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JDIFF 2015: “Double Play: James Benning and Richard Linklater”

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Double Play: James Benning and Richard Linklater


double play

Gabe Klinger’s documentary is a special opportunity to check in and hang out with two directors, both wonderful talkers – one of whom we all know well and the other, a man who influenced him and probably deserves to be a little better known.

Richard Linklater was this year’s favourite for the Academy Award for achievement in Directing. While some people weren’t sure Boyhood was the “best film of 2014”, there were a whole lot of people who wanted Linklater to take home the directing statuette as a mark of respect for a career which has seen him work outside the Hollywood system and be one of the most welcoming directors around. We see him here welcoming experimental film-maker James Benning to his production lot in Austin, Texas for conversations about the movies they have made, and the films that others have made which stayed with them.

We’re treated to a few great moments in the film, none more so that Linklater showing Benner some scenes from a film he’s working on called Boyhood and Benner having very little interest in characters or script and instead being curious to see how Linklater was going to cut from one year to the next, this coming from the man who makes films that cut together images of clouds for an hour and a half, stating there’s nothing as beautiful on-screen as the passage of time.

The film is expertly crafted, and a perfect example of how a modern documentary with access to willing subjects can be made, without any need to rely on moving photos or countless talking heads. The film instead uses primary sources of Benning’s 13 Lakes, Small Roads and Ten Skies and putting them alongside Linklater’s Slackers, Dazed & Confused, Before trilogy and Boyhood to discuss the passage of time as it’s presented on-screen in these men’s films.

This won’t be for everyone but any film fan with an interest in the way films are made will take something from.

My only problem with this documentary? At 70 minutes, it’s too damn short.

Director: Gabe Klinger
Year: 2013
Country of Origin: France/Portugal/USA
Duration: 70 minutes
Writers: Gabe Klinger, Eugenio Renzi