Lower East Side
350 Grand Street, New York, NY 10002
F, J, M, Z to Delancey Street-Essex Street; B, D, Q to Grand Street
|8:30||Live Music by Natureboy|
|11:30||After Party with FREE drinks at Fontana's (105 Eldridge St.)|
Biker Fox (Jeremy Lamberton | Tulsa | 90 min.)
Calling Frank P DeLarzelere III (AKA Biker Fox) a local celebrity is misleading--he is more an agitator than he is a prized local son. As a proponent of bicycles as a primary means of transportation, he is fighting an uphill battle against a Southern community that loves its cars, worships horsepower, and doesn't always smile upon long haired, flamboyantly dressed eccentrics calling for cultural or lifestyle changes.
From the very first frames of Jeremy Lamberton's Biker Fox, it is very clear that this will not be your typical documentary portrait of a local character. Controversial Tulsa celebrity Biker Fox (Frank P. DeLarzelere III) stands over a grill, flipping burgers and hot dogs, gazing into the camera as he enthusiastically discusses how delicious all this cooked meat is going to be when it is ready. But suddenly his mood changes and he emphatically throws all of the meat to the ground and berates us for even considering eating such unhealthy food. He used to be obese, he explains, but eating healthy and riding his bike transformed all of that, and he thinks we can change our lives, too, if only we follow his example. This moment is clearly modeled on scenes from television motivational speakers, but it does not feel like a typical infomercial promoting exercise and vegetarianism--we have the sense that there is something darker behind his eyes as he speaks, and the oddness of this opening scene makes us wonder where exactly this film is going to take us.
DeLarzelere is perpetually at odds with the drivers on the roads of Tulsa, and we soon find that he has been engaged in a series of altercations with cops and angry motorists who are not excited to share their road with bicyclists of any kind, much less those who so self-consciously distinguish themselves from the pack. It would be tempting for most filmmakers to make Biker Fox into a hagiographical portrait of a maverick fighting the good fight for healthy living against the close-minded authorities in a conservative small city, but Lamberton is not interested in making so simple a story. It is certainly admirable that DeLarzelere is battling bravely against the wasteful laziness of American culture, but as Lamberton begins to uncover the darker sides of his personality he comes much more human-and much more interesting. Those demons that we thought we saw buried deep behind his eyes in the opening barbecue sequence are very real, and as they begin to surface Biker Fox the movie shows us the intimate life of a troubled man who struggles daily against angry urges a powerful sense of loneliness.
Of course, we are all often lonely and sometimes angry, but few of us battle against those feelings by turning a room in our house into a giant green screen portrait studio, by feeding hundreds of wild, greedy (and sharp-clawed) raccoons by hand, or by bicycling the highways of Tulsa through heavy night rains, and there is something disquieting yet morbidly fascinating when DeLarzelere's life takes occasional turns for the worse. We feel uneasy as we watch Delarzelere come to grips with his troubles, but Lamberton's intimate access helps to humanize a very complicated man and in his most troubled moments Frank reminds us of just how hard it is for any of us to be true to ourselves, whether we live in Tulsa or anywhere else. Biker Fox is an iconic American character, but Frank DeLarzelere is a truly fascinating man, and we learn a lot from watching him succeed and sometimes fail.