Tuesday, October 02, 2007

How to Eat Your Watermelon in White Company (and Enjoy It)

In this biopic we learn many things about Melvin Van Peebles:

  • He worked in many genres: jazz, film, fiction, television commentary, floor trading
  • He was smart and determined and disciplined
  • He had more lives than a cat, and more lovers than a dog
  • He was not bereft of ego
  • He influenced many
What this film does not demonstrate, however, is that he did anything particularly well, even speaking French. His masterpiece and true claim to fame (other than son Mario) Sweet Sweetback's Baaadaasssssssss Song is an important film, sure, a powerful film, sorta, but it's durned hard to watch, as I remember. Except for the sex scene. Hollywood may have cheapened and perverted it to cook up blaxploitation, but in so doing it made better movies. It's like America's version of Makaveyev's Sweet Movie or the Russian I Am Cuba or the earlier Vertov/Eisenstein days, one long stiff lecture, perhaps with sex.

The French gave made him a Knight of the Foreign Legion, but God knows what they did for Jerry Lewis, and they eat snails.

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