Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Stellar documentary filmmaking
Paul Lundgren | Ames, IA United States | 09/25/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
""24 Solo" is the latest effort by Gripped Films to cover the oftentimes wild and free-spirited world of competitive mountain biking. This effor is a race like you've never seen: riding a mountain bike over an 8-mile loop with 1,000 feet of climbing per lap, for 24 CONSECUTIVE hours.
Chris Eatough (EE-toff) won the 24 Hours of Adrenalin six years running, from 2000 to 2005. Jason Berry and his camera crews set out to cover Eatough's training and competitive schedule leading up to the 2006 version of the race. The result is a supremely inspiring success. Using high-definition cameras, a wide selection of angles, and a helmet-mounted camera worn (or endured) by triathlete Nick Alexander, the Gripped crews manage to cover the basics of 24 hour mountain biking history, strategy, and preparation. By interviewing mountain biking legends such as Gary Fisher, Allison Dunlap, John Stamstad, and Hans Rey, Berry and company manage to convey the sense that it takes a special kind of insanity to even WANT to try this feat.
One of the setups to the race is a series of conversations with some of Eatough's main competitors. One is particularly struck by the fact that the filmmakers interviewed Australian Craig Gordan in a hospital gown (pay attention to that fact, kids...the reason becomes apparent by the end of the film). Gripped Films obviously intended to document Eatough's 7th consecutive victory, and thereby crown him the Lance Armstrong of his discipline. But by the end of the film, it's obvious the race has rewritten the plot line in front of their eyes and supplied more drama than they could have hoped for (the drama is intensified skillfully by an all-original score by Haik Music).
Unlike professional road cycling, where the competitors tend to be much more self-centered alpha male animals, "24 Solo" struck me as being about a bunch of very likable and very well-spoken young men who still have a very strong motivation to win. They understand what each other goes through, and the sheer agony of riding 24 hours straight is the bond that connects them all and allows them to respect each other's accomplishments. You don't HAVE to be a cycling fan to fully appreciate "24 Solo" (although it helps). You just have to be a fan of athletic competition and human endeavor.
(PS: I won't give away who won the race. But that individual did enough laps to have climbed Mount Everest. THAT is the most impressive feat of all)."
A mixed success
Buzz Advert | Milwaukee | 01/10/2010
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I'm pretty surprised at how unanimous the reviews are of this film. I think it suffers from being an insider job--the film, apparently, was commissioned by Trek in order to follow their guy as he pursued his 7th straight world 24 hour title. This as opposed to a filmmaker on a mission due to passion for a subject and story that they simply felt it was important to pursue. Now this makes it sound worse than it is, which I don't mean. It's certainly not a hack job at all and it isn't done dispassionately. It just has a different angle than what one expects of a doc. The footage of the mountain biking is very fine; it's beautifully photographed and any mountain biker will enjoy just sitting there and watching these sections of the film.
However, the documentary viewer appreciates more narrative. Take the lengthy opening, for example: some context would be helpful. Overall the film has too much filler in the first half. Why? Because the ostensible subject of the film is simply a profile of Eatough and his pursuit of a another crown. He seems to be a great guy and his sidekick, Pos, is amusing. Both are quite likable, not to mention articulate. (Where is Eatough from? That accent? Canada?) But that's not enough for a story. Therefore, given the purported goal of a somewhat bland, character description doc. that insiders rightly congratulate themselves over but outsiders don't need to see, it made sense to include the section on China. I'm sure having gone to China it would have been painful to cut this entire section--and again, great "mountain" biking footage--but it's long and inessential to a narrative (and even if you disagree with this, the section has too much filler). The only reason this film works on a narrative level--which it doesn't really acquire until the final race--is because the guy from Australia shows up and rains on Trek's and Eatough's parade. Too bad for Eatough; thank goodness for the film. This is the part where the viewer finally cares about a story. The film is taken off guard and out of its comfort zone; there's no lead-up or build up or background on this narrative arc, which also makes the film suffer. Why? Well, who the heck is this guy who comes out of nowhere? True there've been interviews with him in hospital garb included from early on. But as for the narrative of Gordon as a character locked in drama with Eatough, there's very little. In fact, there's a telling point on the dvd's extras that suggests that the filmmakers still didn't want to highlight this drama (nor to provide useful context) as much as they could have. It's footage of Pos traveling to Georgia for the final competition. First, he says where they're going (nice to know) and mentions this guy, whatshisname from Australia, who they'll have to look out for. This is essential and useful information, planting the seed of conflict--much more useful to the interesting story of the race than anything from China. (You also find out here that his wife is pregnant; hmmm, isn't there a potential story there too, or at least interesting, complicating details of our hero?) More background and info. on Gordon would be really helpful. More info. on other riders generally would be helpful. No one else, besides Eatough and Pos, are developed as characters, so the competition is divested of the interest it could have had. More background and info. on the race itself would be useful. How many miles do these guys ride? How long is a lap? Etc.
Anyway, the best part of the film is the Gordon vs. Eatough story. Ultimately, I feel a little taken in having spent money on a film that's, in a large part, a Trek promotional video--promotional meaning for their products, of course, but also their rider, which is more or less the same thing from their point of view. So to disagree with other reviewers, the film is more for fans of bikes than people who just want to watch a good show."
Justin Anderson | 10/11/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"24 solo is a wonderfully motivating film that takes you through your emotional high's and low's. Incredibly well done and a MUST SEE for anyone interested in Mountain Biking. Such a good film that it can be enjoyed by anyone who is impressed by what the human body can accomplish."
He he he! It's really good when the film maker doesn't get t
Mr. Robert Matthew Bowers | Gold Coast Austalia | 06/11/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"There are many reasons some will hate this DVD. 1# there is no Duff duff duff music. 2# no one does crazy stunts that, incredible as they are, finish in seconds. 3# the Cindrella story of Eatough's 7th consecutive victory (very apparent based on the bulk of the footage they prepared) does not have that Americanised "happy ending".
Reasons to love this film. 1# The Chris Eathough Vs Craig Gordan battle is amazing. Watch how Chris is caught off guard by Craig's relentless pace. 2# Wow, I can't remember ever seeing an athlete push themselves so hard and far (makes a lot of road pros look like weenies esp considering they are paid heaps). You wouldn't wish this on someone, but it is caught on film - certainly not construed reality. 3# A huge base of MTBers will be able to at least in part relate to the efforts. And it gives some of us hope to see the factory team can be beaten by a few guys who had minimal support.4# Better than Off Road to Athens which gets long winded. 5# Kind of reminds me of Graeme Obree's hour record. But this was 24hrs of don't stop till you pop."