Mo' Better Blues (1990)
Movie InfoSpike Lee's 1990 directing effort is a jazz film, the story of a fictional trumpeter named Bleek Gilliam (Denzel Washington). He leads a quintet at the Beneath the Underground club with a flashy saxophonist named Shadow Henderson (Wesley Snipes). Though Shadow takes a few too many solos, everything seems fine in Bleek's life. Trouble soon arises, however, and he is forced to make decisions regarding both his best friend Giant (Spike Lee), and his relationships with two women. Giant, his manager and old pal, is addicted to gambling and often gets roughed up by thugs looking for pay back. Bleek is the only member of the quintet who wants to keep him as manager. The trumpeter's woman problems concern trying to decide between two girlfriends who both love him: a schoolteacher (Joie Lee) and a singer (Cynda Williams). Spike's father Bill Lee scored the film, with contributions from Branford Marsalis, Terence Blanchard, Abbey Lincoln and Ruben Blades (who plays Giant's bookie). ~ John Bush, Rovi … More
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Critic Reviews for Mo' Better Blues
Personal rather than social issues come to the fore in Mo' Better Blues, a Spike Lee personality piece dressed in jazz trappings that puffs itself up like Bird but doesn't really fly.
Though it's full of striking visual ideas and actorly turns, it never fully convinces.
Despite stylish camerawork and sturdy acting, this lengthy indulgence succeeds neither as jazz movie nor as cautionary tale.
Mo' Better Blues is not a great film, but it's an interesting one, which is almost as rare.
From characters to camera angles, this story of a self-absorbed jazz trumpeter is one long cliche, the kind that might make his most loyal admirers wince and wonder, 'Spike, what happened?'
For the only time in his remarkable career, Spike Lee has failed to tell it like it is.
It's a burning, feeling film of impulses, bringing out the best in the filmmaker, who used to create miniature moviegoing events with his releases, before He Got Game came along and smothered his good taste.
Full of wonderful music, grand visuals, and melodramatic plot twists, the movie is laced with very funny moments, as well as interesting insights into the world of jazz and the plight of the dedicated musician.
Denzel, Wesley and Co are fine, but Mo' Better Blues hits too many bum notes.
Centering on the career of a jazz musician (well played by Denzel Washington, just before he became a star), this mid-range picture has nice production values but the drama is too diffuse, lacking the edge of Spike Lee's more overtly political works.
Spike Lee's film is filled with promising ideas and moments of technical virtuosity.
Atmospheric character study by Lee with a bravely unlikable Denzel Washington.
Denzel Washington really comes into his own in this one, as a struggling jazz musician. Worth a rental for his performance, alone!
Spike Lee's creative film revolving around the difficulties modern men have in finding the proper balance between work and love in their lives.
Mo' Better Blues, in thrall to the cliches of the star-is-born musicals of the past, is a stillborn academic exercise.
Audience Reviews for Mo' Better Blues
what an incredible movie. i dont care for spike lee's themes of racial distinction in most of his films, and some of it that was present in this film were annoying, but this film was too brilliant not to love. it has quickly become one of my favorite movies of all time. i tried to identify wether this was a film about love or music, and then i realized its not about either, its a memoir of a musician. i think i like this film more than most for musical reasons and not film reasons, because im such a HUGE jazz fan, but the movie was well made and well acted. the diologue and ending were not typical rehearsed hollywood, they were genuine. many scenes were pointless and didnt further the plot at all, and in this film it was a good thing. it made the characters more real. denzel was incredible as usual, but the entire cast with the exception of indigo was chosen perfectly. the music scenes were really great and because i know jazz, i know that the things that happen to denzels character in this film happen to jazz musicians all the time. i may not always care for spike lee, but he did a wonderful job on this film.More
Benefits from the fact that this is Spike Lee's debut and doesn't feature the preachiness that brings down his later efforts.More
Middling effort from Spike Lee. It had some good scenes and it was well acted, shot etc. I just didn't really like Denzel's character and I think I kind of was supposed to. It also went on longer than the material required.More
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