In hindsight, the Blaxploitation era was mixed blessing, not least because of the somewhat limited opportunities given to black stars and directors to express themselves outside of a narrow range of crime and action tropes. Christopher St John*, however, bucked the trend by writing, producing, directing and starring in Top Of The Heap, proving once and for all that disjointed and self-indulgent self-discovery art films were not just the preserve of well-heeled white directors.
St John plays a Washington cop struggling with rage and relationships and his place in the world as a ‘black pig’. His everyday grind is supplemented by fantasy sequences in which he plays an astronaut, a political activist, and a back to basics naturist. It’s a strange film with some unusual sequences but, ultimately, is neither interesting or compelling enough to make up for a basic lack of point.
* Not his real name.