James Benning

James Benning – Landscape Suicide (1986) (HD)

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 in the 1950s. Bernadette Prott was a California teenager who stabbed a friend to death over an insult in 1984. Benning’s distanced approach to such grisly material is as far removed as possible from sensationalism, however. Although the acts of murder are both bizarre and violent, Benning dwells on them only minimally, emphasizing instead the details of psychological motivation, which in both cases seem frighteningly mundane. Benning has created a script which is a masterpiece of understated colloquial writing, and the actors he employs to re-enact confessional testimony and incidents recounted in trial transcripts perform with a flatly convincing lack of affect reminiscent of Gary Gilmore. Read More »

James Benning – From Bakersfield to Mojave (2021)

Synopsis
A document of one of the most famous 66 miles of railroad track in the world including the Tehachapi Loop.

Review
After his 2007 RR, filmmaker James Benning set his camera up by the railroad again. This time, instead of observing various types of trains, he watches trains passing the 66-mile railroad from Bakersfield to Mojave. The endless train tracks look as if the trains were transporting us to somewhere. Watching the tracks, we gaze at the moment of trains passing through the track. We also find the heritage from the past, cargo trains, reminding us of scenes from classic western movies that today’s cinema almost forgot. From Bakersfield to Mojave forms a delightful contrast with On Paradise Road, which was exclusively filmed inside the house during the shutdown. Showing us the wild and vast nature of the United States, it delivers us some sense of freedom in this moment where nobody is really allowed to travel freely around the world. Read More »

James Benning – daylight (2019)

Quote:
Benning’s 18-minute study of moonfall in the morning sky– A close cousin to his film “two moons”. A lovely rendition of ‘Moon River’ accompanies the footage, filmed July 24th, 2019. Read More »

James Benning – On Paradise Road (2020)

Filmed at Benning’s home in Val Verde during the first month of the pandemic, the film is a portrait of that time. Read More »

James Benning – Telemundo (2019)

Two people watch a film being broadcast on Telemundo, a Spanish-language television station. The sound of the film along with commercials can be heard. They occasionally talk to each other, but never about the film. Read More »

James Benning – L. Cohen (2018)

Quote:
“Legendary avant-garde filmmaker and visual artist James Benning returns to the Festival with L. COHEN, one of the year’s most awe-inspiring and transcendent experiences. Benning has described the landscape as ‘a function of time’ and this film elegantly invites us to savour the relationship. Shot in a barren Oregon field, the film’s fixed camera presents us with the deceptively simple: canary-coloured jerry can, twin tires, some rusty barrels, abandoned agricultural machinery, a plain of green grass and overgrown hay, and faint, portentous details in the distance. Read More »

James Benning – Ruhr (2009)

Synopsis by Mark Peranson (cinema-scope):
James Benning is not quite Stravinsky, and his first high-definition video (and first film shot outside the US) is not exactly the Rite of Spring, but a trip to the heart of the Ruhr Valley for the premiere of Ruhr at the Duisberg Film Week carried a certain nervous anticipation. After years of shooting on 16mm and finally abandoning it for HD because of an endless series of processing and projection errors, Benning was about to enter further unexplored territory: digital projection. Read More »