Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Sunshine Superman: NZFF Review

Sunshine Superman: NZFF Review

It's a double of jumping with Sunshine Superman, which comes with the Kiwi short Pelorus.

Director Alex Sutherland's redemption-at-the-end-of-a-rope tale clearly has more legs in it and may be expanded to a fuller feature, but for now this 70s filled short shines. It's the story of Chris Sigglekow who preceded AJ Hackett and potentially pioneered the bungy jump back in 1979 in Marlborough.

Expanded upon from doco The Jump, and rich in period detail (tins of beer, clothing and a calculator) Sutherland's concisely put together short is very much the embodiment of Kiwi No 8 wire - and explored his connection to the story. With its surfer shaggy haired lead exuding a welcoming warmth, Pelorus hints at a wider story (split with wife, failed attempts etc) that could readily be examined further - and that it could be time to tell the untold story thanks to this confident and heartfelt short.

So, it's no surprise that Pelorus is paired with doco Sunshine Superman, the story of Carl Boenish, the eternally smiling and energetic founder of BASE jumping aka throwing yourself off tall objects and soaring through the skies for the hell of it. The reason being simply, cos it's there...

But Boenish was also passionate about film-making too and ensured the jumps were always caught in camera so this really is not a film for those worried about heights in the slightest. Slow mo shots of the jumpers really tower off the screen and get you right into the action of the piece, while archive footage and interviews with those who knew Boenish best give good talking head. Interviews with Carl's wife Jean give some more insight into Carl's enthusiasm for the jumping as well as their relationship.

Bizarrely the film-makers have made some reconstructions of moments during Carl's life, such as taking phone calls and a few bits like that, which seem surplus to requirements. There are problems though, with more about Carl's life really going not much further than his passion for jumping; I never entirely felt I got to know the man (having viewed Being Evel 24 hours earlier, I feel that was a more rounded picture of what makes a daredevil tick). Outside of his jumping footage, which is beautifully captured and screams to be seen on the big screen, despite the effects of vertigo haunting your every move.

Boenish is described as having "an aura of life" but I'd suggest that this isn't fully conveyed in this film that makes great fist of jumping footage and conveying the thrill-seeking element of it all - I get how wondrous it is to jump off rocks and into the sky, but a deeper dive into Boenish's mentality and life would have seen this movie soar a little more than it does.

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