One of the most widely praised American avant-garde films in recent years, James Benning's 1977 feature is a laconic mosaic of single-shot sequences, each offering some sort of image/sound ... See full summary »

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Cast

Credited cast:
Serafina Bathrick ...
Woman
Ted Brady ...
Man's Son
Barbara Frankel ...
Woman's Friend
Rick Goodwin ...
Boy
Bette Gordon ...
Woman's Friend
Michael S. O'Brien ...
Sick man
Harvey Taylor ...
Young Man
Tim Welsh ...
Boy
Paddy Whannel ...
Man
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One of the most widely praised American avant-garde films in recent years, James Benning's 1977 feature is a laconic mosaic of single-shot sequences, each offering some sort of image/sound pun or paradox. At once a crypto-narrative with an abstract, peekaboo storyline and a fractured, painterly study of the American midwestern landscape, 11x14 points toward the creation of a new, non-literary but populist cinema. Written by Anonymous

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16 April 1977 (USA)  »

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1.33 : 1
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Version of 8 1/2 X 11 (1977) See more »

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profound or simply minimalistic?
16 May 2007 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

An interesting 70-something minute avante-garde opus, a real patience-tester to those with only a passing interest in non-narrative experiments. But the average movie-goer is not only outside this film's intended audience. It is not availaible. I saw it at a film class at City Collge.

It consiststs a series of unedited static shots, taken from inside a train, from the back seat of a crowded car, behind some golfers, looking at a tractor lumbering across a field. In two instances, Bob Dylan's Black Diamond Bay (from "Desire") plays out its full duration. And it's long -- seven and a half minutes. The first is of two women in bed, in extreme slow-motion. The second is of a chimney. An industrial chimney made of brick simply puffs out smoke for the entire time it takes for the song to finish. Perhaps comparing the lyrics themselves to these images can shed light on an intended meaning or significance -- or is that over-analyzing.

It's basically an 80-minute slideshow. It looks like moving slide photos taken on someone's summer road trip. On paper, the idea of something so plain and simple would seem to be deathly dull, but there is in eerie quality that arisesas you approach an hour of watching these shots. Occasionally seeing people, their faces always slightly obscure, creates a sensation of spying. You're not following their story or absorbing their character; you're just watching them. In all the slow, static shots, the sum of the whole thing seems to hint at some sort of broad impression of Americana.

I understand that the filmmaker, James Benning has no interest in transferring this 16 mm celluloid opus to DVD (along with all his films I assume) so I recommend taking notes. Savor it. Think about it. It might be the only time you see 11 x 14.

PS I still don't know what "11 x 14" refers to, if I find out I'll let you know.


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