“Who needs metaphors for hell or poetry about hell? This really happened, here on this earth.”
Spalding Gray discusses his experiences while filming a small role in The Killing Fields (1984).
Spalding Gray is one of the best-known monologists of the late 20th century, and Jonathan Demme’s Swimming to Cambodia — an edited combination of two live performances, accompanied by Laurie Anderson’s evocative sound effects — provides a fascinating glimpse at his prowess. In this unusual storytelling event, Gray intersperses humorous vignettes from his experiences filming in Thailand with a concise history of the brutal Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia — an unexpected, yet surprisingly effective, marriage of ideas. Gray’s monologue is poignant rather than hilarious; he’s not a stand-up comedian, but rather an astute commentator on the intersection of personal travails and public tragedies.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Spalding Gray’s charismatic storytelling presence
- Laurie Anderson’s memorable sound effects
Yes. All film fanatics should see at least one of the late Spalding Gray’s filmed monologues, and this is probably his best.