Pam Grier

originalgangstas01

There continues to be talk of the all-women version of The Expendables, so why not an all-black version? Actually, there already kinda was one way back in 1996. Blaxploitation stars Fred Williamson (Black Caesar; Hell Up in Harlem), Pam Grier (Foxy Brown; Coffy), Jim Brown (Slaughter; The Dirty Dozen), Ron O’Neal (Super Fly) and Richard Roundtree (Shaft) and director Larry Cohen (Black Caesar; Hell Up in Harlem) came together for a movie titled Original Gangstas. It was sort of what The Expendables is all about now — nostalgia for the action movies of the ’80s and early ’90s with a round up of legendary action heroes who are now middle-aged or older — but then, it was in tribute to the African-American-focused genre of the ’70s as well as an answer to the rise of the urban crime films that broke out through the early work of John Singleton, the Hughes Brothers and Mario Van Peebles, the son of Blaxploitation legend Melvin Van Peebles. Eighteen years later, Original Gangstas is getting a sequel called Original Gangstas 2: Old School Gangstas. And it’s looking to the fans to help get it off the ground. Williamson, who is at the helm this time and also the writer of the script, has gone on Kickstarter to ask for $1.2M. That may seem like a lot, but it’s only a third of the budget of the original (which sure doesn’t look like it cost that much) and still $50K less than Spike Lee’s Kickstarter goal for […]

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Star Wars

Traditionally, February is known as Blaxploitation History Month here at Junkfood Cinema. Of course, “traditionally” a “decent person” “puts on pants before leaving the house” and “doesn’t touch communal buffet food with his bare feet,” so we are far from averse to bucking tradition. To wit, you might call today’s Blaxploitation History Month entry more of an investigation of blaxploitation alternate history. One of the most interesting facets of this short-lived subgenre of film is how it appropriated, and left its unmistakable mark on, several existing popular films and styles of film. We therefore had blaxploitation Westerns, blaxploitation horror, blaxploitation spy films, and even blaxploitation versions of movies like The Defiant Ones, courtesy of a young Jonathan Demme, and…the Warren Beatty comedy Shampoo, courtesy of what I have to assume was a dare. But what about sci-fi? Apart from an exceedingly small smattering of titles, one of which is about a white man and a black man whose heads are sewn onto the same body (so, there’s that), blaxploitation did not venture into sci-fi territory. This is likely because blaxploitation films often operated on very limited means, and science-fiction tends to necessitate a larger budget than, say, a crime story. That’s not to say shoestring-budget sci-fi isn’t obtainable, but it may have been the concern over the potential production price tag that kept filmmakers in this subgenre from attempting the blaxploitation/science-fiction mash-up. This, unfortunately, deprived us all of what should have been the greatest cinematic accomplishment of the 20th century: […]

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A movie like The Man With The Iron Fists, with the tagline of “They put the F.U. in Kung Fu,” can really go either way. While such a tagline promises some cool fight scenes and much bad-assery, do the goods stop there? Also, can RZA from The Wu-Tang Clan direct? Hell yes, RZA can direct! While the film does lag at around the three-quarter mark, not only are its fight scenes awesome and bloody, but they are creatively shot and have great cinematography. This, in combine with a gleefully clever and referential script co-written by RZA and Eli Roth, make for a fun film that fits nicely within the film’s “presentor,” Quentin Tarantino’s, postmodernist pantheon. After all, there’s even a cameo from Pam Grier.

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RZA is excited for The Man with the Iron Fists. Whether it’s of high-quality or not, the Wu-Tang Clan leader got to make a martial arts movie — and, to sweeten the deal, as his first film to boot. That’s something to get giddy over, the chance of introducing an audience to a whole new world. Based on his name drop of Star Wars, that’s what RZA set out to do. Some may be surprised RZA is taking a crack behind the camera, but speaking with the writer/director while on his Man with the Iron Fists tour, we learned it’s been a dream ever since he was a kid. Now that the dream has come true, The Man with the Iron Fists already seems to have built up his directorial stock, considering all the projects he’s been signing on to make. Hopefully we’ll see more movies from him where he’ll, once again, tell his crew, “I want him looking like fucking Rod Stewart.” Here’s what RZA had to say about the sober mind directing requires, controlling a team of 400 people, and the importance of preparation:

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Junkfood Cinema - Large

Welcome back to Junkfood Cinema; the jiveness of our turkey is a byproduct of its being deep-vat chocolate-fried. Welcome friends, to the mean streets of Schlocksburgh. Every week, we pick on some fast-talking, upstart bad movie out to make a name for himself, roughing him up with sucka punches of merciless mockery. But then, just when we think we’ve won, that movie kicks in the doors of our gentlemen’s club, The Cynical Shit Heel, and proceeds to blow us away with two well-aimed barrels of undeniable amiability. Then, in acknowledgment that this brash movie from the block now unquestionably owns our territory (and our hearts), we humbly offer a tribute in the form of a funky, themed snack food item. It’s finally February again…is a sentence few people are wont to utter. But here at Junkfood Cinema, February means one thing and one thing only: Blaxploitation History Month. That’s right, it’s a grand tradition that, to this day, has somehow failed to get us banned from the Internet forever. Some might charge that our adoration for this controversial subgenre reeks of poor taste. I for one resent the implication that we here at JFC have any taste whatsoever. I won’t go into the sociopolitical critiques of blaxploitation because, well frankly it’s boring. But I can tell you that I legitimately love these films and I am so grateful for the actors and characters to which they’ve introduced me. Given that this is our third annual celebration of blaxploitation, I’d say […]

