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Black and White

movie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Black and White

Starring: Oliver Grant, Ben Stiller
Director: James Toback
Rated: R
RunTime: 100 Minutes
Release Date: April 2000
Genre: Drama

*Also starring: Gaby Hoffman, Kidada Jones, Jared Leto, James Toback, Sticky Fingaz, Method Man, Garry Pastore, Claudia Schiffer, Brooke Shields

Review by Susan Granger
1½ stars out of 4

There are not too many films that attempt to give viewers an insight into contemporary American society like Spike Lee's "Jungle Fever" and "Get on the Bus" along with Warren Beatty's "Bulworth." But now there's James Toback's "Black and White," which delves into race relations and hip-hop music in New York City. Toback sets the stage in an early classroom scene in which a young black girl talks about how all the white kids she knows romanticize the ghetto life, while all her black friends just want to get out of it. There are several intersecting plotlines. Brooke Shields and Robert Downey Jr. play documentary film-makers examining privileged white teens who are obsessed with street life. That's Elijah Wood, Gaby Hoffman, Bijou Phillips (daughter of John Phillips of the Mamas and the Papas), Eddie Thomas and Kim Matulova. Then there's the rap mogul/gangsta, played by Oli "Power" Grant from Wu-Tang Clan, and Joe Pantoliano as a District Attorney with family problems. Ben Stiller is a crooked cop who bribes a college basketball star, played by Allan Houston of the Knicks, plus Mike Tyson as - who else? - Mike Tyson. Claudia Schiffer surfaces as a grad student. Even Donald Trump's former wife, Marla Maples, shows up. James Toback obviously improvised much of the fragmentary action as he went along with no sense of cohesion or purpose, so this is not a smooth, evenly edited picture, but perhaps it isn't supposed to be. And the most authentic buzz about deceit and treachery comes from the recruited performers, not the professional actors. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Black and White" is a complex, sexually energetic, fast-paced 4. It's a risky, interesting concept but not a very good movie.

Copyright 2000 Susan Granger

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