Saturday, November 25th, 2017

Voyeur

Filmmakers Myles Kayne and Josh Koury’s new documentary is the rather squalid tale of a  suburban Colorado motel owner who spied on his guests for decades, then invited the distinguished  writer Gay Talese to share the story with the rest of the world.  The story actually goes back to the 1960’s when Gerald Foos hit on the idea of buying a motel with the sole purpose of converting the roof area into a custom viewing attic where unnoticed he could watch all the goings on in each of the bedrooms.

It wasn’t until the 1980’s when he had all his detailed diaries that Foos contacted Talese.  The writer had just been in the news with a rather controversial book The Neighbor’s Wife all about the sexual revolution, so Foos guessed that he may be interested in all his research.  He was completely right as the subject did greatly intrigue Talese and the two men started corresponding over the next three decades.

Throughout all the time Foos always insisted he was not a Peeping Tom but really a legitimate researcher, but at the same time he never once attempted to explain why he actually did all his perverted spying.  Even stranger was that both his first wife, and his current one Anna, blithely supported his nefarious activities. 

Eventually Talese decided to write a book on Foos story using all of his detailed logs on which to base it all upon. He never seemed to question the validity of the ‘research’ even though he could ever find any evidence to back up Foos’s outrageous claim that one night he witnessed a murder. When Talese submitted a draft to The New Yorker who were going to run an excerpt as a front page story, their fact checkers discovered that Foos had not purchased the Motel in 1969, even though his diary logs started in 1966. 

Talese was still convinced the story was true even though the dates were muddled, and The New Yorker went ahead and published the piece which suddenly started a great deal of media attention on the publicity seeking Foos who was visibly annoyed that the fate of his tale, and its consequences, was now out of his control.

Then on eve of the book itself being published Talese received a phone call from The Washington Post to advise him that they had uncovered a Deed of Sale which showed that Foos had sold the Motel years before some of the accounts of his spying activities.  A very irate Talese immediately disavowed the book and refused to support it as he claimed this new discovery had invalidated it all, and would do serious harm to his credibility.

So during the next few days instead of the headlines being about the substance of Foos scandalous nighttime activities, they all focused on what they claimed was Talese being duped.  Foos explained away, and even offered proof, that the new owner had indeed allowed him to carry on with his peeping whenever he wanted too, but by now the story had been effectively dismissed and written off.

Foos and Talese make such an unlikely pair.  Foos a pathological fantasist, because even if one accepts his Motel escapades are true, watching him now ridiculously boasting about how valuable his sports card collection is at best pathetic.  When the cameras are on him alone in Colorado he regularly rants on how Talese is responsible for all the problems they are encountering once the lies had been exposed.  However when the two men meet again the subservient Foos grovels around this articulate and well educated writer who in normal circumstances would normally have never even conversed with him..

Why the immaculately tailored 82 year old Talese took on the project and kept with it even when it fell apart is never made that clear.  The filmmakers treat this veteran man of letters with deference, and when they do press the point as the plot unravels, Talese never attempts to hide his annoyance with them.

The film has the title Voyeur essentially because this is how Foos referred to himself in the third person, but on another level it is also how Talese can be described too for his eagerness to get involved with Foos in the first place.  Even more importantly it refers to us the audience who are voyeurs too albeit by default for wanting to watch this tale unfold.

 


Posted by queerguru  at  15:19

Share

Genres:  documentary

Follow queerguru

Search This Blog


View 5 min movie By:

Categories

Email *