Roland Tec, who made the queer flick All the Rage more than a decade ago, wants to get a few things off his chest about 9/11, Katrina, and eight years of the Bush administration. Instead of sounding off on the Internet or the op-ed pages, Tec has envisioned a collection of short stories that would, in theory, coalesce into a grandiose cinematic thesis on the Bush-era state of the union. We Pedal Uphill is an anthology of 13 dramatic short films about different parts of the country responding to various social phenomena, from conservative talk radio to shuttered factories. It’s a novel concept, but the result comes off as Tec’s stream-of-consciousness pent-up ramblings without any discernible cohesion or coherence. Tec sets each vignette in a different American state and makes false assumptions about that state’s socioeconomic and racial dynamics (Louisianans are racist; gay Floridians work as Disney World performers). The lack of research is painfully apparent throughout, as Tec’s failure to articulate issues from voting fraud to the Patriot Act ultimately reduces any potentially valid social criticism to mere conspiracy theory. The post-Bush race relations and current economic freefall just render We Pedal Uphill all the more outdated and irrelevant.
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