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
From its overtly innocuous title to its jabbering cast and crew this "artistic happening" bleeds sophomoric pretense by the gallons in a film filming a film with another cameraman filming both. It is a disturbing waste of film stock to witness as cast and crew go around in circles breathing life into a moribund idea where little if anything outside of annoyance and frustration are achieved. While the concept is intriguing the realization is a sloppy mess of lack of communication as director William Greaves looks ill prepared from the get go as he turns his film students loose in Central Park. It's all avant lard as Greaves directs a pair of actors in a torpid fiction scene followed by discussion while a cop and homeless man try to give the doc guerrilla theatre credentials with lack luster intrusion. Meanwhile the camera runs eating up footage on the mundane as Greaves hazily pontificates and his crew attempts to make sense of what is going on, venturing ideas on the purpose and point of the exercise in a staff meeting with Greaves excluded. Some see it as genius, some see it as a waste of time. I am solidly with the latter.
In the era of video and re-usable tape this monstrosity might be longer and even worse but at least it would not be committing the sin of wasting all that film stock on superfluous chatter and the hope something might be worth lensing on a mound or foot bridge in Central Park. Instead we have a clueless director and his acolytes bumping into each other with little to say or add to a film ( or films) in disarray which seems to be its purpose when it is more than evident this screen testing is for a film that will never get made but needed to get this faux cinema verite off the ground. A documentary whose lynch pin is based on a fiction is a bad place to start and it it makes Symbiowhatever little more than a pretentious self mockery.
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