Writer-director Joe Angio allows his subject, writer-director-musician-provocateur Melvin Van Peebles, to run the show, but his documentary offers a solid overview of the pioneering African-American filmmaker's wide-ranging career. Born on Chicago's notorious South Side in 1932, Van Peebles grew up poor and angry in a segregated America where black people were expected to know their place. Van Peebles was having none of it: After a stint in the military, he moved to San Francisco, wrote a novel, The Big Heart
, based on his experiences as a cable-car conductor, and was promptly fired because, he said, black folks weren't supposed to read
books, let alone...