10 March 2006

Grizzly Gardens

Double Feature Time!
Grizzly Man - dir. Werner Herzog - 2005 - USA
Grey Gardens - dir. Albert Maysles, David Maysles, Ellen Hovde, Muffie Meyer - 1975 - USA

Is Grizzly Man the new Grey Gardens?? Though the alliteration in titles is cute, I think the both of these docs have a lot more in common than I initially thought... and I don't think I ever could have realized this until seeing Grizzly Man in a packed theatre as I did tonight. It's always nice to see a film with a big crowded audience after everyone had already gotten their chance to catch the DVD or its initial theatrical run. The sense of familiarity provides a comfortable atmosphere with people who are there for the same reason you are... which, as I found out tonight, is to laugh at Timothy Treadwell. The purpose and creation of these films differ greatly. Grey Gardens always feels like a horribly uncomfortable accident to me. Did the Maysles brothers really know what they were getting into when they decided to make a film about Big and Little Edie? It's been said they decided to make this film instead of one about Jackie Kennedy's sister (the Edies are distant relatives of Jackie Kennedy)... but every time I see the film, I can't help but picture their wide-eyed, crooked-eyebrowed faces as Little Edie rants about... I have no idea what. Herzog knew what he was getting into. He chose the footage himself, let alone choosing to direct this project. While the films show startling moments of intimate insanity, I think the audience has taken both films out of the director's hands. Herzog's commentary on man and nature is beautiful and startling. Little Edie's breakdown at the end of Grey Gardens is both terrifying and heart-breaking. Yet, is that why we're watching these films? Some could argue for that. But how can we ignore the built-in camp, moments so bizarre the only thing we can do is laugh? Though both Little Edie and Timothy are figures deservant of sympathy, they're both fucking nut-cases... and they reveal their insanity for the camera. Thankfully, too, Grey Gardens and Grizzly Man are films we can enjoy on intellectual terms as well as on a hilarious popcorn movie level. But, really, who gives a fuck about intellectually looking at a movie? I just wanna see Little Edie dance!

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