“Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take One” review

14 11 2009

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“It’s a feature length… we don’t know.”

Symbiopsychotaxiplasm was a film recommended to me late one summer night in a bar. I accidentally got it from netflix one day, and have had it sitting around my room for about a week. I decided to finally watch it, and it is quite something. I don’t really know how to describe it.

It’s set up as a filmmaking experiment. The director is having various actors perform the same set of lines, in various ways, with very little or no direction. He is filming the actors. He has another camera man filming him and the actors. Then there is another camera filming him, the actors, and everything else going on in the making of the film. Sometimes the scene follows the flow of the dialogue that the two actors are performing, like a narrative film would. Other times, the director breaks in, like a documentary of the making of a film. Then, there are moments when the crew gets together without the director to try to figure out what is going on.

Every time you start to find narrative clarity, the film breaks down and turns into something entirely different. You honestly can’t tell how much of it is scripted/designed and what is real. It questions the reality and truth presented in all film — documentary or narrative — and the director’s role in the manipulation of that representation. The philosophy is a little strong, but as a huge film nerd, I found it’s self-reflexivity mind-bogglingly intriguing. I am still not quite sure what to make of it, though, and I don’t know if I ever will.

It seems like it was way ahead of it’s time, but at the same time fits right in with the whole 60’s hippy thing. It was made in 1968, but it wasn’t released until 2005, when it screened at the London Film Festival. Greaves made a sequel in 2005, and they were released by the Criterion Collection as a set. I am going to check that out as soon as I get the chance.

Rating: 9/10

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