Wednesday, August 13, 2008

DVD of the Week: "Symbiopsychotaxiplasm" (William Greaves, 1968/2005)


This week, Tropic Thunder will remind everyone how much fun watching movies about making movies (or rather a cast thinking they are making a movie) is. As disparate as these titles seem, the DVD pick for this week, William Greaves’s groundbreaking documentary Symbiopsychotaxiplasm, will be an interesting film to see immediately before or after you see Tropic Thunder. Leaving a crew in Central Park to discover for themselves what kind of movie they are making, Greaves incites the situation in Symbiopsychotaxiplasm which becomes an insightful look into the creation of a film. While Tropic Thunder seeks to satirize movies and the reasoning for their existence, Symbiopsychotaxiplasm questions itself as it unfolds and, though it is not a comedic satire, searches for something amidst the chaos and disorder of filmmaking. I haven’t seen Tropic Thunder yet, so this DVD pick is more of a hypothesis for what could be an enlightening pairing. If anyone else accepts this viewing challenge, I am sure the two films, at the very least, will CREATE something, in conjunction with one another, to discuss.

Note: On the Criterion DVD, both the original film, Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take One (which the post refers to), and the sequel, Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take 2 1/2, are available. If you only watch one you should watch Take One, but both versions are worth viewing if you have the time.

-James Hansen

3 comments:

Brandon Colvin said...

love this movie

James Hansen said...

For sure. I hope my positioning of it next to Tropic Thunder doesn't end up being totally insane! We'll see...

j.white said...

I know this is pretty old by now, but I took up your idea: one day I watched SYMBIOPSYCHOTAXIPLASM, and the next day I watched TROPIC THUNDER. An interesting pairing, for sure, but mostly because the films are interesting in and of themselves. SYMBIO... breaks down the film form, TROPIC takes it for granted and then just plays with conventions. TROPIC probably would have been a better/more interesting movie if it had played with the form rather than cliches, but then it probably wouldn't be as funny.

Still... I like the idea, and it gave me an excuse to see two vastly different movies I've never seen before. Thanks, James!