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

Monk with a Camera
Film Review: Monk With a Camera: The Life and Journey of Nicholas Vreeland

Enthralling and uplifting documentary about a man of the world turned monk, but one who effects real, inspiring change. More »

The Circle
Film Review: The Circle

Very strong, historically intriguing and important gay document is marred by intrusive real-life interview footage, which seriously breaks up the dramatic momentum. More »

The King and the Mockingbird
Film Review: The King and the Mockingbird

A tyrant pursues a shepherdess across a magical landscape in an animated masterpiece by Paul Grimault. More »

Reach Me
Film Review: Reach Me

Self-help book draws an array of lost and lonely people together in a misguided message drama from writer-director John Herzfeld. More »

ADVERTISEMENT



REVIEWS

Hunger Games - Mockingjay Pt 1
Film Review: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1

Darker, less action-packed first half of the final installment of the popular franchise moves from arenas to rubble aplenty as Jennifer Lawrence’s super-heroine is called upon to serve her beleaguered and much-destroyed nation as propaganda instrument and leader. Fans of the books and previous two films get a less flashy palette here, but the engaging characters and strong story return to stir interest for the scheduled November 2015 finale. More »

Foxcatcher review
Film Review: Foxcatcher

Character is destiny in this masterfully controlled true-crime sports drama that will likely catapult Steve Carell into the Oscar race. 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