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Sunshine Superman 

Wednesday, May 27 2015
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Through archival footage and modern re-creations, Marah Strauch's documentary Sunshine Superman paints a portrait of Carl Boenish, inventor of the sport of falling off very tall things and not dying (also known as BASE jumping). Boenish, a nerdy cinematographer who loved filming himself and others skydiving, decided in the late 1970s that El Capitan in Yosemite was just begging to have people jump off it, never mind what the "laws of man" have to say about it. Thankfully, though he never resembles the "Extreme!" sports nozzles of today, the clean-shaven Boenish eventually became the ringleader of a bunch of shaggy beardos (it's the Sonny Barger effect) who jumped off all the very tall things they could. That is, when they figured it wouldn't kill them — until Boenish somewhat inexplicably took on Trollveggen, Norwegian mountain range, in 1984. There's lots of beautiful jumping and falling footage, but the most compelling scenes involve his still-living widow Jean (she's notably played by director Strauch in the re-enactments). She struggled to be accepted among her husband's rugged cronies in spite of her being a girl, even though she was Carl's partner on both the ground and when they were falling toward it together. In the end, Jean Boenish is the real hero of Sunshine Superman.

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Sherilyn Connelly

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