Set-Up. 1978. USA. Directed by Kathryn Bigelow. 35mm. 17 min.
“Kathryn Bigelow still had one foot in the world of political art theory when she shot her first film. In this parody of machismo, two men beat each other to a pulp. The blows are real—Bigelow later said she had no idea of how to direct the actors to pull their punches—but the style is as camp as Kenneth Anger’s Scorpio Rising ” (Amy Taubin).
Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take One. 1968. USA. Directed by William Greaves. DCP. 75 min.
“This mind-bogglingly unstable mélange of fiction and documentary more than measures up to anything Jean-Luc Godard or Andy Warhol were attempting toward the end of the 1960s. Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take One uses a single situation as the basis for a theme-and-variation structure that interrogates every aspect of the filmmaking process. The film is posed as a screen test, not for a film that is yet to be made, but as an end in itself. In Central Park on a beautiful spring day, a film crew is assembled to record two actors playing a scene that has the ring of a hack imitation of Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf or one of Tennessee Williams’s vitriolic marital battles. The scene is as irritating as the grain of sand in an oyster, and at one point the sound man attacks Greaves for making him listen to something so ugly through his headphones over and over for days. Given that in May of ’68, the war was raging in Vietnam, students were occupying university buildings all over the world, the French left had almost staged a successful takeover of the government, and, in the United States, cities were burning in response to a string of assassinations of Black radical leaders and some liberal white ones as well, Greaves’s focus on this bit of badly written psychodrama would be absurdly reactionary—if it were taken at face value. Which the film, of course, will not allow you the comfort of doing” (Amy Taubin).