Voyeur (2017)

Directed by Myles Kane, Josh Koury
Produced by Trisha Koury, Jenny Raskin, Linda Carlson, Dan Cogan, Steven H. Cohen, Adam Del Deo, Geralyn White Dreyfous, Paula M. Froehle, Lisa Nishimura, Julie Parker Benello, Ken Pelletier, Jason Spingarn-Koff, Angus Wall, Jeremy Yaches, Jeremiah Zagar, Tessa Treadway
Starring Gay Talese, Gerald Foos, Anita Foos, Susan Morrison, Jamison Stoltz, Morgan Entrekin, Pamela Talese, Nan Talese; Edward Akrout, Mike Funk, Edward Sabol, Sacha Storto, Shelby Welinder

For perhaps three decades, guests at the Manor House Motel in Aurora, CO were surveilled, thoroughly documented, and secretly sexualized by its manager Gerald Foos, who constructed a platform beneath his motel’s pitched roof on which he conducted observational research and satisfied his onanism through louvered vents. This whilom motelier’s and obsessive collector’s friendship with Gay Talese began in 1980, when he invited the dandyish cynosure of New Journalism to his establishment to verify his pastime with an understanding of its potential publication after Foos’s administration and certain statutes of limitations expired. Both men’s disclosive ambitions were finally realized years later when Talese’s The Voyeur’s Motel was published excerpted in The New Yorker and complete as a hardback by Grove Atlantic, but a wave of negative publicity ensuing the peeper’s perverse proclivities, and a revelatory whammy at the 13th hour of the book’s publication resulting from Foos’s obscurantism and Talese’s elementary investigative neglect besmirched his career, and both men’s credibility. In an idiom likely inspired by that of Errol Morris’s documentaries, directors/editors Kane and Koury gradually present the lives and legacies of two quirky, intelligent, octogenarian narcissists through summations of their lifestyles and histories in their own words; interviews with Talese and Foos, their respective wives Nan and Anita, and pertinent editors of The New Yorker (Morrison) and Grove Atlantic (Stoltz); umbratile reenactments; Talese’s conclusive interviews with Foos; immediate, firsthand reactions to the trials that strained their relations with each other and the filmmakers. Shot well and edited alike despite sporadic immoderacy for effect, this documentary is admirable for its objectivity, understatement concerning the similitude of Talese’s and Foos’s characteristically meticulous modes of scrutiny, and relatively unexploitative nature — by contemporary Columbian standards. It’s also one of Netflix’s few worthwhile productions, which tells a sleazy story only as surely as it may have happened, from the loud mouths and elegant pen of a monomaniacal deviant and the scrupulous, coxcomical prose stylist who failed to account for his unreliable subject’s every omission.

Recommended for a double feature paired with F for Fake.

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