Push the Envelope Please
It's Oscar time in Hollywood, and at Outside, too. But we're skipping the Academy darlings to salute the little guys: six flicks that wowed us with their small-scale spectacle, and oneon global warmingof epic magnitude.
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Best on Belay: First Ascent
Coming SoonOpen Water director Chris Kentis is ready for a bigger boatand Warner Bros. is giving it to him. The company has nabbed Kentis to direct Indianapolis, based on Doug Stanton‘s 2001 book In Harm’s Way, the true story of the survivors of a World War II vessel that sank in (you guessed it) shark-infested waters in the Philippine Sea. Meanwhile, We Are Marshall‘s Anthony Mackie is lacing up his track shoes to headline Milkshake Films’ Jesse, about African-American Jesse Owens, who took four gold medals in the 1936 Berlin Olympics. And let’s hope David Duchovny has taken a few funny pills since his 2004 lemon House of D. The X Files hero is co-writing Yoga …
With virgin climbs from Thailand to the high-rises of Hollywood, the latest from Return2Sender director Peter Mortimer includes rock porn and a storyline. The film follows Switzerland’s Didier Berthod on his quest to send a long-standing project, British Columbia’s Cobra Crack, considered one of the hardest crack climbsin the world. In the end, will rock beat man, leaving us to taste the failure? $30; senderfilms.com
Best Buddy Flick: Old Joy
When Kurt (Will Oldham) and Mark (Daniel London), former high school pals who haven’t seen each other in years, spend a weekend camping in Oregon’s Cascade Range, their connection grows as thick as the old-growth forest around them. A critics’ favorite since it premiered at Sundance in 2006, this one’s part Seinfeld (funny, but nothing really happens), part A River Runs Through It (thanks to stellar cinematography and fraternal bonding). Coming soon on DVD; kino.com/oldjoy
Best Movie About Figs: The Queen of Trees
British filmmakers Mark Deeble and Victoria Stone spent two years camped in the Kenyan outback, using custom-made cameras to film life in and around a giant sycamore fig tree. Sounds sleepy, but it’s not, thanks to close-ups of the nearly microscopic fig wasps, which live, mate, and die inside the grape-size fruit, and on which the treeand nearly the entire ecosystemdepends. $20; shopthirteen.org
Best Supporting Agronomist: The Real Dirt on Farmer John
Documentary filmmaker Taggart Siegel explores the life of John Peterson, a flamboyant farmer who saves his Illinois fields from financial ruin by going organicand then convincing nearby Chicagoans to invest and enjoy the harvest. It’s a quirky tale of man vs. the locals (who at first think Peterson’s a crackpot) and the beauty of community-supported agriculture, with a happy, pesticide-free ending. For DVD release information, visit angelicorganics.com
Best Reason to Free Your Heels: PW06
With a $15,000 budgetroughly what a slicker ski-porn outfit would spend for one morning’s helicopter rentalUtah-based Powderwhore shot a telemark movie that stands out for its simplicity: human-powered ascents and frighteningly steep descents on couloirs in Alaska and Colorado. These skiers prove there’s more to dropping a knee than killer quads. $22; powderwhore.com
Best Motivation to Buy a Hybrid: An Inconvenient Truth
Al Gore’s global-warming doc grossed more than $23 millionproof that millions of Americans are willing to sit through a slide show to learn, for better or worse, about the state of the planet. That alone gives us hope for the future. $20; climatecrisis.net