Gray's Anatomy

Spalding Gray's latest filmic monologue chronicles his affliction with an eye disorder known as a macula pucker, and the ends to which he goes to treat it. These include visits to a nutritional opthamologist (and ski enthusiast) in Nutley, New Jersey; a psychic surgeon (and performance artist) in the Phillipines; and a sorcerer's apprentice (and tantric sex expert) right here in Minneapolis. With a title that could be applied to the man's whole oeuvre, this staged couch session meditates as usual on the author's corporeality in the face of disease, death, and, of course, a God-less universe. That means laughs both big-ticket and cut-rate, which director Steven Soderbergh (sex, lies, and videotape) tries to amplify using a busier and noisier approach than Jonathan Demme's minimalist treatment of Gray's signature Swimming to Cambodia. Sometimes it works--as with the Greek chorus of eye-trauma survivors who, in the form of documentary footage, drop in periodically to share their own travails and pass judgment on Gray's search for an alternative to surgery. Other times, Soderbergh's framing devices and lighting tricks, which play endlessly on the theme of sight lost or obscured, can get distracting. But Gray's storytelling skills rarely fail to engage, and while his shtick has become familiar, his respect for human hungers--both base and spiritual--will inevitably stimulate your appetite. Bell Auditorium, Friday at 7:30 p.m.
 
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