Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Review: Gray's Anatomy (1996)

Keep your mind away from that awful show for a moment and try to remember that guy from The Paper, the one who tried to hire Michael Keaton away from his small time news rag. Yeah, he wasn’t too great in that… Okay, he’s Fran’s psychiatrist in The Nanny. That’s him. Him.

Spaulding Gray commits one of his stage monologues to film; a commentary on his search for a cure for his eye condition. He recounts advice from various sources and methods from various countries. Most end in some sort of full-circle punch line that is either amusing or sad, depending on the context. While Gray yacks at the camera, some set and compositional tricks move behind and around him, portraying the story in shadow or putting Gray in facsimiles of real settings.

Creativity credit goes to either Gray or Soderbergh for the staging; in Swimming to Cambodia, Gray sat in the same chair the entire time, which I’m more inclined to blame Jonathan Demme for doing because I hate that arrogant hackjob. Here, Anatomy’s crew gets all kinds of creative with set movements, shadow-play, projected backdrops, and changes in lighting. Also, Soderbergh breaks up Gray’s continuous monologue with interviews with people mentioned in Gray’s story and anecdotes from real people recounting unrelated eye injuries that frightened the shit out of them and by proxy, me, because eye injuries are fucked up.

Ultimately, enjoyment from this is inverse to how annoying Gray comes across. Anatomy works within a low maximum and high minimum, being One Thing for 80 minutes. But it’s a good Thing.