Reviews - Specialty Releases


Film Review: Double Play

Low-budget documentary celebrates left-field movie mavericks.

July 15, 2014

-By Stephen Dalton


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1404378-Double_Play_Md.jpg
A low-budget debut feature completed with a Kickstarter fundraising campaign, Double Play won the prize for best documentary on cinema at the Venice Film Festival. Mostly shot over a single weekend in Texas, it offers a joint profile of two American filmmakers from different traditions and generations: the Austin-based indie pioneer Richard Linklater and the veteran avant-garde purist James Benning, whose self-produced films border on abstract visual art.

Director Gabe Klinger, who teaches film in Chicago, maintains a politely detached observational eye, leading to a sometimes arid combination of austere visuals and real-time conversation. This is clearly a deliberate formal choice, with a nod to Linklater’s own rambling and talk-heavy films, but it risks letting some sweet stuff slip away with its lack of a guiding authorial voice. All the same, Klinger's sporadically engaging documentary will find a ready-made discerning specialty audience.

Klinger shoots with quiet confidence and an able team, including crew members who have previously worked for Linklater and fellow Austin icon Terrence Malick. The friendship between his two subjects stretches back to the late 1980s, when Linklater invited Benning to be the first out-of-town speaker at the nascent Austin Film Society. The documentary begins with the pair giving another shared talk at the society, then later playing basketball and baseball together at Linklater’s country house in nearby Bastrop. All the while, they discuss filmmaking, sports, art and the passing of time.

These conversations are punctuated by archive footage and clips from the pair’s work, most prominently Benning’s experimental 1984 documentary American Dreams and Linklater’s trilogy of dialogue-driven romances starring Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke, culminating in their recent critically acclaimed hit Before Midnight. The film also touches on some of Benning’s more left-field artworks, including building himself a pair of rural cabins in the Sierra Nevada mountains, one modeled on Henry David Thoreau’s humble shack at Walden Pond and the other on Unabomber Theodore Kaczynski’s hut in Montana.

More context on these fascinating side projects, and less navel-gazing discussion about optical printers and editing techniques, might have given Double Play some much-needed breadth and warmth. Klinger is clearly aiming at a hardcore of filmmakers and cinema students, but even that niche audience will only glean incomplete insights into the methods and motivations of his subjects. In fairness, he makes the most of an obviously tight budget, and winning a Venice prize with your debut film is undoubtedly impressive. But for his next project, hopefully Klinger will follow Elvis Presley’s evergreen advice: a little less conversation, a little more action.

-The Hollywood Reporter

Click here for cast & crew information.


Film Review: Double Play

Low-budget documentary celebrates left-field movie mavericks.

July 15, 2014

-By Stephen Dalton


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1404378-Double_Play_Md.jpg

A low-budget debut feature completed with a Kickstarter fundraising campaign, Double Play won the prize for best documentary on cinema at the Venice Film Festival. Mostly shot over a single weekend in Texas, it offers a joint profile of two American filmmakers from different traditions and generations: the Austin-based indie pioneer Richard Linklater and the veteran avant-garde purist James Benning, whose self-produced films border on abstract visual art.

Director Gabe Klinger, who teaches film in Chicago, maintains a politely detached observational eye, leading to a sometimes arid combination of austere visuals and real-time conversation. This is clearly a deliberate formal choice, with a nod to Linklater’s own rambling and talk-heavy films, but it risks letting some sweet stuff slip away with its lack of a guiding authorial voice. All the same, Klinger's sporadically engaging documentary will find a ready-made discerning specialty audience.

Klinger shoots with quiet confidence and an able team, including crew members who have previously worked for Linklater and fellow Austin icon Terrence Malick. The friendship between his two subjects stretches back to the late 1980s, when Linklater invited Benning to be the first out-of-town speaker at the nascent Austin Film Society. The documentary begins with the pair giving another shared talk at the society, then later playing basketball and baseball together at Linklater’s country house in nearby Bastrop. All the while, they discuss filmmaking, sports, art and the passing of time.

These conversations are punctuated by archive footage and clips from the pair’s work, most prominently Benning’s experimental 1984 documentary American Dreams and Linklater’s trilogy of dialogue-driven romances starring Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke, culminating in their recent critically acclaimed hit Before Midnight. The film also touches on some of Benning’s more left-field artworks, including building himself a pair of rural cabins in the Sierra Nevada mountains, one modeled on Henry David Thoreau’s humble shack at Walden Pond and the other on Unabomber Theodore Kaczynski’s hut in Montana.

More context on these fascinating side projects, and less navel-gazing discussion about optical printers and editing techniques, might have given Double Play some much-needed breadth and warmth. Klinger is clearly aiming at a hardcore of filmmakers and cinema students, but even that niche audience will only glean incomplete insights into the methods and motivations of his subjects. In fairness, he makes the most of an obviously tight budget, and winning a Venice prize with your debut film is undoubtedly impressive. But for his next project, hopefully Klinger will follow Elvis Presley’s evergreen advice: a little less conversation, a little more action.

-The Hollywood Reporter

Click here for cast & crew information.
Post a Comment
Asterisk (*) is a required field.
* Author: 
Rate This Article: (1=Bad, 5=Perfect)

*Comment:
 

More Specialty Releases

Momo
Film Review: Letter to Momo

Literally beset by goblins, this strained animated effort should have concentrated on the human elements of its story rather than the supernatural. More »

A Master Builder
Film Review: A Master Builder

A personal project which should have stayed personal, this turgid yet flat Ibsen adaptation is third-time unlucky for Wallace Shawn and Andre Gregory. More »

Fanny
Film Review: Fanny

"Classic" is a word all too casually bandied about, but for Daniel Auteuil's screen adaptation of this beloved French trilogy it is completely apropos. More »

Alive Inside
Film Review: Alive Inside

Incredibly moving and powerful documentary about combatting Alzheimer's with music. Without the use of a single CGI effect, you see literal miracles happening here. More »

ADVERTISEMENT



REVIEWS

Sex Tape review
Film Review: Sex Tape

Couple's homemade porn circulates on the web in an R-rated comedy that wastes the talents of its stars. More »

The Purge: Anarchy
Film Review: The Purge: Anarchy

A modest but noticeable improvement on its predecessor, The Purge: Anarchy offers a more effective—if still far from ideal—realization of the series' killer premise. More »

Player for the Film Journal International website.


ADVERTISEMENT



INDUSTRY GUIDES

» Blue Sheets
FJI's guide to upcoming movie releases, including films in production and development. Check back weekly for the latest additions.

» Distribution Guide
» Equipment Guide
» Exhibition Guide

ORDER A PRINT SUBSCRIPTION

Film Journal International

Subscribe to the monthly print edition of Film Journal International and get the full visual impact of this valuable resource for the cinema business.

» Click Here

SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

Learn how to promote your company at the Film Expo Group events: ShowEast, CineEurope, and CineAsia.

» Click Here