Voyeur (NR)

Documentary December 1, 2017
By Alan Scherstuhl
At first, Myles Kane and Josh Koury's Voyeur plays like an uninspired ancillary product, the nadir of one of the most dispiriting trends in documentary filmmaking: the feature that's not anywhere near as detailed or illuminating as the magazine article that is its basis. But this time that magazine article -- and its subsequent book-length expansion — get exposed as potentially fraudulent. And the filmmakers -- who have been lamely dramatizing incidents from the piece -- suddenly are the journalists of record, the ones chasing the story that matters. The tension, here, is wondering whether they'll prove up to it.

Kane and Koury were riding shotgun on Gay Talese's iffy story about Gerald Foos, the Colorado motel owner who for years spied on his guests through vents in the ceilings and wrote up what he claims are painstaking notes of their doings. On camera, Foos eagerly spins his tales about witnessing sex, a murder and a dude eating KFC and then wiping his hands on the bedspread. He's turned on recounting this but also clearly is an unreliable narrator, which is a serious problem for Talese, who finds himself trying to work a single-source story into the New Yorker.

The filmmakers capture Foos' realization that maybe he doesn't want to be exposed as a peeping Tom. Then the Washington Post seems to expose the voyeur: Turns out Foos didn't actually own the motel for a long stretch of the years his journals cover. Talese explodes, on camera, announcing, "The book is down the toilet," and officially denounces his own work. He later upbraids the filmmakers during an interview in Foos' home. Talese sputters in exasperation: "These guys aren't even credible journalists -- they're cameramen!"
Myles Kane Gay Talese Netflix

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