Tuesday, July 10, 2012

"Here": two loners find love, reluctantly, after themselves, in Armenia

The road film “Here”, by Braden King, has a simple enough premise, with  “a man and a woman”; and it takes a leisurely stroll through Armenia (the former Soviet republic – not Albania) consuming over two hours.  But it covers a lot of moral territory, and entertains us with “Tree of Life” styled video from another of New Wave filmmakers. 

Peter Coyote narrates and asks the existential questions about the relationship between science and – not faith, but dreams and maybe art.  Then we meet the man, Will Shepard, handsome (about 30), blond and hairy (played by Ben Foster – in “Prometheus”, “Alpha Dog”, “30 Days of Night”), is the lone scientist-cartographer, working alone (by choice) all over the world in a “ground-truthing” project, doing surveying to provide details to add to satellite data to make new maps.  During the movie his work starts to fail in quality, possibly because of equipment problems.  (His computer terminal  has an email program that reminds one of the DOS days of the 1990s.)  He’s in trouble, and this may be his last contract. 

But he has met, in a rural café, Gadarine Najarian (Lubna Azabal), a photographer and artist (about 25) who has returned home from Canada and Europe and whose family resents her independence.  Her brother calls her the “prodigal sister” while their father is dying. But she goes on the road with Will, and, as the precepts of their lives are challenged, they gradually (if predictably) become intimate.  Yes, reproduction rules.

The film, which (in 2.35:1) is breathtaking  in scenery, takes us to the Iran border, and also to the dangerous Nagorno-Karabagh region. The filmmakers faces as many perils in real life as did the characters.

The film was made with sponsorship with the Sundance Institute and Tribeca. It got into and won awards in beaucoup festivals. 

The Strand DVD releases July 17. It includes eight brief videos (providing background in the film), collectively called the “Explorer Story Interludes”.  They are “Girl from Moush” by Garine Turossain;
Actual Size” by Barbara Meter and another by Naomi Umash; “Cloud Mapper” (with an image of a derecho, perhaps) by Ben Rivers; “Astronomer” by Julie Murray; “Alchemist” by Bill Morrison; “Shadow Explorer” by Guy Sherwin; “Found Footage”, by Aghdam.

The official site is here

Picture (top): Mine (2011), from Mt. Washington area of N.H. -- plenty of science on the summit with the weather observatory. 

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