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Here Is Always Somewhere Else

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    Ian Jane
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  • Here Is Always Somewhere Else

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    Released by: Cult Epics
    Released on: November 18, 2008.
    Director: Rene Daalder
    Cast: Bas Jan Alder
    Year: 2006
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    The Movie:

    Rene Daalder's Here Is Always Somewhere Else is a fascinating look at the truly odd career of Dutch born/California-based artist Bas Jan Ader who remains most famous for his final work where set sail in a ridiculously tiny boat across the Atlantic Ocean in 1975 never to be seen again. Before he sailed off into the sunset for good, however, Ader made a substantial impact on the art world through his unusual photographs and short films. Fans of avant garde cinema may remember him for an unsettlingly emotional short film that he made in 1970 entitled I'm Too Sad To Tell You (which is where the image on the cover of the DVD is taken from) where he basically just cries on camera.

    Daaleder's film explores Ader's early years and his life leading up to 1975 where he decided to create In Search Of The Miraculous, the performance art piece that would eventually claim his life. The idea, as mentioned, was to cross the Atlantic Ocean alone in a small boat. Six months later the boat was found, Ader, however, was not. No one knows if he committed suicide, if he fell into the ocean and couldn't make his way to shore or get back in the boat, or what exactly happened to him.

    Aside from that, however, Rene Daalders picture spends a lot of time waxing nostalgic about the importance of Ader's art by way of interviews and input from artists like Tacita Dean, Rodney Graham, Marcel Broodthaers, Ger van Elk, Charles Ray, Wim T. Schippers, Chris Burden, Fiona Tan, Pipilotti Rist and others. Daalder explains his appreciation of Ader's work - both hail from Holland and they share other similarities, making this an obviously quite personal project for the man who is probably best known for Massacre At Central High.

    While the appreciation for Ader's work is interesting in its own right, the film would have been more interesting had it been able to shed more light on Ader's mysterious exit from this mortal coil. While it definitely touches on it here and there and lends some insight into what may or may not have happened to him, a tighter focus on Ader's motivation or idea behind the project would have been quite welcome. As it stands, the most interesting part of Ader's life unfortunately isn't his artwork, it's his demise, and that isn't as much a focal point of the film as it could have been.

    As a tribute to an artist who lived a criminally short life, however, Here Is Always Somewhere Else is a touching picture. Even if your appreciation of Ader's work isn't as intense or personal as Daalder's obviously is, it's interesting to hear how his work means different things to the different people who discuss him and the inspiration that he had on them in this film.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    The film was shot on DV so the 1.33.1 fullframe presentation doesn't have quite the depth that film would lend the project, though it does use some archival clips from Ader's filmography to illustrate various points. As such, the quality tends to vary a bit. The newly shot footage that Daalder created looks clean and clear, some of the art films that are exhibited in clip form don't look quite as good as they have started to show their age. Overall, however, things look just fine here even if the image is unfortunately interlaced.

    The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo track sounds clean and clear from start to finish. There aren't any problems with hiss or distortion to report and while there isn't a ton of depth to the mix, there doesn't really need to be either. This track definitely does what it needs to do here and it sounds fine.

    Cult Epics have spread the extras for this release across two separate DVDs as follows:

    Disc One:

    The first disc starts off with a Q&A From The Los Angeles Premiere At The Egyptian Theater (23:06) where Daalder, producer Aaron Ohlman and Ader's widow, Mary Sue Ader-Anderson answer questions from people in attendance. Also included is vide documentation of a 2008 art exhibit dedicated to alder's legacy. Entitled Gravity Art (1:36), this exhibit was curated by Daalder himself. Rounding out the extra features is the film's original theatrical trailer (1:24), some animated menus and chapter selection.

    Disc Two:

    Disc two contains forty-one minutes of Alder's film and video shorts. Included here are Fall 1, Fall 2, I'm Too Sad To Tell You, Broken Fall Geometric, Broken Fall, Nightfall and Primary Time. These are all pretty abstract shorts, running the gamut from footage of Ader falling off of a roof to him crying to arranging flowers for a few minutes. The documentary is more interesting than the shorts in a lot of ways but it's important to include them here to give the feature some context and as some interesting examples of experimental film and video.

    Included inside the keepcase for this release is an insert booklet containing three pages of liner notes Rene Daalder, written in 2008, that explain why he wanted to make this film and why he feels its subject is an important one.

    The Final Word:

    A very personal film that paints an interesting portrait of a very unusual man, Here Is Always Somewhere Else is well made and at times quite moving. Cult Epics has done a very nice job on the presentation and included some welcome supplemental material as well, making this one well worth a look for fans of art cinema and avant garde moviemaking.
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