Saturday, November 26, 2011

Blaxploitation Night with Filmreakter

Let me first share my feelings of thrill, regarding the Filreakter Community; when I found out that people like me exist here, people who love Cinema, work/watch/deal with Films, and do not belong to the wide pop-corn-eating audience that chose their Saturday night film reading the storyline in Time Out, but fiddle with old images, references, meanings, subtext and they're having fun with it, well, I felt I was in heaven. That was, when I bumped onto their website last year. No personal contact, yet.

Only later on, due to an unstable and busy life, mind me, I managed to go to one of their Double Bill events in the Cinematheque. Sure I mingled with them before but it was not the real thing, it never is, till you see the core of such Cinefun Communities (the adjective cinephilic is somewhat too serious and with an academic notion, that's why I avoid it here).

I know I tend to do big intros, but bear with me a little longer. That chilly night of July (it's central Europe here, hmm) zombies and re-animated bodies scared me out (yea, I'm this kind of girl), and made me laugh at the same time. The fun-action taking place in the foyer of the Cinematheque is such a must; even more than the films themselves, sometimes. I remember a chopped, talking head served on a table together with colorful gummy bears and other delicacies and people posing with it; zombies carrying chains and other paraphernalia, crazy scientists/doctors chasing them. The free drinks made zombies and victims even more energetic, I noticed. It was Re-Animator vs The Return of the Living Dead night.

Yesterday, though (and I want your attention here), the Filreakter Community gave its 6th glorious Double Feature Night; it was a Blaxploitation Tribute with pimps, pushers and bitches, afro hair all around, dope and candy-pills for free. Lavishly dressed in 70s style, you could win free entrance, but nobody dared to, apparently.

Yesterday night, I repeat, the Offspring lyrics "Give it to me, baby/And all the girls say I'm pretty fly, for a white guy" took a whole new meaning. Super Fly (1972) Ron O'Neill aka Priest proved himself the best of all niggers, the King of Cocaine and the hottest hunk in town and made us realize that being a white guy, well, it's a darn problem, more than a plus, to be frank.

Blacksploitation or Blaxploitation, the name coined for the 70s film genre featuring black leads and cast and originally produced for -but, in most cases, not by black urban audiences-, soon appealed to a wider audience, gained popularity due to its occasional brilliant soundtrack, empowering black characters, sexy moments and outlaw features - everybody loves to stick it to the Man, innit? The genre had its opponents, who stated that it perpetuated white stereotypes about black people, but perpetuating stereotypes is such a fluid and complex thing, so I cannot agree with them, but I will not expand on it either. Numerous references were made to the genre and its characters in TV series or films of a later date by the likes of Quentin Tarantino and it was parodied amply, even on adult cartoons like Family Guy.

Being part of the general exploitation genre which falls under the academic term of paracinema -they list pornography here, too- blaxploitation is a part of contemporary culture as teen movies, slasher movies or sexploitation. In fact, EVERY film genre apart from the Hollywood mainstream that tried to exploit an often provocative subject matter or a niche market, like teenagers, and that relies on sensationalist advertising seems related to this term; especially if it's of low quality. B-movies definitely belong here, in this sense. If we look upon the term from a different point of view, many European Art films could also belong to the endless category of exploitation, notably Roman Polanski's Repulsion and other films by transgressive directors like Luis Buñuel and Jean-Luc Godard, if only they were made in the U.S. Exploitation cinema was usually featuring in Grindhouse and Drive-ins, and has many cult followers nowadays.

Friday's Super Fly was one of these Blaxploitation films with a great soundtrack by Curtis Mayfield, which gave him a Grammy nomination, by the way Pusherman is my favourite track of the week. Featuring a funky 70s wardrobe, a fast-paced storyline and a cool lead Ron O'Neill, mentioned above, this is a definite must-see of the genre.

The second feature of the night, Scream, Blacula, Scream is a kind of Black Dracula spoof that did not impress me all that much; if it wasn't for an excellent William Marshall (I do wonder how he could take his character so seriously) and Pam Grier, the indisputable Queen of Blaxploitation in the beginning of her long career -she later portrayed Coffy, Foxy Brown and of course, Tarantino's Jackie Brown (1997) it would not keep me awake after midnight. Naturally, it had a fusion of fun/ridiculous moments one would expect from such a film, that pimped up the slow pace here and there.

The funky poster of the Blaxploitation Night needs a mention; looking forward to the next edition, thank you, Filmreakter guys.

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