Voyeur

2017

Documentary

11
Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 78%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 67%
IMDb Rating 6.2 10 2351

Synopsis


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Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Antonio Kowatsch 6 / 10

A tale about two narcissists

I have to admit, the movie was quite entertaining. But after I was done watching it I realized that this wasn't really a documentary at all. The genre classification for this movie is more of a decoy since the majority of the movie focuses on hearsay and Talese's career. So to claim that this is a documentary is a little bit far fetched.

At the end of the day there isn't much meat to this story. It's about a guy who used to perv on his customers/guests. That's it. The entire story was divulged in the first 15 minutes. From there the "documentary" took a sharp turn. Focusing mostly on Foos' private life and Talese's past achievements. In my humble opinion the sole intent of this movie is to normalize the kinks of Foos and Talese. They're both questionable characters. And throughout the movie they tried to justify the "immoral" choices that they've made by assuming the role of apologists. Foos wants us to believe that he's a pioneer of some sort. Meanwhile Talese's exploiting the documentary to tell us more about his all so illustrious career.

The way I see it both are narcissists who found each other because they're wired the same way. For reference: Talese's home is decorated with a deluge of life-sized photos of himself. I think that says it all.

Foos' motivation for the documentary was to spread the word about his upcoming book. For him it was nothing more than a PR stunt. This is the only noteworthy thing he has ever achieved in his life (which is probably the realization that he himself made at some point, hence the resilience). And the reason why Talese was so interested in this documentary/story was because he's been invested in it for almost 40 years now. He saw this as a the perfect opportunity to end his career with a big bang/story. As we later find out both got more than they bargained for. Some might say it's kismet.

Reviewed by David Ferguson 6 / 10

watching and watched

Greetings again from the darkness. We are watching the final product of filmmakers watching a reporter watching a man whose hobby is watching those who don't know they are being watched. Lacking a single redeeming individual, the film's creep factor slithers towards 11 on the (SPINAL TAP) scale.

It's understandable if you assume this is the story of a pathetic and disgusting Aurora, Colorado motel owner who, for many years, quietly leered at his guests from a self-constructed perch in the attic. Gerald Foos methodically documented the sexual actions of the Manor House Motel guests, which numbered 2000-3000 per year. If his actions aren't remarkable (not in a good way) enough, Mr. Foos actually married not one, but two women who were complicit in his hobby.

In 1980, renowned reporter and author ("from age 15 to 80") Gay Talese received a letter from Gerald Foos, kicking off a three decade relationship culminating in a controversial feature article in "The New Yorker" and a book entitled "The Voyeur's Motel". Once Mr. Foos agrees to have his name published, co-directors Myles Kane and Josh Koury jump on board to document the final steps in Mr. Talese's writing and research process. It's here that we enter the oddest man cave you'll likely see. In the basement of Talese's immaculate Manhattan brownstone is not just his writing office, but also a lifetime of research and writing … boxes and shelves of material that will surely one day be part of a museum or university collection.

The unexpected parallels between writer and subject are made clear. Both are voyeurs and both are collectors. As a journalist, Talese observes the actions of people, while Foos is quite obviously the definition of a Peeping Tom. Talese collects the years of research for his writings, while Foos shows off his extraordinary sports memorabilia collection (also in his basement). Beyond these similarities, what stands out most are the unbridled egos of these two men. Both seemed most focused on getting or keeping their names and stories in the headlines. Of course, Talese has built a career on his name and reputation, while the aging Foos simply sees this as his legacy that somehow deserves historical prominence.

The filmmakers remain more focused on Talese than Foos, and that takes us inside "The New Yorker" where the editors are justifiably concerned about a single-source story – one that without Talese's name attached would likely have never made it past an initial perusal. The aftermath of publication reminds us that we've seen con men before, and there is little joy in being taken on a long ride of deceit. Perhaps the best description of what we see on screen is that it's a sideshow of ego and the need to be seen (watched).

Reviewed by alice-enland 6 / 10

Behind the Curtain

Sometimes we're better off not looking behind the curtain, or behind the ceiling vent.

About halfway into Voyeur I realized I was watching a sequel. A sequel to The Odd Couple. Gerald Foos was a passable Walter Matthau and Gay Talese was as good as gold as Jack Lemmon. I kept waiting for Gay to go shopping for produce so he could tell a woman how to select a cantaloupe.

This is a documentary for our times. In an era when national news organizations routinely present fake news dressed up as real news here comes a movie about fakery.

The tension builds. Will Foos be able to put one over on Gay Talese, the internationally famous author whose clothes closet rivals Cher's? But damn, the man can dress. Talese is more layered than an old time burlesque queen at the start of her act.

We wonder, is he really being fooled by . . . a man named Foos? Can this be real?

Foos claimed he spent hours upon hours, years upon years sweating and freezing in the attic of his no-tel motel in Aurora, Colorado, viewing the sex acts of strangers and jerking off 3-5 times a night. Lucky for him he kept meticulous notes and lent an air of authenticity to his story by writing to Talese way back in 1980.

I think the wrong story is marketed here. To me it wasn't about Foos and his sickness, instead it's a fascinating story about a famous writer at the end of his career, wondering if he wasn't tanking his entire reputation over a weird story from a weird guy. Even someone as talented as Gay Talese, and he is talented, is human in the end and has fears. As mismatched as they were I felt that Talese came to like Foos and moreso Foos's wife. True, maybe Talese thought of them as zoo animals who he couldn't stop looking at or maybe as strangers having sex. But there was never a second when I thought Talese looked down on them or regarded them as lesser human beings.

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