Voyeur (2017) Poster

(II) (2017)

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A tale about two narcissists
antoniokowatsch4 December 2017
I have to admit, the movie was quite entertaining. But after I was done watching it I realized that this wasn't really a documentary at all. The genre classification for this movie is more of a decoy since the majority of the movie focuses on hearsay and Talese's career. So to claim that this is a documentary is a little bit far fetched.

At the end of the day there isn't much meat to this story. It's about a guy who used to perv on his customers/guests. That's it. The entire story was divulged in the first 15 minutes. From there the "documentary" took a sharp turn. Focusing mostly on Foos' private life and Talese's past achievements. In my humble opinion the sole intent of this movie is to normalize the kinks of Foos and Talese. They're both questionable characters. And throughout the movie they tried to justify the "immoral" choices that they've made by assuming the role of apologists. Foos wants us to believe that he's a pioneer of some sort. Meanwhile Talese's exploiting the documentary to tell us more about his all so illustrious career.

The way I see it both are narcissists who found each other because they're wired the same way. For reference: Talese's home is decorated with a deluge of life-sized photos of himself. I think that says it all.

Foos' motivation for the documentary was to spread the word about his upcoming book. For him it was nothing more than a PR stunt. This is the only noteworthy thing he has ever achieved in his life (which is probably the realization that he himself made at some point, hence the resilience). And the reason why Talese was so interested in this documentary/story was because he's been invested in it for almost 40 years now. He saw this as a the perfect opportunity to end his career with a big bang/story. As we later find out both got more than they bargained for. Some might say it's kismet.
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Shaky Execution Saved By Intriguing Concept
zkonedog11 December 2017
Upon seeing that the documentary story of Gerald Foos was coming to Netflix, I could hardly believe it. When I read the source material book "The Voyeur's Motel", I thought I was maybe the only actual person to have read it (I now understand why...watch the doc to find out). Much like the book, this documentary adaptation is often a bit of a mess...but it also stumbles upon such an interesting scenario/person that it is riveting for all the right (and often very wrong) reasons all the way through.

For a basic plot summary, "Voyeur" recounts the story of Gerald Foos, a motel owner who spied, peeping Tom-style, on his guests for many years via a crawlspace above the rooms. Eventually, Foos began corresponding with journalist Gay Talese and the two formed a sort of "pact of secrecy", as Foos wanted the attention/outlet and Talese knew he was on to a story. But then, a murder takes place and culpability issues abound, and Talese even discovers that Foos may not have been 100% truthful in many of his claims/statements.

The "star of this show", so to speak, is easily Foos. He's such a polarizing figure that he will captivate your attention. On one hand, he seems to be a terrible human being. On the other hand, there is a "psychology fascination" with what he is doing (it initially started all about "watching for sex", but then became as much a classification of private behavior as anything). The key here, of course, is to not be turned off by the snap judgment of "this guy is a perverted creep", because there is absolutely no doubting that. But the scale of what he accomplished/observed is fascinating for those who are able to open their minds a bit and give the story a chance to play out.

Sadly, this entire concept (from Foos' letters to Talese, to the book, to this doc) has been basically botched from beginning to end. There is no way to verify any of Foos' claims (besides the fact that indeed the crawlspace was confirmed by one visit from Talese to Foos), Talese actually disavowed his book at one point, and this doc is kind of all over the place too. It's messy all over the place.

What carries the day and made this so fascinating to me, though, was a look into the psyche of Foos. In a lot of ways, seeing him in front of a camera makes this whole thing "work" a lot more than it did on the printed page. I really think, though, that one's enjoyment of this documentary will be determined by whether morals can be set aside for a bit. What Foos did was reprehensible, but at the same time fascinating (from a purely psychological and logistical perspective). If you can wait and pass judgment on him at the end, you will enjoy "Voyeur". If not, it's probably best you steer clear.
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watching and watched
ferguson-630 November 2017
Greetings again from the darkness. We are watching the final product of filmmakers watching a reporter watching a man whose hobby is watching those who don't know they are being watched. Lacking a single redeeming individual, the film's creep factor slithers towards 11 on the (SPINAL TAP) scale.

