Mo' Better Blues (1990)
Trumpeter Bleek Gilliam has many problems: his jazz quintet is troubled by internal rivalry, his manager and friend is deeply in debt to a bookie, and he is torn between two women. Spike Lee's colorful, jazz-fueled drama follows Bleek's attempts to juggle his friends, lovers, and, most importantly, his music.
as Bleek Gilliam
as Shadow Henderson
as Indigo Downes
as Left Hand Lacey
as Moe Flatbush
as Lillian Gilliam
as Butterbean Jones
as Clarke Bentancourt
as Bottom Hammer
as Josh Flatbush
as Big Stop Williams
as Rhythm Jones
as Born Knowledge
as Young Bleek/Miles
as Club Patron
as Miles at Birth
as Miles (age 1)
as Miles (age 3)
as Miles (age 5)
as Father of the Bride
as Party Guest
as Jimmy the Busboy
as Big Stop's Friend
as Taxi Driver
as Impatient Movie Patr...
as Born Knowledge
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Critic Reviews for Mo' Better Blues
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.
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.
Denzel, Wesley and Co are fine, but Mo' Better Blues hits too many bum notes.
Though it's full of striking visual ideas and actorly turns, it never fully convinces.
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.
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.
Atmospheric character study by Lee with a bravely unlikable Denzel Washington.
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?'
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.
For the only time in his remarkable career, Spike Lee has failed to tell it like it is.
If Lee was striving to convey a fuller sense of the jazz musician's life, of the connections between black life and black music, or a deeper, more soulful feeling for the music itself, his efforts fall short.
There's no getting around Lee's talent, but in this case his script could have used some polish -- or perhaps collaboration.
Few will accuse Spike Lee's Mo' Better Blues of being a masterpiece. But it's still full of the things that make Spike Lee films, well, Spike Lee films. Full of the fun, full of the spirit.
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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