Is it possible to own too many pairs of shoes? The title characters of David T. Friendly and Mick Partridge's lively, pop culturally savvy documentary about sneaker collectors, who include rapper Wale, comedian Mike Epps and deejays Samantha Ronson and Clark Kent, would agree with Imelda Marcos that it is not.
Sneakerheadz perceptively tells the history of athletic shoes, from Chuck Taylors to Air Jordans, digging into issues of hip-hop fashion and cultural identity. It shows how the Internet and shoes manufacturers focus on limited edition models has changed the collecting and the resale market, and made it an often lucrative and sometimes tragically dangerous game.
Philly connection: One of the featured collectors and major players in the Sneakerheadz story is Hommyo Hidefumi, the Japanese shoe hound who fed his obsession while attending Temple University in North Philly and built an sneaker store empire back in Japan started with shoes he would buy in 215 boutique and resell at enormous markups in his native country.
In Austin on Monday night, I rode my rented bike - by far the best way to get around with streets often gridlocked if not shut down, and a noticeably higher law enforcement presence in the wake of the four drunk driver-caused deaths (one of whom was on a bike) at SXSW last year - over to a screening of Swedish director Fredrik Gertten's Bikes vs. Cars.
The transportation doc takes a hard look at the world wide conflict between drivers and riders - with clear sympathy to the environmentally-friendly pedal pushers. Gertten focus on the efforts of bikers fight for their rights in car choked Sao Paolo, Brazil and Los Angeles (interestingly the only America city featured). It also explores conflicts in Toronto, where mayor Rob Ford, elected with a pro-car suburban mandate, erased existing bike lanes and showed contempt for bikes, as well as in Copenhagen, where an amusingly put-upon taxi driver finds the swarms of riders an impediment to getting his job done.
Unfortunately, while Gertten does serve up scary numbers about the continued global growth of the automobile industry - there were 1 billion cars on the panet in 2012, and will be 2 billion by 2020, the movie asserts - his arguments in favor of people powered (and publicly funded) transportation don't explore the effect of bike sharing programs like the one set to finally debut in Philadelphia this spring. Still, the conflict and challenges facing riders and drivers all over the world in Bikes vs. Cars will be all too familiar to those who attempt to traverse Philadelphia's narrow streets on a daily basis.
Trailers for both movies are below.