It's understandable if you assume this is the story of a pathetic and disgusting Aurora, Colorado motel owner who, for many years, quietly leered at his guests from a self-constructed perch in the attic. Gerald Foos methodically documented the sexual actions of the Manor House Motel guests, which numbered 2000-3000 per year. If his actions aren't remarkable (not in a good way) enough, Mr. Foos actually married not one, but two women who were complicit in his hobby.

In 1980, renowned reporter and author ("from age 15 to 80") Gay Talese received a letter from Gerald Foos, kicking off a three decade relationship culminating in a controversial feature article in "The New Yorker" and a book entitled "The Voyeur's Motel". Once Mr. Foos agrees to have his name published, co-directors Myles Kane and Josh Koury jump on board to document the final steps in Mr. Talese's writing and research process. It's here that we enter the oddest man cave you'll likely see. In the basement of Talese's immaculate Manhattan brownstone is not just his writing office, but also a lifetime of research and writing … boxes and shelves of material that will surely one day be part of a museum or university collection.

The unexpected parallels between writer and subject are made clear. Both are voyeurs and both are collectors. As a journalist, Talese observes the actions of people, while Foos is quite obviously the definition of a Peeping Tom. Talese collects the years of research for his writings, while Foos shows off his extraordinary sports memorabilia collection (also in his basement). Beyond these similarities, what stands out most are the unbridled egos of these two men. Both seemed most focused on getting or keeping their names and stories in the headlines. Of course, Talese has built a career on his name and reputation, while the aging Foos simply sees this as his legacy that somehow deserves historical prominence.

The filmmakers remain more focused on Talese than Foos, and that takes us inside "The New Yorker" where the editors are justifiably concerned about a single-source story – one that without Talese's name attached would likely have never made it past an initial perusal. The aftermath of publication reminds us that we've seen con men before, and there is little joy in being taken on a long ride of deceit. Perhaps the best description of what we see on screen is that it's a sideshow of ego and the need to be seen (watched).
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A sad tale of two unenlightened and unenlightenable aging men
fgapmtn25 December 2019
This is the sad story of two old men who were unable to learn the lessons that a long life should have taught them. Their narcissism is as deep and broad as any adolescent male at the height of their testosterone laced years. Their temperament, in full display, is even worse. If the film has any value, other than exposing the egos of these misanthropes, it's to teach a lesson to the rest of maledom: The true value and reward of maturity and aging is to be found in the seeking of greater wisdom, understanding and kindness -- not in the unending, ever expanding pursuit of materialistic selfishness.
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There's 90 minutes of my life I won't get back
bseaman-2024818 December 2017
Warning: Spoilers
I do not get all these reviews raving about the brilliance of this documentary. To steal a tag line from the 90s hit comedy Seinfeld, I think this documentary could be billed as " the documentary about nothing".

Gay Talese, at 80-something, is obviously not prepared to go gently into that good night. However, in searching for ways to rage against the dying of the light, he has completely erred in judgment and instead decided to write a book (and agree to participate in a documentary) about this purported voyeur who secretly watched his motel guests over 20 years, or is it 30 years? Who knows? Because the subject, Gerald Foos, is completely unreliable as a source, erring on three major points: 1) when he bought the motel - there is a discrepancy of three years from when he says he bought the motel and when it was actually purchased; 2) he neglected to tell Talese that he'd sold the motel a few years after he bought it; and 3) his story about witnessing a woman being murdered was not founded in fact.

That a journalist of Talese's stature and reputation would write a book based on only one source, a completely unreliable one at that, is bad enough. That a major publication like The New Yorker would publish an article about it and that Talese's publisher would promote this book speaks volumes, I think, about the ovine nature of people. Somebody is deemed to be a major talent, therefore we just have to let him/her write away or shoot the film and we never have to question his/her source.

My doubt about the veracity of this story was aroused several minutes in, when Foos describes the catwalk he built that allowed him to spy on motel guests through grates in the rooms' ceilings without being detected. WTF. I thought? Did he build his catwalk in concrete to completely muffle the noise of his footsteps? Why didn't the dogs of motel guests bark at the sound and/or scent of a human above them?

Mr. Talese, you really need to spend the last few days or months (if not years) of your life in quiet contemplation of a life lived. If you once were this famed journalist who spared no effort to get the story right, forget about it. Your glory days are long gone.
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Not true crime. The only crime here is Talese's reporting.
altereggo12310 January 2020
"Voyeur," a documentary purportedly about an infamous voyeur, should really be titled "Pseudo-Journalist," since what it really demonstrates is what a terrible writer Gay Talese is. It's not "true crime," since so many of the claims in it are debatable or demonstrably false.

