Monday, 3 March 2014

The mountain film fest reviews

Am awfully overdue with the commentary on the mountaineering movies I’ve been watching this past week. Pretty much all of them were excellent, though I liked some a lot more than the others. My favourite was the one about hammy the hamster, the best one done was the first and the worst was, ironically, the last one I saw, as it seemed to be done by a retarded rich Canadian moron, whose idea of a good story was half an hour of whining in tandem with an equally retarded African native and then a glide. That said, it was a surprisingly well portrayal of the country.

Okay, here goes. 

The Gauri Shankar expedition
This wasn’t a movie, it was a retelling of the story of a local climbing party which took on at the time considered the tallest mountain. This quickly taught me that when men see something very large and beautiful, they must either sink it or crawl on top. As I have no conquest tendencies and am usually only interested in either food, sex, photos or lore, I made due taking pictures of the reunion and admitting the fact most brought home their toes. Gauri Shankar is a very pretty and fairly bloodthirsty mountain, such as they all are. Later movies will show, however, that where you find difficult, painful places, you probably find crazy white men trying to pitch a tent there. 

Vanishing Point (missed it.)

 Petzl Rocktrip Argentina
This one in my opinion was the one best made – it had colour, music, story, comedy, acting, magnificent footage and it actually made sense to people who don’t happen to be eager climbers. I couldn’t fucking care less about it, as I couldn’t care less about wind surfing, base jumping or … I dunno.. sand heading. Whatever. Large numbers of devoted folk do seem to care, though, and to them it’s like a rocky Woodstock. They act cheerful, fit young people, determined to do sporty stuff without any boundaries or any political bullshit. Respect. 

Wide Boyz
This one was also really good. I thought. It was more about how elderly climbers piss and shit on two young foreigners, but the climb was majestic. These two kids, Pete and Tom, as English as can be, white and middle class and all that, built their training room in one of their basements, imitating off-width routes – the climbing problems known as the tricky width, because it is too wide for the fist and too narrow for the body – so neither cracks or chimneys. They worked their way to a really nasty crack which has never been done by anybody and when they did it, everyone else gave them the stink, jealous old farts. 

Here is a really good photo cover vy Alex Ekins

The pillar (Or column?)
A Slovenian feature movie about the man who finally managed to solo a hard route up … dunno, some mountain, probably ThreeHead, Slovenia tallest peak. This was mostly a political movie, because all the inner turmoils of the characters had something to do with either war, job or party allegiance. It was a nice movie, well acted, nicely shot, a little over-dramatised. Though the guy’s description of his final ascend was poetry.

Spice Girl
This one was my favourite. Not because it was about a girl – far from it, as I have nothing in common with someone like that, but because I liked how she was portrayed. Her dad, who trained and inspired her, was also someone who really liked her and would call her Hammy the Hamster, saying her face was so wide when she was little and chubby (hence Ham-my, her name being Hazel), you could see her smile from behind. The first part of the movie is the two of them conquering the E9 cliff, mastering the crumbling rock – which looks pretty much like a glass wall. When you first see that cliff you think – you must be fucking kidding… But she does it and the next part is a climb she does with a friend in Morocco. The movie is made very realistically without trying to be hysterically cinematic and bullshitty.

The Climbing Shepherd
Another well done one, about a Welsh lad that is doing work on his uncle’s farm, raising his own tiny flock with his young wife, all the while drawn to his other great passion – hard ascends. Some sheep die, but the movie is lovely. I have no idea what language they are speaking. (Welsh, obviously, but it sounds really unrelated to the Indo-European pool, so it sounds like secret chant to me…)

The eagles return
In this one, shot masterfully, you meet people trying to repopulate the white-tail eagles back into Ireland. They tell you all predators have been extinct (in fact they tell you this about thirty-seven  times) and that Norway has granted them access to 20 chicks. So they have to climb into the high nests and weight the little buggers – and when I say little I mean they were bigger than men if they opened their wing, but they can’t open their wings yet, so it’s okay.)  Then they tell you one more time all of the eagles were extinct and are now slowly and surely working to repopulate them.

In the footsteps of the snow leopard
was the one I didn’t get.. I missed the first few minutes, but then again I miss the first few minutes of all of them, and there was this Mongolian man, in a tiny camouflage tent, stalking an irbis, a.k.a. a big fat cat with a long tail that resides in highlands, a snow leopard. He does this for about 54 minutes and I simply never got what he wanted from it. Did he want to see it (cause he did), observe, hunt, eat, stuff, photograph or tag it… Nothing much of any of this happened. There were just okay, not really great sequences of irbis doing nothing. Even worse, before anything happened, an annoying Belgium guy kept announcing it. (He was some famous film maker/photographer, but as footage goes, this was not at all impressive.) All the time. Now an irbis will come down the cliff. Now an irbis will look around. Now an irbis will go up the cliff. Now an irbis will make three steps to the left. Basaan will be watching this – cue shot of Basaan’s eyes watching from the tent. It’s okay, Belgian dude. We get it.

One thing I did observe, though – I mean besides the overwhelming beauty of remote plains and deserts…. That we, the white civilisation, the western progress oriented society, are so often told we are such bad people, so out of tune with nature … and yet ALL the time you can see the most secluded of traditional nomads, hunters, shepherds, fishermen, whatever, using modern tents, modern clothes, modern hot water bottles, modern weaponry …

North from the sun
Awwww, this one sooo reminded me of Maggie, my sister’s ex. This is about two guys who move to the shitway removed bay up in some arctic isle, up on the twilight north to clear it off all the garbage the tides bring in. They makeshift a hut and use anything the poor Pompeii-like beach has to offer: tons and tons of terrible uncomposable waste. To keep up the morale, they surf in the zero degrees waters or climb up and skate down the perfect slopes – unlikely anyone will ever do that right there ever again… This was excellently shot and it gave a strong moral.

The boy who flies
This was the only one I thought was really bad. I mean, the speaking part was bad - the footage was wonderful. One day a rich kid decides he will go to the middle of Africa (because no one flies there and yet getting a glide shoot isn’t that difficult), adopt a native young to train him into a motivational speaker, battling poverty and depressing things of Africa, like living without paved roads or being completely black all the time. He is offended most of the time that people consider him to be rich and white and not the messiah he actually is, a godwful mentor in paragliding as he never once demonstrated how that shit is actually done and aloof as only rich white people who have never had to work a day in their life can be. Meanwhile, his black companion is whining, peddling behind him, in search of the only mountain in the entire continent. Once they ascend and then glide down, they are called Jesus.

Regretfully, I haven’t seen the Leni Riefenstahl as actress retrospective, but it’s on my to do list. I am oddly drawn to that lady. She gave good interviews.