Baadasssss!

on May 28, 2004 by Kevin Courrier
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In "Baadasssss!", Mario Van Peebles has created a compelling and irreverent homage to his father, Melvin Van Peebles, and his 1971 film, "Sweet Sweetback's Baad Asssss Song," that--arguably--paved the way for the emerging black cinema in the '70s.

After the commercial success of the comedy "Watermelon Man" in 1970, Melvin Van Peebles wanted to direct a film about the radicalization of a black street hustler into a revolutionary. "Baadasssss!" traces Melvin's desperate attempts to get financing, casting, and a reliable crew to pull it off. There's something both heroic and devilishly smart in the way the film lionizes the utopianism of the '60s while chronicling its demise. In playing the role of his father, Mario doesn't go soft and spare Melvin his rages and arrogance, but he does make him a wildly attractive hellion.Today, when independent cinema is comprised mostly of people trying to be a force in Hollywood, "Baadasssss!" examines a time when independent cinema meant trying to be a force in history. Starring Mario Van Peebles, Khleo Thomas, TK Carter and Ossie Davis. Directed by Mario Van Peebles. Written by Dennis Haggerty and Mario Van Peebles. Produced by Dennis Haggerty, Mario Van Peebles, Tobie Haggerty and G. Marq Roswell. A Sony Pictures Classics release. Drama. Rated R for pervasive language and some strong sexuality/nudity. Running time: 108 min

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