Talese correctly notes that it's dangerous to rely on just once source, but never bothers to check on important alleged facts of this story himself. He seems unfamiliar with Google, only learning from his daughter and others about details readily available online. He never checks property records central to the story and does a sloppy job checking on a crime mentioned by the voyeur, Gerald Foos. He unconvincingly brushes aside key discrepancies on dates.

At one point, when Foos claims that his Mickey Mantle baseball card is worth a huge sum, Talese laments, "How am I supposed to know if he is lying?" How about looking it up online? Or asking someone knowledgable? His methods are so shoddy, one has to wonder about the rest of his books.

At another point, explaining why he participated in group sex as part of his research for a book on sex in America, Talese explains that, as a reporter you can't just observe, you have to experience. Really? Did he have to kill anyone as part of his reporting on the mob? Can no one write about war, space exploration, professional sports, medical research, or anything else without being an active participant?

The documentary begins with him talking about his townhouse in Manhattan and his impeccably tailored suits. He should have spent some of his apparent wealth hiring a research assistant to ensure that what he wrote wasn't garbage. "Voyeur" reveals him wearing the emperor's clothes.
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JethrovanderWilk17 December 2017
What makes this documentary interesting is that both the main characters are obsessive/eccentric. They are proud of their lives work and struggle to make one last stunt together. The psychological tension builds up which is very interesting to watch because both characters are unashamed and show themselves as they are: eccentric and obsessive but at the same time they can function like completely normal persons. The other people in this documentary seem very small minded and judgemental in comparison to the two main characters. But as I watched, as a viewer I wondered if I was being tricked? I do recommend this one.
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It's not really what you would think
cheer886 December 2017
When I came cross the title, I assumed to be psychologically startled and thrilled . Yet, I didn't not expected it's more on the entertaining side like the black comedy.

We are living in the era of consistently sexual exploitation nowadays. Nothing seemingly shocks us no more than self inflicted horrors. We desensitize our sexual desires into what medias present to us. There is a degree of sadness about that. Because we are no longer excited about anything. This documentary would be a shocking if it was done 20 years ago. Now it's more like a sideshow. I don't discount its value. It's still worth to watch.

It's about an aging man somehow would like to put his name out there before his final call upon. It's not on any counts of nobility. But in my opinion, the value of examining dark human behaviors might still deserve some attentions . Sociopath to be exact is still something worth to understand. I suspect his long and tedious journal likely containing a lot elaborately fictional stories which just most sociopath would do unsurprisingly . My curiosity is very much contented by the film. I don't think I will be digging into the book any time soon.

Watch it if you haven't done so. It's actually quite entertaining.
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Behind the Curtain
alice-enland4 December 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Sometimes we're better off not looking behind the curtain, or behind the ceiling vent.

About halfway into Voyeur I realized I was watching a sequel. A sequel to The Odd Couple. Gerald Foos was a passable Walter Matthau and Gay Talese was as good as gold as Jack Lemmon. I kept waiting for Gay to go shopping for produce so he could tell a woman how to select a cantaloupe.

This is a documentary for our times. In an era when national news organizations routinely present fake news dressed up as real news here comes a movie about fakery.

The tension builds. Will Foos be able to put one over on Gay Talese, the internationally famous author whose clothes closet rivals Cher's? But damn, the man can dress. Talese is more layered than an old time burlesque queen at the start of her act.

We wonder, is he really being fooled by . . . a man named Foos? Can this be real?

Foos claimed he spent hours upon hours, years upon years sweating and freezing in the attic of his no-tel motel in Aurora, Colorado, viewing the sex acts of strangers and jerking off 3-5 times a night. Lucky for him he kept meticulous notes and lent an air of authenticity to his story by writing to Talese way back in 1980.

