In Central Park, 1968, a director shot scenes of a young couple whose marriage was falling apart - 35 years later they are back in Central Park as the director relentlessly pursues the ever-elusive symbiopsychotaxiplasmic moment.
Shannon Baker Davis
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
William Greaves - Director:
The point is this: that the screen test proves to be unsatisfactory from the stand point of the actors and the Director. And then, what happens is that the Director and the actors undertake to improvise something better than that which is - has been written, you know, in the screen test. This sort of palace revolt, you know, no no, which is taking place is not dissimilar to the revolution that is taking place in America today - in terms of the fact that, in the sense that I represent the ...
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This film is a real curiosity. It's the work of a successful documentary filmmaker who seems to have wanted to document what happens in a chaotic film production by creating a chaotic film shoot and then filming it.
There are three camera crews, one to shoot a series of actors performing a two-person scene, one doing a basic "making of" style documentary that watches over the filming process, and a third crew there to film a more general making-of-the-making-of film.
As the days go by, the camera crews become increasingly frustrated, unsure of what the director has in mind and wondering if they are possibly working on a disaster. They decide to film themselves discussing this, with arguments as to whether this is all part of the director's plan and whether, if it is, it's a good plan.
It's certainly a different sort of documentary, but I didn't find it all that interesting. It's slow moving and wanders aimlessly.
Is it, as some people feel, a profound meditation on reality? I found it hard to feel it is. What reality are we looking at? Actors struggling with bad dialogue? A crew frustrated by a lack of purpose and direction? These things might be interesting in a documentary of an actual movie, but this is more like one of those movies that tries to emulate bad movies and fails because it's too precious. The reactions provoked by someone trying to provoke reactions are closer in spirit to a TV reality series like Survivor than to something that tries to document a real situation.
Like a lot of avant-garde filmmaking though, what you bring to this movie is more important than what this movie brings, which is why some people are blown away by it.
I will say that I think the director got the movie he wanted, so it can be seen as a successful experiment. But I found it virtually unwatchable.
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