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Mo' Better Blues (1990)

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

Director:

Spike Lee

Writer:

Spike Lee
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1 win & 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Denzel Washington ... Bleek Gilliam
Spike Lee ... Giant
Wesley Snipes ... Shadow Henderson (Sax)
Giancarlo Esposito ... Left Hand Lacey (Piano)
Robin Harris ... Butterbean Jones
Joie Lee ... Indigo Downes
Bill Nunn ... Bottom Hammer (Bass)
John Turturro ... Moe Flatbush
Dick Anthony Williams ... Big Stop Williams
Cynda Williams ... Clarke Bentancourt
Nicholas Turturro ... Josh Flatbush
Jeff 'Tain' Watts ... Rhythm Jones (Drums)
Samuel L. Jackson ... Madlock
Leonard L. Thomas ... Rod
Charlie Murphy ... 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:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

3 August 1990 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A Love Supreme See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$10,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$16,153,600
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby SR

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Joie Lee is Producer, Writer, and Director Spike Lee's sister. At the wedding, her character is given away by a character played by their father, Bill Lee. 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

Clarke: 'Cause mo better makes it mo better.
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

Mo'Better Blues
Written and performed by Branford Marsalis Quartet and Terence Blanchard
See more »

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User Reviews

Not Spike's best, but still a great movie
26 April 2000 | by WazooSee all my reviews

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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