Apr 8, 2010

CORE, A Climbing Flick Review

I was fortunate enough to catch the world premier of CORE at the Boulder Theater packed with the Front Range climbing community. Two live bands that opened for the film, one acoustic duo and the other metal. I like the concept of bands opening for a film premier, but didn't understand the hair metal band theme. When someone says "core", I think hardcore punk.

Chuck Fryberger's latest offering continues in his tradition of trying to move past climbing porn, narrativeless movies focused on grunting climbers cranking the biggest moves on the smallest holds. He succeeds in capturing the lifestyle of climbers at the core of the sport. The film is a series of segments focused on individual climbers, profiling their personality and one climb. A surprise crowd favorite was the footage of BJ Tilden's sending his 15 year project, Genetic Drifter in Wild Iris. There was baited breath with each hard mono pull, similar to watching NACSAR waiting for the crash. It never comes but the anticipation was delicious in the theater.

The climbing is not cutting edge, in terms of pure numbers, but still at the center of today's climbing scene. The shots are vibrant. Chuck's is unquestioningly pushing climbing cinematography forward. The editing is crisp, which kept my attention during the purely narrative sections. However, the editing distracts during the actual sends. The microediting kept me pulling me out of the poetry in the movement. This is most apparent when Nalle makes painfully close burns on "Livin' Large", a proud 8c arete in Rocklands. For once Chuck lets the footage just play, the audience is drawn into the attempt and the emotion of the failure. Overall, I was entertained, but the film lacked the palm sweat factor that is typically present when watching climbing.