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So I just checked out "Chappaqua," a film that had a huge reputation in my hippie circles. This was innovative? This was the film equivalent to tripping? And the shallow glimpses of the Fugs, Ginsburg, Ravi Shankar, etc? Man, what was I thinking? This would have been a very good student film project circa 1963, but not in 1966 (when so much had already been done) and not by a 30-something self-declared artiste.
Compare this to the competent job he did on "Siddhartha" and you will be amazed how much Mr. Rooks grew up in just six years. 4/10
If anyone is to blame for this garbage it must be Conrad Rooks, who is on the writer/director/star trip. Orson Welles he ain't! His acting in the first third of the movie is laughably bad. He plays "drunk" like he's auditioning for 'The Benny Hill Show'! After he sobers up things improve slightly, but then we hit the torturous psychedelic freak outs and hallucinations which go on and on and on until you either scream or fall asleep.
The only reason to watch this is to catch glimpses of Burroughs, Ginsberg, The Fugs, Moondog and other legendary cult figures. Unfortunately none of them do much to speak of. One decent thing about 'Chappaqua' - the soundtrack. Some tasty jazz (presumably Ornette) and lotsa Shankar.
Isn't it weird how all these years later "real" psychedelic movies like this bore you stupid, but "fake" ones like 'Psych-Out', 'Head' and 'Cult Of The Damned' get better and better?
The film briefly depicts Chappaqua, New York, a hamlet in Westchester County, in a few minutes of wintry panoramas. In the film, the hamlet is an overt symbol of drug-free suburban childhood innocence. It also serves as one of the film's many nods to Native American culture. The word "chappaqua" derives from the Wappinger (a nation of the Algonquian peoples) word for "laurel swamp." This is like the very definition of an art film. For those interested in Burroughs, Ginsberg and the beat generation, 1960s counter-culture, or any of that... this is a must-see. But it is first and foremost an art film, not a movie with a strong narrative. Dracula showing up for no reason? Yeah, it has that. Drug-induced delusions? Yep. It is interesting and I don't doubt it has a cult following, but it is really more of time capsule than a good movie.