Derek Winnert


This article was written on 16 Nov 2017, and is filled under Reviews.

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Mo’ Better Blues *** (1990, Denzel Washington, Spike Lee, Wesley Snipes, Joie Lee) – Classic Movie Review 6264

Writer-producer-director Spike Lee goes for an abrupt change of pace with this arty and sentimental 1990 movie tale about the life of New York trumpet player and bandleader Bleek Gilliam (impeccably played by Denzel Washington).

He forms his own band – The Bleek Gilliam Quartet – but is forced to choose between his music and his love life with two women, a teacher called Indigo Downes (Joie Lee, Spike’s sister) and a singer named Clarke Bentancourt (Cynda Williams).

Spike Lee also gives himself a part he can relish as Washington’s pal and inept manager Giant.

Also in the cast are Wesley Snipes as Shadow Henderson (Sax), Giancarlo Esposito as Left Hand Lacey (Piano), Robin Harris as Butterbean Jones, Bill Nunn as Bottom Hammer (Bass), John Turturro as Moe Flatbush, Nicholas Turturro as Josh Flatbush, Jeff ‘Tain’ Watts as Rhythm Jones (Drums), Samuel L Jackson as Madlock, Charlie Murphy as Eggy, Leonard L Thomas as Rod, Ruben Blades and Joe Seneca.

It is beautifully filmed and likeable but in the move upmarket Spike has lost the streetwise energy he showed with Do the Right Thing.

A 40 Acres and a Mule production, released by Universal, it is shot by Ernest Dickerson, scored by Bill Lee and designed by Wynn Thomas.

It was a small box office hit. Costing $10 million, it grossed $16 million in the US.

It follows She’s Gotta Have ItSchool Daze, and Do the Right Thing.

© Derek Winnert 2017 Classic Movie Review 6264

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