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After doctors inform him that an eye affliction will require risky surgery, monologist Spadling Gray recounts his various pursuits for alternative medicine to avoid the doctor's scalpel.
For more about Gray's Anatomy and the Gray's Anatomy Blu-ray release, see the Gray's Anatomy Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on June 18, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Starring: Spalding Gray, Mike McLaughlin, Melissa Robertson
Director: Steven Soderbergh
» See full cast & crew
Gray's Anatomy Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, June 18, 2012
Steven Soderbergh's "Gray's Anatomy" (1996) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Criterion. The supplemental features on the disc include original trailer for the film; exclusive new interviews with director Steven Soderbergh and screenwriter Renée Shafransky; raw footage from Spalding Gray's actual macular surgery; and a monologue by Spalding Gray filmed in 1982. The disc also arrives with an18-page illustrated booklet featuring Amy Taubin's essay "The Eyes of the Beholder". In English, with optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature. Region-A "locked".
The concept behind this film is unusual, to say the least – a man describes his struggle to find a solution for a supposedly serious problem with his left eye.
At first, the man considers all sorts of alternative medicine options which dramatically alter his perceptions about a variety of subjects. He meets a Christian Science practitioner, a Native American healer, and even a Philippine psychic surgeon, but discovers that they have more to say about his habits and personality than his condition. Later on, the man meets a real doctor who clarifies to him the exact reasons why he should not have met the 'specialists' before him.
The man is the late American actor Spalding Gray, who became famous for his brilliant monologues. Perhaps his best, Swimming to Cambodia, was made into a film in 1987 by Jonathan Demme.
Steven Soderbergh's Gray's Anatomy is also based on a monologue by Gray. Unsurprisingly, it feels like an elaborate stage play with a limited number of actors. Gray spends a great deal of time looking straight into the camera, detailing his experiences with the men he assumed could help him with his problem.
As Gray speaks, occasionally the screen fills up with strange lights and colors. Some are incredibly vivid, others are soft and blurry. This is Soderbergh's way of illustrating Gray's feelings and emotions. The effects and enhancements are fairly simple but most appropriate.
Occasionally, Gray's monologue is also interrupted by short interviews in which unidentified men and women discuss how they accidentally damaged their eyes. Towards the end of each interview, they are asked whether they would consider seeing any of the people Gray has. All of the footage is in black and white.
The film's greatest strength is its consistent rhythm – and all credit goes to Gray. Admittedly, this should not surprise viewers familiar with his work, but his ability to keep the monologue so well balanced while gradually increasing its intensity is indeed quite remarkable. Remember, the monologue is essentially a series of descriptions and they could have felt remarkably dry if delivered by the wrong person.
Ultimately, the film will likely resonate differently with different viewers because Gray's style is very unique, perhaps requiring some getting used to. For one, his sarcasm could be overwhelming, while his sense of humor could easily be misunderstood. Gray is also the kind of performer who could get some people out of their comfort zones fast, effectively proving that there is a good reason why stereotypes exist. In this era of political correctness this could be bad news, but only for people who realize that in addition to being entertaining Gray is also too damn honest.
Note: Gray was born in Providence, Rhode Island, in 1941, and raised in the Christian Scientist Faith. During the 1970s, he was a member of the experimental theater company The Wooster Group, but became famous for his witty and entertaining monologues. In 2001, Gray suffered multiple injuries in a serious car crash in Ireland. He struggled with depression and in 2004, for a short period of time, he was declared missing. Eventually, his body was pulled from New York City's East River.
Gray's Anatomy Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Steven Soderbergh's Gray's Anatomy arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Criterion.
The following text appears inside the booklet provided with this Blu-ray disc:
"Supervised by director Steven Soderbergh, this new high-definition digital transfer was created on a Spirit Datacine from a 35mm interpositive. Image Systems' Phoenix was used to remove small dirt, debris, and grain.
Transfer supervisors: Lee Kline, Steven Soderbergh.
Colorist: Chris Ryan/Nice Shoes, New York."
The presentation is very good. There are plenty of close-ups and virtually all of them convey very pleasing depth. The black and white segments from the interviews look marginally softer, but this is an inherited limitation. Contrast is stable. Color reproduction is very convincing - the variety of reds, blues, yellows, browns, and blacks are stable and well saturated. There are no problematic sharpening corrections. Grain is present throughout the entire film, though depending on how certain sequences were filmed, occasionally it gets quite heavy. There are no serious banding or aliasing issues. Lastly, there are no large scratches, debris, warps, and serious stability issues to report in this review. All in all, the presentation is up to the high standards set by previous Criterion releases. (Note: This is a Region-A "locked" Blu-ray disc. Therefore, you must have a native Region-A or Region-Free PS3 or SA in order to access its content).
Gray's Anatomy Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There is only one audio track on this Blu-ray disc: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. For the record, Criterion have provided optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature.
The following text appears inside the booklet provided with this Blu-ray disc:
"The original theatrical audio mix was updated by re-recording mixer Larry Blake from the 1997 stems, the primary change being the upmixing of the music to 5.1 surround."
As the above statement reveals, the new 5.1 lossless track opens up the film only during the sequences where Cliff Martinez's score is prominent. The improvements are very easy to recognize. On the other hand, the dialog is exceptionally clean, stable, and easy to follow. Also, there are no distortions or problematic audio dropouts to report in this review.
Gray's Anatomy Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Gray's Anatomy Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
I loved Spalding Gray's sarcasm and sense of humor. Both have a certain edge that works great for me. This may not be the case with other viewers, but I thought that his monologues were superb. If you enjoy Woody Allen's work, you should not miss Steven Soderbergh's Gray's Anatomy. As expected, Criterion's Blu-ray release is of exceptionally high quality. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
Gray's Anatomy Blu-ray, News and Updates
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