Mario Van Peebles is not a synonymous name that goes with awards, Oscars, or even groundbreaking acting and/or directing. Believe it or not, Peebles has been in the game for some time. He’s been acting for over forty years and directing for almost twenty-five. Coming from a strong acting family including his father, Melvin Van Peebles, he has featured his way through Hollywood as “hey, that guy looks familiar.” Maybe not a household name, per se.
Coming to Blu-Ray and DVD on Tuesday is Peebles’ newest effort We the Party starring his son Mandela Van Peebles along with rapper Snoop Dogg, Michael Jai White (Spawn), and having his own role as well. While this doesn’t scream, Academy Award winning cast, Peebles has made a voice in urban cinema with classics like New Jack City (1991) and Posse (1993). It was when his controversial take on the Black Panther Party hit theaters that Peebles’ creativity started to form. In Panther (1995), a dramatized account on the rise and fall of the party, Peebles attempted to expand the urban cinema into an exposé of political and timely fire. In Party, Peebles doesn’t quite nail all the characteristics or artistic liberties that a director should, however this urban American Pie-like has a voice and a style that should be admired. Putting a twist on what made the Rat-pack films so successful, Peebles takes chances and makes choices that directors that have the freedom to make any film they want, never actually attempt.
Perhaps Van Peebles doesn’t stand clear next to the likes of John Singleton or Lee Daniels as of yet, but when Tyler Perry is the highest grossing entertainer, Peebles deserves more chances to shine given the right source material. In Baadasssss! (2003), perhaps his most critically accepted film-to-date, Peebles found himself nominated at the Independent Spirit Awards for Best Director, Screenplay, and Feature and showing glimpses of brilliance and artistry.
Unfortunately, We the Party doesn’t encompass the brilliance we speak of but maybe with a few viewings, an appreciation can be created for a director that still has a lot to say. If you were a fan of “The X Factor” on FOX, then you’ll be happy to see from Team Simon, Simone Battle making her feature film début.
We the Party is available on DVD and Blu-Ray Tuesday, July 31, 2012 in your local retailers and video stores. It’s also featured in our Awards Circuit Amazon DVD store on the sidebar.
Watch the trailer: