Black Wax

Black Wax

Black Wax

directed by Robert Mugge

starring Gil Scott-Heron and the Midnight Band

MVD Visual

Like all good titles, this one is subject to multiple interpretations. Your first though might be: “Gil Scott-Heron – Jazz singer from the 1970’s.” But the opening scene takes you to that creepiest of places, a wax museum. This one is the Wax Museum Nightclub in Washington, D.C. The museum forms a platform for the rest of this 1982 film, in it Heron talks about his childhood in Chicago, Tennessee, and Washington D.C., his music, and most important his advocacy of civil rights driven by his skills as a poet and speaker.

The film alternates between the wax museum, onstage footage and a walking tour of the less than touristy parts of Washington. Tenth and V Street is prominently mentioned, and Heron’s skills as both a jazzman and a speaker are clearly evident. He’s eloquent and commanding, and his arguments for peace, love and “stop beating the crap out of us” is clear and compelling. Heron claims his profession as “Bluesologist”, that’s a person who seeks the history and meaning behind the music. Anecdotes fly; when he arrived in Jackson, TN the music scene was orders smaller than in sprawling Chicago. He asked a local “where can I find the blues?” “Just stand right here, the blues will find you” came the reply. Heron excels at questioning poetry in “This Must be Deep.” He states: “I recognize all these words on their own, but I can’t get nothing out of how they are arranged. This must be DEEP.” As one of Mugge’s early works Black Wax introduces his noninvasive style; he lets Heron tell what he tells naturally, and allows him to mix the exterior world with Heron’s internal monologue. The result paints Heron as a still timely, mythic icon of the civil rights movement.

mvdb2b.com

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Recently on Ink 19...

  • Southern Accents 55
    Southern Accents 55

    A woofin’ good time with cuts from Hank Williams, Muddy Waters, Delta Moon and more from KMRD 96.9, Madrid, New Mexico!

  • Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead
    Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead

    Absurdism with a healthy dose of air conditioning.

  • Mixtape 172 :: My Old Bassist
    Mixtape 172 :: My Old Bassist

    Like pre-teens throwing every liquid into the kitchen blender and daring each other to drink the results, Woody and Jeremy fuse all manner of sounds legitimate and profane into some murky concoction that tastes surprisingly good.

  • Demons/Demons 2
    Demons/Demons 2

    Synapse Films reissues Lamberto Bava’s epic ’80s gore-filled movies Demons and Demons 2 in beautiful new editions.

  • Sylvie Courvoisier and Mary Halvorson
    Sylvie Courvoisier and Mary Halvorson

    Searching for the Disappearing Hour (Pyroclastic Records). Review by Bob Pomeroy.

  • Payal Kapadia
    Payal Kapadia

    Earlier this year, director Payal Kapadia was awarded the Oeil d’or (Golden Eye) for best documentary at the 74th Cannes Film Festival for her debut feature, A Night of Knowing Nothing. Lily and Generoso interviewed Kapadia about her poignant film, which employs a hybrid-fiction technique to provide a personal view of the student protests that engulfed Indian colleges and universities during the previous decade.

  • Roger’s and Hammerstein’s Cinderella
    Roger’s and Hammerstein’s Cinderella

    A classic children’s tale re-imagined by America’s greatest composers.

  • Taraka
    Taraka

    Welcome to Paradise Lost (Rage Peace). Review by Bob Pomeroy.

  • AFI Fest 2021
    AFI Fest 2021

    The 2021 edition of the American Film Institute’s Festival, was a total success. After mounting a small virtual festival in 2020, AFI Fest came roaring back this year with a slate of 115 films representing over fifty countries. Lily and Generoso rank their favorite features from this year’s festival which include new offerings from Céline Sciamma, Miguel Gomes, and Jacques Audiard.

  • Comet Of Any Substance
    Comet Of Any Substance

    Full Of Seeds, Bursting With Its Own Corrections (COAS). Review by Carl F. Gauze.

From the Archives