Mo' Better Blues

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Simon & Schuster, 1990 - Performing Arts - 303 pages
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Millions have seen Spike Lee's films - She's Gotta Have It, School Daze, and the most provocative film of 1989, Do the Right Thing - and read the companion books - Spike Lee's Gotta Have It, Uplift the Race, and Do the Right Thing. Spike launched his career with a romantic comedy, and now returns to romance, set against the backdrop of the music world, with Mo' Better Blues. Academy Award-winning Denzel Washington plays a musician torn between two beautiful women and his ambition to be a star. In this unique document Spike speaks of the people and the events that created the film, including the thoughts and feelings of the musicians, actors, and crew. The book is illustrated with storyboards and 150 photographs that reveal the behind-the-scenes drama of Mo' Better Blues.

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Contents

DEDICATION
15
Donald Bogle on Jazz Films
31
Spike Lee Jointography
295
Copyright

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About the author (1990)

Directing, writing, and starring in his own films, as did Charlie Chaplin and Orson Welles before him, Lee has arguably had almost as profound an influence on American filmmaking as his predecessors, although in very different ways. In his own words, he is good at "marketing," and what he has marketed is a highly politicized African American cinema that is also commercially viable. Many critics credit Lee with paving the way for a new wave of mass-market yet socially conscious filmmakers, including John Singleton, Charles Lane, and Carl Franklin. The eldest of six children, Lee was educated first at Morehouse College and then at New York University's film school. His first feature release, She's Gotta Have It (1986), won the Prix de Jeunesse at Cannes and was both critically acclaimed and commercially successful in the United States. Lee went on to make School Daze (1988) and Do the Right Thing (1989), a technically sophisticated film that addressed racism in a complex and controversial fashion. The film constructs a narrative that leaves it to the viewer to decide whether its protagonist, Mookie, has done the right thing when he responds to the death of one of his friends at the hands of the police by throwing a trash can through the window of his employer, who had called the police in the first place. Because a riot ensues, many (white) critics argued that the film celebrated violence, and the press suggested that it would incite black spectators to riot (it did not). Other critics suggested that Mookie actually defuses a riot, by directing the community's anger toward property and away from the police. Two years later, Lee tackled the subject of interracial relationships in another hotly debated film, Jungle Fever (1991), which some saw as preachy and sexist and others praised as bold and complex. However, his most recent and ambitious film, Malcolm X (1992), has been almost universally acclaimed. Lee has published a companion text for each film that includes biographies of all of the principals, essays on such topics as guerilla filmmaking, production stills, details of salaries and finances, excerpts from his journal or production notes, and the script. These materials demystify production, advertise the talents of the people who work for him, and promote his political positions, particularly his commitment to black entrepreneurship and cultural self-expression.

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