Film Reviews

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Rating 2.5 out of 5

Director: Paul Diffley
by: Ed Douglas
Date: Wednesday, 9 December 2009
Producer: Hot Aches
Monkey See Monkey Do
Monkey See Monkey Do

Paul Diffley's first DVD release since Dave Brown left to form Bamboo Chicken is a mixed bag of four short films which aren't all successful. Single-Handed, which won two awards at the Edinburgh Mountain Film Festival, tells the story of Kev Shields climbing E6 despite his disability. Slate Monkeys is a fun-enough look at slate climbing and the eccentricities of Johnny Dawes through the eyes of American Matt Segal. Hey Presto features Canadian Sonnie Trotter making a trad ascent of a sport route at Squamish, while Little Big Wall is a rather hurried expedition report from Madagascar.

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Rating 4.5 out of 5

Director: Jørn Nyseth Ranum & Inge Wegge
by: Ed Douglas
Date: Monday, 25 February 2013
Producer: Filmhuset Produksjoner AS, Anne Bergseng
North of the Sun
North of the Sun

Playful, inspiring and bloody cold, North of the Sun tells the story of two resourceful Norwegians who take sustainability to new extremes as they surf a beach in northern Norway during the depths of winter and then clean it up.

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Rating 3.5 out of 5

Director: Josh Lowell, Cooper Roberts & Brett Lowell
by: Ed Douglas
Date: Thursday, 10 December 2009
Producer: Big Up Productions
Progression
Progression

In days of yore, when Jerry Moffatt was a young man, climbing magazines published state-of-the-art articles that told you where and what the hardest routes were. Now we have Big Up Productions. Progression is a no-nonsense, straight-to-the-top run-through of the biggest players on the hardest routes as things stand in 2009. There's a host of stars, including Chris Sharma, Tommy Caldwell, Patxi Usobiaga, Adam Ondra and Team America, jogging up gritstone's hardest routes. As well as sequences from Spain, Yosemite, the Mojave desert and Bishop, California, there's an excellent take on the current competition climbing scene.

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Rating 3 out of 5

Director: Alistair Lee
by: Ed Douglas
Date: Wednesday, 14 November 2007
Producer: Posing Productions
Psyche
Psyche

Alistair Lee has gone on to make bigger films than this, but Psyche is an engaging slice of his life in 2007. Three contrasting climbing scenes are portrayed, sport climbing with Steve McClure, winter in Patagonia with Andy Kirkpatrick and Ian Parnell, and a trip to Skye with Lakes climber Dave Birkett.

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Rating 4 out of 5

Director: Paul Diffley and Chris Prescott
by: Ed Douglas
Date: Friday, 5 December 2014
Producer: Hot Aches
Redemption
Redemption

James Pearson’s meteoric rise as climbing’s latest wunderkind came to a juddering halt in 2009 when the route he had awarded the unprecedented grade of E12 – Walk of Life – was judged to be ‘only’ E9 by the first man to repeat it, Dave MacLeod. Having disappeared abroad for a few years, Pearson returned in the autumn to climb Rhapsody and find closure after his loss of face. This film thoughtfully retraces Pearson’s journey, exploring not just one individual’s personal motivation but some of the pitfalls of modern rock climbing too – but pulls one punch that would have made it a knockout.

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Rating 3.5 out of 5

Director: Conrad Anker, Jimmy Chin & Renan Ozturk
by: Ed Douglas
Date: Thursday, 3 December 2009
Producer: The North Face
Samsara
Samsara

Three climbers, Conrad Anker, Jimmy Chin and Renan Ozturk put in a dogged effort on the much tried Meru Shark's Fin in the Gangotri region of the Indian Himalaya – but return unrewarded. Essentially a superior home movie, Samsara works as a kind of collage, bringing together the climbing, photographic and artistic skill of the three protagonists to produce a convincing, affable fly-on-the-wall glance at a small Himalayan team at work. Samsara won prizes at the Kendal Mountain Festival and Telluride in 2009.

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Rating 4 out of 5

Director: Alastair Lee
by: Ed Douglas
Date: Sunday, 13 December 2009
Producer: Posing Productions
The Asgard Project
The Asgard Project

Leo Houlding stars in this superior feature-length documentary about an attempt to free climb on Mount Asgard on Baffin Island. To draw a wider audience, Lee convincingly builds the kind of filmic appeal in a movie like Touching the Void, or even a Bond film, but keeps plenty that climbers will appreciate – banter on the portaledges and some impressive action sequences. The standard of photography is outstanding – look out for the northern lights playing behind the silhouette of Asgard – and the story-telling pacy, if occasionally erratic.

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Rating 4.5 out of 5

Director: Paul Diffley
by: Ed Douglas
Date: Friday, 10 February 2012
Producer: Hot Aches
The Long Hope
The Long Hope

This outstanding film tells the story of The Long Hope Route on St John's Head in the Orkneys, from the first epic ascent by Ed Drummond and Oliver Hill, to a first free ascent – with variation – from John Arran and Dave Turnbull, and culminating with Dave MacLeod's extraordinary Long Hope Direct, graded E11. Poignant, exciting and well paced, Diffley's film does justice to one of British climbing's most remarkable stories.

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Rating 3.5 out of 5

Director: Nick Rosen & Peter Mortimer
by: Ed Douglas
Date: Saturday, 26 February 2011
Producer: Sender Films
The Swiss Machine
The Swiss Machine

A high-octane sprint through the career of top alpinist Ueli Steck and footage of his record-breaking solo of the Eiger's North Face

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Rating 3.5 out of 5

Director: Alun Hughes
by: Ed Douglas
Date: Wednesday, 12 March 2008
Producer: alhughes.tv
Upside Down Wales
Upside Down Wales

The wit and wisdom of Gogarth pioneer George Smith, and the fact he has spent much of his life hanging upside down, makes for compelling viewing. Full of humour and self-deprecation, the charm and madness of the Llanberis climbing scene make it a warm-hearted film.

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