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Baadasssss Cinema (Widescreen)

Pam Grier , Fred Williamson , Isaac Julien    NR (Not Rated)   DVD
3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Product Description

Amazon.ca

What a great treat to find so many beloved icons in Isaac Julien's excellent documentary about blaxploitation cinema: actors Pam Grier, Fred Williamson, and Gloria Hendry, among others, as well as directors Gordon Parks and Melvin Van Peebles. Through their piercing perspectives, plus commentary by the likes of film critic Elvis Mitchell and (of course) cult aficionado and filmmaker Quentin Tarantino, Baadasssss Cinema makes a persuasive argument that 1970s blaxploitation was both an American achievement and a temporary fix for Hollywood's then-economic doldrums. Julien gracefully leads viewers on a tour of blaxploitation's aesthetic and social roots, including a desire by African American audiences to see black protagonists stand up to power. Baadasssss Cinema also explains the appeal of warhorse movie genres--gangster films, horror--to the blaxploitation industry, discusses African American ambivalence in the '70s toward the films' new racial stereotypes, and makes sense of blaxploitation's commercial burnout once Hollywood got hold of the formula. --Tom Keogh

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Customer Reviews

3.2 out of 5 stars
3.2 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Informative, but 2 short June 10 2004
Format:DVD
At one point in this documentary, Fred(Hammer)Williamson makes a great point about the term "Blaxploitation". "Who was being exploited?", he asks. The black actors were getting paid and finally getting starring roles in movies and the black audiences were finally getting their own action heroes. He also points out that the term "Blaxploitation" came surprisingly not from the white media but rather from black journalists and organizations like the NAACP who accused these movies of glamorising pimps and drug dealers(which some of them did) and reinforcing negative stereotypes of the black community. There are plenty of film clips and some nice interviews but some major ommissions. Where's Ron (Superfly) O'Neal, where's Jim Brown, Isaac Hayes,Max(The Mack) Julien? Did they refuse to be interviewed? Also, the only people interviewed about the impact and influence of this genre are filmmaker Quentin Tarantino and film critic Elvis Mitchell. Where's John Singleton, the Hughes Brothers or some rappers like Ice-T? This documentary is too short(about an hour long) and just skimmed the surface of this beloved genre and left me wanting a lot more. Thank God I only rented it and didn't actually purchase it. I give it three stars because it is informative, entertaining and because at least someone actually made a documentary about these cool, funky, baaadasssss classics!
Was this review helpful to you?
Format:DVD
"BaadAsssss Cinema" is not your usual dry, academic documentary. While the arrangement of material seems pretty random and scattershot, the clips are priceless as historical artifacts of the times and the prevailing social attitudes. The debate as to the potential racist tracts implicit and explicit in the movies is wisely avoided, and the importance of black visibility of any kind supersedes any moral judgment here. The place of blaxploitation films of this period in the overall history of Hollywood is examined very closely, with surprising results. If we are to believe it, these films saved Hollywood studios in the '70s --- only to have the studios themselves turn their back on black artists a decade later. However, political and financial debates about art only get in the way. What we really have here is a delicious compendium of scenes and interviews from one of America's most beloved cult genres. Pam Grier, the greatest Black Mamma of them all, is fascinating as she discusses the beginnings of her prodigious career. Melvin Van Peebles, one of the few black artists to retain complete control of his films, discusses his seminal "Sweet Sweetback's BaadAsssss Song," arguably the first film in the genre. Isaac Hayes, composer and actor and "South Park" scion, talks about the groovy music essential for these movies. Richard Roundtree, Gloria Hendry and Fred Williamson all discuss the trials and triumphs of black performers creating, for the first time, a complete black identity on film. Quentin Tarantino,looking strangely pale, displays his goofy charm as he waxes rhapsodic about his first experience as a child attending his first black exploit film. These movies have been called the original guilty pleasure, and they are all enormously fun. Read more ›
Was this review helpful to you?
2.0 out of 5 stars Uneven Attempt Feb. 1 2003
By A Customer
Format:DVD
