Frampton's first foray into "narrative" cinema isn't a conventional narrative of course, although its the first instance of dialogue in any of his films. It's essentially about a young German man (whose dialogue is not subtitled) who wants to make a film in three parts. SURFACE TENSION itself is in three parts, and culminates in a startling shot of a goldfish in a tank on a beach accompanied by Godardian titles.
from the seemingly disperate parts of this plotless plot i sensed a cohesive thought: souls trapped in bodies, bodies trapped in time, time trapped in space, space trapped in words, words trapped in images, and then viola the mirror shatters or says so the text. surface tension hmm. the last part describes a recurring dream i never knew i had. monkeys playing hmm.
As a newcomer to Frampton's films in general, I believe that seeing Surface Tension was a positive foray into his cinematic world. The film is most definitely split into three specific tales: one about a ringing phone and a man with a clock, a speedy walking tour of NYC with German overdubs, and a goldfish with an ocean background. While no actual story or plot is evident, it is more accessible than other HF films.