Sunday, October 11, 1998

James Benning's Landscape Suicide

San Francisco Art Institute

James Benning returns to the Bay Area with a revival screening of his haunting earlier study of the American psyche and space, Landscape Suicide (1986, 95 min.), and the premiere of Four Corners at the Pacific Film Archive on Tuesday, October 13th. Landscape Suicide centers on the parallel lives of two famous murderers: Ed Gein, the Wisconsin farmer who cannibalistically mutilated his victims in the 1950’s and Bernadette Protti, a 15 year-old Californian who stabbed a cheerleader colleague to death in 1984. Re-enacted monologues by Gein and Protti are interwoven with Benning’s characteristically subtle and revealing portraits of American life: “I discovered a matching form of isolation in both. The cold, landlocked landscape of Wisconsin and the suburban, car-dominated, non-communication of California.” (J. B.) Also: Benning’s first film, Time and a Half (1972)