Weekend film reviews: ‘The Bikeriders,’ ‘Kinds of Kindness’

“The Bikeriders” stars Jodie Comer, Austin Butler, and Tom Hardy as members of a motorcycle club called The Vandals. Credit: YouTube.

This week’s film releases include The Bikeriders, Kinds of Kindness, Fancy Dance, and Thelma. Weighing in are Katie Walsh, film reviewer for The Tribune News Service and The Los Angeles Times, and Tim Grierson, senior U.S. citic for Screen International and the author of This is How You Make a Movie

The Bikeriders

This drama is set in the 1960s and stars Jodie Comer, Austin Butler, and Tom Hardy as members of a motorcycle club called The Vandals. It is written and directed by Palme d’Or-nominated (Cannes Film Festival) filmmaker Jeff Nichols.

Walsh: “The film is based on a book by Danny Lyon, who was a photojournalist who did interviews with the members of this outlaws motorcycle club in the 1960s. And he also took … portraits of the motorcycle club, really capturing their leather and denim and very cool mid-century style. The book is pretty famous. … The film has a similar quality to flipping through the book where you're getting a lot of these really arresting images, especially Austin Butler, who plays Benny … he just is so evocative of this cool, sexy, dangerous glamor of these Chicago bikers. 

But the story is told through Jodie Comber’s character, Kathy, who becomes the narrator. And she just has this incredible midwestern Chicago ratatat patter — her narration is probably the highlight of this movie. 

… The film is a loose narrative, but it's really stylish. The stars are great. I think all the performances are fantastic.”

Grierson: “The film has a great sense of atmosphere, has a great sense of period detail. … You very much feel why it would be so alluring to be part of the Vandals during this time in America. That effortless cool that the actors give to their characters, you totally get. … I really enjoyed the performances. I really like the sense of a faded version of masculinity, that for better or for worse, is not around as much anymore.”

Kinds of Kindness

This “triptych fable” is co-written and directed by Yorgos Lanthimos. It stars Emma Stone and Jesse Plemons. 

Grierson: “It is a series of three short films, each of them has about maybe 50 minutes. … You don't get to see a filmmaker like Yorgos Lanthimos get to work in the short film medium very much, and it's very liberating, I feel like, for him because he maximizes the weirdness … and also the darkness.”

Walsh: “It's three one-act plays, and they're all themed around the idea of control … surrender … doppelgangers … and also the idea that bodies are meat. … It's dark, it's absurd, it's funny.”

Fancy Dance

Lily Gladstone plays a Native woman whose sister has disappeared, and she fights to keep her family together after her niece (Isabel Deroy-Olson) is placed in the custody of white grandparents. 

Walsh: “I think that this film just really evokes a place and time really well. … All of the characters feel really authentic, all of the places feel really authentic. And Lily Gladstone is just fantastic in this role. It's definitely a different kind of performance than Killers of The Flower Moon, but she is just so compelling. 

Grierson: “The world that [director Erica] Tremblay creates … I think is [sic] the strongest elements of Fancy Dance. I think that some of the plotting is not quite as great. It's a little more rickety. There's a couple things that are predictable. … And I have to say just on the record — I love Lily Gladstone. … I think she is good in this. I don't think she is as convincing as she's been in other performances.”


This comedy follows a 93-year-old (June Squibb) who is scammed out of $10,000 and decides to take matters into her own hands to get the cash back. The story is based on the experience of director Josh Margolin’s own grandma.  

Grierson: “I think the movie is really fun and really charming. … You're always on Thelma’s side. You like her so much, a lot because of how great June Squibb is in this movie. … One of the other things I love about this movie is Richard Roundtree, who is no longer with us. … He plays Ben. And Ben is living in a nursing home. They've been friends for a very long time. Both of their spouses died not so long ago. And essentially because Ben has a scooter, Ben is going to be her partner in crime because Thelma is mad at these people who scammed her. And so she's going to take Ben’s scooter … and they're going to track down the scammers, and get her $10,000 in cash back. So the movie becomes a very affectionate parody of action movies.

… Even though the movie is primarily a comedy, it does have a lot of heart. And it has a lot to say about getting older and regrets in how we choose to live our golden years.” 

Walsh: “[June Squibb] has been on the stage for 65 years. And I think her first movie was in 1990. So that was like 35 years ago. … This is her first leading role, and she really knocks it out of the park. … I also think that Josh Margolin … he does so much with a little. It's a local indie production. He's taking these mundane, quotidian moments, and then turning them into these nail-biting action sequences. 

And it's really beautifully shot. It's a beautiful tribute to the San Fernando Valley. It all takes place in Encino and Van Nuys.”