duel (steven spielberg, 1971)
geezer cinema: the file on thelma jordon (robert siodmak, 1949)

african-american directors series: symbiopsychotaxiplasm: take one (willliam greaves, 1968)

This film is as hard to describe as it is to pronounce its title. Letterboxd and the IMDB classify it as a documentary. Writer/director William Greaves produced more than 200 documentaries, and in Symbiopsychotaxiplasm he is the on-screen director and writer of the film, as himself. The actors all appear as themselves ... the only one you might recognize is Susan Anspach, two years before Five Easy Pieces. In the film, Greaves is making a movie with the actors ... the crew also appear in the film, and we see the process of filmmaking. We see the same scene over and over ... it seems to serve as a screen test for the various actors. The best equivalent I can come up with is Abbas Kiarostami's Close-Up.

There is no real narrative thrust to the film, and the cinéma vérité appearance adds to the documentary feel. But I don't know ... sometimes it feels about as "real" as Curb Your Enthusiasm. Wikipedia describes it thusly: "Greaves creates a circular meta-documentary about a documentary, a documentary about a documentary and a documentary documenting a documentary about a documentary."

You can't make this stuff up. The IMDB tells us that "William Greaves believed that he had made a masterpiece, and that the only place to première it was the Cannes Film Festival. So he carried the print to France himself, where it was screened for programmers. However, the projectionist made the mistake of showing the reels out of order. The film was turned down. Greaves came home, figured he had made a mistake, and put the film in his closet." It appears to have mostly stayed in that closet until the early 90s, when it was shown once or twice. Steve Buscemi saw it and loved it ... Steven Soderberg soon joined the list of admirers. The film was finally re-released in 2005. It was named to the Slate Black Film Canon, and is #627 on the They Shoot Pictures, Don't They list of the top 1000 films of all time.


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