Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Meet the Cast of FX's 'American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson' (First-Look Images) Meet the Cast of FX's 'American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson' (First-Look Images) Here's the List of Films & TV Series Coming to (and Leaving) Netflix's Streaming Library in June Here's the List of Films & TV Series Coming to (and Leaving) Netflix's Streaming Library in June Watch Trailer for Teen TV Drama Series in Development, ‘MysEducation’ Watch Trailer for Teen TV Drama Series in Development, ‘MysEducation’ Watch a Clip From Ethiopia's First-Ever Cannes "Official Selection" - Coming-of-Age Drama 'Lamb' Watch a Clip From Ethiopia's First-Ever Cannes "Official Selection" - Coming-of-Age Drama 'Lamb' Watch Grace Jones’ “Banned” Citroën CX TV Commercial Watch Grace Jones’ “Banned” Citroën CX TV Commercial David Oyelowo on the Craft of Acting & Advice for Young Actors David Oyelowo on the Craft of Acting & Advice for Young Actors BET Adds 2 New Original Movies + New Series, and More to Its Summer Lineup BET Adds 2 New Original Movies + New Series, and More to Its Summer Lineup Official First Look Images from Detroit-Set indie drama ‘Wolf Who Cried Boy’ Official First Look Images from Detroit-Set indie drama ‘Wolf Who Cried Boy’ 'Girlhood' Is Now Streaming on Netflix. We Spoke to the Director About Race, Gender & the Universality of the Story 'Girlhood' Is Now Streaming on Netflix. We Spoke to the Director About Race, Gender & the Universality of the Story Morgan Freeman's Bass Reeves Project Finally Gets a Lift, Thanks to HBO Morgan Freeman's Bass Reeves Project Finally Gets a Lift, Thanks to HBO First Look at CBS' 'Rush Hour' Series + Official Synopsis First Look at CBS' 'Rush Hour' Series + Official Synopsis What Did You Think of 'Bessie' After Last Night's Premiere? What Did You Think of 'Bessie' After Last Night's Premiere? New York Women in Film & Television Now Accepting Applications for Its Four 2015 Funds for Women Filmmakers New York Women in Film & Television Now Accepting Applications for Its Four 2015 Funds for Women Filmmakers 'Chocolate City' Finally Gets a Trailer + Release Date Set (Might It Steal Some of 'Magic Mike's' Summer Thunder?) 'Chocolate City' Finally Gets a Trailer + Release Date Set (Might It Steal Some of 'Magic Mike's' Summer Thunder?) Apparently, Many of You Aren't Pleased With the "All-New" 'Single Ladies'... What's Going on? Apparently, Many of You Aren't Pleased With the "All-New" 'Single Ladies'... What's Going on? Starz Announces Return Date for Original Series 'Power' + New Key Art + Trailer Starz Announces Return Date for Original Series 'Power' + New Key Art + Trailer Why Was Janet Hubert (Aunt Viv) Really Replaced on 'Fresh Prince of Bel-Air'? Buzzfeed Investigates Why Was Janet Hubert (Aunt Viv) Really Replaced on 'Fresh Prince of Bel-Air'? Buzzfeed Investigates Aaron McGruder Finally Explains Why He Left 'The Boondocks' Aaron McGruder Finally Explains Why He Left 'The Boondocks' Netflix Explains Why It Doesn't Always Have That Film Or TV Show You Really Want To See (Video) Netflix Explains Why It Doesn't Always Have That Film Or TV Show You Really Want To See (Video) Tichina Arnold Says She Talked To Martin Lawrence About Doing A 'Martin' Movie... Tichina Arnold Says She Talked To Martin Lawrence About Doing A 'Martin' Movie...

Flashback - Spike Lee's "Mo' Better Blues" Starring Denzel Washington

Shadow and Act By Cynthia Reid | Shadow and Act November 20, 2011 at 11:25AM

Spike Lee's fourth feature film, Mo' Better Blues, is one of his films that I think got shafted in some way.  It was released right after the controversial, highly debated Do The Right Thing, therefore, the expectations were high...maybe too high for a jazz-centered flick.
9
"Mo' Better Blues" poster

Spike Lee's fourth feature film, Mo' Better Blues, is one of his films that I think got shafted in some way.  It was released right after the controversial, highly debated Do The Right Thing, therefore, the expectations were high...maybe too high for a jazz-centered flick.

Besides Denzel Washington, the all-star cast includes Wesley Snipes, Giancarlo Esposito, Robin Harris, Joie Lee, Bill Nunn, John Turturro, Nicholas Turturro, Charles Murphy, Ruben Blades, Abby Lincoln, Samuel L. Jackson and Cynda Williams

The story centers on a fictional trumpeter named Bleek Gilliam played by Washington.  He leads a quartet, The Bleek Gilliam Quartet, at the Beneath the Underground club with a flashy saxophonist named Shadow Henderson (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 and manager Giant (Spike Lee), who is addicted to gambling and often gets roughed up by thugs. Bleek is the only member of the quintet who wants to keep him as manager. He also must decide between two girlfriends who both love him: Indigo the schoolteacher (Lee) and Clark (Williams), a singer.

Although most of the reviews for the film were favorable, there seemed to be an underlying theme of it lacking the "edge" of his other films.  High scores were given, as expected, for the music and visual styling of the film.  Roger Ebert stated... "Mo' Better Blues is not a great film, but it's an interesting one, which is almost as rare.  There are scenes that seem incompletely thought-out, improvised dialog that sounds more like improvisation than dialog, and those strange narrative bookends at the top and bottom of the movie. But the film has a beauty, grace and energy all the same."

The soundtrack, which features the music of John Coltrane, Branford Marsalis and Bill Lee (Spike's father), easily makes up for the shortcomings of the flick.

I often wonder if it didn't immediately follow Do The Right Thing would the collective response been different?  We'll never know.  Anyway, check out two favorite musical selections below.  "Harlem Blues" by Cynda Williams and "Mo' Better Blues" by the Brandford Marsalis Quartet.


Shadow & ActNewsletter