Swimming To Cambodia - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Swimming To Cambodia Reviews

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½ October 10, 2017
A perfect combination of a documentary style, motion picture cinematography, and a radio play like script. It's wildly funny, continually insightful, and educational subjectively and stylistically.
February 23, 2016
Gray pulls together genocide, pleasure-seeking, military paranoia, filmmaking, and even an anecdote about rude neighbors to paint a coherent portrait of aggression.
½ March 14, 2014
A fantastic monologue that was unfortunately shortened for this film. Demme can't pick if he wants this to be a performance piece with Gray acting BIG and subtle sets or more realistic depiction with no backgrounds and audience reactions. Still, since it's Spalding Gray, it's HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
June 7, 2013
This is an interesting movie, i enjoyed it
½ March 31, 2013
This put me to sleep - couldn't get all the way through it.
September 11, 2012
Spalding Gray was a astonishingly brilliant individual. I had the privilege of seeing him live. He was electric, provocative and honest. Demme's film captures Gray's intelligence and humor perfectly. It's creepy and uncanny that he'd eventually die from a possible suicide while swimming. I suppose he did say he felt most alive in the ocean.
½ August 20, 2012
Spalding Gray rambles away about many subjects. Reminded me of "Stephen Tobolwski's Birthday."
April 6, 2012
I forgot just how incredible this movie is--the best 87 minutes you'll ever spend in front of your television.
½ December 6, 2011
relentless coherence
August 8, 2011
Spalding Gray was and is, perfection. A tragic loss that he is no longer around to engage and mesmerize us.
½ March 27, 2011
In his typically excited, cynical, paranoid, yet endearing and humane storytelling style, Spalding Gray captivates with this stranger-than-fiction monologue about the Khmer Rouge genocide in the wake of the Vietnam War, and about his acting participation ten years later in ‚??The Killing Fields‚??; filled with hilarious insights into his movie business aspirations and Western/Southeast Asian culture clash, as well as memorable descriptions of the Bangkok sex scene and drug-induced epiphanies on the beaches of Thailand
July 12, 2010
There was a brief time, in the late 80s, when monologists fit the alternative bill (Bogosian, Laurie Anderson) and kudos to Demme for using his short-lived clout to bring Gray to the Landmark audience. Spalding (with hindsight) is a tragic figure, but here his recollections and anecdotal acumen hit some revelatory highs, he's the faux-innocent abroad,a self-contained reimagined Twain edifying and entertaining, the devastating truth couched alongside jokes about Thai twats.
½ May 8, 2010
If Anatomy is Gray channelling his inner Allen, as described in this wonderful quote, "I would say that my major problem with Hollywood is this -- I sometimes paraphrase Bob Dylan -- Bob Dylan says 'I may look like Robert Frost, but I feel just like Jesse James.' I say 'I may look like a gynaecologist, an American ambassador's aide, or a lawyer, but I feel like Woody Allen.' ... My insides are not what my outsides are. I'm not who I appear to be. I appear to be a Wasp Brahmin, but I'm really a sort of neurotic, perverse New York Jew.", then Swimming To Cambodia is him channelling his inner Stone. It still plays out in much the same way however, Gray sits behind an unassuming desk with his Ronald McDonald notebook, that i didn't see him glance at once, and uses his words not the camera to paint the visuals and bring both the characters and locations to life. The difference however lies in the fact that here the story he tells is not just of a 'Macula pucker', some inane infliction, but of grand scale politics; of loss, betrayal, and genocide. A change which brings with it an added power to the images he conjures. It's not all downer however, the story of Cambodia's reality is regularly intercut with it's fiction in the form of Spaulding's behind the scenes antics in Thailand while filming a minor role in The Killing Fields. These antics are usually just as hilarious as any straight out comedy but remain just as entrancing, just as immaculately intimate, as the rest of his monolouge.

