The Observers

Climatologist Dani Leventhal in The Observers

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Time Out says

Mon May 7 2012

The first feature-length work from experimental filmmaker Jacqueline Goss, this mesmerizingly minimalist landscape movie details a year atop New Hampshire’s Mount Washington, where two climatologists practice their solitary calling in separate seasonal shifts. It’s based on real work done at the summit’s observatory and shaped around a barely perceptible structure of fiction—the pair is played by Dani Leventhal and Katya Gorker, both filmmakers themselves—that supports this astonishingly shot portrait of life as a weather chronicler 6,288 feet above sea level. Working with cinematographer Jesse Cain, Goss shows an eye for the beauty of the stark location, but also a sense of humor: For every marvelously slow pan along snow-clotted windows, there’s one of a bundled-up researcher staggering to stay upright in one of the windiest places on earth.

In the winter, Leventhal navigates white-on-white tundra, while in the misty summer, Gorker prepares the place for day-trippers she never meets; 25 minutes pass before we hear someone speak, regarding a weather report. What story there is surrounds the unexplained object one finds and the other deals with, creating a closed loop that could continue forever. By paring down to the bare processes of the pair’s work, The Observers creates a haunting sense of people engaged in an otherworldly duty—huddled over incomprehensible charts and dials, they seem like they’re busy maintaining the clockwork mechanism of the world itself.

Follow Alison Willmore on Twitter: @alisonwillmore

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69 mins

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