I think the wrong story is marketed here. To me it wasn't about Foos and his sickness, instead it's a fascinating story about a famous writer at the end of his career, wondering if he wasn't tanking his entire reputation over a weird story from a weird guy. Even someone as talented as Gay Talese, and he is talented, is human in the end and has fears. As mismatched as they were I felt that Talese came to like Foos and moreso Foos's wife. True, maybe Talese thought of them as zoo animals who he couldn't stop looking at or maybe as strangers having sex. But there was never a second when I thought Talese looked down on them or regarded them as lesser human beings.
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2 dirty old men wanting the limelight
This documentary is not about the fact that Foos was a peeping tom, it actually covers very little about this and does not even discuss the fact that there are 1000s of people victim to this horrible little man. It is 90 mins of 2 narcissists, that should have been in Jail, trying to prove to themselves that they are the best, you just need to look at the fact that both men are surrounded by their own pictures. There is no journalism here, no proper research, no explanations given for timelines. Complete waste of time.
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Two grand-standers vie for the most attention
stantims216 February 2018
Warning: Spoilers
This is an average. The story was entertaining and 7 stars, but the preposterousness of the premise and major oversights is 3 stars.

Supposedly, Foos is a voyeur. He may have peeped on some people, but the story doesn't hold water. He has all kinds of notes, but no photos? Do we really think that he'd spend all this time in endless hours of boring spectating and not film or photo the highlights? I think these were his fantasies, perhaps when people checked in. Do we really think this guy could move around in the rafters and not ever be heard? Also, looking at this dump of a hotel, do we really think that there were 3000 visitors in a year. This 21-room place would be 50% full every night for that to occur. The math, to me, doesn't add up. He could be a complete crackpot. Or, a lonely old man. His reactions to the phone call "threat" and being exposed as having money, were equally preposterous. Does this rational-talking person really think that this wouldn't happen, as he bragged about all his "exploits"? What is more amazing is that if he even did this, wouldn't at least some of the many thousands of people who stayed at this hotel over the years confront him, of not do worse? It's hard to believe that any of it happened.

Talese is no better. He may have written articles and he may have written books, but you could not, in all fairness, call him an investigative journalist. He never asked even the most obvious questions. Where on earth did Foos get the money to buy his collection? Why does Foos think a given baseball card is worth $X. Was it appraised? If he's so rich, why does he need a book written about him (because he does get a cut of the proceeds) and why does he say that he needs to get paid to talk to anyone? If he's not going to live that long, and has no friends and has no heirs, why does he even have the collection to begin with? How can Talese not have checked the tax records and other public information about the motel? I believe that either Talese never wanted to know the truth, he now delusional or has lost his way in a desperate attempt to get attention again in his career. He just wanted to write something sensational. For all we know, the people that he "voyeured" with Foos were hired by Foos as actors. It is puzzling that after he learns that he's been duped and goes on a tirade and discredits his book. Then, later, rationalizes that it was okay that the hotel was owned by someone else and that the fact that he got confirmation from the named former owner, that he had access, so now it's okay that Foos, again lied. Maybe the publisher was going to sue him, and Talese was advised by counsel to switch his position post-haste.
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How an old journalist tries to recover
duvernetphotography14 January 2018
Warning: Spoilers
We learn how a New York reporter tries to cover for a severe professional blunder. The movie tracks a voyeur, who watches people in hotel rooms for decades. From his hiding spot where he spent hours each night staring at people through a hole in the ceiling. The reporter and the voyeur can't get enough of the limelight. They thrive on the notoriety. When it goes sour, when the voyeur's errors in fact come out, our hero reporter spends the rest of the movie covering for himself. From the start, the voyeur is being filmed in intimate detail and clearly enjoying the attention. He wants us to feel him as a victim in this experience. When all is said and done, their isn't much of a story. The film benefits from great production and editing. It would have been much better had the film used the French cinema reality style with a narrator in monotone third person. This film is depressing. The take away is that the more someone proclaims their integrity and honesty, the less likely it is to be true.
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Boring absolutely!!
sriramthestranger19 October 2019
The plot was revealed to the audience well within the first 15 minutes. After that, its only a bragging of Gerald's personal life and Gay's achievements. At one point, you have no clue where it is leading to. I would not recommend it to watch as it is neither an interesting documentary (or) an informative one.
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A Gay Talese Promo Piece.
arfdawg-119 February 2018
Journalism icon Gay Talese reports on Gerald Foos, the owner of a Colorado motel, who allegedly secretly watched his guests with the aid of specially designed ceiling vents, peering down from an "observation platform" he built in the motel's attic.

