Sunday, February 16, 2014

Gray's Anatomy




Directed by Steven Soderbergh and written and performed by Spalding Gray that is based on a monologue by Gray and Renee Shafransky, Gray’s Anatomy is a film where Spalding Gray performs a monologue about his experience where he almost went through blindness in his left eye. Directed by Shafransky for the stage, the film is an entrancing look into the journey that Gray went through along with other testimonials from individuals who also nearly lost their sight. The result is a truly entertaining and captivating film from Steven Soderbergh.

The film is a recreation of Spalding Gray’s 1993 monologue stage performance in which Gray discusses the experience of nearly being blind as he went through all sorts of things to fix his eyesight. Most of which had him go into various extremes such as a Filipino psychic surgeon, a Chinese doctor, Native American sweat lodges, a nutritionist, and all sorts of strange people. Even as Gray was resistant towards getting an actual surgery as he was once a Christian Scientist where he would turn to a Christian Scientist doctor for advice. All of it is told in manners of humor and dramatic with a mixture of both as it adds to the entertainment value of his monologue.

With backdrops designed by Adele Blauche and the camera work of Elliot Davis, the presentation of Gray’s show is very broad in the worlds that Gray describes as it adds some color and ideas of where he was going. Even as simple presentations of him talking with a microphone on a table prove that Gray can still be engaging without the need of visual backdrops. Adding to the film’s subject matter of blindness are these black-and-white testimonials from various individuals who had experienced moments where they felt they could’ve lost their eyesight or an eye through things like a karate trophy poking a fighter’s eye or a woman accidentally putting super-glue on her eyes thinking it was eye drops during a late night.

Steven Soderbergh keeps those testimonials to be simple while going for hand-held cameras and steady shots to play into everything Gray is saying as it has this sense of style in the framing. With the help from editor Susan Littenberg and production sound mixer Paul Ledford, Soderbergh is able to find ways to capture the energy in Gray’s monologues as well as in setting an atmosphere in his stage presentation with some sound effects that is heightened in the film’s post-production for its 2012 remastering by longtime Soderbergh collaborator in sound editor Larry Blake. The music in the film is kept to a minimum as Cliff Martinez’s score serves as an entrancing accompaniment to some of Gray’s monologues where it’s mostly ambient and low-key.

Gray’s Anatomy is a remarkable film from Steven Soderbergh. The film is definitely not just a very enjoyable presentation on Spalding Gray’s monologue stage performance but also an intriguing piece on how Gray dealt with the idea of going blind with testimonies from others. Even as it is told with such humor and drama that it never becomes boring. In the end, Gray’s Anatomy is a sensational film from Steven Soderbergh.

Steven Soderbergh Films: sex, lies, & videotape - Kafka - King of the Hill - The Underneath - Schizopolis - Out of Sight - The Limey - Erin Brockovich - Traffic - Ocean's Eleven (2001 film) - Full Frontal - Solaris (2002 film) - Eros-The Equilibrium - Ocean's Twelve - Bubble - The Good German - Ocean’s Thirteen - Che - The Girlfriend Experience - The Informant! - And Everything is Going Fine - Contagion - Haywire - Magic Mike - Side Effects - Behind the Candelabra

The Auteurs #39: Steven Soderbergh: Pt. 1 - Pt. 2

Related: (Swimming to Cambodia) - (Terrors of Pleasure) - (Monster in a Box)

© thevoid99 2014

2 comments:

ruth said...

Wow I had never even heard of this Steven. Sounds like another experimental work from Soderbergh, color me intrigued!

thevoid99 said...

Well, it was something that he needed to do as it would be the artistic wake-up call he needed which would eventually led to him doing Schizopolis and then Out of Sight.