Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take 2½

In 1968, filmmaker William Greaves shot an abortive interracial drama whose crew staged a mutiny by filming their own secret gripe sessions, then sending said feedback to the helmer amid pic's raw footage. Greaves eventually turned it all into "Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take One." "Take 2 1/2" reunites actors and crew 35 years later.

With:
With: Audrey Henningham, Shannon Baker, Marcia Karp, Jonathan Gordon, Bob Rosen, Steve Buscemi.

In 1968, African-American filmmaker William Greaves shot an abortive interracial drama whose crew staged a mutiny by filming their own secret gripe sessions, then prankishly sending said feedback to the helmer amid pic’s raw footage. Greaves eventually turned it all into the auto-analytical “Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take One,” which went unreleased until early-1990s museum/fest showings. “Take 2 1/2” reunites actors and crew 35 years later. But what was once a fourth-wall-breaking experiment now looks like insufferable artistic-process indulgence that only cinema academes and acting students will be able to stomach.

Original pic was intended as a dramatic snippet spotlighting conflict between fed-up black wife (Audrey Henningham) and a controlling white husband (Shannon Baker) suspected of bisexual affairs. “Sequel” has same thesps working through decades-later scenes that force their characters through a new set of late-life crises, once again acted out in Central Park. So far, OK, but Greaves & Co. insist on tortuous talking-through of each moment’s “truth” that feels like Method Acting excess. Arrival of “psychodramatist” Marcia Karp, goading principals into yea more hysterical “truths,” pushes pic toward self-parody. Tech aspects are raw but serviceable.

Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take 2½

Production: A William Greaves Prods. presentation. Produced by Greaves. Executive producers, Steven Soderbergh, Steve Buscemi. Co-producer, Louise Archambault. Directed, written by William Greaves.

Crew: Camera (color, 16mm/DV-to-35mm), Terence McCartney-Filgate, Phil Parmet, Steve Larner, Henry Adebonojo, Jerry Panzer; editor, Chris Osborn; music, Ron Carter. Reviewed at Sundance Film Festival (Frontier), Jan. 21, 2005. Running time: 94 MIN.

With: With: Audrey Henningham, Shannon Baker, Marcia Karp, Jonathan Gordon, Bob Rosen, Steve Buscemi.

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