Wednesday, October 24, 2007

MELVIN VAN PEEBLES: televised revolutionary

i recently came across a documentary called
"How to Eat Your Watermelon in White Company (and Enjoy It)" about Melvin Van Peebles, one of the most groundbreaking filmmakers in black cinema. i loved his first big movie, 1971 film Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss true gem of underground cinema. this baadasss movie is one of the most surreal, funny, provocative, thought-provoking, liberating avantgarde masterpieces i've ever encountered.

Van Peebles's work, which ranges from foundational blaxpoitation flicks from the 70s to spoken word acts, influenced giants such as Gill-Scott Heron, Spike Lee, Quentin Tarantino, and countless others. a true agent provocateur at heart, he revolutionized not only cinema, but was also foundational to hip-hop with his unique rapping style.

as the documentary's synopsis points out, "Whether making guerrilla-style films, flying Air Force sorties over the Pacific (ferrying the atom bomb, no less), studying astronomy in Amsterdam, writing novels in self-taught French, composing music (by means of a self-devised notation system), writing musical stage plays (for which he received nine Tony nominations), recording seminal rap albums or trading options on Wall Street, Van Peebles has blazed his own path, making a mark in each endeavor he’s pursued."

the revolution might not be televised, but his corpus of work is a true exception to that rule...
to read more about the movie, check here

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