Being a fan of the blaxploitation genre, I was excited to hear about the DVD release of BaadAssss Cinema. However, upon viewing it, I became very disappointed. First, let me start off by saying that the 56-minute running time does not justify the price being charged for this DVD. Second, this title is anything but a bold look at 70's blaxploitation films. The documentary is organized by years, which doesn't work well. It would have been more interesting and flowed better if it were organized by different styles of blaxploitation films, such as gangster films or horror films, or films featuring strong female leads. The documentary focuses almost exclusively on films starring people who were interviewed, such as Pam Grier, Fred Williamson, Gloria Hendry, Quentin Tarantino, and Melvin Van Peebles. A lot of time is devoted to Sweet Sweetback's BaadAsssss Song, Shaft, and Pam Grier's Foxy Brown and Coffy. There's no denying that these films played a pivotal role in the blaxploitation movement, but why isn't Dolemite included? Is it because Rudy Ray Moore wasn't interviewed? The documentary is astonishingly shortsighted. No mention is made of movies like Abby, the black rip-off of The Exorcist, or Darktown Strutters, or even the Shaft sequels for that matter. Were they left out because the filmmaker thought they were an embarrassment to the genre, or because they are too obscure for the target audience? Lastly, most people interviewed feel that the blaxploitation movement died out around 1976, so the remaining years of the 70's are left out. The only two post 1976 films featured are Original Gangstas and Jackie Brown, both made in the 90's. There is so much missing from this documentary, and the only people who will benefit from it are blaxploitation completists and people new to the genre. Read more ›
Was this review helpful to you?
3.0 out of 5 stars Good for what it suggested but it missed more May 31 2004
Format:DVD
this is the kind of Dvd I was excited about because I love the films during that time period alot.there was so much going on that isn't fully told on this disc.you need 2-3 discs to tell the whole story&even then you are bound to leave something out because there was so many other details that came into play.these Films saved Hollywood back then until the BlockBuster films like Jaws,Star wars,etc... came along.Many actors&actress's from these films didn't get a fair shot in other films.the Cosmetic 80's downplayed this era as well.but thanks to the Hip-Hop Movement these films&Creative forces got a Bigger lift than ever.so many Great Talents that haven't gotten there full due to this day.
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.6 out of 5 stars  13 reviews
23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Informative, but 2 short June 10 2004
By Glenn Nippert - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
At one point in this documentary, Fred(Hammer)Williamson makes a great point about the term "Blaxploitation". "Who was being exploited?", he asks. The black actors were getting paid and finally getting starring roles in movies and the black audiences were finally getting their own action heroes. He also points out that the term "Blaxploitation" came surprisingly not from the white media but rather from black journalists and organizations like the NAACP who accused these movies of glamorising pimps and drug dealers(which some of them did) and reinforcing negative stereotypes of the black community. There are plenty of film clips and some nice interviews but some major ommissions. Where's Ron (Superfly) O'Neal, where's Jim Brown, Isaac Hayes,Max(The Mack) Julien? Did they refuse to be interviewed? Also, the only people interviewed about the impact and influence of this genre are filmmaker Quentin Tarantino and film critic Elvis Mitchell. Where's John Singleton, the Hughes Brothers or some rappers like Ice-T? This documentary is too short(about an hour long) and just skimmed the surface of this beloved genre and left me wanting a lot more. Thank God I only rented it and didn't actually purchase it. I give it three stars because it is informative, entertaining and because at least someone actually made a documentary about these cool, funky, baaadasssss classics!
33 of 36 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Uneven Attempt Feb. 1 2003
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
Being a fan of the blaxploitation genre, I was excited to hear about the DVD release of BaadAssss Cinema. However, upon viewing it, I became very disappointed. First, let me start off by saying that the 56-minute running time does not justify the price being charged for this DVD. Second, this title is anything but a bold look at 70's blaxploitation films. The documentary is organized by years, which doesn't work well. It would have been more interesting and flowed better if it were organized by different styles of blaxploitation films, such as gangster films or horror films, or films featuring strong female leads. The documentary focuses almost exclusively on films starring people who were interviewed, such as Pam Grier, Fred Williamson, Gloria Hendry, Quentin Tarantino, and Melvin Van Peebles. A lot of time is devoted to Sweet Sweetback's BaadAsssss Song, Shaft, and Pam Grier's Foxy Brown and Coffy. There's no denying that these films played a pivotal role in the blaxploitation movement, but why isn't Dolemite included? Is