Spalding Gray sits behind a desk throughout the entire film and recounts his exploits and chance encounters while playing a minor role in the film 'The Killing Fields'. At the same time, he gives a background to the events occurring in Cambodia at the time the film was set.Written by
Peter Goldsack <email@example.com>
A&E cuts out the part of the sex performer doing tricks with her vagina (including the banana hitting the wall, which Gray alludes to early in the act.) In addition, the scene uses different close-ups, and ends with "boobly oobly." See more »
One day a couple of years ago, while I was waiting for a television show, I was flipping through the channels and I caught part of Spalding Gray's monologue film -Monster in a Box- and I was so blown away by it that I missed the show that I had been waiting for. I don't know why it took me so long to rent another one of his monologue films, but this week I picked up his first one, -Swimming to Cambodia-. It was good, but nowhere near as good as -Monster in a Box-.
For one thing, -Monster in a Box- was very well directed, and the "special effects" do not get in the way. But in -Swimming to Cambodia-, the sound effects are often too loud, and thecutting is too quick and artsy, when it should have been nothing but slow pans and zooms, sort of like -My Dinner With Andre-. Then there is this awful effect with the lights, basically shutting them off to cut the emotional rhythm. This was unneeded. Gray's performance itself establishes rhythm enough.
My second big complaint is with the monologue itself. It is mostly very interesting, but it is not polished or cohesive. Just as he does in -Monster in a Box-, Gray alternates between very hilarious narrative (such as the descriptions of the sex acts in Thailand) and very harrowing narrative (such as the descriptions of Pol Pot's revolution). That technique works extraordinarily in -Monster in a Box-, but the two halves of the narratives don't seem to do with each other at all. The funny half concerns the work on the movie -The Killing Fields-, and the harrowing half very intensely examines the true story of the Kamir Rouge and America's dealing with these kinds of situations. Also, the monologue seems to end almost arbitrarily.
This film is definitely worth a rental. It is under 90 minutes, which I always count as a plus. But if you want to be impressed, rent -Monster in a Box-. 7/10
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