Although this documentary never gets under the skin of fascinating Renaissance man Melvin Van Peebles, it offers a broad scope of his wide-ranging career. His son Mario created a more revealing, intimate portrait of his father in the non-documentary BAADASSSSS!, which turns the making of Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song into the chronicle of a winner against all odds. How to Eat Your Watermelon in White Company (and Enjoy It) keeps Sweet Sweetback as the high watermark of Van Peebles’s career, but also delves into a myriad of anecdotes involving his flying air missions over the Pacific during World War II, his stay in Paris as an American expatriate novelist (including archive footage from French television, where Van Peebles shows off his mastery of self-taught French), his career as a rap artist and Wall Street trader, and his career as a filmmaker before and after Sweet Sweetback. We never get insight into what fundamentally drives Melvin Van Peebles, and any so-called flaws in his character (such as his notorious womanizing) are winked at or romanticized. But as a subject, this 72-year-old provocateur remains fascinating as an artist, self-promoter, and success story.
- 85 min
- Joe Angio
- Melvin Van Peebles, St. Clair Bourne, Spike Lee, Elvis Mitchell, Melvin Van Peebles, Max Van Peebles, Gil Scott-Heron, Billy "X" Jennings
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