Canyon Cinema's Long Form Films
dir. James Benning, USA, 1986, 16mm, 95 mins.
FREE SCREENING! (RESCHEDULED FROM SATURDAY EVENING DUE TO THE SNOW)
Curated and hosted by professor and film scholar Irina Leimbacher / Q&A will follow
“[T]he murderers in James Benning’s Landscape Suicide are a paranoiac teenage girl and a taciturn Wisconsin farmer. The reconstructive narratives take the viewer through the slants of minds in disturbance, through the ambiguities that surround any act of violence. Both Bernadette Protti, who killed a more popular classmate with a kitchen knife, and Edward Gein, who shot a storekeeper’s wife and then took her body home and cut it up, provide exemplars of ‘I couldn’t stop.’ The homicides allow Benning to deal in emotion that is external to him (yet deeply felt), while imbuing his trademark ‘still’ images of roads, trucks, billboards, buildings and trees with newly charged meaning. ... As strong as Benning’s photography is, it’s the talking head sequences that prove most chilling. The power of Rhonda Bell’s portrayal of Protti is such that there are moments when we’re convinced she’s the real killer. So, too, with Elion Sucher’s Gein, who looks like he’s been struck between the eyes with a heavy object, his head so caved-in by dementia.There is no actual violence here - save the disembowelment of a deer - but Landscape Suicide leaves you feeling like a witness nonetheless.” - Katherine Dieckman, The Village Voice