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Amateur Hardcore - hot new bouldering film

Although thoroughly action packed, and quite literally bursting at the seams with frantic action sequences, Mark Reevesís film, Amateur Hardcore aims higher than the standard Ďthrills íní spillsí approach, rather it seeks to explore the work/play dichotomy apparent in the lives of the current crop of North Wales-based climbers.

Not so long ago it was customary for dedicated climbers to ditch the career path and eek out an existence on the dole, hitching their way across continents in pursuit of their climbing goals.This is how it was when I was in my 20s, and I naÔvely assumed that things would never change.

Fast forward to 2004, and a very different picture emerges. I know a lot of very talented climbers (an occupational hazard of living in Llanberis), but I donít know anybody who climbs full time.The days of giro subsidy have long since passed, replaced by the modern rationale: find a travelling job (such as rope access) that pays well enough to allow long periods of Ďrestí, or pick a local job (such as an outdoor activity instructor) that gives you enough freedom to get out to the crags on a regular basis.

Iíve heard a lot of so-so theories why bouldering has come to occupy the centre stage in British climbing of late, yet one that has a convincing ring of truth is the time imperative that modern society inflicts upon its citizens. Lets face it, if you havenít got much time, what is the most efficient method of getting a satisfying climbing experience? Of course, itís bouldering Ė so quick, so accessible, and so addictive. This film clearly demonstrates this point, as climber after climber talks in turn, both about their passion for bouldering and the strictures of their day jobs.

Throughout, Amateur Hardcore flits from aggressive cranking and humorous tomfoolery to deadpan interviews with a group of featured climbers. At first I found the spoken word sections a distraction, but on subsequent viewings, the thread of the dialogue drew me in; the matter-of-fact, down beat resignation contrasts well with the energised climbing sequences and gives the film a sense of rhythm.

The climbing sections will be a treat for anybody who found themselves wandering around this neck of the woods clutching a copy of the North Wales Bouldering/Bowldro Gogledd Cymru guide this summer. You want sequences, you got it, ten fold, but crucially there is a lack of polish; much of the footage has a sketchy rawness indicative of unrehearsed ascents Ė check out Dave Rudkin on Mr, youíre on fire Mr for some gutsy, inventive snatching. Although Mark Katzís smooth repeat of the heinous Caseg Groove sit down start is typically (for him, that is) casual.

It ainít perfect, a bit rough around the edges in truth, but the spirit of this film is sound, and I do recommend that you see it, especially if youíve ever wondered what it is like to live and climb in North Wales.

The DVD is initially on sale now (£18.95) from the V12 Outdoor shop in Llanberis, and can also be bought online from www.v12outdoor.com
Wider distribution is planned via Cordee over the next few months.

Amateur Hardcore is a Dringo Productions film.

Review by Simon Panton.

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