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Over Under: A New Perspective on Films New and Old

I break Quentin Tarantino’s career up into two stages. The first stage consists of his first three films, which are all crime movies, are all set in L.A., and which all just feel very much like “Quentin Tarantino movies” (a genre unto itself back in the 90s, if you lump in all the pretenders). After those first three films, he took a pretty lengthy six year break, and then he came back and started exploring other genres, making movies that were largely homages to the B-cinema he enjoyed in his youth. While there’s a soft spot in my heart for most of Inglorious Basterds, in general I prefer that first stage of Tarantino’s career to what came after. And as far as that first trilogy of crime films goes, I think most people are in agreement that Pulp Fiction is the masterpiece. It was the one that broke down the doors of the movie industry and ushered indie filmmaking into the mainstream, and it’s the one most often referenced when people talk about his career; so I’m not going to focus on that one here. I’m going to focus instead on Tarantino’s debut feature Reservoir Dogs, which was the film that first got heads turned in his direction, and which still gets mentioned right alongside Pulp Fiction as badass things from the 90s. And also I’m going to focus on Jackie Brown, which is kind of the forgotten Tarantino film. This is one that doesn’t get brought up much these […]

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“Hey Quentin, come sign this and we’ll give you some money.” Not to put too fine a point on it, but that’s probably how it all went down. Upon inspection, it’s hard to miss the “Director Approved” sticker on the outside of the Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown Blu-ray releases. Signed, sealed and kissed with love by director Quentin Tarantino. It’s a slick piece of marketing by the folks at Miramax, who have released these through Lionsgate, to convince you that there’s something special about these releases. As if they were meticulously transferred to high definition in a dark room by the mad cinematic scientist who dreamed them up in the first place. I find that part hard to believe. In fact, it’s hard to believe that there’s much in these that wasn’t more than passed over by Tarantino. Does that make them a bad batch of Blu releases? Not exactly. There’s still plenty of love in owning Pulp and Jackie on a higher format, but that doesn’t exactly make them quite as special as that ‘Director Approved’ sticker suggests.

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Junkfood Cinema

Welcome back to Junkfood Cinema; written by a jive-ass honky. In the interest of remaining true to the blaxploitation films I’ve been lovingly lampooning, and inspired by the lyrical stylings of Rudy Ray Moore, I have decided to rap this week’s introduction. Feel free to follow along below, but to really appreciate the authentic awfulness of my rap, it’s best you hear it aloud. If you haven’t already run screaming from the computer, click below and marvel: With utter disregard for credibility, it’s Friday suckas so it’s time for J-F-C. In what can be described as the opposite of groovy, I will now subject you all to a terrible movie. Describing its faults ain’t nothing but a thing, but admitting my obscene love for it could land me in Sing Sing. As if this weren’t enough to incense and offend, a disgustingly tasty snack awaits you at the end. So prepare your eyeballs and bid farewell to your diet, Blaxploitation History Month ain’t over yet. Today’s Snack: Coffy.

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What is Movie News After Dark? This is a question that I am almost never asked, but I will answer it for you anyway. Movie News After Dark is FSR’s newest late-night secretion, a column dedicated to all of the news stories that slip past our daytime editorial staff and make it into my curiously chubby RSS ‘flagged’ box. It will (but is not guaranteed to) include relevant movie news, links to insightful commentary and other film-related shenanigans. I may also throw in a link to something TV-related here or there. It will also serve as my place of record for being both charming and sharp-witted, but most likely I will be neither of the two. I write this stuff late at night, what do you expect?

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Junkfood Cinema

Welcome back to Junkfood Cinema; if you meant to read Culture Warrior, please log off and try again.  But if, like me, you find intellectually-stimulating, expertly-written lectures on film and society require way too much of you, let me be the first to welcome you to the alternative.  Every week I reach behind the front-facing movies on the shelf to find the dusty, long-abandoned misfits hiding deliberately out of sight. These movies are not what you might call quality, given your definition of quality is the actual definition of quality, but that doesn’t stop them from tickling a very specific part of me. I will document the badness of these films to maintain some guise of credibility before squandering all your faith in me by then lovingly rubbing their schlocky goodness all over myself. And if that doesn’t whet your appetite, I will also pair the film with an apt snack food item to assert the so-bad-it’s-good concept. This week, I bid you subject yourselves to: The Vindicator.

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kevin-reportcard-header

This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr isn’t a very merry man, taking a look at Robin Hood, Letters to Juliet and Just Wright.

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