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MONSTER IN A BOX

UK, 1991 (MIFF 1992)

Director: Nick Broomfield

This is a film. This is no ordinary film. Mon­ster In A Box is like no other film you've ever seen — unless you saw Swimming To Cam­bodia at the 1988 Melbourne Film Festival.

Right from the start, you know where you are. You're in the theatre; you're watching and listening to Spalding Gray — 'the talking man.' He's showing us the box. He's taking the mon­ster out of the box. He's telling us about the monster. The monster is a book entitled Impos­sible Vacation. After four years and 1900 pages of manuscript it's almost ready to be pub­lished, or edited, or both.

Spalding Gray always wanted to be a writ­er. After 30 years of performing and 15 years of sitting down in front of audiences, telling sto­ries, this is his 13th autobiographical mono­logue. Now he has an agent, and his agent thinks he must have a novel lurking some­where.

The concept for the book is to write about a character who can't take a vacation. This should be easy. Actors (and other freelancers) like Spalding Gray are reconciled to vocations without vacations. As soon as one bit-part fin­ishes, you think you'll be out of work for the rest of your life. But it's not easy to write about this. Writing never is (easy).

The monster growls. This is the first time he has been asked to make things up. Before, it was just a matter of recollection and trying to figure out what was going on in his life. Figur­ing it out, with the help of an audience, to tell you when you are skating on thin ice. Now it's getting all private, and scary. So the distrac­tions multiply and the monster grows.

The, monologue tells of the disruptions. The novel traces the detours and the bits of life between the interruptions. The film is like no other. It's simple. As simple as sounds and images bouncing around a hall of mirrors.

• Stephen Goddard

Producer Jon Blair is a guest of this year's Fes­tival and will introduce the screening.

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