The movie starts with a lie: Gay Talese says he's 80. He's 87. In fact, he says he's 80 twice. I'm not sure anything in this movie is real. The truth is, the film is more about promoting Gay Talese than about Foos. The guy who claims to be Foos looks like a phony. Died hair giant glasses so strange.

Is it good? Not so much
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Two nobodys trying to make a mountain out of a molehill for 90 minutes
perlshop13 May 2019
I've never seen a more narcissistic person than the journalist of this story. It's like this was produced with the ulterior motive of letting people know who this guy was (though funnily I still don't remember his name after sacrificing precious 30 minutes of my life which I could have spent watching something better on Netflix).

Anyway so to make a long story short these two nobodys are just making a mountain out of a molehill for 90 minutes (thank god I stopped watching after 30). Its a total snoozefest for something boring that happened god knows how long ago.

Save your time and energy and watch something better instead.
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You Are Being Watched
AudioFileZ3 December 2017
Warning: Spoilers
This film makes one wonder how many times your own privacy has possibly been breached Oh, we all know right now we're in a new era where we all can be potentially intruded upon just by using our computer and cell phones. But before all of that there may have been some very driven individuals that made it their obsession to spy on random people. At least there was one, Gerald Foos.

Foos made himself into the ultimate voyeur by creating his own honeytrap. He bought a small motor lodge and made it where he could spy on all tenants. This went on for just under two decades. Gerald had notes regarding what he saw and, what he saw was mostly sex. That, apparently was what he primarily desired. He claims he saw more and that included a murder he may have been partly responsible for in that he tampered with the contents of a tenants room which resulted in violence…and death. This is so he claims. The motel was ultimately bulldozed prior to the publication of both a pre-book huge New Yorker magazine article and the book thereafter. It makes it hard to substantiate much of what Foos claims. Is he a writer of fiction himself or was he, at least, a big portion of what he claimed?

The other part of the story is Gay Talese who Gerald picked to tell his story to. Gay is no stranger to titillation. He has a history of written articles and books that substantiate this. Is this a intersection of two great writers or, a man bearing his other life to a writer who isn't afraid to go out on a limb for a story? This film visits all of this. It's a strange bird indeed. There is one big question hovering over all of this. Why did Foos want to put out what he claims is his true story, a really seedy and unsavory one? Was it for fame or money? Was it for a kind of late life plea for some kind of transparency for things he either wants to be remembered for or forgiven for? Watching the man himself one gets the idea he's still wanting more voyeurism only he's turning it on himself for some lasting fame and some kind of payday. He's a cagey criminal as far as the surface appears. Power and money are often the two things that drive most criminals. That's not to say many aren't also sociopaths. In the end Foos was a man pursuing his own dark desires. He felt he'd done something few, if any, others had done and got away with.

Many years past feeding his sick inner needs Foos is empty and he's found one last way to feed his voyeurism again. He found the right vehicle in Talese who likes to marry hard journalism with, often, the worst of human nature. Can we believe either Foos or Talese? You'll have to decide.

Talese always takes a pass as saying he's only a reporter but, that is not as clear-cut as it seems. It seems, after publication of the book, there's enough actual discrepancies to which Talese has cooked his cover of being a serious reporter. Is this a disaster for the writer? It may just be more fuel on the fire to make people want to read what all the fuss is about. Since that didn't exactly work initial book sales were much poorer than expected Gay Talese immediately separates himself in a knee-jerk reaction. But, wait, there's this documentary so is this a dead story? Truth or fiction we all get one thing out of this: privacy is part of our right of freedom and good traits are to be celebrated, bad to be exposed. Foos isn't a star in the end, just a bad apple. Talese just got played somewhat even if most of the book got more facts right than fiction. It's a big cluster of a book about a cluster of a man. In that there is some truth. Most will pass, likely, on the book….the documentary, well, maybe not? This strange story is worth a watch in a way not unlike the strangeness of the story itself. I can't rate it above a six because there's no way to separate fact from fiction even if the story is definitely sensational.
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Ersatz Errol Morris is Little More Than Puffery
EdD528 December 2017
This is like a couple hacks watched The Thin Blue Line and then set out to recreate its weight and nuance but lacking both skill and a compelling subject. It tells the largely non-story of author Gay Talese's effort to immortalize a motel peeping tom. Talese's "insights" into his protagonist seem as manufactured and tenuous as the protagonist's credibility and the film indulges rather than subverts the two blustering egotists it presents. Talese lives in a home ornamented with pictures of himself, while his counterpart has a basement full of "treasures" he boasts are worth millions. Talese's books repeatedly and laughably litter the background of many shots, including one at the home of "the voyeur" where the author just happens to be sitting in an easy chair with an older volume framed nearly touching him. The revelation near the end of the subject's duplicity to the author involves something which any high school kid would have checked before writing a story for his school paper, but neither Talese nor his vaunted fact checkers seem to have bothered. The only real subject here is two old men struggling to burnish their lives with some added relevance as the sun sets. If that alone were worthy of a film, it would have taken a filmmaker with deeper skills and more original ideas.
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staceblack23 December 2017
This was creepy as hell. Man.... at the end of the day there are some weirdos out there. Pretty cool access to a strange story. Interesting characters. The cinematographer was on point most of the time. Wonder what happened to get his guy to do the film? Lol
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So good I read the book the next day
gethinnadin2 February 2020
This isn't really about sex. It's about the human condition. Why we do what we do. How our upbringing affects us.

