MO BETTER BLUES
Bleek Gilliam (Denzel Washington) is a man conflicted. His band, the Bleek Quartet is managed by his childhood friend, Giant (Spike Lee) and managed poorly. His love life is no less complicated. On the one hand, he has Indigo (Joie Lee); a grounded well read sister who loves Bleek for who he is. Then there's Clark (Cynda Williams) who loves what she believes Bleek can do for her in the way of helping her get her big break singing for Bleek's hot quartet. For the moment Bleek is in love with Bleek and Bleeks' music alone. Unable/unwilling to share the spotlight, he keeps sax man, Shadow Henderson (Wesley Snipes) on a very short leash. One that will undoubtedly break and where the pieces will fall is anyone's guess. The question will soon be asked of Bleek what in life is of the utmost import. It's a question, he's not ready to answer, but it's one he will be forced to deal with. Mo' Better Blues is a look at life in a way that only Spike Lee can afford the vantage point. It's an incredibly well woven piece of filmmaking that deals with many life issues and resolves them all.
I have to say that Universal did a piss-poor job in mastering the audio for the feature. The opening Universal logos and DVD intro are all in DD5.1 however; a film that is so musically based and centered is subject to a Dolby Surround feature that barely does the film's audio justice. The score for this film is in my estimation one of Spike's better offerings and Universal couldn't see it's way clear to provide the DD5.1 the film needs to propel it's story. I can only imagine hearing the score all about me during the film's totally musically engorged segments. It's really sad to see this get a Dolby Surround package while garbage like DUDley Do Right gets the whole sha-bang! In any event, the center is clean and Flavor-Flav's Opening on the opening titles is a welcome entry for one of my favorite Lee films.
Another bone I have to pick with Universal is it's rendering of the print for this film. MBB is an incredibly rich and lush visual feast with all sorts of beautiful bold colors and here they are with the exception of the opening titles, rendered pretty lackluster. No where near as sharp and clean the images should have been. There are definitely more scratches in this print than I remember and the widescreen anamorphic transfer while decent, are no substitute for a first-class transfer and re-authoring.
The only extra on the disc is the film's trailer, which is in full frame and Dolby Surround. Much like the film's print, it's pretty banged up and full of noise.
Spike Lee has something of a bad rep for putting out film's solely for a Black audience. That's not only unfair, it's patently untrue. If you were to take a look at his films, you might be able to catch a glimpse of some of the finer points and issues that surround not only Black people, but "people" in general. While there are a couple of films that are definitely directed to a target audience ("X", "School Daze" and "Bamboozled") The balance of his work can find exposition in any community, not just Black America. Spike Lee IMHO has an incredible wealth of information to provide however, his undeserved reputation keeps his films segregated to some extent. Now they all can't be pearls and Girl 6 and Summer of Sam proved that even the enlightened can have bad days! However, Mo' Better Blues is not one of those that missed it's mark.
Mo' Better Blues is a great movie that was sullied by a poor release from one of the better studios currently producing DVD's today. Lee's vision is marred by what amounts to a lack of interest in producing the best effort available for the film's digital release. I am thoroughly disappointed in the film's presentation and the lack of any substantive extras for what could have been an outstanding release. Get the disc for the film; just ignore the casing around it if you can. Shame on you Universal! Recommended