Saturday, 23 April 2016

THE ILLNESS OF THE TIMES






















TOP OF THE HEAP, d. Christopher St. John (1972)

In hindsight, the Blaxploitation era was mixed blessing, not least because of the somewhat limited opportunities given to black stars and directors to express themselves outside of a narrow range of crime and action tropes. Christopher St John*, however, bucked the trend by writing, producing, directing and starring in Top Of The Heap, proving once and for all that disjointed and self-indulgent self-discovery art films were not just the preserve of well-heeled white directors. 

St John plays a Washington cop struggling with rage and relationships and his place in the world as a ‘black pig’. His everyday grind is supplemented by fantasy sequences in which he plays an astronaut, a political activist, and a back to basics naturist. It’s a strange film with some unusual sequences but, ultimately, is neither interesting or compelling enough to make up for a basic lack of point.  

* Not his real name.

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