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Baadasssss Cinema - A Bold Look at 70's Blaxploitation Films
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