While the piece is lacking the style Soderbergh brought to the table in Anatomy it makes up for it in atmosphere. Having the performance take place this time as a cohesive whole in front of a live audience lends the piece a heightened intensity and emotion and also makes transmuting the screen much easier as there is little to miss out on visually. This is another stunning performance by Gray and a wonder of storytelling, breaking film down to only this its most basic element and allowing it to spill over and fill in for the rest.
½ May 8, 2010
Saw this a long time ago, around 1994.
May 8, 2010
A friend loaned me a small library of VHS tapes that include several titles by Spaulding Gray, the monologist whose recent attempt to swim to Cambodia ended in tragic failure. Or, maybe he made it. Maybe I'll find out someday. My initial reaction to his death was similar to John Belushi's - thinking what a waste! But each of those guys chose their own way, and it wasn't for me to decide how they did it or pass judgement on them.

Anyway, I was riveted by this. I had never seen it. Another friend had given me the book, but it paled in comparison to the experience of watching Gray perform his piece, which veers from intimately touching to disturbingly intense. And all this from a guy seated at a small wooden table with a glass of water, reading notes from a cartoon-covered spiral notebook and using a map of Southeast Asia as a visual aid.

Gray recounts his experiences in making The Killing Fields and comments on the socio-political aspects of Thailand and Cambodia. I found most of his comments about Thailand were accurate, and his reflections on Cambodia touching.

While most of the visual impact comes from Gray's expressions and subtle changes in lighting and direction by Jonathan Demme, the soundtrack by Laurie Anderson and scenes intercut from The Killing Fields, make the effect complete.
½ May 8, 2010
Hey there, movie fans. I've been doing the DVD trade thing with some friends and raiding their collections.

"Down By Law" is by Jim Jarmusch, whose "Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai" so amazingly tied together wonderful performances, great music and dreamy visuals with the Samurai code, a French ice cream man and gangster violence. "Down By Law" is much less polished than "Ghost Dog" in its performances and just in its overall tone. It tells a slow, meandering story of three men (Tom Waits, John Lurie and Roberto Benigni) who end up in the same prison cell. It's black and white, saturated with Lurie's music and Wait's songs - Benigni is the one humourous aspect, as most of the movie moves in a trancelike fashion.

Definitely a curiousity and worth seeing if you're a Jarmusch fan.

"Swimming to Cambodia" - WOW. This is directed by Jonathan Demme in his "Stop Making Sense" phase. It's not really a conventional movie, not really a documentary...it's more of an actor performing a monologue. There are almost no visuals, aside from the stage, the table Gray sits at, and a few props that he uses for visual aids (like maps). It's about the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, Gray's life, and his bit part in the movie "The Killing Fields". He weaves an amazing web of words and verbal images - I can see some of the scenes that he describes perfectly in my mind.

A must-see - it's like no movie I've ever seen before. It makes me want to check out Gray's writing.
February 16, 2010
Can't say if I enjoyed this or 'Gray's Anatomy' more, but one things for sure; I love Spalding Gray and these monologue films are definitely my bag. 'Swimming' is essentially a gigantic hubris-filled, self-centered odyssey about Gray's own role in Roland Joffe's 1983 film 'The Killing Fields,' where he had about three lines. The obscurity of the premise is what makes this 'show' so interesting; he spins what could be a simple conversation into a full-blown theater piece. And, Gray sheds a lot of deep, eye-opening opinions about the Cambodian conflict on which 'Fields' is based. The only touchy thing is that Jonathan Demme 'directed' this; the film essentially switches between three cameras, and the Demme thing is just prestige. Some TV station cameraman probably filmed the whole thing. Regardless, it's a fun and hilarious trip into the psyche of a (sadly) dead man. Can't wait to see 'Monster In A Box' now.
½ December 29, 2009
I miss Spalding Gray
½ November 24, 2009
been meaning to watch this for years - it came out in 1987, i don't know why it says 2003 here. gray is good storyteller. he manages to weave history and his experiences into funny and interesting.
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