Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Rain for Spain

Been watching Chris Froome zoom to his third Tour de France victory thanks to steady team pacing by Cardiff Giant Geraint Thomas, and Spain finally represented on next to last stage because Ion Izagirre descended fearlessly from col de Joux-Plane to Morzine in rain, whereas tentative members of peloton had all seen crashes on wet slick and white lines. Congratulations to all who embraced this 2,200 mile, 3-week torture with tens of thousands of feet of climbs, even those who never finished, though a record number, 175 among world’s best cyclists, did.

Between stages, been searching for films that depict bicycling culture conspicuously, summarized by year below. IMBD currently lists 1,100 movie and television plots that somehow involve bikes, some of which have already been mentioned, though others don’t bear to be. Neglect staying on top, and so many perfect examples drop like rain you can scarcely keep up. Propelled to an obsession, begins to resemble trainspotting or wondering just how many other ubiquitous appliances - such as blenders, movie cameras and spectacles - are used or worn and could be reported. In some respects, don’t blenders and eyeglasses resemble bicycles?

James Earl Jones in Dreamrider (Bill Brown, dir., 1993. 92 min.) inspires a young man who lost his leg in a motorcycle accident, played by actual para-athlete Matthew Geriak, to follow his dream, which means accepting a bet to ride his 10 speed Raleigh from Fullerton, CA to Boston, MA. Breaks a cross country time record, then gives away bike to first kid to greet him at Old North Church. Based on life story of Bruce Jennings and filmed entirely on location in a succession of cities, last reel finally exhibits some one-legged bicycling.

In made-for-television feature Footprints in the Snow (Richard Spence, dir., 2005, 96 min.), Julie Hill, paralyzed in a car crash, abides experimental treatment, restores leg mobility, returns to riding bikes with family, and thereby saves marriage.

Horror/slasher film Shadow (Federico Zampaglione, dir., 2009, 77 min.) is about soldier David, who, after serving in Iraq, begins a bicycle tour of Europe, defends beautiful Angeline, gets hunted by troublemakers, and winds up kidnapped by freaks.

The Parking Lot Movie (Meghan Eckman, dir., 2010, 14 min.) documents attendants of a Charlottesville, Virginia lot, who get by on bicycles and skateboards and get even with typically rude SUV drivers.

After an automobile accident, a veteran cyclist, played by director, acquiesces to train a prodigy (Michael Cuddire) yet struggles to teach him how to unleash The Potential Inside (Scotty Curlee, dir., 2010, 37 min.).

Catching Up (John Jenkins-Stark, dir., 2011, 7 min.) follows pressures facing a semipro racer in a sport that fellow Americans seldom appreciate. The European Grand Tours may attract unruly fans, but world’s hardest bicycle race crosses United States and has already inspired scores of films.

Traffic in L.A. Sucks (Rocio Mesa, dir., 2011, 18 min.) for Rocio, who arrives from Spain believing motoring is the only way around this megacity. Left after a crash without a car or cash, she turns to bicycling for a happy shock.

The Bike Heist (Brttany Baxter & Curtis Cleveland, dirs., 2012, 88 min.) occurs after avid cyclist’s bike and one he borrows from cute neighbor get stolen. Chaos ensues when an old friend suggests title caper to swipe all bikes in apartment building and wriggle out of responsibility.

Break Away (South African, Frans Cronjé & Morné Theunissen, dirs., 2012, 118 min.) has Francois (Frans Cronjé) applying advice from a pro cyclist and riding an old bicycle to deal with job loss, provide for family, and recognize own values.

Fixation (Alex Trudeau Viriato, dir., 2012, 40 min.) celebrates joys of fixed gear bicycling in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Jose.

High Tech, Low Life (Mandarin, Stephen Maing, dir., 2012, 27 min.) introduces Tiger Temple and Zola, two bloggers who take on the Great Firewall of China to report about issues government wants to suppress. Tiger sets off across country on a bicycle, Zola on a motorcycle, both armed with digital tools and free speech desires.

PBS ran a series in 2012, Pedal America, which can still be seen online.

Aftermass: Bicycling in a Post-Critical Mass Portland (Joel Biel, dir., 2013, 75 min.) describes how activism transformed the now famously bike friendly Oregon city.

In July, 2011, for 10th anniversary of attacks on September 11th, six Los Angeles firefighters biked 3,300 miles in 45 days across America to New York, documented in Let’s Roll (Matt Holwick, dir., 2013, 83 min.). They battled conflicts, despair, physical injuries, and severe weather; raised funds for Leary Firefighters Foundation and Wounded Warrior Project; and stayed overnight in welcoming fire stations.

In The Bicycle (James Richards, dir., 2014, 72 min.) resentful black 10-year-old Bobbi and divorced mother’s finance, 36-year-old Teddy, can’t stand each other. But when Bobbi’s bike is stolen, Teddy sees it as a chance to bond with his future stepdaughter.

In magic realism short The Bicycle Man (“Cyklisten”, Swedish, Aarne Norberg, dir., 2014, 13 min.), soccer mom in Torne River Valley suffers a tragic traffic loss then witnesses a miraculous healing by an Italian cyclist headed to the Arctic Circle. Cynical journalist wants to disprove.

