Muriels Sprint 2010 – Part the Third

by Paul Clark

Title: Black Dynamite
Director: Scott Sanders
Potential nominations: Male lead (Michael Jai White), breakthrough (White).
Notes: Michael Jai White has been kicking- sometimes literally- around Hollywood for most of the past two decades, working steadily but never quite finding a signature role. So he cannily took a page from the Matt Damon playbook and penned his own star vehicle with this, a frequently hilarious winking homage to the blaxploitation genre. Note that I didn’t call it a “spoof,” a word that implies barn-door broad riffs on movies that the makers don’t seem to care about a whole lot (as if making the likes of Date Movie makes you better than the directors of the real movies you’re parodying). Don’t get me wrong- Black Dynamite is winking at the conventions of blaxploitation movies, but it’s also clearly from an affectionate place, as evidenced by how many details White and Sanders capture. For example, I love the use of music here- not only does Dynamite get his own fanfare whenever he springs into action, but there’s even a repeated incidental bit that marks the transitions between scenes. Likewise, Sanders gets the look of blaxploitation movies just right- not just the flared collars and afros, but also the sets (wood-paneled rooms and anonymous alleys) and even the editing (sometimes clumsily cutting off scenes or letting them run a few beats too long).

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