DIY Cannes 2013: And Everything is Going Fine

Film-EverythingFine-570To stave off the depression of not being at Cannes while everyone I follow on Twitter gabs about their new favorite discoveries, I’ve decided to take the opportunity and hold my own film festival. Every night, I’m going to watch a movie I haven’t seen by one of the director’s debuting on the Croisette. Thanks to the power of Netflix, so many foreign movies and older auteur classics are available for Instant Streaming. Who knows what discoveries I might find along the way?

And yes, I know it’s over, but 2 week long trips in the middle of this project set me back very far. I’m going to finish it up anyway BECAUSE I CARE. Or I’m still unemployed.

Movie #13: And Everything is Going Fine

Director: Steven Soderbergh

His Cannes 2013 Movie: Behind the Candelabra

As one of the most prolific directors of this generation, Steven Soderbergh’s “retirement” has caused everyone to take a moment and look back on his career. In the spirit of Cannes, I try to watch a movie from that director that I have never seen before. This was a bit of a challenge with Soderbergh. I’ve seen all of his famous stuff. I’ve even seen a few of the second tier schlock (The Informant, anyone?). So to find something new (that was also available on Netflix) I needed to find something obscure – and a Spalding Gray documentary seemed to be just the thing.

To compare it to another Soderbergh, And Everything is Going Fine plays a lot like sex, lies, and videotape… except just the videotape. The documentary weaves together some 20 odd interviews, performances, and recordings of Spalding Gray just talking about his life. There are a couple talking heads throughout, but maybe 98% is just grainy footage of one man talking. While I could listen to Spalding Gray tell a story for hours, the movie making of this project got in the way of any enjoyment.

If what makes a film special is the combination of moving pictures and sounds, Soderbergh certainly had a challenge. The sounds were just one man’s voice and the moving pictures were one man on a stage. Soderbergh, unfortunately, never injects anything new or exciting into the presentation. He just lets it sit there, like play dough left out of its jar. To be quite honest, about half way through, I opened a new tab on my computer and started looking for recipes and playing flash games while I just listened to Spalding Gray talk. This was equally effective in consuming the movie, if not more so. I was able to come in and out and enjoy the dry humor and the profound melancholy pumped throughout Gray’s life.

If Soderbergh’s goal was to pique my interest in Spalding Gray, he certainly achieved. But it certainly would seem that his idea was better served when he tried it the first time in Gray’s Anatomy (I haven’t seen it, but Wikipedia tells me it’s the dramatized version, which is a lot different than this aggressively un-dramatized version). Now I guess I have to track that down.

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