Swimming To Cambodia Reviews
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.
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.
"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.