29 March 2014

BIFF 2014 #2: DOUBLE PLAY (Gabe Klinger, 2013, France/Portugal/US)

Director Gabe Klinger introduced his film, contextualising the work as part of a French series of documentaries on cinema titled ‘Cinéma, de notre temps’. In many ways, Double Play follows in the line of such authorial appreciation of directors who demand to be revered. Klinger’s documentary on Richard Linklater and James Benning is an extended love letter that finds a commonality between the directors in their preoccupation with time. Whereas Linklater has worked almost on the margins of mainstream American cinema, Benning is altogether more independent in the way he makes films. The real pleasure of this documentary is listening to Linklater and Benning talk candidly about their concerns, approach and general love of film as an art form that defines their very existence. Benning’s work continues to be a blind spot for me and I am planning to fit it a few films at the festival in the coming week. As for Linklater, I have long been a fan of his work but more importantly of his capacity to resist the temptations of Hollywood and maintain a stoic independence in his hometown of Austin, Texas. Klinger’s documentary certainly underlines Linklater’s remarkable ability to retain philosophical attitudes cultivated from films as early as Slacker. Even more extraordinary is the portrayal of Benning who comes across as a polymath with interests in painting, construction and politics. As a documentary, Klinger mixes the poetic and observational modes but at the same time pays homage to both Linklater and Benning by directly replicating their signature camera style in playful ways. The admiration is infectious and clocking in at 70 min, this is an essential introduction and considered reminder of Linklater and Benning's sincerity as film auteurs in a world in which 'selling out' seems to be the default option.

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