In the wake of the first Telluride screening of Jeff NicholsThe Bikeriders (Searchlight, 12.1), several critics and columnists who should have known better insisted it was a very cool ride and that they loved it and so on.

Variety‘s Clayton Davis actually wrote that costars Austin Butler, Jodie Comer and Tom Hardy “are all putting their stamp on an awards season that will be udoubtedly competitive.” The season will be competitive, as always, but they won’t be — trust me. Okay, maybe Comer will punch through, but her performance is all about her labored street accent. It sounds like she worked very hard to sound just so.

The Bikeriders is piffle…an actors’ attitude movie about studly posturing and leather pants and roaring two-wheelers. And dozens upon dozens of lit cigarettes.

I was so into groaning and rolling my eyes and exhaling with exasperation during the screening that Sasha Stone bawled me out — “You almost ruined it for me!…I’m not going to sit next to you if you do that again!” It’s not me, I replied. I’m just a victim. Blame Jeff Nichols!

Posted from Telluride on 8.31.23:

As I was watching Jeff NicholsThe Bikeriders, I was telling myself that it’s basically about the inability (or unwillingness) of costars Tom Hardy and especially Austin Butler, playing surly-ass, black leather biker types, to perform a scene without constantly inhaling gray-blue cigarette smoke.

No honest assessment of The Bikeriders will fail to acknowledge that it’s basically a posturing, surly attitude genre flick about skanky vroom-vroom machismo…about sullen Midwest motorcycle lowlifes in the general mold of Marlon Brando’s “Johnny” in The Wild One, mixed with the nihilist biker hooligan aesthetic of the AIP ‘60s motorcycle flicks (The Wild Angels, The Born Losers).

Story-wise it’s about a battle for the soul of Butler’s Benny, a moody, cool-cat rebel straight out of the Shangrilas’ ”The Leader of the Pack.”

On one side is Jodie Comer’s Kathy, who quickly becomes Benny’s girlfriend and then wife in a possibly sexless marriage (nobody fucks in this film). Kathy wants Benny to be his own man and not submit to certain aimless bullshit rituals that come with membership in a motorcycle gang.

Pulling in an opposite direction is Hardy’s Johnny, who wants Benny to succeed him as the leader of the Vandals, a mythical local gang that gradually becomes huge with several chapters around the Midwest.

The Vandals are ostensibly a black leather outlaw motorcycle club in the vein of actual old-style OMCs like Hells Angels, the Outlaws, the Bandidos and the Pagans. The difference is that the Vandals aren’t criminals. They’re just ornery guys who occasionally beat the shit out of other ornery guys. Really — that’s all that happens. Scuzzy, nihilistic, no-direction-home guys snorting brewskis, sucking down cigarettes like they’re in a cancer contest while taking offense at this or that and kicking or pounding the crap out of each other.

The Bikeriders is basically about actors playing with machismo, nihilism, nothingness and swaggering around… about Hardy, Butler and costars Michael Shannon, Boyd Holbrook and Norman Reedus attempting to resuscitate (like I just said) the old AIP biker movie aesthetic except not in California but somewhere in Illinois or Ohio…that surly, unshaven, leather-jacket-wearin’ thang, man…rumblin’ those noisy choppers, man..surly attitudes, beard stubble, greasy hair, tough-asshole posturing, leather jackets with “colors” and insignias, stinky T-shirts and no change of underwear for days on end.

Please see The Bikeriders!! Some of you out there, unburdened by taste, will have a raunchy good old time with it.