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TIFF Capsule Review: ‘Iceberg Slim: Portrait of a Pimp’

TIFF Capsule Review: 'Iceberg Slim: Portrait of a Pimp'

Iceberg Slim made his name by writing the autobiographical book “Pimp: The Story of My Life.” Released in 1969, it was an eye-opening account of how pimps persuade, cajole and beat women into agreeing to sell themselves. Director Jorge Hinojosa (long time manager of Ice-T) doesn’t just concern itself with his seminal book, but looks at how the author turned himself from a seller of women to a seller of words. The mix of talking heads and archive photographs works better than some clunky use of pulp-style animation. Hinojosa goes to the usual suspects to chat about black culture, Ice-T, Snoop Dogg and rent-a-quote Chris Rock, who wax lyrical about the books import to their lives. Snoop even talks about the year he spent working as a pimp (something he also does in his own documentary, “Reincarnated”). Judiciously talking up the fashion and lifestyle, Hinojosa saves his trump card, an interview with Iceberg Slim’s first wife Betty Beck, who died in 2009, for last. One look at Betty sitting in bed is itself suitable warning against prostitution. As she speaks with candor and a lot of affection, the interview with Betty and her daughters highlights the contradictions inherent in any man, let alone one of such extremes. Criticwire grade: A- [Kaleem Aftab]

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