Swimming to Cambodia

(Jonathan Demme, 1987)

alone, on DVD at 1681 3rd Ave., 2/8/12


This didn’t add up for me.  Spalding Gray is an intriguing presence, the editing is crisp and inventive, and the idea of a feature-length film in which a guy sits at a desk and talks for eighty-five minutes is actually pretty compelling.  The problems are these: 1) his talk doesn’t have much of a coherent them; 2) he’s a little too in love with his own rhetorical flourishes; and 3) many of the lighting and sound effects are unnecessary and distracting.  The concept of the movie is tantalizing spare; I wish the execution of it had been sparer, and also more focused.  The abrupt ending doesn’t help.

Published in: on February 9, 2012 at 1:47 pm  Leave a Comment  


(Steve Gordon, 1981)

with Darcy Boynton and Graham Stone, on Apple TV at 149 W. 12th St., 2/4/12


Arthur is an odd little something.  The dialogue is overwritten (though often enjoyably so); the filmmaking is frequently stilted, but occasionally note-perfect (as when a moose head looms in the background of a confrontational two-shot); and the whole thing would fall apart completely if Dudley Moore (and Liza Minelli, and John Gielgud) weren’t so unspeakably charming.  The plot isn’t much – mostly a matter of delaying the climax – but the likable performances hold our interest anyway.  Just barely.

Published in: on February 9, 2012 at 1:46 pm  Leave a Comment