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By WILEY A. HALL | April 27, 1995
The pivotal scene in Mario Van Peebles' new movie, "Panther," takes place on a gangster's yacht. The film shows a clandestine meeting between representatives of the mob and the FBI, with both sides looking like mirror images of each other -- well-dressed and hard-eyed and oozing slime from every pore.Sipping martinis, the gangsters and the feds calmly agree to launch their "ultimate contingency," a plan to allow the mob to flood the black community with heroin."Panther," which opens in Baltimore next Wednesday, is a classic good guys vs. bad guys movie.
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ENTERTAINMENT
By Michael Sragow and Michael Sragow,Sun Movie Critic | February 13, 2005
With the passing of a multitalented artist and public figure like Ossie Davis, it's tempting to recall his most solemn accomplishments as an orator, an activist, a spokesman for the power of film and theater, a friend to Martin Luther King Jr. and eulogist of Malcolm X. But Davis was a virile and complex creative force who did sublime, engaging work as a popular entertainer. Whether acting in a Western called The Scalphunters (1968) or directing that milestone in soul cinema, Cotton Comes to Harlem (1970)
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By Lou Cedrone and Lou Cedrone,Evening Sun Staff | March 6, 1991
MARIO VAN PEEBLES laughed when he was asked if the press tour he was doing was tiring. ''Tiring? Being put up in four-star hotels? Getting a bathrobe with the room? That's not tiring. I love it,'' he said.Van Peebles is the son of Melvin Van Peebles, who made black-oriented films back in the '60s. The son has just done his first film as a director, and according to Mario, Melvin is one happy man.''He's very proud, but I owe it all to him,'' he said. ''I once told him that growing up with him was like growing up with James Brown.
FEATURES
By Chris Kaltenbach and Chris Kaltenbach,SUN MOVIE CRITIC | July 30, 2004
Baadasssss is about feeling pain and frustration, about having a sense of purpose that overwhelms everything else, about great cost and great risk, the pain of isolation and the intoxicating effect of fighting against the odds. That may sound like a lot of subtext for a movie that's just the story of how an earlier film got made. But Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song wasn't just any movie. Its writer-director-star, Melvin Van Peebles, wasn't just another filmmaker. And the story Melvin's son Mario tells in Baadasssss is more than just the tale of a guy obeying his muse - it's an inspiring snapshot of the forces a truly independent filmmaker must overcome in bringing his vision to the screen and a reminder that social change comes at a great price, especially to those dedicated to pushing it forward.
FEATURES
By Stephen Hunter and Stephen Hunter,Film Critic | May 9, 1993
Washington--He'd just directed and starred in a huge hit for Warner Bros. called "New Jack City." His phone was ringing, well-wishers were everywhere. As an actor and as a director, he commanded the highest respect. Most important, he knew he was hot because "when they talked to me, they put 'baby' on the end of my name."As in Mario, baby, you can do anything you want . . . as long as it has the word "Jack" in the title: "New Jack City 2" "Shaft Goes to New Jack City" or "Boyz in New Jack City."
ENTERTAINMENT
By Scott Hettrick and Scott Hettrick,Los Angeles Times Syndicate | October 29, 1993
Posse(PolyGram, $94.99, rated R) 1993Black actors have appeared in many Westerns and sometimes had sizable roles, such as Danny Glover in "Silverado" and Roscoe Lee Brown in the John Wayne movie, "The Cowboys."But in "Posse," most of the cast is black, as is the director, Mario Van Peebles. Van Peebles also stars as legendary gunfighter Jessie Lee. When the film begins, set against the backdrop of the Civil War, Lee is under the charge of a ruthless U.S. colonel who has tricked Lee and his gang into becoming outlaws for the colonel's personal gain.
