Anthony Howard / Jacob Septimus
Video, colour/black/white/sound, 89 min.
There are documentaries about issues (Michael Moore comes to mind) and documentaries that introduce unknown subcultures (like last year’s brilliant hip-hop testament Rize) and documentaries that are detailed character studies (the rock-themed “Dig” or Terry Zwigoff’s Crumb are two great examples), but very few movies successfully combine all three. With B.I.K.E., filmmakers Jacob Septimus and Anthony Howard have hit the trifecta by creating a film that manages to present a largely unknown movement in terms of vivid real-life characters, and the results are great.
Beginning as an explication of the militant anti-corporate bike protests that have taken root in American cities in the past decade, B.I.K.E. appears at first to be a typical if stylishly directed leftist rant against big oil and consumer conformity. But gradually, the film reveals a radical subculture within a radical subculture: the tallbike gangs of New York, who ride double frame bicycles of about six feet in height, and engage in punk rights of heraldry, ritualistically jousting each other on the night-shrouded streets of the city. Heads break, necks crack, drugs are consumed in mass quantities, and the inherent contradictions of radical individualists attempting to maintain a group identity implode, reform and implode yet again, in an absolutely fascinating tour of a modern netherworld.
Ellen de Bruijne PROJECTS
1016 LZ Amsterdam