Film Studies

Blaxploitation Films: Sticking It to the Man!

Few film movements elicit a sly smile from one’s lips as quickly as that of the blaxploitation films of the 70s. In a reversal of the standard cliché, the whole often proved greater than the sum of its parts. These films were not the typical glossy, seamless, high production value fare of mainstream Hollywood, but usually the flip side: down-and-dirty, in-your-face, doing-the-best-we-can-on-a-limited-budget product designed for a demographic that had been all but ignored to that...

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50 Years Later: Three Films from 1969 that Changed America

From the Apollo 11 moon landing to the birth of the gay liberation movement, 1969 was a year that brought historic change to America.    The cinema, it turned out, was no different.    Merely a year after the new Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) rating system marked the official death knell for Hays Code-era censorship, American moviegoers were more eager than ever to explore radical, new stories at the theater in 1969.   From Sam Peckinpah’s ultra-bloody western “The...

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There’s More to Kurosawa Than Samurai Films

Recently, thanks to Turner Classic Movies (and my DVR), along with an assist from the Des Moines Public Library, I was able to view several films by Akira Kurosawa for the first time. Not only is Kurosawa in the group of Japanese directors known as The Big Three (along with Kenji Mizoguchi and Yasujirô Ozu) he is, without question, in the international pantheon of the greatest filmmakers of all time. Known primarily for his talent...

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