Central Cinema Central District
Recommended by Dave Segal
In the 1980s, my film professor assigned us Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song, auteur Melvin Van Peebles’s low-budget, avant-garde, proto-blaxploitation film. My main memory is of Van Peebles running away from the “pigs” to the extraordinary, kinetic funk of pre-hit-making Earth, Wind & Fire while wearing gold velvet trousers. It’s a motif that sticks with you. The plot—wherein Sweetback (MVP), a brothel sex show performer who gets trapped in a convoluted scheme involving a Black Panther, tries to escape US authorities by crossing into Mexico—is less important than the fantastic soundtrack, the sex and fight scenes, and the sensation of black men beating the system while looking fly.