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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Black and White
Black and White
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Review by Chuck Arrington | posted October 10, 2000 | E-mail the Author
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BLACK AND WHITE

Synopsis:

Hip Hop Culture and White upscale privileged teens are the focus in James Toback's feature, Black and White. Brooke Shields and Robert Downey, Jr. play a couple filming a documentary on the influence Hip Hop culture has on White privileged kids in the upper West side of New York City. This psuedo documentary revolves around rappers, basketball, gangsters and stereotype upon stereotype.

Audio:

The audio for the feature is presented in Dolby 5.1 that provided decent surround and rear activity when warranted. The feature is primarily soundtrack driven so the audio reflects the richness of the film's score. There is a lot of driving bass and the underlying musical haze that accompanies most of the film creates a very pleasing aural presentation.Director's Commentary provided by James Toback is screen specific and provides an extensive look at the film through his twisted understanding of "Hip Hop/Black culture". Technically, it's a great commentary. However, the subject matter could have stood a great deal more research, but I'll get into that a little later.

Video:

I found the video to be less than the overall quality I have come to expect from Columbia Tri-Star DVD. The scenes in which the darker colors were dominant showed a great degree of chroma noise. In particular, the characters looked as though they were "cut and pasted" into some of the scenes. Additionally, it seemed as though there was something of a reddish haze throughout the feature. It wasn't mentioned in the commentary as an effect so it must have been an error. Other than these transfer errors, the images were clean and well presented.

Extras:

In addition to the commentary, there is a video diary/featurette that is essentially a collage of Toback's views on the film in various venues. Two deleted scenes-one with Bijou Phillips and her teacher and the next with Mike Tyson and Robert Downey, jr. filmed from a different angle. Two music videos, and three trailers round out the extras.

Overall:

This is irresponsible filmmaking at it's finest. Hip Hop culture is NOT Black culture. It is a facet of a multifaceted group of people. Toback uses every stereotype in the book to get this snore of a movie moving. None of the Black people in this film have anything going for them other than violence, basketball, a mastery of the profane and an insatiable sexual appetite. The Upscale White kids are nothing more than privileged snotty brats with all of the depth of a shallow pond. The film attempts to marry the two "cultures", one of which is not even a culture! Black culture has nothing at all to do with what was presented in this film. Toback assembled the attributes of a musical form and misidentified them as legitimate representations of cultural affiliation. In his commentary he went so far as to "define" hip hop/black culture for those who didn't understand it..wrong again. Technically, it was great to see all of these actors together but, they didn't mix well and the film itself ended up being more frustrating and aggravating than entertaining. If he was trying to do something cutting edge, Toback could have actually, done his homework rather than rehashing the lies and supporting stereotypes that do nothing but divide instead of entertaining and or informing. I don't believe a film is supposed to inform unless it's the intent of the director to do just that. I do not however believe that racially divisive stereotypes need to be committed to film and conferred with the title of "Culture". IMHO, the film was pointless with no storyline and no conclusion; its execution was lackluster and predictable at best. Characters were introduced that were not defined and the point of the film in total is lost on me. In other words, this film is awful. It's not provocative, it's not engaging, it's not entertaining, and it's not even marginally interesting. Skip It

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