ENTERTAINMENT
By Michael Sragow and Michael Sragow,Sun Movie Critic | February 13, 2005
With the passing of a multitalented artist and public figure like Ossie Davis, it's tempting to recall his most solemn accomplishments as an orator, an activist, a spokesman for the power of film and theater, a friend to Martin Luther King Jr. and eulogist of Malcolm X. But Davis was a virile and complex creative force who did sublime, engaging work as a popular entertainer. Whether acting in a Western called The Scalphunters (1968) or directing that milestone in soul cinema, Cotton Comes to Harlem (1970)
ENTERTAINMENT
By Stephen Hunter and Stephen Hunter,Film Critic | May 14, 1993
C Mario Van Peebles didn't just want to make a western. He wanted to make every western.And in "Posse," he gets about 90 percent of them.The movie is insanely ambitious, completely captivating and maybe only six plot twists too incoherent. It has style to burn; too bad it didn't burn a few pages of script somewhere in the process.The curiosity is that Van Peebles, son of legendary Melvin Van Peebles of "Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song," is much more interesting as a director than as an actor.
ENTERTAINMENT
By Stephen Hunter and Stephen Hunter,Sun Film Critic | March 8, 1991
"New Jack City" is like an update of a famous Gershwin opera into "Porgy and Uzi."It's about a culture with plenty o' nothing: nothing, that is, except crack and cruelty, guns and machismo, doom and hopelessness. Yet the miracle of the movie is that this landscape of human wreckage is re-created with a kind of folkloric and compulsively watchable brio.Substitute "York" for "Jack" in the title, and you know where the film is set -- in that free-fire zone of the Bronx that looks as if the 24th Mechanized Infantry has just helled through on wheels on the road to Kuwait.
FEATURES
By Stephen Wigler and Stephen Wigler,Sun Staff Writer | May 3, 1995
Some cynics say two qualities define human beings: the desires to procreate and to eat. Add to those a third: the persistence of stupidity.The point will be proved if Mario Van Peebles' new movie, "Panther," becomes the success one suspects it will be and if, as one also suspects, it becomes the source of historical "truth" about the birth in Oakland, Calif., and the activities there of the Black Panther Party."Panther" joins a long list of movies -- Oliver Stone's "JFK" is the most celebrated recent example -- that pilfers the public record for its narrative, perversely distorting history along the way. What distinguishes "Panther" is not that it distorts history more than its predecessors, but that it descends deeper -- at least in its second half -- into paranoid fantasy.
ENTERTAINMENT
By Chris Kaltenbach and Chris Kaltenbach,Sun Movie Critic | May 9, 2004
Mario Van Peebles has been in more than 50 films during his three-decade career, and directed seven more. But never before have the stakes been as personal as they are in his newest effort. Called Baadasssss!, the new film tells the story behind his father, Melvin's, groundbreaking 1971 rallying cry of a movie, Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song, one of the first films to bring a distinctive black sensibility to the screen. As his father did with Sweetback's, Mario wears many hats in the new film, which will be screened tonight at 8 as the closing feature of the 2004 Maryland Film Festival.
FEATURES
By Michael Sragow and Michael Sragow,SUN MOVIE CRITIC | April 30, 2004
In 1971, I dubbed Melvin Van Peebles' Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song "a vile piece of ego-tripping from a black filmmaker who hopes (presumably by default) to become the `revolutionary' mass-media force of his people." And that's just what happened. Van Peebles, who directed, produced, wrote and scored the picture and also starred in it as a radicalized pimp, became, in film historian Donald Bogle's words, "a folk hero of black cinema." He positioned himself as the first filmmaker to tell a story from within black culture.
FEATURES
By Chris Kaltenbach and Chris Kaltenbach,SUN MOVIE CRITIC | May 10, 2002
Some thoughts on last weekend's fourth-annual Maryland Film Festival, which attracted a record 9,780 paying customers. Festival organizers had to be happy with the turnout for Thursday's opening night, as an estimated 650 people turned out for "10 Under 20," a program of shorts made by filmmakers not normally thought of as major drawing cards. What they saw was cutting-edge but refreshingly accessible filmmaking, highlighted by Brooke Keesling's charming animated Boobie Girl, Robbie Chafitz's disarming Time Out (a combination of Bugsy Malone and Boyz 'N the Hood)
NEWS
By GREGORY KANE | February 4, 1998
These local theater folks in Baltimore have no shortage of guts. First, Center Stage tackles Lorraine Hansberry's "Les Blancs," a controversial play about race relations. Then the Arena Players get in on the act by staging a controversial play of their own."Servant of the People" has its East Coast premiere Friday. It is a tale of the meteoric rise, pitiful decline and ultimately sickening crash of the Black Panther Party. The play promises to cause as much of an uproar as the Hollywood film "Panther" did a few years ago, but for a different reason.
