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Gabriel Clarke and John McKenna’s feature-length documentary, Steve McQueen: The Man & Le Mans (a subtitle both irresistible and a little toe-curling) shows what can happen when an actor is given more creative control than is good for him. Le Mans was going to be McQueen’s 1970 baby, to “show why a man races” to an audience who didn’t have the disposable income, or the down time, to race Porsches for a hobby. From the start the production was shaky. Beyond the matter of no script, there were squabbles with the director and studio, blown budgets, ignored schedules, bad accidents (one driver had a leg amputated) and McQueen’s dissolving marriage (not helped by his rampant philandering; one associate interviewed said he was sleeping with around a dozen women a week.
How you feel about Steve McQueen: The Man & Le Mans will depend on how much you share his interest in fast cars. Admittedly the footage shot (approximately a million feet) is gloriously rich and thrilling; the then-innovative filming techniques included fixing cameras to a car competing in the 1970 Le Mans race to capture the action at 240mph. As vanity projects go, Le Mans was certainly not the most worthy, but damn it if it doesn’t make your heart race a little bit faster. And, you know, it was Steve McQueen.
Steve McQueen: The Man & Le Mans is out on 20 November
Sometimes it’s hard to tell if the cycling boom in the UK is really about taking to the hills and dales on your trusty two-wheeler to lift both soul and heart-rate, or if it’s more about teetering about in a café in your cleats drinking 17 espressos with the odd lap of Regents Park in between. We’re not sure if the latter group –we’ll call them Slipstreamers – is featured in the Design Museum in London’s new show, Cycle Revolution, but they’ll certainly number highly among the attendees.
The exhibition is centred around four “tribes”: High Performers, Urban Riders, Cargo Bikers and Thrill Seekers, many of whom use their bicycles to achieve staggering speeds and cross dangerous terrain (not just Old Street roundabout). As well as Lycra-wetting examples of craftsmanship from manufacturers such as Pinarello and Brompton, there will be a recreation of a bicycle-making workshop and a section on the future of cycling and ideas about how to solve the motorist-pedestrian-cyclist conundrum. And no, thumbtacks isn’t one of them.
Cycle Revolution runs from 18 November to 30 June, 2016, at The Design Museum, London SE1; designmuseum.org