Photo of Richard Linklater and James Benning (Photo Credit: Mubi, Courtesy of Gabe Klinger)
Enthusiasts of the cinematic tradition can agree that the medium is a catalyst for the exploration of history. Irrespective of the format, an intriguing film establishes a platform for the investigation of a director. Gabe Klinger’s Double Play: James Benning and Richard Linklater: is in sync with this sensibility but will echo further to those who adamantly aim to achieve their visions.
The movie about two central figures in cinema, James Benning and Richard Linklater, feels nothing like a modern documentary. A particular strength of this film is it’s effortless cohesion of technique and substance. Klinger offers his subjects the proper space as they explore observed intricacies of time, sports, and film.
Interspersed are montages of clips from the films of both directors. Involved with the connections and shared experiences, the film convinces us of the possibilities of cinema and more importantly the blessings of friendship.
In a moment of hyper-media excursions covering a broad range of creative artists, the process of documenting them can at times seem a pompous whim. The film Shut Up and Play The Hits about James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem fame is an example of this tedium. Luckily Double Play is on the opposite spectrum, a serious yet far from self-conscious peak into the complexities of two cinematic artists.
The credit is primarily Klingers’ who wisely steers clear of interpretive devices and simply lets the directors speak for themselves. By doing so Klinger effortlessly summons the magic that seems an instinctual aspect of both Benning and Linklater. In retrospect the viewers get a deeper understanding of the minds of two filmmakers as well as a poetic delineation of an engaging relationship.
We journey into important places for the directors, usually related to aspects of their work. When they chat and play ball, the discussion concerning sports reveals how baseball helped opened their forays into making movies. Little snippets on memory and the passage of time blend seamlessly with excerpts from their films.
Klinger inserts the montages to help accentuate the topics occupying Benning and Linklater. One point made by both Benning and Linklater delves into the heart of this film. Exchanging views on innovation, both directors affirm their ambitions of challenging assumptions on what it means to make films.
In many ways Double Play is a simple investigation on film-makers yet goes beyond this typical homage. The film convincingly and artfully conveys the universalities of time, friendship, and obsessions.
Double play: James Benning and Richard Linklater won the Venizia Classici Award for Best Documentary on Cinema. The film funded primarily through the success of a Kickstarter campaign should offer sober encouragement for budding cinéastes. In a screening at the Music Box theater in Chicago, Klinger was modest in his own appraisal stating he just wanted a chance to interview two of his own film idols.
In a recent discussion with Indie Outlook he explains there wasn’t an immediate realization Double Play could become feature material. The rewards are apparent as the film clearly provides a thorough aesthetical and historical examination of Benning’s and Linklater’s films. I can only imagine the class and quality of his future endeavours when he is certain of an ideas’ potential.