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Bicycle Thieves — Jan 2, 2007 (recently re-released)

What would you do if you were out of money, you had a family to support, your job required a bicycle, and someone steals it your first day at work?

How far would you go to get it back?

That’s what Vittorio de Sici sets out to answer in The Bicycle Thieves, filmed in Rome in 1948.

Our “hero”, Lamberto, searches all over Rome for his bike — following leads into missions and brothels — until he puts aside his conscience and faces the ultimate humiliation in front of his son.

It’s subtitled, in black and white, and not so much about a bicycle as about bigger issues of relationships and poverty. In spite of that, “Ladri di Biciclette” does have lots of scenes of people riding bicycles … (more)

“Beijing Bicycle”; another bike theft, another movie — Feb. 22, 2007

To the disappointment of some family members, I returned to the “old bike movie” genre recently and rented “Beijing Bicycle.”

The story centers around a stolen bicycle, just like “The Bicycle Thieves,” but this is hardly a Chinese pirated version of the Italian classic.

Granted, central character Guei desparately needs his bicycle for his job as a messenger, but the real complications don’t arise until he actually relocates it. Imagine, finding a stolen bicycle in Beijing.

I suppose the real story of the movie is about the clashing cultures … (more)

“Hell on Wheels”; a refreshing perspective on the Tour de France — Feb. 14, 2007

Nothing against the cadre of American cyclists who compete in the Tour de France, but it’s refreshing to see the bicycle race from another perspective in Hell on Wheels.

I finally got around to renting this documentary by German filmmaker Pepe Danquart the other day and was immediately smitten by its non-American feel. This is what the Tour de France is to the rest of the world.

Granted, there had to be the obligatory scenes of Lance Armstrong that year (2003) — coasting off-road through a field, going down after snagging a fan’s musette, and a nut-crunching slip out of the pedals.

But the film is mostly focused on T-Mobile … (more)

Breaking Away (from “… putting the “bike” back in Christmas); Dec. 5, 2005

Can’t beat it. My eyes get moist just thinking about the Cutters taking on those college punks.

A coming of age movie released back in 1979. A classic bike tale, featuring an Indiana high school graduate transformed to flights of Italian fancy by his Masi racing bike. Stars Dennis Christopher as Dave Stoler, with Dennis Quaid (Mike), Daniel Stern (Cyril) and Jackie Earle Haley (Moocher).

Also Paul Dooley, who, as Dave’s confused father, utters the memorable line when faced with zucchini for dinner:

“I know I-tey food when I hear it! It’s all them “eenie” foods… zucchini… and linguini… and fettuccine. I want some American food, dammit! I want French fries!”

Should have won Academy Award, in my humble opinion, but aced out by that weepy divorce movie “Kramer vs. Kramer.”

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