California Trilogy | Chicago Reader

California Trilogy

Three 90-minute experimental features by James Benning, each a sequence of 35 stationary landscape shots that last 150 seconds apiece and a 150-second “cast list” specifying the subject of each shot, the owner of the property involved, and its location. El Valley Centro (1999) concentrates on California's Central Valley, Los (2001) on greater Los Angeles, and Sogobi on the California wilderness. It's a lot to deal with in one four-and-a-half-hour block, and the cookie-cutter form leads to various anomalies and distortions when Benning identifies his “cast.” But his eye and ear are as sharp as ever, and as a multifaceted landscape portrait of California this has a lot to recommend it.

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