it because Rudy Ray Moore wasn't interviewed? The documentary is astonishingly shortsighted. No mention is made of movies like Abby, the black rip-off of The Exorcist, or Darktown Strutters, or even the Shaft sequels for that matter. Were they left out because the filmmaker thought they were an embarrassment to the genre, or because they are too obscure for the target audience? Lastly, most people interviewed feel that the blaxploitation movement died out around 1976, so the remaining years of the 70's are left out. The only two post 1976 films featured are Original Gangstas and Jackie Brown, both made in the 90's. There is so much missing from this documentary, and the only people who will benefit from it are blaxploitation completists and people new to the genre. If you're looking for information on black cinema of the 1970's, I suggest the book "What It Is...What It Was!The Black Film Explosion of the '70s in Words and Pictures." Unlike BaadAssss Cinema, it features articles with insight and interviews that matter (ironically with many of the same people interviewed in BaadAsssss Cinema). Overall, BaadAssss Cinema fails to make the blaxploitation movement seem important.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A FASCINATING DOCUMENTARY FILLED WITH GUILTY PLEASURES Feb. 8 2003
By Alan W. Petrucelli - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
"BaadAsssss Cinema" is not your usual dry, academic documentary. While the arrangement of material seems pretty random and scattershot, the clips are priceless as historical artifacts of the times and the prevailing social attitudes. The debate as to the potential racist tracts implicit and explicit in the movies is wisely avoided, and the importance of black visibility of any kind supersedes any moral judgment here. The place of blaxploitation films of this period in the overall history of Hollywood is examined very closely, with surprising results. If we are to believe it, these films saved Hollywood studios in the '70s --- only to have the studios themselves turn their back on black artists a decade later. However, political and financial debates about art only get in the way. What we really have here is a delicious compendium of scenes and interviews from one of America's most beloved cult genres. Pam Grier, the greatest Black Mamma of them all, is fascinating as she discusses the beginnings of her prodigious career. Melvin Van Peebles, one of the few black artists to retain complete control of his films, discusses his seminal "Sweet Sweetback's BaadAsssss Song," arguably the first film in the genre. Isaac Hayes, composer and actor and "South Park" scion, talks about the groovy music essential for these movies. Richard Roundtree, Gloria Hendry and Fred Williamson all discuss the trials and triumphs of black performers creating, for the first time, a complete black identity on film. Quentin Tarantino,looking strangely pale, displays his goofy charm as he waxes rhapsodic about his first experience as a child attending his first black exploit film. These movies have been called the original guilty pleasure, and they are all enormously fun. This documentary shows a great cross-section of the movies and the artists, retaining all of the energy, action, comedy and sex we associate with these movies. Although it may be less fun yelling back at your television set alone than being part of a crowd on a Saturday night, Superfly, Shaft and all them guys (and their gals) still pack a wallop. (Submitted by staff member Stephen J. Finn)
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good for what it suggested but it missed more May 31 2004
By mistermaxxx08 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
this is the kind of Dvd I was excited about because I love the films during that time period alot.there was so much going on that isn't fully told on this disc.you need 2-3 discs to tell the whole story&even then you are bound to leave something out because there was so many other details that came into play.these Films saved Hollywood back then until the BlockBuster films like Jaws,Star wars,etc... came along.Many actors&actress's from these films didn't get a fair shot in other films.the Cosmetic 80's downplayed this era as well.but thanks to the Hip-Hop Movement these films&Creative forces got a Bigger lift than ever.so many Great Talents that haven't gotten there full due to this day.
5.0 out of 5 stars Personally, I liked it myself June 18 2007
By Andre M. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
Personally, I found no fault with this DVD. I think that all of the major issues about these films were well covered and discussed. Actress Gloria Hendry, director William Cohen, and the no-introdution needed Pam Grier's interviews were quite revealing about how these films affected the careers of those who worked in them. The controversy with the NAACP and Jesse jackson and their opposition to this films is well-handled to give both sides of this issue and it all allows the viewer to make up their own minds. Well done.
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