From the first time he performed Swimming to Cambodia - the one-man account of his experience of making the 1984 film The Killing Fields - Spalding Gray made the art of the monologue his own. Drawing unstintingly on the most intimate aspects of his own life, his shows were vibrant, hilarious and moving. His death came tragically early, in 2004; this compilation of interview and performance footage nails his idiosyncratic and irreplaceable brilliance.Written by
Edinburgh International Film Festival
Some interesting recollections in one run-on sentence
Actor Spalding Gray tells stories through a series of monologue. Director Steven Soderbergh splices together the various segments to create a vision of a man's life through his own words. Spalding is most famous as an actor whose biggest movie is probably 'The Killing Fields'. This is a fascinating experience like sitting in front of the man listening intently at the story teller. It's confessional. It's personal. It's sometimes funny, some shocking, and just a lot of little personal recollections. There is a lot of footage from his one person play. The disembodied laughter is a little bit strange since it depends on which footage is being used. Some footage is just an interview. I have a feeling that the play is a lot more mesmerizing. The movie runs on and on switching from one performance to another to an interview. It feels like a run-on sentence. There are some undeniable laughs. Sometimes I miss some of the laughs from the audiences. It's like I'm missing a comedic beat or some obscure reference.
I wonder if it would be better to have a straight uncut film of the plays. A film that takes in Spalding's pace could allow the stories to hit better. Let's pause for effect. Let's have a break for the audience. The monotone pacing tested my patience after 30 minutes. Of course, a theater performance transferred directly to film almost never works except for comedy specials. This is sorta like that. Then again it isn't. The pacing could be too slow for movie audiences. This is an interesting attempt, but it didn't all work for me.
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