Archive for June 28th, 2009
This is pretty crazy. Hailed as the first Blaxploitation film Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song stars Melvin Van Peebles who also wrote the script, directed, produced, edited and composed the music. I’ve been meaning to watch for some time after reading about it in some film book years ago. As a very low budget film it’s very rough around the edges and filled with sex and violence. Its running time is padded out by a lot of shots of Van Peebles just running and does not really have much in the way of plot development but if you can get past it shortfalls there is a real power and anger to it – it’s dedicated to all who have been oppressed by ‘the man’.
Sweetback is a gigolo, brought up in a brothel. In an opening, heavily cut, scene as a young boy he’s seduced by one of the prostitutes – his prowess earning him his nickname. He ends up on the run after beating up two police offers who have themselves beaten up a young man. That’s about it as far as plot goes – he gets help by several black ghetto characters and eventually some Hells Angels, whose female leader, Sweetback naturally seduces. With a few, exceptions, just about every white man he encounters – especially the police – is racist, symbolic of the time.
Unusually for a film of its type and time he finally gets away from the police and an on-screen caption warns that he will back. It’s a pity he never did return or that other films in its genre have half of much sheer raw power.
I can’t remember having thinking ‘this is amazing’ and then ‘this is really fucked-up’ so many times watching a film before. Tideland is that sort of film.
Gilliam’s not exactly my favourite director though I always try and check out his work and at times – like with Time Bandits or Brazil he can be utterly amazing. Tideland doesn’t quite match his best work though it is interesting. He apparently made it during a hiatus from the very Hollywood-sounding The Brothers Grimm which was kind of a recovery film for him (more on that later).
Tideland is a low budget small movie that I had been anticipating on the back of the reviews. I had actually been expecting something a bit different from what I had read – it’s very much Gilliam’s typical style and not the departure into areas of Lynch or Eastern European cinema-style weirdness I was expecting. It’s weird but it’s Gilliam weird.
Read the rest of this entry »
Well I only watched this expecting some cool shots of Tokyo… those I got but there’s not much else here.
The plot is so by the numbers I was predicting actual scenes as they came up. There’s this poor but cool racing guy with a southern accent. After one race too many against the stupid jock who runs the school (and whose dad is of course rich and powerful) he’s got the choice of going to Japan or going to jail (an aspect of the American legal system that I must admit had previously escaped me). I loved the ultra-cliched bit where he turns up at his dad’s house (which is naturally the size of shoe box) and dad has to turn out ‘central casting’s dodgy-looking Japanese woman’. It’s really handy that once out hero arrives in Japan the one person who talks to him at lunch can get him into the local street racing scene. In between the car stuff there is a lot of frankly boring sub-par philosophy and a rubbish love story, where the hick hero falls for the odd looking local gangster’s moll ignoring all the j-babes around him. These are frankly agony to sit through. The bad guy is so over the top with the jealous staring and face-offs it looks like he’s got some sort of gay crush on the hero. There’s a road race towards the end that manages to include every significant bit of neon in the whole of Tokyo.
Naturally it ends in a big race between the goodie and the baddie and the baddie wins… heh, only kidding. I suppose if you are into car-porn you might like it but I’m afraid I could not really summon up enough of my inner fourteen-year old to enjoy it.