Double Play: James Benning and Richard Linklater
On the occasion of the release of Richard Linklater’s most adventurous and rewarding work—Boyhood—check out this wonderful conversation piece between the independent-minded Austinite and the even more marginalized James Benning, an experimental artist who would surely be far better known (not to mention far wealthier) if he had not chosen moving pictures for his medium. Benning (whose Stemple Pass featured in VIFF last year) works alone, usually, and most often prefers long, static, contemplative takes. But the two filmmakers have much in common, not least a fascination with the passage of time. And Gabe Klinger’s relaxed portrait of the pair in conversation is certainly time spent in most excellent company.
"In Double Play, filmmaker and cineaste Gabe Klinger brings together James Benning and Richard Linklater, a pairing that might cause a double take, until you learn all that they do share: later-in-life turns toward filmmaking, a love of (and history with) baseball, an openness to temporal experiment and formal rebirth, and a curiosity about defining American-ness that is itself particularly American. Drawing liberally from an onstage interview at the Austin Film Society, clips from the two directors’ films, and visits to Linklater’s editing room (where Boyhood is up on the console), Klinger creates a conversational structure for the film, making Benning’s visit with Linklater the throughline of the film. He also opens up the typical docu-portrait frame with, for example, long shots of Benning and Linklater playing ball—a flexibility of staging that lives up to the film’s billing as an installment in the venerable Cinéma, de notre temps series. Double Play illustrates how the two filmmakers’ sensibilities converge and diverge—Benning’s solitary approach, say, versus Linklater’s directorial self-identification as a kind of “coach”—as in an extended rendezvous you might find in certain Linklater films."
—Nicolas Rapold, Film Comment
“Double Play is the kind of film to make cinephiles grateful, if only to preserve for the ages the ruminations of two artists whose shared project has been nothing less than the excavation of the American spirit itself."—Ann Hornaday, Washington Post
"Like Linklater’s movies, including Boyhood, Double Play is loaded with thought-provoking dialogue, including meditations on time, relationships and the challenges of staying true to one’s artistic muse."—Rob Nelson, Star Tribune