From right — James Benning, Richard Linklater, Gabe Klinger.
From Rotterdam —
Gabe Klinger had the right idea: when he couldn’t afford to see as many movies as he needed to see, he became a critic so he could see them for free. And now he’s made film for the best possible reason: to be able to see a film that wouldn’t exist if he didn’t make it.
About time. DOUBLE PLAY is all about time. Juxtaposing the work of friends James Benning (durational experimental films framing empty places as the seconds silently tick by, or revisiting environments and inhabitants after decades) and Richard Linklater (three films that follow a couple across ten years, and one that was shot over twelve years to show its child characters grow up for real), Klinger explores a friendship and two contrasting oeuvres, unified beautifully under a temporal umbrella. It’s particularly impressive to see him intercut different Linklater films — samples from a prolific and eclectic career — so that they all seem to merge into one big continuum, an uber-film containing both WAKING LIFE and THE BAD NEWS BEARS, SLACKER and BEFORE SUNRISE, making it seem possible that Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy might at some moment round a corner and pass a pixillated/pixelated stoner from A SCANNER DARKLY.
And then there’s the central relationship, which is fun to be around and contains just enough contrast and disagreement to stop it becoming a love-in (and therefore tedious). I mean, I like King Vidor’s film about Andrew Wyeth, THE METAPHOR, it’s impossible to dislike, but its mutual admiration society set-up, Vidor loves Wyeth who loves Vidor, means it’s hardly a-crackle with tension. Benning seems to have enough inner steel and fire that a certain mild, agreeable tension is felt whenever he’s around.
Discussing tennis with Danny Kasman before the show — I remark that the sport seemed to have kept Richard Lester fit into his eighties and Norman Lloyd going strong at 99. A very early image of DOUBLE PLAY is Linklater peppering a court with stray balls as he faces off against an implacable tennis ball machine. We exchange glances. This sequence is good news for Linklater fans.
TEN SKIES by James Benning.
BTW, Gabe is a friend, but seeing as we live on different continents, I’m fairly sure I could have gotten away with NOT writing about his film if I didn’t like it.