William Greaves’ cinematic experiment sputters along intermittently, interestingly, intriguingly, never quite scaling the height of its ambitions, but succeeding nonetheless. Coming at a time when the under-thirties in America screamed for revolution from every rooftop, campus and stage, their naïvely grandiose ambitions for a remade society guaranteed their failure, but in the wake of protests and experiments a new way of seeing remained. And for every artist who bemoans the “hippy sixties” they owe it an incalculable debt.
The movie has a movie at its center, and several more surrounding it. Like a skillfully made Russian doll each time we think we’ve uncovered, the final layer, another, more intricately crafted version emerges. Staging a banal scene of romantic dischord, Greaves becomes a cinematic Captain Queeg gradually alienating his restless crew. As the focal point shifts invisibly between the central action and the activity swirling around it, lines blur between contrivance and truth. The search for a film to which we are witnesses is a fascinating document of a culture in flux and the clumsy, probing process at the heart of artistic creation.
Opens October 26 at IFC Center