Mat Hoffman is out of his mind. He once grabbed onto a cable and had a motorcycle tow him on his BMX bike toward a 24-foot-tall ramp that went completely vertical. He scaled the ramp at high speed and rose 50 feet off the ground before coming back down, unhurt, setting a world record. Hoffman, a BMX freestyle veteran, has spent his life jumping off ramps, concrete stairs, roofs, cliffs, skateparks, and anything else he can find, on his little tank of a bicycle. But he hasn't always been so lucky in his landings. There's not an extremity he hasn't broken in a violent manner, says one observer in the documentary film about Hoffman, The Birth of Big Air. The number of bones he's broken stands at 21, many of which are documented in Big Air. Even bedridden in a cast, Hoffman laughs and says he just likes to have fun. Big Air is among numerous movies depicting remarkable bicycle feats in the Bicycle Film Festival. Other seeming two-wheeled insanity takes place in Empire, where bicyclists time their movements against those of cars, trucks, buses, and pedestrians to glide through New York City at a pace that will make even veteran two-wheelers gasp. One rider approaches a red light at a busy intersection as though it's not even there, and a few seconds later, after a series of precision darts to and fro, he's on the other side, rolling toward his next challenge. We can't tell from the trailer, but Empire probably has less crash footage than Big Air.
Nov. 10-14, 2010