Voyeur

2017

Documentary

11
Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 78%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 67%
IMDb Rating 6.2 10 2906

Synopsis


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Movie Reviews

Reviewed by bseaman-20248 3 / 10

There's 90 minutes of my life I won't get back

I do not get all these reviews raving about the brilliance of this documentary. To steal a tag line from the 90s hit comedy Seinfeld, I think this documentary could be billed as " the documentary about nothing".

Gay Talese, at 80-something, is obviously not prepared to go gently into that good night. However, in searching for ways to rage against the dying of the light, he has completely erred in judgment and instead decided to write a book (and agree to participate in a documentary) about this purported voyeur who secretly watched his motel guests over 20 years, or is it 30 years? Who knows? Because the subject, Gerald Foos, is completely unreliable as a source, erring on three major points: 1) when he bought the motel - there is a discrepancy of three years from when he says he bought the motel and when it was actually purchased; 2) he neglected to tell Talese that he'd sold the motel a few years after he bought it; and 3) his story about witnessing a woman being murdered was not founded in fact.

That a journalist of Talese's stature and reputation would write a book based on only one source, a completely unreliable one at that, is bad enough. That a major publication like The New Yorker would publish an article about it and that Talese's publisher would promote this book speaks volumes, I think, about the ovine nature of people. Somebody is deemed to be a major talent, therefore we just have to let him/her write away or shoot the film and we never have to question his/her source.

My doubt about the veracity of this story was aroused several minutes in, when Foos describes the catwalk he built that allowed him to spy on motel guests through grates in the rooms' ceilings without being detected. WTF. I thought? Did he build his catwalk in concrete to completely muffle the noise of his footsteps? Why didn't the dogs of motel guests bark at the sound and/or scent of a human above them?

Mr. Talese, you really need to spend the last few days or months (if not years) of your life in quiet contemplation of a life lived. If you once were this famed journalist who spared no effort to get the story right, forget about it. Your glory days are long gone.

Reviewed by stantims2 5 / 10

Two grand-standers vie for the most attention

This is an average. The story was entertaining and 7 stars, but the preposterousness of the premise and major oversights is 3 stars.

Supposedly, Foos is a voyeur. He may have peeped on some people, but the story doesn't hold water. He has all kinds of notes, but no photos? Do we really think that he'd spend all this time in endless hours of boring spectating and not film or photo the highlights? I think these were his fantasies, perhaps when people checked in. Do we really think this guy could move around in the rafters and not ever be heard? Also, looking at this dump of a hotel, do we really think that there were 3000 visitors in a year. This 21-room place would be 50% full every night for that to occur. The math, to me, doesn't add up. He could be a complete crackpot. Or, a lonely old man. His reactions to the phone call "threat" and being exposed as having money, were equally preposterous. Does this rational-talking person really think that this wouldn't happen, as he bragged about all his "exploits"? What is more amazing is that if he even did this, wouldn't at least some of the many thousands of people who stayed at this hotel over the years confront him, of not do worse? It's hard to believe that any of it happened.

Talese is no better. He may have written articles and he may have written books, but you could not, in all fairness, call him an investigative journalist. He never asked even the most obvious questions. Where on earth did Foos get the money to buy his collection? Why does Foos think a given baseball card is worth $X. Was it appraised? If he's so rich, why does he need a book written about him (because he does get a cut of the proceeds) and why does he say that he needs to get paid to talk to anyone? If he's not going to live that long, and has no friends and has no heirs, why does he even have the collection to begin with? How can Talese not have checked the tax records and other public information about the motel? I believe that either Talese never wanted to know the truth, he now delusional or has lost his way in a desperate attempt to get attention again in his career. He just wanted to write something sensational. For all we know, the people that he "voyeured" with Foos were hired by Foos as actors. It is puzzling that after he learns that he's been duped and goes on a tirade and discredits his book. Then, later, rationalizes that it was okay that the hotel was owned by someone else and that the fact that he got confirmation from the named former owner, that he had access, so now it's okay that Foos, again lied. Maybe the publisher was going to sue him, and Talese was advised by counsel to switch his position post-haste.

Reviewed by duvernetphotography 4 / 10

How an old journalist tries to recover

We learn how a New York reporter tries to cover for a severe professional blunder. The movie tracks a voyeur, who watches people in hotel rooms for decades. From his hiding spot where he spent hours each night staring at people through a hole in the ceiling. The reporter and the voyeur can't get enough of the limelight. They thrive on the notoriety. When it goes sour, when the voyeur's errors in fact come out, our hero reporter spends the rest of the movie covering for himself. From the start, the voyeur is being filmed in intimate detail and clearly enjoying the attention. He wants us to feel him as a victim in this experience. When all is said and done, their isn't much of a story. The film benefits from great production and editing. It would have been much better had the film used the French cinema reality style with a narrator in monotone third person. This film is depressing. The take away is that the more someone proclaims their integrity and honesty, the less likely it is to be true.

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