A Podcast with the creators of Black Dynamite, writer/star Michael Jai White and director Scott Sanders

By Adam Lippe

BlackDynamite1Here’s an interview with the writer/star and the director of the new blaxploitation parody, Black Dynamite, Michael Jai White (Spawn) and Scott Sanders (the review of the movie is here). The topics covered include comparisons to the movie Grindhouse, the political agenda of Black Dynamite, the specificity of the blaxploitation era (as well as the way other films of the era were thrown under the bus of that description, simply for having a black lead), the impossibility of making a genuine updated example of the genre and the unfortunate way that blaxploitation has gone from being denigrated to camp, and a host of other discussions. The recording was done in a hotel room (you’ll hear some coffee cups clinking) with myself and three other critics, Chris Brown, the editor of The Elitist Magazine,  Janday Wilson, a writer for Two.One.Five. Magazine, and Irv Slifkin, a writer for Movies Unlimited. Chris asked his question first, followed by me (I asked about Sanders’ first film, Thick as Thieves, a comedic thriller with Alec Baldwin from 1998), Janday, and then Irv. Mr. Sanders speaks first and you’ll be able to tell when Mr. White offers up his thoughts, since his voice is as Barry White-ish as you can imagine.

Download the full interview.
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P.S.  Mr. White makes a few mistakes in his answer to Irv’s first question, namely that he says Mario van Peebles instead of his father, Melvin, actually directed the groundbreaking Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song. Also, his assertion that blaxploitation movies saved the studios is an enormous stretch, if not completely incorrect, especially as most of the genre’s films were produced independently (such as by Roger Corman’s AIP). Even the successful studio films, like Shaft, which, while certainly being profitable, hardly made a dent in the debt of the floundering studios.

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Roadracers

By Adam Lippe

Whenever there’s a genre parody or ode to a specific era of films, such as Black Dynamite’s mocking of Blaxploitation films or Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof, the second half of Grindhouse, the danger is that the film might fall into the trap of either being condescending without any particular insight, or so faithful that it becomes the very flawed thing it is emulating.

Black Dynamite has nothing new to say about Blaxploitation films, it just does a decent job of copying what an inept [...]


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Featured Quote (written by me)

On Cold Fish:

Though the 16 year old me described the 1994 weepie Angie, starring Geena Davis as a Brooklyn mother raising her new baby alone, as “maudlin and melodramatic,” Roger Ebert, during his TV review, referring to the multitude of soap-operaish problems piling up on the titular character, suggested that it was only in Hollywood where Angie would get a happy ending. “If they made this movie in France, Angie would have shot herself.”

Well Cold Fish was made in Japan, where Angie would have shot herself and that would have been the happy ending.