Quentin Tarantino wanted Larry Bishop to make the “greatest biker movie ever” and produced this for him. They don’t succeed. It’s a good one, however. Bishop was in The Savage Seven back in ’68 and Tarantino Lazarus’d him into Kill Bill Vol.2, and this came of his current grindhouse obsession. It’s not a bad movie to catch on cable, but don’t expect much or you’ll be disappointed. Bishop plays Pistolero, an aging biker Pres dealing with mutiny from within, and vengeance for the murder by fire of his woman, Cherokee Kisum, still on his mind 30 years on. His compatriots The Gent (Michael Madsen) and the new blood, Comanche (Eric Balfour) deal with internal coups driven by the rival gang the Six Six Sixers, while Pistolero does peyote and commits acts of biker badassery. We learn of Kisum’s murder through flashbacks, and this Tarantino-inspired fractured storytelling doesn’t work in Bishop’s less able hands. And the dialogue feels inspired by the producer as well, and could have used a few rewrites; a lot of it just doesn’t work.
What does work is Bishop himself, who is believable as the old silverback; Vinnie Jones as the maniacal leader of the Six Six Sixers, and cameos by Dennis Hopper and David Carradine. Peter Fonda said he was done with biker pictures- they did try to get him. There’s a bounty of breasts and biker chicks acting like women do in biker pictures. Cherokee (Julia Jones) gets a lot of flashback time and is the one strong female role. The action is good, if sporadic, and the story ends a little shorter than you’d expect, but if you go in expecting a sleazy biker movie, it’s easy to watch. Just don’t expect a re-imagining or some sort of modern update.
Greetings from Asbury Park
A heartbreaking documentary detailing the attempts by politicians and developers to “revive” Asbury Park by kicking old people out of their homes to build luxury condos through eminent domain. Certainly biased, but this grassroots documentary is the Roger & Me of eminent domain. It is showing on New Jersey local public broadcasting this month and is a must see for New Jerseyans and anyone who owns property, especially property that billionaire developers think they can make a buck on. Does it serve the public good to tear up perfectly good homes to build condos that start at $500,000 for a studio, just to give more waterfront property to the elite? Asbury Park has had blighted areas for many years, but going after neighborhoods where working families can afford to live is not right. Eminent domain abuse is the forgotten scandal and it is only going to get worse. It didn’t revitalize Detroit, and it won’t fix Asbury. The documentary is well made and worth your time.
Shouting Fire: Stories from the Edge of Free Speech
Fine documentary on free speech in America. It is playing on HBO this month and makes for good viewing if you’re interested in the subject, and you should be. It’s not just about government censorship, but also how the media reacts and is manipulated to have chilling effects of its own. They touch on everything from the recent “intifada” brouhaha in NYC to the ACLU defending the Klan’s right to march in Skokie. It’s not all-encompassing, nor does it try to be. This isn’t a top-notch doc, but it is worth watching. By Liz Garbus, who also directed the well-regarded The Farm: Angola, USA.