A Little Bit of Sweet Sweetback, Good Ol’ Irish Filmmakers, and Buster Keaton

Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song:

I’ve been waiting to see this movie for a long, long time. Now that I have, I can’t say I’m disappointed, but I also can’t say I’m elated. I mean, it’s not a bad movie, but I was left wallowing in the effects of unfulfilled anticipation. That, however, is a personal problem.

As a film, in terms of technique, not much is accomplished. The editing is jerky, and the pacing is sluggish. The psychedelic imagery failed to put this viewer into the “hallucinatory groove” that Geoff Andrew of Time Out suggests.

The best scene is near the beginning where the titular character, played emotionless by Melvin Van Peebles, rescues a young man from an assault by two police officers. It’s threatening and thrilling and entertaining.

The film feels more like an essay that Mr. Peebles has constructed to showcase all that’s wrong with black society in America. White America is the repressive force that serves only to keep its black denizens down. Everyone’s a caricature, but it’s the black caricatures that Peebles focuses on – all of the people that cow-tow to white men and refuse Sweetback’s pleas for help. It’s very interesting in this sense.

The impact of the film is undeniable. It opened in two theatres, but went on to make over 4 million dollars. The film effectively started the blaxploitation genre once Hollywood realized the market’s potential to turn a profit.

For a more eloquent explanation of the historical importance of the film, as well as for an in-depth analysis into the film itself, check out DeAngelo’s wonderful essay over at cineawesome: http://cineawesome.com/3103/sweet-sweetbacks-baadasssss-song/ He draws a lot from Donald Bogle’s wonderful book Toms, Coons, Mulattoes, Mammies, and Bucks. DeAngelo delves into the role of Sweet Sweetback as a folk hero, utilizing the following quote from Bogle’s text:

‘With the glamourization of the ghetto, however, came also the elevation of the pimp/outlaw/rebel as folk hero. Van Peeples played up to this new sensibility, and his film was the first to glorify the pimp. It failed, however, to explain the social conditions that made the pimp such an important figure. At the same time, the movie debased the black woman, depicting her as little more than a whore. His film remains, however, a striking social document on the nature and certain attitudes of the new era.’
If anything, you guys should probably pick up the book itself for some interesting reading. It’s on sale at amazon for 33 dollars. It’d make a great gift for the film lover you might know.

For those more visually inclined, here’s the trailer:


Movie News – Seven Psychopaths:

CBS Films is in talks to co-finance ‘Seven Psychopaths,’ the sophmore feature of accomplished Irish playwright Martin McDonagh. The director’s first feature, In Bruges, was, in the words of this not-so-humble blogger, fantastic. If you haven’t seen it, do so now. Don’t pooh-pooh the fact that Colin Farrel is in the lead role; this film will put him back on your map as a credible actor.

Anyway, Seven Psychopaths looks to be an action-type flick about a screenwriter looking for inspiration.

Read more about the project here: http://www.newsinfilm.com/2011/10/02/details-on-mcdonaghs-seven-psychopaths/

Hopefully the deals will be finalized and this movie will come out sooner, rather than later. Be on the lookout for this one.


Buster Keaton:

On this day oh so many years ago, Joseph Frank Keaton, the man we all know as ‘Buster,’ came into this world. What is there to say about the man that hasn’t already been said? So, in honor of the great comedian, here’s a classic scene from ‘Sherlock Jr.’ Remember, he did all of his own stunts.


One response to “A Little Bit of Sweet Sweetback, Good Ol’ Irish Filmmakers, and Buster Keaton

  1. Pingback: A Little Bit of Sweet Sweetback, Good Ol' Irish Filmmakers, and … « morjinajahan·

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