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Critics reviews
Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take One
William Greaves United States, 1968
Probably the most entertaining daunting-sounding American movie of all time, William Greaves’s Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take One, shot in 1968, finished in 1971, shelved by its director until a Sundance premiere in 1993, and not given a proper theatrical release until 2001, never quite fit into any of its times.
July 18, 2018
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In its destabilizing amalgamation of cinéma vérité and experimental narrative, Greaves’s movie remains one of the headiest about the filmmaking process.
February 03, 2015
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Greaves was up there with John Cassavetes and Shirley Clarke in the blend of sophisticated modernism and emotional fury, of self-implication and formal innovation, of self-revelation and revelation of the heart of the times. Greaves is even more extreme in his formal explorations; the only work of the era that’s comparable is Orson Welles’s “F for Fake,” from 1974.
February 02, 2015
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A craftsman of nonfiction with a multidisciplinary arts training, Greaves wields his self—his professional, racial, artistic identity—and his apparatus with graceful force in Take One; in this self-conscious deconstruction of the group dynamics of film sets, the booms, wires, the slate, and the multiple cameras take on a totemic quality, becoming characters just as much as the crew members themselves.
April 01, 2008
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Built on such an unstable social/political/psychological ground, Symbiopsychotaxiplasm Take One invites endless speculation both from the audience and from everyone on the screen.
December 04, 2006
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This is a movie-within-a-movie at a time when most of the meta-cinematic action was coming from Andy Warhol and Jean-Luc Godard. But Greaves goes one better. He’s doing Godard doing Cassavetes… ‘’Take One" has unquestionable value as a high-minded cinematic artifact. But if Greaves had made it 10 minutes ago it’d be compelling as a feat of dizzying independent filmmaking.
March 24, 2006
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What’s in the director’s mind? What’s the function of the crew and the actors? Is the goal simply to “function in terms of the reality of the moment”? The spirit of debate, as of the movie itself, is inquisitive, cheerful, generous.
October 26, 2005
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Made in 1968, when the moon was in the seventh house, and American troops were in Vietnam, “Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take 1” represents a fascinating and unfortunately forgotten blip on the American movie screen. Produced, directed and edited with finesse by William Greaves, this fiction-nonfiction hybrid is an experiment in form that playfully takes itself apart scene by scene, code by code, in a bid to reveal how cinematic illusions – including that of the auteur – are manufactured.
October 26, 2005
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An unreleased phantom from the summer of 1968, finally getting distributed in this our year of chaotic neo-‘Nam-ness, William Greaves’sSymbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take One may be the ultimate paradigm of self-reflexive cinema, eating Godard’s tail for him and one-upping the classic anti-cartoon Duck Amuck by submitting to a cunning entropy and a self-inquiry so relentless the movie never moves from square one.
October 18, 2005
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This genre hybrid constructs several levels of cinematic reality, making for a fascinating discourse on reflexivity and prompting the question “How much is real?”. Presumably too far ahead of its time, Symbio seems a clear progenitor of such films as This is Spinal Tap, Living in Oblivion and The Blair Witch Project.
February 01, 2001
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The couple’s quarrel is singularly unpleasant, the acting variable, the collective insight into what Greaves is up to mainly uncertain. The title modifies a term referring to the interactions between people and their environment, and the notion of a shifting center is what gives this experiment much of its interest and also limits it from going very far in any single direction.
September 01, 1998
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