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Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take One

Written by Michael Clawson

80/100

Oniony, experimental doc with fewer layers than there are syllables in its title, but still quite a few: set entirely in Central Park, we see a film crew in action as they make a fictional, ill-defined documentary, which its director says is about “sexuality,” without much further explanation. We also see that the crew is, in turn, being filmed by yet another film crew (the crew shooting that crew is off-screen, capturing the outermost layer of the film). That’s it, that’s as simply as I can think to put it. Each level has its moments of interest: when, at one point, the first crew debates what kind of movie they’re making, it’s striking how much the men apparently love the sound of their own voices, the women not so easily getting a word in. Perhaps most fascinating is how the levels are periodically collapsed through an inspired use of split screens, which led me to imagine how it might have worked as a multi-channel video installation versus as a feature film. Meta to the nth degree, its navel-gazing is in service of questions about performance versus authenticity, and the tension between a director as a creative individual and a crew as collective entity.

Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take One Trailer

Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take One is currently available to stream on the Criterion Channel and HBO Max.

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