Bikeman Begins (Odin Lindblom & W. H. Bourne, dirs., 2014, 100 min.) explores environmental superheroes riding bicycles to Comic Con in San Diego and resulting mayhem.

A Convenient Truth (Dominick Bagnato, dir., 2014, 85 min.) blows whistle on California assemblyman Coleman Burleson’s plan to cure climate warming, energy shortfall, foreign oil dependence, illegal immigration, obesity epidemic, and unemployment with a unified solution: Hire workers to pedal bicycles that generate electricity in his factory.

Serbian film The Disobedient (Mina Djukic, dir., 2014, 106 min.) sees childhood best friends reunite as adults and spontaneously embark on a bike tour and misbehavior.

Fort Tilden (Charles Rogers & Sarah-Violet Bliss, dirs., 2014) is the summer destination for NYC fixed gear hipsters (Bridey Elliot and Clare McNulty), who, like a lots of young adults lately, seem stuck in adolescence.

Njinga (Martin McCann, dir., 2014, 138 min.) documents Kate Leeming’s unprecedented transit of equatorial Africa by mountain bike, 13,700 miles in 10 months of 2010, to highlight needs of a poverty stricken, war torn continent.

Omega Rose (Australian, George Dorobantu, dir., 2014, 100 min.) begins 3 years after all but ten million humans have been annihilated. A bicyclist rides to a show that might explain what happened.

April 9th (Roni Ezra, dir., 2015, 33 min.) is a docudrama about Denmark in 1940, when the first troops Danes could muster against German blitzkrieg were South Jutland bicyclists.

The Ataxian (Zack Bennett & Kevin Schlanser, dirs., 2015, 21 min.) is a documentary about Kyle Bryant, unable to walk because of terminal nerve disease Friedreich’s Ataxia, who nevertheless attempts the bike Race Across America (RAAM) to seize every moment versus mortality.

Odd couple with a long distance attraction meet in Paris but quarrel over her gift of The Bicycle (Arne Körner, dir., 2015, 82 min.). The Bicycle is listed as a cast member.

Bike Against the Wind (Mark Vashro, dir., 2015, 60 min.) documents director’s 4,700 mile ride from Boston to San Diego through American South, and interviews locals he meets along the way.

In 2012 racer Jason Lane, The Hammer (Hornsby films, 2015, 85 min.), attempted RAAM, world’s hardest cycling race, 3,000 miles in 10 days. On day 3 he got run over by his own sag vehicle yet persevered.

Ithaca (Meg Ryan, dir., 2015, 96 min.) is based oh William Saroyan’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel, The Human Comedy. Set during WWII, teen bicycle messenger Homer Macauley (Alex Neustaedter) delivers telegrams to families of fallen soldiers. Mom and pop are played by bankable stars Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks.

Filmmaker bikes 6,500 miles to Alaska to name a mountain, Mount Lawrence (Chandler Wild, dir., 2015, 90 min.), after his father, an outdoor enthusiast who committed suicide.

The Rider and the Wolf (Nathan Ward, dir., 2015, 62 min.) documents mountain biking pioneer Mike Rust. Rust often repeated Stewart Parker’s line, “The bicycle has a great past ahead of it.” Defending his home in remote San Luis Valley, he chased out intruders but was never seen again.

Blue Bicycle (“Mavi Bisiklet”, Turkish, Ümit Köreken, dir., 2016, 94 min.) looks at preteen Ali, played by Selim Kaya, forced to weigh his dream of owning a bicycle against democratic justice.

Set in Aqaba, Jordan, Five Boys and A Wheel (Said Zagha, 2016, 20 min.) is an Arabic-language adaptation of Raymond Carver's novella Bicycles, Muscles, Cigarettes.

Ovarian Psycos (Joanna Sokolowski & Kate Trumbull-Lavalle, dirs., 2016, 72 min.) covers an East LA bike crew of Latina self described misfits who ride together as protection against neighborhood violence.

Interesting 15 second 2016 spot for Quaker Oats has child fueled on oatmeal take his first “Bike Ride”.

During 103rd Tour de France, Smith showed a race specific ad for its sport sunglasses. Taiwanese manufacturer Giant was another major sponsor with a commercial for their line of bikes and a team with as many stage wins, 2, as Froome’s, Sky. GMC didn’t disappoint with typically nauseating SUV commercials to match the horrific use of motored vehicles running down pedestrians and snapping frame of Froome’s bike on Mount Ventoux.

Bicyclist crosses Maine and finds Somes Sound to be Too Cold to Swim (D. W. Young, dir., 2016, 80 min.). He then befriends an ex-marine and younger sister, and reconnects with dying, estranged father.

Fish Without Bicycles (Daisy Aitkens, dir.), in oven and not due until 2017, concerns unwed motherhood. Based on oft repeated metaphor for women not needing men, don't know if bicycles will show prominently.


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  2. Glad you enjoyed. It has been my pleasure for 2 decades to highlight bicycling culture. Many of my comments come from hearing or reading about something that somehow is intimately connected to the bicycling, so warrants a link, yet more often they are based on personal experiences during hundreds of thousands of miles mounted.

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