Judge Jason Panella is scared of everything with wheels.
Bikes vs. Automobiles sells itself as a 90-minute encapsulation of the struggle among cyclists and motorists for the road. It’s a fascinating and relevant subject, and Bikes vs. Cars is a beautifully shot film featuring some exciting talking heads. So why does it really feel so irrelevant?
The documentary bounces about among cyclists in numerous cities, which includes Dan Koeppel from Los Angeles and Aline Cavalcante in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Cavalcante and a neighborhood of cyclists in Sao Paulo perform to get bike lanes installed on significant streets in her city. Even although Sao Paulo is a modern day and sophisticated city, the speedy rise of auto usage has produced cycling especially harmful in numerous eerie scenes, Cavalcante points out some areas where cyclists had been killed by clueless drivers. Koeppel, in LA, yearns for the days when his city was one particular of the most bike-friendly metro locations in the world (there was even a bike-exclusive highway!).
Director Fredrik Gertten (Bananas!*) sticks shed to his subject and provides an specially focused appear of their operate as cycling activists. We stick to Cavalcante and Koeppel as they fight for change in their communities. The most stunning bits come as the camera zooms along with the cyclists on their everyday commutes. It feels like we’re on the bike with them—it’s thrilling and, in a couple of cases, terrifying. These evocative bits are truly worth highlighting. They are filmed beautifully and operate well when sandwiched in between the more expository sections.
But as a whole, Bikes vs. Automobiles does not hang with each other. The vignettes with the activists are compelling when taken independently of each and every other, but when mushed together as a documentary? Not so much. In addition to Cavalcante and Koeppel, the film briefly touches in with a number of other folks—sociologists, enraged cab drivers, other activities. They barely connect to the throughline of the narrative and, in some circumstances, just repeat what Koeppel and Cavalcante have to say. These segments dilute an currently weak presentation.
One more knock: Gertten offers some handsome (and surprisingly unsubstantiated) infographics on the value of cycling in a car-obsessed planet. The information tossed out feels like it could’ve been made up on the spot. What’s worse, aside from the two rah-rah car guys they discovered (who come off as naive, at ideal) to gab for a minute or two, the documentary is totally 1-sided. I certainly agree with what the film is attempting to say about the automobile and oil industries, but it comes across as a thoughtless propaganda piece without having any sort of affordable push-back. I feel addressing some issues motorists have leveled against cyclists would’ve gone a long way to bring them into the fold as viewers. But the film does not, and it feels lopsided delivery and arrogant in tone. It really is genuinely frustrating, since the elements of some thing superb are all here. As it stands, Bikes vs. Vehicles ends up as a enormous disappointment.
Kino Lorber’s release of Bikes vs. Cars functions the film and its extras on a single disc. The 1.78:1 common def therapy looks fairly nice, with vivid colors and sharp particulars. The Dolby Digital 5.1 track is clear, and there is an impressive quantity of detail with atmospheric noise. The extras: an interview with Gertten as effectively as his 2012 brief “The Invisible Bike Helmet.”
Bikes vs. Vehicles appears wonderful and has some outstanding moments, but as a documentary it’s a scattershot mess. This is an crucial topic that deserves better treatment.