Review: ‘We Pedal Uphill: Stories from the States: 2001-2008’

In Roland Tec's cinematic treatise "We Pedal Uphill," 13 vignettes, each separately titled and set in a different state, are meant to form a tapestry of American responses to the fear and paranoia that gripped the country in the aftermath of 9/11.

In Roland Tec’s cinematic treatise “We Pedal Uphill,” 13 vignettes, each separately titled and set in a different state, are meant to form a tapestry of American responses to the fear and paranoia that gripped the country in the aftermath of 9/11. Unlike the similarly message-sending “Crash,” the pic makes no narrative attempt to weave together separate strands, though thematic links abound. With a few notable exceptions, pic relies on O. Henry-esque twists, simplistic surprise endings and “aha!” epiphanies to gets its points across. Bowing for a one-week run at Gotham’s Cinema Village, “Uphill” faces a Sisyphean challenge.

Helmer-scribe Tec, whose “All the Rage” bubbled with satiric glee, here abandons humor for overloaded, all-of-a-piece somberness and straight-ahead lensing. Even a sardonic tale about a presidential photo op in California’s Sequoia National Park fails to fully exploit opportune foreground/background ironies. Pic’s one foray into more daring filmmaking pays off in a black-and-white, strikingly edited segment about Bush-era corporate blackmail and the price of integrity, while a subtler visual approach works wonders in a character study about a shell-shocked librarian victim of Homeland Security.

We Pedal Uphill: Stories from the States: 2001-2008

Production

A Cinevolve Studios release of a Pinkplot presentation, in association with Rosie Little Pictures, of a Spade-a-Spade production. Produced by Darren Chilton. Executive producer, John R. Tilley. Directed, written by Roland Tec.

Crew

Camera (color, HD), Boris Grygor, Kathleen Mann (Colorado segment); editor, Agnes Challe-Grandits; music, Tec. Reviewed on DVD, New York, March 14, 2009. Running time: 111 MIN.

With

Polly Adams, Jenny Bacon, Judith Bancroft, Stephen Baker Turner, Kate Blumberg, Marylo uise Burke, Nat DeWolf, David Drake, Alvin Epstein, Maureen Keiller, John Magaro, Charles Parnell, Carl Palmer, Merle Perkins, Molly Powell, J. Tucker Smith, Roland Tec.
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