NEWS
By ADAM HOCHSCHILD | June 4, 1995
San Francisco -- Everybody seems to be reconsidering the 1960s. First Robert McNamara says the Vietnam War was wrong after all.And now a new movie, "Panther," directed by Mario Van Peebles from a screenplay by his father, Melvin Van Peebles, glorifies the Black Panther Party.I was in the anti-war movement. I was also a civil rights worker in Mississippi. I'm proud on both counts.There were a lot of great things about the '60s that we need to rediscover and praise. But the Black Panther Party was not one of them.
NEWS
By Gregory P. Kane | May 9, 1995
I CORDIALLY invite all of Mario Van Peebles' critics to climb down off the man's back.Since Mr. Van Peebles' latest film, "Panther," opened here last week, he has been the object of much scorn and ridicule. The crime? His fictionalized film version of the Black Panther Party doesn't tell the truth.Well now, there's a sin. Hollywood fictionalizing a historical event. That's never been done before, right?Well, of course, it has. White directors do it all the time. John Sturges' "Gunfight at the O.K. Corral" bears little resemblance to the real-life story it's based on, yet film critics have praised it for years.
FEATURES
By Stephen Hunter and Stephen Hunter,Sun Film Critic | January 28, 1995
I'm a little late and it's already started and I'm thinking: Hey, they've really upgraded. Glorious photography of the Scottish hills. A huge cast representing the medieval armies of England and Scotland, sheathed in acres of clanking chain mail and carrying enough assault swords to start a revolution, or stop one. goodness, they've even replaced squirrelly little Christopher Lambert with . . . Mel Gibson?Hmmmm. How come I didn't read about this in Premiere?Of course, I'd bumbled into a preview of the beautiful-looking "Braveheart," Gibson's summer film about the English conquest of Scotland.
NEWS
By ADAM HOCHSCHILD | June 4, 1995
San Francisco -- Everybody seems to be reconsidering the 1960s. First Robert McNamara says the Vietnam War was wrong after all.And now a new movie, "Panther," directed by Mario Van Peebles from a screenplay by his father, Melvin Van Peebles, glorifies the Black Panther Party.I was in the anti-war movement. I was also a civil rights worker in Mississippi. I'm proud on both counts.There were a lot of great things about the '60s that we need to rediscover and praise. But the Black Panther Party was not one of them.
FEATURES
By Stephen Wigler and Stephen Wigler,Sun Staff Writer | May 3, 1995
Some cynics say two qualities define human beings: the desires to procreate and to eat. Add to those a third: the persistence of stupidity.The point will be proved if Mario Van Peebles' new movie, "Panther," becomes the success one suspects it will be and if, as one also suspects, it becomes the source of historical "truth" about the birth in Oakland, Calif., and the activities there of the Black Panther Party."Panther" joins a long list of movies -- Oliver Stone's "JFK" is the most celebrated recent example -- that pilfers the public record for its narrative, perversely distorting history along the way. What distinguishes "Panther" is not that it distorts history more than its predecessors, but that it descends deeper -- at least in its second half -- into paranoid fantasy.
NEWS
By WILEY A. HALL | April 27, 1995
The pivotal scene in Mario Van Peebles' new movie, "Panther," takes place on a gangster's yacht. The film shows a clandestine meeting between representatives of the mob and the FBI, with both sides looking like mirror images of each other -- well-dressed and hard-eyed and oozing slime from every pore.Sipping martinis, the gangsters and the feds calmly agree to launch their "ultimate contingency," a plan to allow the mob to flood the black community with heroin."Panther," which opens in Baltimore next Wednesday, is a classic good guys vs. bad guys movie.
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