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And Everything Is Going Fine
Time Out New York Project: Issue #793, December 9-15, 2010
Dir. Steven Soderbergh. 2010. N/R. 89mins. Documentary.
There was one more monologue in the repertoire of the great confessional artist Spalding Gray; little did he know he was composing it all throughout his truncated life (the professional raconteur committed suicide in January 2004 at age 62). With the blessing of his family, director Steven Soderbergh sorted through several decades’ worth of material — VHS tapes of stage shows; home movies; entertainment-channel interviews — and shaped this loving birth-to-death reminiscence in which Gray is, of course, the primary speaker.
The storyteller’s theater pieces looked at past events from a specific, performative point of view. Here, Gray seems to be pondering his existence from all points — he’s as thrillingly unstuck in time as Vonnegut’s Billy Pilgrim. It’s both fascinating and devastating to watch him seesaw in age and agility, often while addressing the same topic. Though there are several hilarious highlights (the Our Town vomit anecdote from Monster in a Box  is still a gut-buster), the mood is mostly melancholy. Gray addresses suicide, and his family’s propensity toward it, early and often — the laughs he’s going for inevitably stick in the throat. And it’s very upsetting to watch the normally boisterous anecdotist reduced in the final scenes to a depressive shell of himself. You still leave hoping he ultimately found peace and enlightenment, two things her graciously gave to those of us who hung on his every word.—Keith Uhlich
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