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Mo' Better Blues (1990)

R  |   |  Drama, Music, Romance  |  3 August 1990 (USA)
6.5
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Ratings: 6.5/10 from 7,612 users  
Reviews: 30 user | 22 critic

Jazz trumpeter Bleek Gilliam makes questionable decisions in his professional and romantic life.

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Title: Mo' Better Blues (1990)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
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Shadow Henderson (Sax)
...
Left Hand Lacey (Piano)
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Butterbean Jones
...
Indigo Downes
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Bottom Hammer (Bass)
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Moe Flatbush
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Big Stop Williams
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Clarke Bentancourt
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Josh Flatbush
Jeff 'Tain' Watts ...
Rhythm Jones (Druns)
...
Madlock
...
Rod
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Eggy (as Charles Q. Murphy)
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Storyline

Opens with Bleek as a child learning to play the trumpet, his friends want him to come out and play but mother insists he finish his lessons. Bleek grows into adulthood and forms his own band - The Bleek Gilliam Quartet. The story of Bleek's and Shadow's friendly rivalry on stage which spills into their professional relationship and threatens to tear apart the quartet. Written by David <DGOWERS6@CHECLABA.SCU.EDU.AU>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

A Spike Lee joint.

Genres:

Drama | Music | Romance

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

3 August 1990 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Love Supreme  »

Box Office

Budget:

$10,000,000 (estimated)

Gross:

$16,153,600 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Although the scenes take place over ten years apart, the same kids ask the exact same question in both the opening and closing sequences. See more »

Goofs

During the performance of Bleek's "Pop Top Urban 40 Funk Love ... Song", Bleek's headgear changes from hat to baseball cap. See more »

Quotes

Bleek: But the jazz, you know if we had to dep... if we had to depend upon black people to eat, we would starve to death. I mean, you've been out there, you're on the bandstand, you look out into the audience, what do you see? You see Japanese, you see, you see West Germans, you see, you know, Slabobic, anything except our people - it makes no sense. It incenses me that our own people don't realize our own heritage, our own culture, this is our music, man.
Shadow Henderson: That's bullshit.
Bleek: Why?
Shadow Henderson: [slurred] It's all ...
See more »

Crazy Credits

Flavor Flave of the rap group Public Enemy spells out the letters in "Universal" as the studio logo appears on the screen. See more »


Soundtracks

A Jazz Thing
By Gang Starr, Kenny Kirkland and Robert Hurst
See more »

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User Reviews

Not Spike's best, but still a great movie

Spike Lee is, in my opinion, one of the most exciting young filmmakers to emerge in the last 20 years. While "Mo' Better Blues" is not as wonderful as "Do the Right Thing" or "Malcolm X," it still deserves considerable recognition as one of his more solid efforts. The story is a bit uneven, but the acting and the music more than make up for it.

Denzel Washington plays Bleek Gilliam, a NYC trumpet player who fronts his own jazz quintet to sell-out crowds at a local club. He's managed by Giant (played by Lee), an irresponsible compulsive gambler who is only Bleek's manager because they're childhood friends. Meanwhile, Bleek is seeing two different women (played by Joie Lee [Spike's real-life sister] and Cynda Williams), and is torn between his passion for music and his inability to control his relationships.

Things go haywire when Bleek's sax player, Shadow (Wesley Snipes), vies for the affections of one of Bleek's women, promising her fortune and fame as a jazz singer since Bleek only cares about himself anyway.

Giant's gambling problems, Bleek's convictions as a "serious" musician, and the tightrope one walks between love and professional dedication are themes all visited in this exciting, vibrant film.

Besides the wonderful performances (by Washington, Snipes, and the always-underrated Lee standby Giancarlo Esposito, among others), Ernest Dicekrson's cinematography is stunning, and the music -- performed in real life by Branford Marsalis, who has a cameo in the film -- is dazzling. The way the "band" mimes the performances is thoroughlly convincing (although it must be noted that Bleek's drummer is played by Jeff "Tain" Watts, a real jazz drummer who actually performs on the tracks themselves).

If you're a jazz lover and a lover of Spike Lee's movies, check this out -- you'll be glad you did.


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