Steven Soderbergh’s Spalding Gray Documentary Is A Possible Criterion Release

One of the films playing at SXSW this year was Steven Soderbergh’s And Everything Is Going Fine. His latest being a documentary about the life of actor, playwright and performance artist Spalding Gray. This documentary had its world premiere a few months earlier in Park City, Utah. Not at Sundance but rather at Slamdance, the other Park City film festival.

After the screening in Austin, Texas, there was a Q&A with the films producers where they answered questions about their plans for the DVD release and the release of other Gray performances to DVD. “We hope to see a box set come out through the Criterion Collection in 2011, but the deal’s not done yet.” Gary’s widow/producer, Kathie Russo chimed in, “it’s a real shame that not even Swimming To Cambodia is out on DVD, so this is a great opportunity to finally get this stuff out there.”

The set is rumored to include other works like Swimming To Cambodia (Jonathan Demme), Monster In A Box (Nick Broomfield), Gray’s Anatomy (Steven Soderbergh) and And Everything Is Going Fine (Steven Soderbergh).

Both Soderbergh (Schizopolis, Traffic, Che) and Demme (Silence of The Lambs) are already in the Criterion Collection so it’s not out of reach to think a box set is forthcoming. (Especially when producers are in talks with Criterion.)

Spalding Gray committed suicide in 2004 by presumingly jumping off the Staten Island Ferry and drowning in the East River. He went missing on January 10, 2004 and was found dead on March 7, 2004. It is believed that the last movie he watched was Tim Burton’s Big Fish.

In my opinion, when this set will come out, it seems like it will be most likely an Eclipse boxed set. A set of films focusing around a center theme, writer or figure by different filmmakers sounds like an Eclipse set to me. Nevertheless, this still would be a great addition to the Criterion, Janus, Eclipse family and I am looking forward to more news about this release.

Source: The Playlist || Photo: Noah Greenberg – Boston Globe

3 Comments

  • Spalding Gray was a massive talent. His death still saddens me. A collection of his three filmed monologues — with Soderbergh's documentary — would be quite the feather in Criterion's cap… especially since those films had three different distributors. Obtaining the rights to all of them may prove to be a Herculean feat; it might be easier for Criterion to just go with Soderbergh's doc and “Gray's Anatomy”. To watch all three films in sequential order is to see an amazing evolution of the melding of Gray's work with cinematic technique. “Swimming To Cambodia” was directed by Jonathan Demme in a style very much like that of the Talking Heads concert film “Stop Making Sense” — a spare, unobtrusive record of a stage performance, Demme making no effort to call attention to himself. Gray's second film, “Monster In A Box”, had more camera movement and more varied lighting, but at its core it was still just a guy behind a desk telling a story (about trying to write his first novel; incidentally, if you have a chance to read that novel, “Impossible Vacation”, don't. The thing was wretchedly self-indulgent, and I say this as a fan). Steven Soderbergh's direction of “Gray's Anatomy” was really a quantum leap in terms of Gray's screen presentation: in addition to camera movement and lighting, there were colored backgrounds, props and sets flying in and out of frame — even Gray's beloved desk occasionally took a powder. As if that weren't enough, Soderbergh contextualizes Gray's monologue (about a problem with his peepers) by including the testimony of several documentary subjects (photographed in black and white) who tell harrowing tales of the heinous shit that happened to their eyes; I'm not normally squeamish, but being ludicrously nearsighted all my life, I've always been sensitive about my eyes, and this stuff completely squeamed me. Of those three films (I don't count “Terrors Of Pleasure” because it was made for public TV… but it would be cool to get that into a Gray collection too), my favorite as a monologue is still “Monster In A Box”, but my favorite as a film is “Gray's Anatomy”. I certainly hope Criterion can get their mitts on all of them; I'll refrain from watching them anytime soon just in case. And whilst we're on the subject of Soderbergh and Gray, how's about those Criterion dudes get the rights to “King Of The Hill” — that picture is brilliant, and it's not even available on DVD!

  • Spalding Gray was a massive talent. His death still saddens me. A collection of his three filmed monologues — with Soderbergh's documentary — would be quite the feather in Criterion's cap… especially since those films had three different distributors. Obtaining the rights to all of them may prove to be a Herculean feat; it might be easier for Criterion to just go with Soderbergh's doc and “Gray's Anatomy”. To watch all three films in sequential order is to see an amazing evolution of the melding of Gray's work with cinematic technique. “Swimming To Cambodia” was directed by Jonathan Demme in a style very much like that of the Talking Heads concert film “Stop Making Sense” — a spare, unobtrusive record of a stage performance, Demme making no effort to call attention to himself. Gray's second film, “Monster In A Box”, had more camera movement and more varied lighting, but at its core it was still just a guy behind a desk telling a story (about trying to write his first novel; incidentally, if you have a chance to read that novel, “Impossible Vacation”, don't. The thing was wretchedly self-indulgent, and I say this as a fan). Steven Soderbergh's direction of “Gray's Anatomy” was really a quantum leap in terms of Gray's screen presentation: in addition to camera movement and lighting, there were colored backgrounds, props and sets flying in and out of frame — even Gray's beloved desk occasionally took a powder. As if that weren't enough, Soderbergh contextualizes Gray's monologue (about a problem with his peepers) by including the testimony of several documentary subjects (photographed in black and white) who tell harrowing tales of the heinous shit that happened to their eyes; I'm not normally squeamish, but being ludicrously nearsighted all my life, I've always been sensitive about my eyes, and this stuff completely squeamed me. Of those three films (I don't count “Terrors Of Pleasure” because it was made for public TV… but it would be cool to get that into a Gray collection too), my favorite as a monologue is still “Monster In A Box”, but my favorite as a film is “Gray's Anatomy”. I certainly hope Criterion can get their mitts on all of them; I'll refrain from watching them anytime soon just in case. And whilst we're on the subject of Soderbergh and Gray, how's about those Criterion dudes get the rights to “King Of The Hill” — that picture is brilliant, and it's not even available on DVD!

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