Mo' Better Blues
Directed By Spike Lee
Cinematography by Ernest Dickerson
Bleek Gilliam is a trumpet player, played by Denzel Williams, who has his own jazz band "The Bleek Quintet" that plays a consistent round of gigs at a local club. The shows are packed and the music sounds great, but problems arise off the stage. The band's manager Giant, played by Spike Lee himself, is struggling to get the band more money and has a gambling problem. A member of the band, Shadow, played by Wesley Snipes, isn't satisfied with the power hierarchy. And the two women in Bleek's life, Indigo and Clarke, are a constant balancing act. This all provides a stressful environment for the otherwise easy-going Bleek who just wants to focus on his music.
Ryan Lyons was the one who introduced me to this movie and I'm glad he did. As soon as I saw it, instantly it became my favorite Spike Lee film. While "Do The Right Thing" and "He Got Game" are classics as well, this is the one that resonates the most with me. Jazz music is something I love, and they do a brilliant job of incorporating it as a centerpiece but also building other themes around it. The layered tale looks at the ideas of success, friendship, work ethic, music, family, business and relationships - just to name a few. It does this all seamlessly across a narrative that flows as smoothly as the tunes from the band. It's also shot really beautifully, with a strong emphasis on lighting above all from my perspective. There's also a lot of really nice color choices that set the tone for scenes and give a properly intensified atmosphere for the viewer.