|Spalding Gray: Ppl like him for some reason, but I've never met one. Seriously where do these people live, New York City? London? Theater people? Help me out.|
Gray's Anatomy (1997)
d. Steven Soderbergh
Criterion Collection #618
During the first season of Mad Men, my ex and I picked up a copy of "The Buttoned Down Mind of Bob Newhart" on vinyl at the swap meet because there had been a reference to it on Mad Men. We both were vaguely familiar with the 80s sitcom Bob Newhart and whatever, but not fans. We listened, in horror, to the Buttoned Down Mind of Bob Newhart, both wondering the entire time what the fuck was supposed to even be funny about it.
I kind of got a similar vibe from Gray's Anatomy, which is a filmed version of a show by monologist Spalding Gray. For those who may be unfamiliar, Gray was a tall, thin white haired dude of staunch WASP blood, and he specialized in the monologue. His most notable success was the show/film Swimming to Cambodia, which made him a star of the 80s art film circuit.
Gray died in 2004, the apparent victim of a suicide (found floating in the East River.) Death and suicide permeate his work, Gray's Anatomy being no exception. He discusses his mothers suicide repeatedly, and makes reference to a history of family members not surviving past their early 50s.
Gray's Anatomy is about an eye condition Spalding Gray had, and the attendant anxiety that he felt and alternative health type measures he took in the hopes of avoiding surgery. The monologue is interspersed with documentary style interviews with 4-5 regular people who have dealt with 'eye issues.'
I've purposely avoided watching Swimming to Cambodia simply because of the monologue format, so I give myself high marks for sitting through this night mare fest. Monologues, I mean really. What the fuck, Criterion Collection?