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Baadasssss Cinema - A Bold Look at 70's Blaxploitation Films

3.7 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

In this groundbreaking documentary from the Independent Film Channel, filmmaker Isaac Julien takes us back to the early 70s and the explosion of blaxploitation films, today one of American cinema's most beloved cult genres. Featuring a wealth of footage from such classic films as Superfly and Shaft, and interviews with such key players as Richard Roundtree, Quentin Tarantino, and Pam Grier, BaadAsssss Cinema gets to the bottom of exactly what helped the blaxploitation genre achieve its revered cult status.

DVD Features: Extended interviews with Pam Grier, Quentin Tarantino and others; Letterbox Format; Interactive Menus; Scene Selection

Amazon.com

What a great treat to find so many beloved icons in Isaac Julien's excellent documentary about blaxploitation cinema: actors Pam Grier, Fred Williamson, and Gloria Hendry, among others, as well as directors Gordon Parks and Melvin Van Peebles. Through their piercing perspectives, plus commentary by the likes of film critic Elvis Mitchell and (of course) cult aficionado and filmmaker Quentin Tarantino, Baadasssss Cinema makes a persuasive argument that 1970s blaxploitation was both an American achievement and a temporary fix for Hollywood's then-economic doldrums. Julien gracefully leads viewers on a tour of blaxploitation's aesthetic and social roots, including a desire by African American audiences to see black protagonists stand up to power. Baadasssss Cinema also explains the appeal of warhorse movie genres--gangster films, horror--to the blaxploitation industry, discusses African American ambivalence in the '70s toward the films' new racial stereotypes, and makes sense of blaxploitation's commercial burnout once Hollywood got hold of the formula. --Tom Keogh

Special Features

  • Extended interviews with Pam Grier, Quentin Tarantino, and others

Product Details

  • Actors: Pam Grier, Fred Williamson, Melvin Van Peebles, Elvis Mitchell, Gloria Hendry
  • Directors: Isaac Julien
  • Producers: Alison Palmer Bourke, Caroline Kaplan, Colin MacCabe, Jonathan Sehring, Paula Jalfon
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, Letterboxed, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Docurama
  • DVD Release Date: January 28, 2003
  • Run Time: 58 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00007CVSO
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #112,665 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Baadasssss Cinema - A Bold Look at 70's Blaxploitation Films" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Glenn Nippert on June 10, 2004
Format: DVD
At one point in this documentary, Fred(Hammer)Williamson makes a great point about the term "Blaxploitation". "Who was being exploited?", he asks. The black actors were getting paid and finally getting starring roles in movies and the black audiences were finally getting their own action heroes. He also points out that the term "Blaxploitation" came surprisingly not from the white media but rather from black journalists and organizations like the NAACP who accused these movies of glamorising pimps and drug dealers(which some of them did) and reinforcing negative stereotypes of the black community. There are plenty of film clips and some nice interviews but some major ommissions. Where's Ron (Superfly) O'Neal, where's Jim Brown, Isaac Hayes,Max(The Mack) Julien? Did they refuse to be interviewed? Also, the only people interviewed about the impact and influence of this genre are filmmaker Quentin Tarantino and film critic Elvis Mitchell. Where's John Singleton, the Hughes Brothers or some rappers like Ice-T? This documentary is too short(about an hour long) and just skimmed the surface of this beloved genre and left me wanting a lot more. Thank God I only rented it and didn't actually purchase it. I give it three stars because it is informative, entertaining and because at least someone actually made a documentary about these cool, funky, baaadasssss classics!
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By A Customer on February 1, 2003
Format: DVD
Being a fan of the blaxploitation genre, I was excited to hear about the DVD release of BaadAssss Cinema. However, upon viewing it, I became very disappointed. First, let me start off by saying that the 56-minute running time does not justify the price being charged for this DVD. Second, this title is anything but a bold look at 70's blaxploitation films. The documentary is organized by years, which doesn't work well. It would have been more interesting and flowed better if it were organized by different styles of blaxploitation films, such as gangster films or horror films, or films featuring strong female leads. The documentary focuses almost exclusively on films starring people who were interviewed, such as Pam Grier, Fred Williamson, Gloria Hendry, Quentin Tarantino, and Melvin Van Peebles. A lot of time is devoted to Sweet Sweetback's BaadAsssss Song, Shaft, and Pam Grier's Foxy Brown and Coffy. There's no denying that these films played a pivotal role in the blaxploitation movement, but why isn't Dolemite included? Is it because Rudy Ray Moore wasn't interviewed? The documentary is astonishingly shortsighted. No mention is made of movies like Abby, the black rip-off of The Exorcist, or Darktown Strutters, or even the Shaft sequels for that matter. Were they left out because the filmmaker thought they were an embarrassment to the genre, or because they are too obscure for the target audience? Lastly, most people interviewed feel that the blaxploitation movement died out around 1976, so the remaining years of the 70's are left out. The only two post 1976 films featured are Original Gangstas and Jackie Brown, both made in the 90's. There is so much missing from this documentary, and the only people who will benefit from it are blaxploitation completists and people new to the genre.Read more ›
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Format: DVD
"BaadAsssss Cinema" is not your usual dry, academic documentary. While the arrangement of material seems pretty random and scattershot, the clips are priceless as historical artifacts of the times and the prevailing social attitudes. The debate as to the potential racist tracts implicit and explicit in the movies is wisely avoided, and the importance of black visibility of any kind supersedes any moral judgment here. The place of blaxploitation films of this period in the overall history of Hollywood is examined very closely, with surprising results. If we are to believe it, these films saved Hollywood studios in the '70s --- only to have the studios themselves turn their back on black artists a decade later. However, political and financial debates about art only get in the way. What we really have here is a delicious compendium of scenes and interviews from one of America's most beloved cult genres. Pam Grier, the greatest Black Mamma of them all, is fascinating as she discusses the beginnings of her prodigious career. Melvin Van Peebles, one of the few black artists to retain complete control of his films, discusses his seminal "Sweet Sweetback's BaadAsssss Song," arguably the first film in the genre. Isaac Hayes, composer and actor and "South Park" scion, talks about the groovy music essential for these movies. Richard Roundtree, Gloria Hendry and Fred Williamson all discuss the trials and triumphs of black performers creating, for the first time, a complete black identity on film. Quentin Tarantino,looking strangely pale, displays his goofy charm as he waxes rhapsodic about his first experience as a child attending his first black exploit film. These movies have been called the original guilty pleasure, and they are all enormously fun.Read more ›
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
BaadAsssss Cinema is an hour-long documentary film, directed by Isaac Julien, that looks at the Blaxploitation era of the 1970s.

With archive film clips and interviews, this brief look at a frequently overlooked historical period of filmmaking acts as an introduction rather than a complete record. It features interviews with some of the genre's biggest stars, such as Fred Williamson, Pam Grier, and Richard Roundtree. Director Melvin Van Peebles discusses the historical importance of his landmark film Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song. For a contemporary perspective, the hyper Quentin Tarantino offers his spirited commentary and author/critic bell hooks provides some scholarly social analysis.

The music of Blaxploitation films is discussed, focusing on Curtis Mayfield's Super Fly and Isaac Hayes' Shaft. Interviews with writer/director Larry Cohen and film historian Armond White are also featured. BaadAsssss Cinema was originally shown on the Independent Film Channel in August 2002 as part of a week-long Blaxploitation film festival.
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