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In William Greavess spontaneous, one-of-a-kind fiction/documentary hybrid Symbiopsychotaxiplasm Take One, Greaves presides over a beleaguered troupe of camera and sound men in New Yorks Central Park in 1967, leaving them to try and decipher exactly what it is theyre making: a strange, bickering couple enacting a break-up scenario over and over; a documentary crew filming a crew filming the crew; locals wandering casually into the frame. A multilayered and wildly entertaining deconstruction of cinema, Symbiopsychotaxiplasm defies easy description yet remains one of the most tightly focused movies ever made about making movies.
Director William Greaves, who based Symbiopsychotaxiplasm Take One on the social science term "symbiotaxiplasm," signifying that all human-involved events influence their environment and vice versa, made this sophisticated film that captures the sexual dynamics of a feuding couple in a park by filming everything that occurs around them, including dramas among the film crew. This meta-film, radically experimental for its era, paved the way for the "making-of" films so popular now, though Symbio is more editorially ambitious. Its plot is complicated by inserted footage of Greaves' crew's "mutiny" as they covertly film criticisms of the director as a way to vent frustrations about the film's conceptual logic. Patricia Ree Gilbert and Don Fellows play, among other actors, a couple fighting about the husband's latent homosexuality and the wife's wish for kids. As they hurl insults at each other on one camera, two more cameras trail the Director, the DP, vociferous crew member Bob Rosen, and random park visitors. Multiple camera angles of each scene convolute traditional filmic roles as the Director often co-opts the action. A soundtrack by Miles Davis takes over during parts when the film seems likely to crumble under its lofty constraints. This Criterion Collection release features Take Two, a film with the same premise but with different actors, and a new film by Steven Soderbergh, Take 2 1/2. Starring Greaves fan Steve Buscemi, Greaves once again ventures into Central Park to film the reunion of the same fighting couple. Take 2 1/2 is dull compared to the original, though its footage of Greaves discussing Take One at an awards ceremony provides valuable documentary information. --Trinie Dalton
This is such an interesting series of films. They were ground-breaking. Really sheds light on the era, The real Actors Studio and film-making in the independent vein. Read morePublished 1 month ago by 100thMonkey
I've never made a movie, but this film suggests that it can be done by gathering a crew of various folks in the park and making it up as you go. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Keith Nichols
A metafilm masterpiece at least comparable with (perhaps even superior to) Abbas Kiarostami's film Close-Up.Published 13 months ago by Anyong