‘Shadow Cin­ema’ shines

Los Angeles Times - - AT THE MOVIES - — Justin Chang

In his bril­liant new es­say collection, “Open­ing Wed­nes­day at a The­ater or Drive-In Near You: The Shadow Cin­ema of the Amer­i­can ’70s” (Blooms­bury, 208 pp.), film critic Charles Tay­lor draws on 15 un­der-sung B-movie gems to as­sem­ble a vivid and ex­pan­sive cul­tural his­tory of that tu­mul­tuous decade. Among the ti­tles lov­ingly ex­am­ined here are Michael Ritchie’s slaugh­ter­house mob thriller “Prime Cut” (1972), the Pam Grier blax­ploita­tion ve­hi­cles “Coffy” (1973) and “Foxy Brown” (1974), Irvin Kershner’s se­rial-killer chiller “Eyes of Laura Mars” (1978) and those 1971 open-road cult faves “Two-Lane Black­top” and “Van­ish­ing Point.” Tay­lor never loses sight of (much less con­de­scends to) these movies’ gritty, vis­ceral pleasures, but he also calls at­ten­tion to their large­ness of spirit, the glim­mers of ten­der­ness and me­lan­choly they man­aged to con­ceal within their seem­ingly rou­tine genre frame­works. Ten of the 15 ti­tles will screen at the Billy Wilder The­ater in Au­gust, giv­ing au­di­ences a chance to test Tay­lor’s su­perbly ar­gued the­sis for them­selves.

AIP Photofest

PAM GRIER stars in “Coffy,” one of the B-movies Charles Tay­lor writes about.

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