Baadasssss Cinema (Widescreen)
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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
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With archive film clips and interviews, this brief look at a frequently overlooked historical period of filmmaking acts as an introduction rather than a complete record. It features interviews with some of the genre's biggest stars, such as Fred Williamson, Pam Grier, and Richard Roundtree. Director Melvin Van Peebles discusses the historical importance of his landmark film Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song. For a contemporary perspective, the hyper Quentin Tarantino offers his spirited commentary and author/critic bell hooks provides some scholarly social analysis.
The music of Blaxploitation films is discussed, focusing on Curtis Mayfield's Super Fly and Isaac Hayes' Shaft. Interviews with writer/director Larry Cohen and film historian Armond White are also featured. BaadAsssss Cinema was originally shown on the Independent Film Channel in August 2002 as part of a week-long Blaxploitation film festival.