APRIL 10, 1987 /MONTROSE VOICE 19
Spalding Gray Dives Into 'Cambodia'
Houston Screens by Bill O'Rourke
It's easy to describe Swimming to Cambodia. The difficulty comes in catching
the spirit of the piece.
Essentially, a man who played a
small role in The Killing Fields sits
behind a desk and tells us about his
experiences with and around the film.
This may not sound too exciting to most
of us, but people who loved My Dinner
with Andre might be salivating
This is, however, a movie of style and
Some may have seen Spalding Gray
in person. He has performed in Houston. Before becoming Spalding Gray,
the performance artist, he worked for a
year at the Alley. More recently, he has
been back in his present unique style,
even with the two evening monologue
from which this movie is condensed.
Why didn't somebody drag me to this
man's shows before? It's not the kind of
thing I would have willingly chosen for
myself. I even resisted The Gods Mast
There are three stories in this film.
The tale of how he got the job in Killing
Fields is engrossing, but it is the least
interesting of the three. He also
searches for that "perfect moment" that
sums up and yet transcends the entire
experience of his trip. Following his
"dark angel," he has several near
misses, but finally finds it. It is exhiler-
ating and spooky all at once.
Some of the most powerful moments
come not from his personal experiences
but from what he has found out about
the bombing of Cambodia. He tells
about it from the point of view of the
Cambodians. It becomes a harrowing
but inspiring vision worthy to stand
beside Goliad and the Alamo. Heroes for
freedom and enlightenment take a
brave stand which is doomed to failure
when they are abandoned by the United
This is not quite like Gray's stage
show. Besides being condensed, director
Jonathan Demme has opened it up just
Ann Magnuson and John Malkovich in "Making Mr. Right'
Be Crazy. This man is, at times, delightfully funny, eerily menacing, regretfully rueful, heart-warmingly
philosophical—a really great raconteur.
Or, as he calls himself, a "poetic repor-
a little and done some very interesting
things with camera angles. Laurie Anderson underpinned it with an evocative
The film is 87 minutes long. It felt like
Todd (John Dye, left)^ relentlessly hounds Brett (Steve Lyon) to convince
him to pose for Todd's all-male student pin-up calendar in "Campus Man"
His imagery—the way he bounces
words off one another, the way he plays
with the sounds of the language, his
imitations of people (accents, facial
expressions, philosophies)—really are
a little over a half hour.
This show is obviously not for everyone, but it is for a lot more than many
might think. If you're on the fence about
going, let me push you into it. It's not
only worthy, it's fun!
Spalding Gray talks about war in "Swimming to Cambodia"
a Film Clips
The Houston International Film Festival, opening April 16, will feature a
major retrospective of the works by
director John Huston, including a personal appearance by this famed director
of Key Largo, African Queen, and Moby
The Rice Media Center is hosting a
festival of post-wave Canadian cinema
this week, April 11-13.
□ Curtain Up
Aristocats-reissue of the Walt Disney
Athens, Ga/ Inside-Out (River Oaks,
10 & 11)—rock with R.E.M. and the B-
Campus Man—the making of a male
Dr. Strangelove (River Oaks, 15 & 16)
Making Mr. Right—Susan Speidel-
man (Desperately Seeking Susan)
directed this reverse Pygmalian, with a
female image consultant hired to
humanize a handsome android.
Partisans of Vilna (Greenway III)
Raising Arizona—an "adopted" baby
gets kidnapped by someone else.
The Best of Jay Ward (River Oaks,
The Secret of Success
Three for the Road—Charlie Sheen
Swimming to Cambodia (Belair, 10)
□ One Night Stands
L'Armata Brancaleone (MFA, 10)—
Man of Aran; How the Myth Was
Made (Rice Media Center, 10)
Memoirs; Mother's Meat and Freud's
Flesh (Rice MC, 10)—the punk side of
Montreal; "A young porno film actor
can't get physical with women because
he associates all of them with this
mother. His psychiatrist attempts to
hypnotize Mom into thinking she's a
man so that the actor will give up men."
Per Grazia Ricevuta (MFA, 11)—
C'est Comme Une Peine D'Amore
(Rice MC, 12, 2:00 p.m.)—an attempt at
an emotional, non-political, non-
moralistic view of abortion
Divorzio AllTtaliana (MFA, 12)—
Divorce Italian Style
Next of King; Low Visibility (Rice
Crime Wave; Scissere (Rice MC, 13)
The Photographer; The Photographers (Houston Center for Photography, 14) —profiles of six
photographers, the major focus being
Walkman Blues (Goethe Institute,
16)—Alfred Behrens will be on hand to
introduce his first feature-length film.
Ester Vargas, E.J. Sullivan and Demitrios Estdelacropolis are featured in
"Mother's Meat and Freud's Flesh,"playing at Rice Media Center April 10