And Everything Is Going Fine
Directed by Stephen Soderbergh (USA)
After he saw Spalding Gray's filmed monologue Swimming to Cambodia in 1987, director Steven Soderbergh was determined to work with the actor and writer and get to know his mind better. He invited Gray to act in his feature King of the Hill, and developed a close bond which has led to this posthumous documentary on Gray.
Swimming to Cambodia was based on Gray's experiences in Southeast Asia while playing a small part in the movie The Killing Fields. He also wrote and performed the family reminiscence Monster in a Box (1992), about his attempt to write a novel and his mother's suicide. And, finally, he made the Soderbergh-directed Gray's Anatomy (1996), a tale of Gray's attempts to seek alternatives to eye surgery. In an era when Hollywood was obsessed with special-effects blockbusters, Gray offered a warm, intimate alternative, entire films with one man sitting at a table, talking to the camera.
Soderbergh gives Gray's voice back to us, unfiltered by other people's eulogies or post-mortem second-guessing. He allows Gray to tell his life story through film and video clips, television interviews and home movies, from his childhood to near the end of his life. The final interview, by Barbara Kopple, takes place in a garden, accompanied by what he calls a "Chekhovian" howling dog in the background. In 2001, Gray was in a car crash which damaged both his body and brain, and in January 2004, he apparently jumped off the Staten Island Ferry to his death. Though he was preoccupied with mortality and afflicted by paralyzing anxiety, Gray created a candid, eminently sane voice, which we hear.
As he says at one point in the film, "Talking about my life is easier than living it."
Friday, 6:30, Bloor Cinema; Saturday, 1:45 p.m., Isabel Bader Theatre.