Higher Ground is Warren Miller's 56th film in so many years -- 56th! -- so we can forgive him if his famed bemused narration, typically peppered with non sequiturs, is a little sparse. He does, however, say this about a French mountain: "The skiing here today is more like it is today than it ever was before." What? Exactly.
The ski footage, though, makes up for Miller's absence, with young bucks ripping resorts such as Copper Mountain and privileged professionals heli-skiing in Alaska. Predictably, the pros engage in plenty of the Zen prattle common to top skiers (and surfers), who ramble on wide-eyed about communing with nature as they're ushered about the globe. The lighter side of snow sports, another Miller trademark, also figures heavily, from an unruly snowmobile/ski race in Alaska to "terrain surfing" in France, during which sky diver Dave Barlia wears a wingsuit and soars inhumanly close to craggy peaks. The wildest scenes come from Shane McConkey, who launches double flips off cliffs so high he calls them "death camps." How? Could be the parachute in his backpack.
As for the bands on the soundtrack, let's just say that Audioslave is a high point. But ski films are about the footage, and Higher Ground delivers. It screens at 8 p.m. at the Castro Theatre, 429 Castro (near Market), S.F. Admission is $5.50-8.50; call 621-6120 or visit www.thecastrotheatre.com.
-- Michael Leaverton
On Your Trail
Run away! Run away!
Sure, the nice views and pretty trees are a draw. But people who participate in the King Oscar Presidio Trails Run may have other, shall we say, issues that attract them to the event. Sports Illustrated pinpointed something important about trail running as a pastime when it called the King Oscar "sadistic, yet spectacular."
The hills and the uncertainty of the terrain (even when it's meticulously maintained, as this course is) make things ferociously difficult. So if healthy outdoor exercise is one of your habits, consider punishing yourself with this beautiful race. The 10K run or 5K walk/run both begin at 9 a.m. at the Sports Basement, 610 Mason (at Sutter) in the Presidio, S.F. Registration is $10-30; call 561-6266 or visit www.theschedule.com.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser