Here Is Always Somewhere Else (2007)

DVD Cover (Cult Epics)
Genres: Art History, Biography (Non-Fiction), Documentary, Visual Arts
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Rene Daalder Rene Daalder
Bas Jan Ader Bas Jan Ader

8.5 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by Chad
Added: November 09, 2008
I've never been too interested in art, but in my opinion, real art is of the old-fashioned variety: paint on a canvas or tried-and-true statues. Some people insist that a bloody tampon on a crucifix is art at its finest, but me? I say it's a fucking tampon on two pieces of wood. Andy Warhol claimed that recording the Empire State Building for eight hours was art, but personally, I say that it's nothing more than a waste of film. Bas Jan Ader, the subject of tonight's film, wasn't quite as "out there" as these two examples, but he was certainly in the same ballpark.

This is a guy who is most famous for his photographs and short films, with his most popular work being a 1970 film entitled "I'm too sad to tell you" that is basically a title card and him crying for a few seconds. His other masterpieces consist of films that show him toppling over into bushes, rolling off of the top of his house, riding his bicycle into the river, and in a particularly stunning display of inspiration, putting all of his clothes up on the roof of his house. I'm sorry, but this just isn't art unless you think that Johnny Knoxville is the second coming of Leonardo da Vinci.

You're probably wondering why I even bothered to check this film out, but there's a catch here that made it seem interesting. You see, in 1975, Bas Jan set out to create "In Search of the Miraculous", a performance piece which consisted of him crossing the Atlantic in a twelve-foot boat. The boat was found almost a year later, but to this day, Bas Jan himself has never turned up. Did he kill himself? Did a nasty storm claim his life? Or, did he go into hiding after being told time and time again that his art was trash? This is what I expected the documentary to touch upon, but instead, we get seventy minutes of the filmmaker praising his legacy and his work... work which, ironically enough, has been revived over the last couple of decades and is now fairly popular in the art community for some ungodly reason.

Rene Daalder helms this piece, and as is explained throughout the running time, the storyteller and the subject share a sort of kindred bond: both come from the Netherlands, both are known for their work in the world of film, both married artists, and they both shared similar outlooks on life. That's fine and it adds a little something to the film, but this is far from a selling point; I wouldn't create a documentary about one of my friends just because we both enjoy pizza and went to the same school, even though I would be in a better position to do so than someone from the other side of the country who preferred Mexican over Italian.

Bas Jan's disappearance is touched upon here and there as the film rolls along, but you really get nothing more than "he disappeared at sea and we guess he died." This is not an unfair assumption, but in a documentary that uses this as its chief selling point, I expected a little more attention to be paid to it. To be fair, I suppose that there's not much more than can be said about it, but again, why was it used as the main selling point if there wasn't much that could be said about it? The rest of the film simply shows off his "art" while getting some insight from those who knew him, and we also get to see how he inspired other "artists" to carry on his themes in their work.

Again, I'll freely admit that I flat out disagree with his work and the work of others like him being called art, but I realize that some of you will insist that it's brilliant. If that's the case, you'll probably enjoy this film a whole hell of a lot more than I did, but I still say that watching a man cling to the underside of a table before falling on his back is not art. He seemed like a good guy and it's sad that he died, but this does not equate to an interesting film, especially when - in my opinion - he contributed absolutely nothing to the world of real art. Rene Daalder does a good job of introducing Bas Jan to those of us who have never heard of him and thus, I can't really call the film a piece of trash, but in my opinion, I didn't need an introduction to the man in the first place. 2/10.
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