XL Popcorn – The Cool World

List Item: Watch all of the “1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die”
Progress: 792/1007Title: The Cool World
Director: Shirley Clarke
Year: 1963
Country: USA

I didn’t know it when I started watching The Cool World, but I was coming down with a case of the flu as I was watching this. That might go some way to explain why this film made a very limited impact on me – or that might be down to the fact that this is widely seen to be the first film of the blaxploitation genre, which is one of those genres that I just have little to no interest in.

What is interesting to note, however, is that this will be one of the earlier films on the list to be directed by a woman – which makes it all the more interesting that this genre was first birthed by a white woman. Or at least, the seeds for this genre was first put in place by her. Also interesting to note how this is shot in an almost documentarian style, which gives the more violent scenes their power. That and the fact that the protagonists are all African American children trying to get their hands on guns, sleep with a prostitute and try to become the main gang in the area.

Thinking back on the subject matter, The Cool World should have been an arresting watch. Thing is, that the film is done in such a 1960s independent style that stops me from taking it seriously. Then there’s my classic problem that, without some decent acting at the helm, I find it hard to take a film like this very seriously. Also, this film doesn’t try to go into the reasons behind the behaviours other than pure testosterone – at least in Super Fly there was some social commentary. Considering that the protagonist in The Cool World is 15, it would have been good to go further into his desire for a gun other than just to become the biggest man in the area.

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