Everyday Activist - Free Solo (Oscars 2019)

Posted on Wednesday, February 13, 2019 at 01:00 PM

Free Solo (Oscars 2019)

Movie Review by Everyday Activist X CalgaryMovies.com

Unfortunately, for most of 2018, I wasn’t well, so I didn’t manage to catch too many documentaries before they left Netflix. Free Solo came out much later in the year and has won numerous awards including a BAFTA and is Oscar shortlisted, I probably should review it, although it pains me to. Much like fan favorite Unbranded, I swear I am the only person to dislike Free Solo.

I chatted with Alex Honnold briefly, back in 2015. We talked about solar panel installation in developing countries since I had just returned from Peru with Light Up the World. From talking to him, there’s a difference between perceived risk and actual risk. Whatever project he does, he’s absolutely focused and in the moment. The most dangerous things Alex did was climb with his inexperienced girlfriend, Sanni McCandless, which led to serious injury. Forgetting to tie a knot at the end of a rope can be a deadly mistake. My neighbor’s climbing partner died that way.

Jimmy Chin is a fabulous, down to earth guy, whom I’ve also met, but he takes advantage of public’s recent fascination with climbers and climbing along with their lack of knowledge. At least one of the free climbers he mentions didn’t die free climbing. Dean Potter died wingsuit flying. In his New York Times Op-Ed, Jimmy shows that the training run was more dangerous when the lead climber dislodged a rock endangering the lives of the climbers below him. Speed climber, Alex McIntyre died when a rock hit him. The news of modern speed climber, Ueli Steck’s death rocked the climbing world. Then again risk in the lands of snow and ice differ from cliffs under the California sun.

Though revered by non-climbers, winning major awards at the Banff Mountain Film Festival 2018, Free Solo was featured on opening weekend, but failed to take home the grand prize among peers. It won best climbing film, of course. The cinematics were great. In the mountain community, acceptance of “bad things” happening are part and parcel of living a life that commands compete attention in the moment. Alex’s friends featured in the film, also push boundaries, so it really felt more like a game of the pot calling the kettle black. Tommy Cadwell’s climbing film Dawn Wall was featured on the main weekend in Banff. What I found amusing was fellow National Geographic sponsored climber Cedar Wright, who had done the Sufferfest films featuring him and Alex Honnold wasn’t in Free Solo.

Sanni had way too much screen time and her constant whining got irritating quickly; however the reality is that she’s the reason the film did so well, because laypeople can see themselves in her and in her experience with these elite climbers. If I had to pick a favorite part, it had to be when the climbers got together with their kids. They were all so cute! I like seeing kids in the outdoors. Free Solo is still playing at Canyon Meadows Cinemas, if you want to catch it before the Oscars 2019.

Calgary Showtimes: Free Solo >


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