Portrayal Mediums

There is something so brash about the opening scenes of this movie that you are compelled to wade through it. It begs the question – how deep does the patriotism rabbit hole go? So as the light disappears and you are drawn in, assaulted with unabashed product placement and ship loads of metaphysical cheese, a story emerges, and the ride is fun.

The basic premise is about two brothers, with bad DNA, that are gifted athletes. Their chosen medium is cycling. The cycling scenes are pretty entertaining, there are some sketchy references to race tactics, the bicycles are retro-cool, and the associated girls in very deferential roles, are as hot as the weather in the Rocky Mountains.

Some things to look for are, the post space-race helmets of the Russian cyclists, the shorts (or perhaps some of the girls just forgot to wear their strides), a certain Belgian cycling superstar, oh and of course those racing bicycles.

The plot is thin and predictable, however the acting from Kevin Costner and the main cast does much to make up for it, and considering the films opening scenes the movie does pretty well to keep you seated from there on. American flyer isn’t a bad title considering it is almost a flyer for every possible product that they could fit into a movie, but it might have been just as aptly named ‘the Hell of the West”, which is the name of the race, and the probable vantage point from which many communists would view this movie.

Is it worth watching? Yes – but I would prescribe viewing the movie “They Live” in the days following to calm your mind and balance the propaganda.


The Bicycle Thieves was made in 1948 and is a classic of Italian cinema.

It is set in a post war Italy where work, food and simple conveniences are hard to gain, and harder to keep. The plot revolves around a man and his search for a stolen bicycle and draws you into his hopeless struggle to retain, and make something of his slim chances of providing for his family.

Essentially the movie isn’t about bicycles, but is worth watching anyway, it is that good! The acting from these unschooled actors would put many current, fame engorged actors to shame with the power they bring to the simple and direct dialogue and plot. The important place cycling had in the Italian culture is strongly evident from the scenes that show the everyday cycling culture around the action of the movie. More broadly speaking, the portrayal of everyday life in Italy seems very authentic and so the movie also provides a window into a lost world of suits, fortune tellers, markets, whore houses and homes.

The Bicycle Thieves has been broadly critically acclaimed and very much worth the time and effort to track down and watch. It’s a little melancholy but those were dark, grim times for Italy, made even more grim by bloody bicycle thieves.

Quicksilver is a movie about cycle couriers made in 1986 and stars a young Kevin Bacon and Laurence “Larry” Fishburn.

First thing you notice about this movie is that it has similar DNA to other classics from the period, like dirty dancing and footloose. You may be surprised to know that all 3 of these movies involve dancing.  The dancing scene in Quicksilver involves a bicycle and easily tops them all for romance and must be seen.The next thing you notice is that movie editing has come along way in the last 20 years.

The best parts of the movie, as you might imagine, involve bike chases, and essentially the rest of the film only really works to explain and build your excitement for the next cycling action scene.

One excellent scene worth noting is one which involves the main character transforming as he walks down the street. He starts off as a stockbroker and starts shedding clothing, as it was happening I wondered if the main character was going to keep devolving all the way to a teenwolf character which would have been interesting, but sensibly for the rest of the plot he ends up in in 80’s chic.

Another important scene involves a cycling trick session where the cycle couriers suddenly turn into russian circus performers and start pulling off crazy shit. This scene ends brilliantly with the owner of the courier business, who is wearing one of those natty little racing caps, calling everyone inside with a happy chuckle. It’s a quintessential 80’s moment.

There are lots of fun ingredients in this movie, but nothing of any substance, which is good because it would be probably too hard to swallow give everything else. It’s light, it’s fluffy and a perfect antidote for being stuck inside on a rainy afternoon instead of being out in the sunshine cycling. If you’re a fan of Raleigh cycles there is some bike porn here too – I won’t spoil it for you by naming the models.

If you like bikes, this movie is fun – it’s available on itunes.