This Spike Lee film examines the life of an aspiring actress in New York. She is upset by the treatment of women in the movie industry during one of her screen tests with 'QT'. Out of work ... See full summary »
Dark, biting satire of the television industry, focusing on an Ivy-League educated black writer at a major network. Frustrated that his ideas for a "Cosby Show"-esque take on the black family has been rejected by network brass, he devises an outlandish scheme: reviving the minstrel show. The hook: instead of white actors in black face, the show stars black actors in even blacker face. The show becomes an instant smash, but with the success also comes repercussions for all involved. Written by
N. Cognito <nobody@noplace>
The names of two characters are based on real performers of the past. "Mantan" came from Mantan Moreland and "Sleep 'n' Eat" was based on Willie Best, who was sometimes credited only as "Sleep 'n' Eat" in early films. See more »
the acting is bad. the camera-work is only competent. the narrative is weak.
now the praise: my jaw dropped a number of times during the viewing. I couldn't believe I was watching an American movie. more so than other movies, bamboozled is entirely a result of entertainment. the world the movie depicts is centered on a TV network (entertainment producers and distributors), the narrative within the movie looks at entertainment (they're making a TV show!), and there is the film itself (which is entertainment).
but the things the actors say! if there is such a thing as a monolithic white America and a monolithic black America, many many lines that spike wrote can NOT be said in polite company.
and the events that transpire! the very idea of a c.2000 minstrel show is enough to provoke discussion and examination. the non stop barrage of highly charged race signifiers (speech, clothes, ideas, the blackface fabrication and application, etc) contributed to a very specific tone of outrage and cynicism. so it's fascinating because it's brilliantly done. but it's a failure because it's not quite a movie. could spike really have intended to make a satire of a movie, where the story of the movie is to make a satire on TV?
in short, the (often intense) reaction this movie engenders is worthwhile in itself. however, the movie feels to me like an intentioned, crafted harangue, which lowers its worth as entertainment, and establishes itself as a diatribe.
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