Filmmaker William Greaves is shooting a series of screen tests in New York City's Central Park for the two leads of a feature length movie, with the working title of "Over the Cliff". Simultaneously, he has a documentary filmmaking crew filming the behind the scenes making of the movie. In addition to seeing these two sets of footage (the film and the film of the film), the viewer also sees footage of a third film crew filming the these two in relation to what is happening overall as they film in the park while real life goes on around them, which in Bill's mind is part of the realism of the movie. "Over the Cliff" itself has no plot and no full script but only a working concept of sexuality being the movie's theme and snippets of scripted dialogue. This unstructured approach is to give the movie a sense of realism. The actors imply as much, but many of the crew, discussing in Grieves-less bullpen sessions, believe Greaves is unfocused and inept at what he is doing, while a minority ... Written by
In 1968 when, "SYMBIOPSYCHOTAXIPLASM: Take One", was released, it came from out of nowhere, and struck like a psychedelic thunder bolt. Afro-American actor and film maker, William Greaves, aimed to forever alter the 'news-reel' style of documentary film-making, and to this day, there has never been anything quite like it. The movie is a film about 'the making of a film', and intentionally written and directed so as to create as much controversy and contradiction as possible. Set in New York's Central Park, the action and scant dialog concern a couple who fight and bicker about homosexuality and abortion. The woman wants out of the relationship, and the man wants an explanation. Near the end of this interaction, a drunk homeless man interrupts the proceedings and offers his commentary, and personal back-story. Then, after the principle footage has been shot, the film crew add their own views of the film-maker and what they feel is his inept handling of the movie. And during the entire film, multiple cameras are employed to record the action within the scene, and extraneous commentary by cast, crew, and onlookers. I would certainly recommend this film to anyone who has an interest in Avant Garde film makers such as Andy Warhol, John Cassavetes, or Jim Jarmusch. William Greaves attempts to show that a thing cannot be truly observed and understood because the viewing itself would alter the reality. "SYMBIOPSYCHOTAXIPLASM: Take One" can be seen as a cinematic representation or application of The Uncertainty Principle. This is only one possible explanation, and Greave's true intent is certainly open for speculation. Above all else, this film seeks to confound, confront. and stimulate, and without a doubt, succeeds admirably.
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