FILM If America garlanded a filmmaker laureate, who would be better than James Benning? After helping thaw the structuralist/abstraction divide in the 1970s and '80s, he's since embarked on several adjoining 16mm contemplations of the American landscape, as marked by trains, lakes, paradises lost and alienation found in the course, this son of Milwaukee has produced a matchless western oeuvre. In Ruhr (2009), his latest, Benning migrates to Europe and digital, but the bedrock is safe.
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"It's like he was waiting for someone to find him. It was overwhelming at first because I was just this little person trying to write a dissertation, and here was someone I thought needed to be recognized by history."Read more »
FILM Hollywood always exploits the space between plausibility and fantasy, but rarely with such fluidity as in the films of the 1940s and '50s. Some of the era's darkest refractions of the disquieted American belong to Jerry Lewis, but generally we look to film noir for the cynical postwar imagination.Read more »
YEAR IN FILM "We could live like this forever." Josephine, the serious young woman in Claire Denis' gorgeous chamber drama 35 Shots of Rum, whispers this line to her father while they're camped out on the beach. It's unclear, however, whether she's referring to this particular sandy spot or the rituals of home and work that structure the film. As with Chris Chong's remarkable short, Block B, 35 Shots of Rum (a ritual in the title itself) is set in a superficially unattractive apartment complex. Read more »