A Surface, Tabloid-y dives into Monroe’s death

Exists in the marginal space between conspiracy Twitter thread and National Enquirer article, Emma Cooper‘s Marilyn Monroe Netflix doc, the unmanageable “The Mystery of Marilyn Monroe: The Unheard Tapes”Is a 100-minute rehashing of Anthony Summers’ The 1985 book “Goddess: The Secret Lives of Marilyn Monroe.” Slightly updated since that book was published nearly four decades ago, Cooper’s doc is playing out like crazy libs for the conspiracy-minded. Throw the Kennedys, Jimmy Hoffa, and a series of benign taped conversations with bit-players in Monroe’s life together, and you have one less documentary about Monroe and more an unintentional meta-commentary on how tabloid journalism has gotten the vibe of respectability of streamers desperate for content.

While some may get interest from hearing them as Jane Russell and Billy Wilder talking about Monroe, the information they provide is anything but revealing, and yet strangely, their stories are presented through a series of staged reenactments in which actors lip-sync for conversations. It’s a deeply bizarre formal choice that, if anything, at least interests her inadvertent hilarity, as we hear private investigators drone on about the conspiracy to silence Monroe because she probably knew about America’s nuclear secrets – which sounds like a joke , but I promise, is actually a very real investigative thread that Cooper and co. dive into.

Organized around interviews with Summers, while telling about his research and composition to ‘Goddess’, ‘unheard of tapes’, which include Summers talking to different people in Monroe’s circuit. These conversations are a bit interesting, but just as often gossipy accounts of Monroe’s relationship with various famous men. While this information may be compelling enough in a (more interesting) film that branched out from Summers, contextualizing his book into the larger discourse of Monroe narratives after her death – ‘The Unheard Tapes’ is too much in love with Summers and his alleged revelations to dive into the implications of so many seeking to profit from her life.

As a result, Summers is really the subject of ‘Unheard Tapes’, while he nauseafully continues about the “bomb shells” he discovered. Some of these threads are legitimately interesting speculations – especially regarding Monroe’s last hours and questions about where and when she really died. But Cooper’s films also go on a series of confusing fantasy flights as Summers attempts to connect Bobby Kennedy’s relationship with Monroe with his investigation of Jimmy Hoffa. It’s all a bit ridiculous, and honestly the film quickly feels intertwined in an attempt at corporate synergy, so we do not forget Andrew Dominik‘s Blonde”Will come to the streamer later this year. What other reason would Netflix have to dig ‘Goddess’ and Summers themselves rather than retrieve information that has been available since the Reagan era?

While the documentary offers some information that could be considered new, Monroe’s actual life occasionally shines through the nonsense. This is especially true in the episodes that dive into her marriages with Joe DiMaggio and Arthur Miller, and the possible reasons why she was attracted to two men who on the surface could not be more opposite.

But on the whole, the human element of Monroe’s life is lost in a sea of ​​wild conjectures. Who she was as a person and why she went into these relationships is preoccupied with a frustrating web of conspiracies. In addition, Summers is not the most tempting topic – his work has almost always crossed the line between legal research and exploitation. Monroe’s biographical and fictional afterlife is particularly interesting and probably tells us more about the writers who choose to dedicate their lives to researching her, than anything new about Monroe herself. One would wish that Cooper and Summers would have realized this. [D]

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.