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film review

Still from the film Sunshine Superman

"There's no future in growing up," Carl Boenish once said. "I don't want to grow old."

Boenish (rhymes with "Danish") did not, in fact, grow old. But boy, did he live. An eccentric daredevil – and an enigma – Boenish is known as the father of the extreme sport of BASE jumping ("BASE" is an acronym – building, antenna, span and earth – for fixed launching points).

Long before there were GoPros, there was Boenish, a camera mounted on his helmet, jumping from Yosemite's El Capitan or L.A. skyscrapers under construction. In one extraordinary sequence in Marah Strauch's new documentary, the thrill-seeker constructs a ladder contraption and mounts it precariously off the side of a cliff so he can film the jumps.

His story is revealed through Boenish's own dramatic aerial footage, archival news clips and interviews (and some well-done reconstructions), as well as fresh interviews with Boenish's wife Jean, their fellow jumpers and the TV producer behind a fateful Norwegian foray.

In 1984, the Boenishes travelled to Norway to attempt a world record cliff jump for a TV show. The trip became a media circus, but ultimately made headlines for different reasons.