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SXSW review: ‘Double Play’ a look at Linklater’s lifelong friendship

Joe Gross
jgross@statesman.com

A 70-minute look at the friendship between Austin filmmaker Richard Linklater and one of his heroes, life-long experimental filmmaker James Benning, “Double Play” serves as a lovely companion piece to Linklater’s “Boyhood,” though it was not intended as such. Shot for French television by director Gabe Klinger, the movie alternates between conversations between the two (many of them at Austin Studios) and archival footage of their films.

Benning is as much a visual artist as a filmmaker (in addition to all of his films, he built two cabins in the Sierra Nevadas, one copy of Thoreau’s cabin in “Walden,” the other a copy of Ted “Unabomber”Kaczynski’s place — genius!). His movies, especially the 21st century ones, are long takes of nature, meditative in the extreme. He and Linklater discuss Benning’s lack of interest in yet another feature but in examining new ways of seeing, a new cinematic language that has less to do with narrative. By comparison, Linklater is a much more mainstream filmmaker, clearly influenced by Benning’s work but much more interested in drama and narrative arc. Their shared interest in how film can manipulate and capture time, how we understand things only in memory. Benning is quite interested Linklater’s “Boyhood” project, then in post production, and it is a treat to see the two giants in their field discussing the ground breaking movie.

“Double Play” screens 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Marchesa