable to have money somehow find money to feed cats galore.
One of the best love stories I have ever seen. It is a bit like watching a train wreck in slow motion, but lovely nonetheless... Big Edie and Little Edie seem a bit like family members after watching this movie repeatedly, and are infinitely quotable: "It's a goddamned beautiful day, now will you just shut up?" The opening explanation of Little Edie's costume only promises that the movie will live on forever, and so will Big Edie "The World Famous Singer" and Little Edie " The World Famous Dancer."
There is now a musical on Broadway based on the 1975 documentary. It
breaks the story into 2 acts- one in their heydays in the 1940 and act
two shows them as they were in the documentary.
You can read more here: http://www.greygardensthemusical.com or at this MySpace Fan page : http://www.myspace.com/greygardens
This is pulled from Wikipedia: A production at Playwrights Horizons in New York City opened to mixed reviews, but attracted particularly good reviews for its stars, Christine Ebersole and Mary Louise Wilson. It earned five Lucille Lortel Award nominations and twelve Drama Desk Award nominations. The show played from 10 February 2006 until 30 April 2006, and is scheduled to move to Broadway with preview performances beginning October 3, 2006 and officially opening on November 2, 2006 at the Walter Kerr Theatre. A cast album was released on August 22, 2006.
At first I saw snippets of the movie in the early mornings while getting ready for work. The movie always stayed with me after seeing pieces of it. I couldn't get Eddie out of my mind. Today, after seeing the movie from the beginning, and learning who the women are, I must say that it didn't really make any difference to me. The movie was well worth making even if the women did not have noteworthy relatives. I would love to see a follow-up documentary.
This is one of my all-time faves. It takes patience to watch but I guarantee you won't forget this film. Sad, funny, beautiful and crazy!
Sorry, but the comments made by Wayne are ridiculous! Anyone
who has ANY interest in documentary filmmaking, particularly
cinema verite, should check this film out. It's one of Al Maysles'
greats, both for filmmaking accomplishment, and for its
fascinating subjects. Mr. Maysles & his team established a
fantastic repoir with their subjects, & the result is an incredibly
intriguing, psychologically brilliant look at the "other" Kennedys.
This film is a crucial part of modern documentary/verite history.
Get with it, Wayne! :)
That's the beauty of "cinema vérité" documentary : because the directors are opened for what they will shot, something happens like magic. And because we can see slowly and very clairly the real situations of these two women, we can feel also the other side of the american way of like and the result of politic's show business. In front of T.V. cameras, the glamour of the queen of the U.S.A., and behind them, the absolute loneliness and the cry for the common life. Cinema is existing perhaps also to show that kind of things.
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