Archive for the ‘Directed by Jonathan Demme’ Category

Swimming To Cambodia

17 May

Swimming To Cambodia — directed by Jonathan Demme.  Docudrama. Spalding Grey performs his monologue about his experiences in Bangkok as a movie actor filming The Killing Fields. 82 minutes. Color. 1987.


There sits Spalding Grey in his usual plaid workshirt and jeans with a glass of water and a 5 & 10 spiral notebook and delivers his remarkable take on his life and mind. He is quite beautiful, and the director keeps close up on him, even though he is delivering it, supposedly, in the small space of New York’s Performing Garage. Actually the film is more than a record of a well-rehearsed performance piece, for it includes lighting effects and process shots not offered when one saw it in person. But that’s all right. Also all right are The Killing Fields clips themselves. It’s not a gag-driven monologue, although it is always humorous and sometimes even funny. It is, rather, a crazy education imparted professorially, for he maintains himself seated, dignified in all his indignity and indignation, behind the lecture barrier of the little table. We are being taught something. We all need this restraint placed upon someone who is after all tearing out his hair. For what is interesting is Grey’s fine madness. Which consists of what drives him nuts about himself and the world he inhabits, in this case the international political zoo of the 70s, when Nixon personally put America to a secret war against the Khmer Rouge in Northern Cambodia. Grey is involved in the massacre, and he is also involved in living, concurrent with it, the voluptuous life of a Hollywood production expense account, which also takes him to the wild and pristine beaches of the Indian Ocean, where he swims unto death. Why should we be interested in this? Because Grey is not a moron and is not pretending to a popular simplicity. He is a middle class, middle aged guy whose neuroses are such that they lead him, as neuroses often do, to the truth. He is a responsive actor and he is a telling mimic. And he is willing, for some reason, to experience, before our eyes, excruciation. One is aware, as he does this, that he does this every night, night after night, for an audience to which he would suggest his own resemblance. This is also part of his madness. For it includes our madness in going to see him, night after night, and as we watch we are aware of our own intrusive continued presence at this witty crucifixion. A college graduate. Yes. Literate. Yes. With good diction. Yes. And sane with insanity. If that troubles you, stay away. If it does not trouble you, then you can stand being troubled by his trouble. Just as you can stand being troubled by that of Garrison Keillor, who has the power to entertain you in just the same vein, you see.


Rachel Getting Married

18 Feb

Rachel Getting Married – Directed by Jonathan Demme —  Drama. Released from rehab, the sister of the bride returns to the madhouse of her family for a wedding. 113 minutes Color 2008

* * * * *

The features accompanying the film are quite interesting. As is the picture itself. We have the inestimable Debra Winger fascinating. The story hinges on her being that, and that alone, but the story also is one which the watcher must tell all by observation as though one were Declan Quinn’s camera, for the story is not spelled out, nor should it be. Bill Irwin plays the father of the three children, and he loves them, but he is an idiot and quite clueless about all of them. It’s a welcome piece of narrative strategy on the part of the screenwriter, Miss Lumet. The picture is easily acted, and we drift along with it through the rooms of a wonderful big house, which we are home in, and know by heart, which is why things don’t have to be spelled out. One can read these people without earphones. It’s as though we were invited guests to this melting pot marriage and were somehow privy to the internal and infernal goings on. Ann Hathaway is just grand as the irritating self-centered sister of Rachel. It’s an easy role to play but she does it beautifully, even down to the most irritating haircut ever seen on a human being and all the wrong clothes. This is not a romantic comedy; all these people are in their thirties. And Rosemary Dewitt is excellent as Rachel, although she has terrible voice production on the Special Feature she voice-overs. Never mind. The film itself is vital, natural, commanding. Of course, it’s not for everybody, but then, nothing ever is.


Rss Feed Tweeter button Facebook button Technorati button Reddit button Myspace button Linkedin button Webonews button Delicious button Digg button Flickr button Stumbleupon button Newsvine button