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The life of indie-filmmaking icon Melvin Van Peebles has already been dramatized in Baadasssss! (2003) and documented in How to Eat Your Watermelon in White Company (and Enjoy It) (2005), so he must have felt compelled to make up a new one for this fanciful autobiography (2008). Shot on video and dolled up with bargain-basement visual effects, it opens with the bearded, septuagenarian director playing himself at age ten, a jolting anachronism that’s compounded throughout by present-day locations that stand in for settings a half-century ago. The picaresque narrative follows Van Peebles from Chicago to New York to the seven seas (where his son, Mario, makes a cameo appearance as a pirate captain) to darkest Africa before he’s reunited with his lady love (who’s young enough to be his granddaughter). The video has a funky, loose-limbed feel, but Van Peebles has been celebrated so much already you have to wonder how many victory laps a man needs. 99 min.
Director: Melvin Van Peebles
Writer: Melvin Van Peebles
Producer: Melvin Van Peebles
Cast: Melvin Van Peebles, Stephanie Weeks, Mario Van Peebles, Ted Hayes, Alfred Preisser, Glenn Turner, Alexander Sovronsky, Scott Sortman, Paul Krasner and Seth Austin

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