Chopper Show

Nov 28, 2007 at 12:00 am

Detroit is a car town, a fact so obvious and inextricably woven into the culture that even nomadic yak herders in Mongolia probably know we are the home of the hemi. What fewer people know is that the D's obsession with all things gas-guzzling extends to hogs, pan heads, shovelheads, and all manner of motorcycles and a host of customizers with a rich history of their own. It might be nice if someone would make a cool movie about this one day. Until then we'll have make do with this event doc of last summer's downtown Chopper Show.

If you get your kicks watching static shots of guys popping wheelies in front of the ruins of Tiger Stadium, then this flick'll sit well with you. For everyone else, the utter lack of voiceover narration, title cards, interviews or the merest bit of context explaining why anyone, anywhere, should give a flying fuck about this shabby assemblage of bad tattoos and frayed denim, it'll likely be a bit of a bummer. The completely novel use of the Stones "Gimmie Shelter" tips us off that these are some hardcore hombres, unpleasant associations with Altamont aside.

There are lots of long, loving shots of choppers, some very beautifully built, but who built them, and why, remains a complete mystery. Then there's the leering, peek-a-boo fashion show, with a variety of proto-rockabilly chic models making multiple costume changes for a super classy catcalling crowd of booze hounds. More, the camera remains parked in the corner for several long minutes!

Every now and then the monotony gets busted up by a musical performance or two from such area rock stalwarts as the Howling Diablos, but these are brief. All the participants at this daylong extravaganza seem to be having an absolute blast, and if you happen to have been there, you might also get a kick out of spotting your buddies chug a brew and ogle the chrome.

For the uninitiated, there isn't much here; though the fly-on-the-wall spirit is oddly hypnotic, the way all voyeurism generally is. The "creators" of this short film have a clear passion for the subject matter, though it would help if they shared a love of movies.

At 8 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 30, at the Detroit Film Center's new digs in Eastern Market, at 1347 E. Fisher Fwy., Detroit; 313-961-9936.

Corey Hall writes about film for Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected].