Above all else, “Double Play” is an invitation to stare — usually at an object that’s worthy of prolonged attention.
This experimental documentary deals with the Mutual Admiration Society of two seemingly different filmmakers: James Benning, whose rarely shown “Utopia” will be screened Aug. 13 at Northwest Film Forum, and Richard Linklater, whose masterpiece, “Boyhood,” is playing all over town.
Their friendship has grown over the decades since they met, and so has their openness to each other’s artistic progress. Benning has never enjoyed the popularity that Linklater has had with “School of Rock” or “Bernie,” yet they’re on equal terms here.
In editing rooms, Benning and Linklater call attention to each other’s innovations, while clips from their films are compiled to illustrate recurring themes. At one point we’re watching a scene from Benning’s “Ten Skies”; at another we’re watching Linklater’s “Waking Life” mixed with his “Before” trilogy. James Joyce is invoked, and so is Stanley Kubrick.
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Very little of “Double Play” is recommended for audiences unfamiliar with either filmmaker. Some will call it a vanity project, or a “making of” video that wandered onto the big screen.
But if you’ve ever wondered about the ending of Linklater’s “Dazed and Confused,” or the possible inspirations for his visual ideas, or the ways in which an artist like Benning can influence a friend like Linklater (or vice versa), this is your movie.
John Hartl: email@example.com