Spalding Gray has an eye condition that can be surgically corrected. He decides to seek alternate treatment and embarks on a journey that will take him to Christian Science, Native American sweat lodges and psychic surgeons, among others.Written by
Erik Gregersen <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The Broadway performance of "Gray's Anatomy" by Spalding Gray opened at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre on November 28, 1993, ran for 13 performances and closed on January 3, 1994. A repeat performance reopened at the Vivian Beaumont Theater on June 5, 1994, ran for 8 performances and closed on June 27, 1994. See more »
a long story told, made cinematic in his way by Soderbergh
I saw this film a couple of times when it aired on cable, and didn't really know who the director was at the time. I recognized Spalding Gray, as I had seen at least one other of his one-man monologue movie/shows that pop up every now and again on TV. His style of telling stories is sardonic, sad, a tinge in the cynical, always pointing out idiosyncrasies when he can, and always with a sense of the truth. When I found out that this particular one, Gray's Anatomy, was directed by Steven Soderbergh, it finally made sense. Because the style of the project fits the rest of the director's oeuvre without a misstep. It might not be one his great films, but he makes material that should, in what would really be the right reason, be on a stage somewhere off-Broadway (not off-off but not on it either) into something much more compelling for the screen. He uses a combination of varied angles, experimental lighting with colored filters, lenses, the lengths messed up, and messes with light and dark. His DP, Elliot Davis, also a very good asset on Out of Sight, makes this a key part of the engrossment (or what might be for others a distance) in the material. And of course the editing makes one pay attention to bits more closely than others, or accentuates some of the points that Gray makes. The music chimes in unconventionally as well.
In this particular case, Gray is talking about health, but more than anything his own as he goes through the process of going to doctors, finding out his illness, getting it cured, et all. But it's not really all that simple, due to some of Gray's own neuroses and other bits of problems that come up, one or two his though mostly on the end of the eccentric doctors and others along his trip. This is not all, however, because through this story of fixing a real medical problem, it off-shoots into bits of topics about New York, Judaism, and his family. Soderbergh understands more than anything the mind-set of a guy like Gray, what he might have had, and the best a director like he can do is keep up with the sparks in the material. It's a good one man-show given better directorial treatment. It flirts with overkill in the style (only so much one man can take even in 80 minutes), but in the end after seeing it more than once I felt comfortable not just with the style but, more importantly, Gray himself. It's like style in a three-legged race to the finish with the substance, as the quirks in each threaten to tumble on another over. And, to be sure, it's under the radar enough in the indie-world to keep its ambitions only so reaching. B+
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