Sunday, February 9, 2014

Mezzanine Eyestrain

Critics describe certain movies as "coming of age". Therein, teens assume responsibilities, which represents their first step toward becoming adults and carving out freedoms for themselves. Beneficiaries might give doers who get things done a pass on restrictions.

When she released award winning film Wadjda (2013), director Haifaa Al Mansour broke new ground. It was a first for conservative, Islamic Saudi Arabia, where no feature film had ever been shot. Its title character, a ten-year-old girl living in a suburb of capital Riyadh, rebels against a society that sees bicycles as a danger to a girl’s virtue. She so desperately wants a green bicycle so she can beat bratty neighbor boy Abdullah in a race, Wadjda decides to raise the money herself. Critically acclaimed, will it one day wind up on list of Bicycling Films Not to Be Missed?

In a sex farce directed by Jeremy Leven, Girl on a Bicycle (2013), protagonist, a Paris bus driver, finally gets courage to propose to his frigid girlfriend, a flight attendant, when he meets love interest from title, also involved in transportation alternatives. Screwball mayhem ensues.

Other cycling films for 2013 include 4 documentaries. Alex Gibney's inevitable biopic, The Armstrong Lie, started out being a fan homage to Lance's 2009 return after a 4 year hiatus, but morphed into a self absorbed monster chronicling doping abuse and falling from grace. Haven't personally seen, but reviews were favorable. National Geographic aired Cycling's Greatest Fraud (Episode 14, July 16th), repeating allegations. How much improvement does doping deliver? Maybe 2%? What are margins of victory? Who should expect heroes and victors to be fair, gentlemanly, honest or perfect? Meanwhile, world's most famous cyclist, still an amazing if arrogant athlete who increased sales of bicycles and pharmaceuticals my hundreds of millions, has been negotiating a return to this grueling sport after being banished for life. Arrogant is he/she who urges a cancer survivor to act his age. Shifted by Matt Butterworth and Eric Marciniak, Virtu Media's first full length video, spotlights daredevil stunts on mtbs. It's a lot of big air, and not in a bad way. A Winter of Cyclists by Mike Predergast reveals what awaits fools who try commuting through Colorado snow.

In urban fear film Attack the Block (2011) director Joe Cornish reverses roles on a gang of teens who ride bmx bikes and terrorize neighbors into heroes who protect their block from alien invaders. Talk about growing up in a hurry.

Joshua Jackson plays a cultural tourist in Spain accompanying a bickering couple in Kevin Nolan's Americano (2005), which was mentioned in B&C but only recently found on DVD. After running with bulls in Pamplona, he hooks up with a beautiful actress, and the foursome ride borrowed bikes to her villa over a double span of bridge reflected in river and so resembles a bicycle. This extended scene, like the film, is propelled on a theme of freedom in life choices for those on the cusp of adulthood.

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