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TRUCK TURNER

USA, 1974 (MIFF 1998, Funky! Freaky! Foxy! - Blaxploitation Cinema)

Director: Jonathan Kaplan

No doubt. Truck Turner is the best Blaxploitation film. Many come near but this one rides high on top. This is Issac Hayes (Mack 'Truck' Turner) inside and out: from his dropped-octave murmuring to his piquant music arrangements. From the gun holster across his naked chest to his non-actor swagger. From his foul-mouthed utterance of 'nigga' every minute to his Dirty Harry-style wide-angled magnum shooting. Best of all, every moment of the film is violent. Intensely, viciously, existentially, casually. Not just the gory, well-staged shoot outs, but the way people speak is violent. The editing cuts hard. The clothes stab your eye. The dialogue bites your ear. The LA sun shines hard and bright (especially in Yapphet Kotto's amazing death scene at the end). The opening montage is Ed Hopper but without the warmed-over nostalgic ambience. Liquor stores, strip joints, fast food joints, supermarkets, bus stops, bail joints, pay phones. Ugly electrical poles crowd every shot. This is the LA that America hates. And it's black. Pimps dress loud and talk smooth. Their women dress tough and talk filthy. And if swearing offends, stay well away from this nigga-bitch-ho-pussy talk-fest, most of which streams from the most underrated actress of the genre: Nichelle Nichols. No doubt about it. - Philip Brophy

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