The first of Benning's 'California Trilogy' constitutes, along with its successor Los, a landmark in turn of the century American cinema. Each film consists of 35 static shots taken at different sites in the Golden State (in this case, across the vast central farming hinterland), absorbing the sights and sounds over a two and a half minute period. It sounds like a recipe for tedium, and perhaps would be in lesser hands. But Benning thrillingly redefines the syntax of both film-making and watching to compile an indelible record of modern America that transcends its self-imposed confines to become poetic, searingly political and surprisingly funny.
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