In 1985, filmmaker Richard Linklater began a film screening society in Austin, Texas, that aimed to show classic art-house and experimental films to a budding community of cinephiles and ... See full summary »
Yussuf and Aliosha are two shipwrecked sailors on an island in the Caspian Sea. They start working as sailor and mechanic for the fishing boats of the "Lights of the Communism" kolkhoz. ... See full summary »
In "Landscape Suicide" Benning continues his examination of Americana through the stories of two murderers. Ed Gein was a Wisconsin farmer and multiple murderer who taxidermied his victims ... See full summary »
Employing natural sound and contemplative proscenium shots, Benning skillfully composes a series of pure and majestic images that at once evoke a sense of nostalgic splendor as well as ... See full summary »
James Benning took the founding of the New York Times in 1851 as a departure point for his latest film, Deseret. In the best Benning tradition, Deseret unfolds magnificent landscapes ... See full summary »
Change and a city in China. In Chengdu, factory 420 is being pulled down to make way for multi-story buildings with luxury flats. Scenes of factory operations, of the workforce, and of ... See full summary »
I found this experimental film absorbing, even funny (intentionally) in one spot. The concept is very simple. A series of locked off shots where a train, not visible at first, enters frame, goes all the way through, and leaves frame. What makes it interesting is Benning's wide range of compositions and framings, from extremely wide and distant, to having the train right on top of us, along with the wide range of settings, from snow covered, to desert, to crossing bridges over water. The variations between the trains themselves are fascinating as well, so by the end this becomes a study of the nature of perception as much as anything.
Benning also adds context over a few of the images by adding audio clips from the past; Eisenhower's famed military-industrial complex speech, a snatch of 'This land is your land'. While some have understandably criticized these sound bites as too intrusive and too on the nose, to me, in such a strange context they worked wonders, opening my mind up to the films' possible bigger meanings; trains as an instrument of imperialism, as a symbol of destruction of the environment, as a great equalizer that made long distance travel possible for the masses.
Plus, lets face it, trains are simply cool to look at. Something about their power, size, history makes them almost mythological presences in themselves.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful.
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