The Beales of Grey Gardens (2006) Poster

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More of Big and Little Edie Bouvier Beale
saareman11 October 2006
We saw the Canadian premiere screening of "The Beales of Grey Gardens" on the afternoon of Monday Sept. 11, 2006 at the Al Green Theatre during the 2006 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). Also on the program was Albert Maysles' very first film, "Psychiatry In Russia" from 1955, in what may have been its World Premiere screening in a theatre, as it had previously only been shown on American Public TV as far as Maysles himself could remember. Albert Maysles was introduced briefly at the start by TIFF programmer Nicholas Davies and was interviewed at the end by fellow director Barbara Kopple (dir. "Harlan County USA", "Dixie Chicks -Shut Up And Sing") and answered several questions from the audience.

"The Beales of Grey Gardens" is an entirely new film that has been assembled from the extra footage that Albert Maysles (camera) shot with his brother David Maysles (sound) in 1972-74 for the film released in 1975 called "Grey Gardens". Both films will be issued in a new 2 disc Criterion DVD set in December 2006. (You'll also be able to purchase them separately, in case you already have the 1st one.)

"Beales" does seem to be assembled on the assumption that anyone seeing it has already seen the original "Grey Gardens". There is no introduction or newspaper montage such as the first film has to give you any context or information about who these women are and why are they living in only a few rooms of a once imposing mansion that seems to be slowly going back to nature. Only late in the film there is a mention of Jackie Kennedy Onassis convincing her 2nd husband Ari (Aristotle Onassis) to help out the Beales with funding for renovations and upkeep of the Grey Gardens estate.

I felt overall that "Beales" perhaps showed more of a needy side to Little Edie that wasn't shown quite so overtly in the first film. Her flirtatious manner towards both of the Maysles brothers is more apparent and her questioning of their choice of the first film's title as "Grey Gardens" seems to hint at some disappointment that the film isn't titled after herself or her family, but rather the house (Maysles is obviously making up for this in the title of this 2nd film). The first film has more of a defiant pride where even the apparent desolate circumstances cannot undo her. Big Edie gives the same mother of all she surveys portrayal in both films.

The afternoon was even more enhanced by getting a chance to hear Albert Maysles tell anecdotes about the film and just speak in general about life and documentary film. Barbara Kopple did try to direct questions his way but it seemed that Maysles was simply more interested in getting certain views out and he actually seemed to be ignoring what he was asked and just using it as a springboard to carry on telling us a continuing story. Kopple wasn't in the least offended by this and seemed to be quite happy just to be there to act as a prompter for Maysles.

Among the tidbits that came out from Maysles was a quote of Little Edie's reaction after the Beales were given a private screening of the first film: "The Maysles have created a masterpiece!", and that Albert Maysles had recently re-connected with the neighbour's gardener Jerry Torres who as a young man was a frequent guest to Grey Gardens and who appears in both films and now drives a cab in New York City. Maysles also had some impassioned things to say about how documentary film was important in the world as a means to promote our understanding of each other and to act as a deterrent to anger and hate. An interesting comment made about the Beales but also about people in general was that "People want to tell the truth about themselves. They don't like to keep secrets".

All in all a great afternoon of documentary film. Kudos to TIFF for organizing it.
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The Maysles have done it again!
atomic_age5722 January 2007
While watching "The Beales of Grey Gardens" I was simply amazed at the amount of priceless footage that did not make it into the original film! Edie is truly a legend and icon of her time. It is not surprising that her style has been copied by numerous fashion designers; that woman definitely had a sense of style and it seems could make virtually any piece of clothing look good on her. If you are a fan of the original film, the new documentary is a MUST-SEE. Just when you thought you knew the two girls, along comes all the stuff you've never seen before, and you will fall in love with them all over again. The only down side is that at the end you will feel sorry that there will be no more antics of Big and Little Edith Beale to delight you for hours on end, but you be grateful for what we do have, and what these delightful characters provided us with.
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A Step Down from the Original
Michael_Elliott1 May 2012
The Beales of Grey Gardens (2006)

