Reviews "Out Living It"; "Not Yet Begun to Fight"; and "The Gimp Monkeys"
“Because it’s there.” That’s the oft quoted reason from George Mallory when he was asked why he wanted (to be the first) to summit Mount Everest. A flip side of such a quest may be, “Because I’m here.”
Three films at this year’s Wild & Scenic Film Festival illustrate this more immediate aspect of challenge: “Out Living It,” “Not Yet Begun to Fight” and “The Gimp Monkeys.”
“Out Living It” joins a program that treats cancer survivors with adventurous opportunity. Regular people – well, except for having cancer in their twenties – learn how to kayak rapids and rock climb. Regular people – aside from surgeries and chemo and facing death without even trying – find excitement, camaraderie, and comfort outside their comfort zones.
This film is sneakily effective. Viewers familiar with seeing nutsoid climbing maneuvers and one boiling, churning wave after the next will see the death defying challenge of finding special fun in one’s life, of trying something new and significantly unimportant. Viewers familiar with seeing support group bonding and heart rending back stories will see a gratifying “I am here” camp and an inspiration that is not just for cancer patients.
“Not Yet Begun to Fight” joins a program that treats severely wounded war veterans with recreational grounding. Regular people – well, except for having parts of them amputated in their twenties – learn how to fly fish, to hang out in the serene out of doors. Regular people – aside from being trained to kill enemies and save embattled buddies – find calm and low key satisfactions in a post-soldier zone.
This is another sneakily effective film. Viewers familiar with seeing passionate, obsessive “afishianados” will see a person who needs nurturing to care about doing anything and a person whose paralyzed body spends a week finding a triumph in successfully casting a fishing line. Viewers familiar with seeing hard-nosed military types will see a commanding officer who still cries as he helps himself by helping others.
“The Gimp Monkeys” skips the support group atmosphere altogether. Their ascents up Yosemite’s big walls would make a pretty good extreme adventure film even if these buddies weren’t missing various body parts. Yes, it is pretty amazing to see what these “handicapped” gonzos do, but mostly it’s an engaging twist on what’s considered normal in the world of extreme adventure.
Curiously, the 11th Wild & Scenic Film Festival sports three films with something of a niche theme in the adventure category. As the film festival demonstrates year after year, there are many flavors in a theme … flavors and themes aplenty to reflect what it is to be alive.