- Apr 24, 2006
- Charlotte, NC
- Real Name
- Matt Hough
Monologist/raconteur Spalding Gray’s idiosyncratic life is told in his own words in Steven Soderbergh’s compilation documentary And Everything Is Going Fine. Without a foot of new footage filmed or a host of talking heads telling about the man and his monologues, Soderbergh has assembled a stirring portrait of a man who vented a life’s worth of good times and bad, hopes, dreams, and anxieties through nineteen monologues celebrated the world over for their insight, nuance, and humor. This is assuredly one of the most unusual documentaries you’re ever going to see.
And Everything Is Going Fine (Blu-ray)
Directed by Steven Soderbergh
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 1080i AVC codec
Running Time: 89 minutes
Audio: PCM 1.0 English
MSRP: $ 39.95
Release Date: June 19, 2012
Review Date: June 16, 2012
Director Steven Soderbergh was given access not only to all of the videotaped monologues which Spalding Gray had left behind before his tragic suicide in 2004 but also had at his disposal a series of interviews with everyone from Entertainment Tonight to The Charlie Rose Show in piecing together the story of the man’s singular life. It helps to have a little background information on the performer as the clips that appear contain no identification markers of when or where they were recorded, and while his story is chronological, the clips are not, showing Gray aged and then youthful in some back-to-back clips. But, given that limitation, the man we see on the screen at various stages of his life tells his life’s story in his usual piecemeal fashion as if it were one long monologue. There is no interruption from colleagues, girl friends, or other loved ones giving opinions (apart from one interview Gray conducted with his father where he tries to make him recall his dad’s telling him the facts of life on a golf course), so the picture of his life we see here is the one he wished audiences to see throughout his career.
We hear about his unusual childhood where he fought his own dyslexia without much understanding from his somewhat remote Christian Science-oriented mother (who herself committed suicide when Gray was twenty-six) and reflections on his parents, his paternal grandmother who lived with them, high school and college experiences, and his discovering theater and performing. There are funny experiences along the way (old wives tales about masturbation and venereal diseases, a homosexual experiment in India) along with stories of his two longest lasting relationships (with Renee Shafransky and Kathleen Russo with whom he had two children) which lead us into the film’s tragic last act where a terrible automobile accident in 2001 while traveling in Ireland serves as the basis of some unsatisfying and rather sad last stabs at compiling personal experiences into a stage piece. Some chilling footage shot by Barbara Koppel at his home in the Hamptons brings the film to its climax. Photos and home movies are used in the closing credits accompanied by effective music composed by his oldest son Forrest.
The film is framed in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and is presented in 1080i using the AVC codec. Collated from a wildly divergent collection of videotapes stretching back to 1982, sharpness, color saturation levels, and the other usual hallmarks of quality video presentation are naturally compromised by the age and quality of the elements the filmmakers had to work with. Obviously, this is the best these sometimes primitively taped monologues could possibly look. Clips from more professionally taped interviews like those on Charlie Rose or Entertainment Tonight are much more solid in visual acuity, but those looking for pristine video won’t find it here. The film has been divided into 28 chapters.
The PCM 1.0 (1.1 Mbps) sound mix is more than adequate for presenting Spalding Gray’s words as he spoke them without any interference from audio artifacts or the likely unsophisticated miking that was likely used for some of those early monologues. Forrest Gray’s lovely music over the closing credits sounds beautiful in this mono encode.
“Making And Everything Is Going Fine” is a 21-minute interview with director Steven Soderbergh, producer Kathleen Russo (Gray’s widow), and film editor Susan Littenberg discussing the 2 ½ years it took for the project to come to fruition. Mention is made of the decision making process in what to include, how it was to be arranged, and what portions of the various media they had at hand (including twenty years of Gray’s journals) would be pictured. This 2012 series of interviews is in 1080p.
“Sex and Death to Age 14” was the first Spalding Gray monologue presented in 1979, and this 1982 recreation at the Performing Garage runs for 64 ½ minutes in 1080i. It details his youthful experiences with friends and family, a succession of pets, and, of course, his introduction to the mysteries of sex with often hilarious consequences.
The film’s theatrical trailer runs 2 ¼ minutes in 1080i.
The enclosed 18-page booklet contains cast and crew lists, photos of Gray, his family, and some journal pages, and book editor Nell Casey’s loving tribute to Gray and this film of his life.
The Criterion Blu-rays include a maneuvering tool called “Timeline” which can be pulled up from the menu or by pushing the red button on the remote. It shows you your progress on the disc and the title of the chapter you’re now in. Additionally, two other buttons on the remote can place or remove bookmarks if you decide to stop viewing before reaching the end of the film or want to mark specific places for later reference.
4/5 (not an average)
An unusual but interesting assembled documentary on the life of Spalding Gray as told in his own words, And Everything Is Going Fine is certainly a unique achievement. Criterion’s as usual interesting extras also offer Gray’s first complete monologue that gives a more accurate picture of the talented performer’s childhood that the film proper is unable to include.