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Posted: Friday, Jan. 30, 2009

‘Revolution' series has bits that bite

Lawrence Toppman
Published in: Entertainment

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“The revolution will not be televised!” That was the famous motto of African American musician-activist Gil Scott-Heron almost four decades ago. But maybe it was put on film.

The Public Library series “Black Power: The Revolution Through Satire” runs through February. LaJuan Pringle of the University City branch chose the free films, all but one of which start at 6:30 p.m. Mondays at the Main Branch, Sixth and Tryon streets. (Call 704-416-7200, ext. 4, for details.)

The first two offerings, “Putney Swope” next Monday and “The Spook Who Sat By the Door” on Feb. 9, are the rarest and deserve the most attention.

The 1969 “Swope” is a scathing attack on an advertising firm that tries to be hip by putting its token black man in charge of the board of directors.

The title of the 1973 “Spook” is both a racial insult and a reference to spies: It's about a black man who infiltrates the CIA and uses what he learns to plot a revolution. Actor Ivan Dixon directed; his daughter, Doris, lives in Charlotte and will discuss the project. This screening starts at 7 p.m. at the Neighborhood Theatre, 511 E. 36th St.

Robert Townshend's 1989 “Hollywood Shuffle,” which runs Feb. 16, is a look at black stereotypes in Hollywood that loses its bite near the end. And Chris Rock's 2003 “Head of State”(Feb. 23) is a heavy political satire in which the Democratic Party nominates a Washington alderman for president after the preferred candidate dies.

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