An Indian family is expelled from Uganda when Idi Amin takes power. They move to Mississippi and time passes. The Indian daughter falls in love with a black man, and the respective families... See full summary »
When police officer Xavier Quinn's childhood friend, Maubee, becomes associated with murder and a briefcase full of ten thousand dollar bills, The Mighty Quinn must clear his name. Or try to catch him, which could be even trickier.
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
Things get dull early an often in this in this mawkish jazz bio fiction written and directed by Spike Lee.
Bleek Gilliam (Denzell Washington) is a happenin' jazz trumpeter that fronts a quintet packing them in at Below the Underdog. His problems include an incompetent manager, a stage hogging sax player and two girlfriends that he's playing musical mattress with. The real love of his life though is his trumpet and his music. The band's manager, Giant, has a dangerous gambling problem and proves to be an ineffective negotiator with greedy club owners and would be best jettisoned but Bleek remains loyal for as long as possible. It will prove to his undoing as an artist but ironically contribute to his growth as a man.
As Bleek, Denzell Washington is all wrong as the ambitious trumpeter with a babe on each arm. He's too sweet a guy to be so self centered about his art, dispensing patience and love to those close to him with a low key remoteness. He simply lacks the fire. Wesley Snipes who plays Henderson the sax player would have been far more suited for the role but even he would have to mouth the flaccid throw away scribblings of Lee's torpid dialogue. As Giant, Lee hits the trifecta with an abysmal performance to match his writing and direction. Loosely attempting to mirror the grubby but sympathetic Ratso Rizzo to Bleek's Joe Buck he adopts a limp and even the "I'm walkin' here" moment from Midnight Cowboy. In this case you wish the taxi would run him over and be done with it.
Lee's script is all tepid argument, heavy handed ribbing and veiled insult with some requisite clumsy editorializing that Lee has to inject to remain down. The scenes between the band members backstage and in rehearsal lack spark and are only surpassed in dreariness by the Bleek, Giant conversations that have an ad lib look and go in circles. Completing this travesty is Lee's pretentious visual style. Tracking shots, zooms and pans are wasted and without significance to scenes. They just wander.
Blues is Lee's love letter to jazz (made implicit by the mountains of memorabilia plastered all over the sets) and it's all sentimental clap trap that lacks passion and verve. Jazz on film is better served by Tavernier's "Round Midnight" and Eastwood's "Bird" which get below the surface, reveal more sides of the form, the pain behind it in addition to offering infinitely superior lead performances by Forrest Whitaker and the real deal Dexter Gordon. This Spike Lee Joint doesn't even offer a mild buzz. It's some pretty bad homegrown.
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