*** (out of 4)

Albert Maysles and David Maysles took the unused footage from their 1975 documentary GREY GARDENS and came up with this new film. As with the first, we take a look at Big Edie and Little Edie, the relatives to Jackie Onassis who lived in an estate that was pretty much ran down and which they shared with a various of creatures including cats and raccoons. Having just watched the original film a few weeks before this, I was very familiar and it was still fresh in my mind. I don't think viewing the two so close hampered this film but at the same time I think it's clear that this one here isn't nearly as good. I think you could point to several different factors but for some reason I just kept saying to myself that this footage wasn't included in the original for a reason. That reason was probably that it simply wasn't all that interesting or at least it wasn't as interesting as what we got in the first movie. I thought GREY GARDENS was a pretty weird film because it really didn't seem to have a point other than to show how weird these people were. It at least had a structure to it but that's not the case here. It really does seem like the entire movie was just thrown together for the sake of the filmmakers having another picture for the credits. That's not to say that this is a bad movie but at the same time it really does feel as if you're watching 90-minutes worth of deleted scenes that you'd typically just see on a film's special features. Some of the highlights in this film include a sequence where a fire breaks out and you can see the damage in the original film but there it doesn't have an explanation. Another highlight is hearing the two ladies talk about their thoughts on the Catholic church and men in general. Fans of the first film will probably get the most out of this but the rest should certainly seek out the original first.
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The Beales of Grey Gardens (2006)
Martin Teller12 January 2012
Certainly the easiest way to put this is if you liked GREY GARDENS, you'll like this, and if you didn't, it's not going to change your mind. A pastiche of outtakes for those who love Edith and Edie, it's a mellower selection of clips which are all pretty captivating, thanks mostly to Edie's larger than life personality. I think I could listen to her talk and ramble on all day long. This is a less revealing and focused film than its predecessor, however... the scenes are shorter on average, focusing less on the odd family dynamic and history, and more on the amusing. Still, it's a treat for fans of the Beales.

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As a point of clarification
floquick214 October 2012
David Maysles, the primary editor of the brilliantly edited "Grey Gardens" died in 1987 and was therefore not involved with this project.

According to his brother and cameraman Albert (his interview is the only extra on the DVD), he and David filmed for about 6 weeks for several hours a day in the early autumn of 1973. Presumably, this film was culled from the best of what remained of that material.

It's disjointed to the point of really just being a roughly assembled collection of outtakes. We see much more of the Marble Faun as well as quirky artist friend Lois who only appeared in the birthday party scenes in "Grey Gardens". Little Edie in particular comes across as both more rational as well as more flirtatious with the Maysles brothers, especially the younger David. And the extent to which the brothers engaged with and encouraged the Beales becomes much more obvious in these segments.

Still, this is a must-see for fans of the Beales, if only for a view of all of Little Edie's amazing costumes of the day as well as her general philosophies of life. Little Edie was a true free-thinking early feminist, trapped by the circumstances of her time and social status, but I'm sure it would please her endlessly to know she has so many admirers more than a decade after her death.
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Who is the audience for this movie?
shakawtwf11 March 2007
Warning: Spoilers
After watching the movie, I really don't understand what the point of it was. We're basically peeking into the lives of two reclusive women (who appear bipolar incidentally), related to Jackie O (which seems to be of more interest to the filmmakers than to us, if you didn't read the notes for the film, you wouldn't know that until halfway) and who live in squalor. Perhaps the dichotomy between their relations and their living conditions is the point but what is done with that? The women's conversations make references to people that we have no idea who they are, they ramble on, sometimes both at the same time, neither listening to the other, like two tape players running simultaneously.

They just made a Broadway musical about this subject and I shake my head. I didn't hate the movie, I just don't really know what to make of it.
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