A great story. And an even better book.
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jonathan-harris1717 December 2017
A story about a man (Gerald Foos) and his apparently dead-inside wife letting in the world on his program of spying on motel guests.

Such a claim in this day is hardly surprising, and so the content and character on display here merely comes off as slightly 'odd' but not especially insightful or fascinating for me.

The main focus here is a man that is clearly a bit of braggart, a bit delusional and ridiculous, a bit cash-obsessed yet also enjoys a bit of voyeurism. He exclaims the values of souvenirs he's collected like it's impressive, yet is surprised his story is met by the media with a sense of wrong-doing.

The journalist here makes some odd choices indeed, why only one source for a one-note story is a huge point -- although one he does mention at least, there just isn't enough here to claim anything of special interest.
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2 manipulative, delusional white men and non-consent
sjhall-7364519 June 2020
This is on par with a work produced by two college roommates who want to present a spin on something that should not be controversial. That is, outside of consent, sex is no longer sex; it is rape. While one man boasts about his experiences watching people during intimate, private moments without consent, another man admits his own sexual deviance while purporting to honestly document the aforementioned.
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Many were disappointed. I was not.
doctrinmtl30 May 2020
Warning: Spoilers
I'm surprised at the low reviews and comments here. I can only assume that people were reeled in by the crazy plotline, only to be disappointed by what they consider an anti-climatic outcome.

Sure, I can totally understand where all the high expectations for a "grand finale" came from (I had the same expectations and the trailer did a great job to hook us all in from the get-go), however I do not think the doc did not deliver (I just think it delivered something different to everyone's expectations).

This is human nature under a microscope. There are TWO main characters. Do not forget that. I think most people who are complaining here think the doc was solely or mostly about the voyeur and what happens to him. I don't think this doc follows that exact narrative. Voyeur focuses more on shining a light equally on Foos and Talese. Great docs (and films) will often completely undress it's complex characters with little more than a few sentences and/or scenes.They will capture these subtleties and weave them at the right time and place. You can blink and miss it. But it is your job to keep your eyes/ears peeled and your mind open.

Judging this piece on how it ends is a surface-level mistake. We have to ask ourselves this: Were the character interesting and were they exposed in a way that makes sense and gives us a great understanding of human nature? I say yes.

To complain about WHAT you see under the microscope is equivalent to complaining about the outcome of a lab study. It might not have been the outcome you expected or wanted, but the research was done well and properly transcribed.
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An interesting documentary
Gordon-1121 January 2018
This documentary film tells the story of a man who owns a motel for peeping into the private activities of motel residents.

The fact that someone put their perverted idea into action for a sustained period of time, then write about it and share with the world is quite beyond me. The documentary does do due diligence on whether the claims are true, and you will have to decide for yourselves whether the claims are true. My assessment of Foos is the same as the female journalist in the beginning. It is an interesting documentary.
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jacquelinesandra8 January 2021
Don't know which one is the creepiest, the journalist or the voyeur!
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interesting but not amazing...
moovie-0284621 September 2020
The film has an interesting hook. However, most the film actually contends with wether or not there is any veracity to the story. Which kind of undermines the film if you think about it...
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