Black & White (1999) Poster

(I) (1999)

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Watch this one for Downey
erxnmedia27 September 2004
Robert Downey Jr. is fantastic in all of his 60 or so seconds in this film. I think he is one of the best comic actors of all time.

Brooke Shields also does a spot-on amateur documentary film-maker shtick. I didn't even recognize her in her dreadlocks in the first half of the film. She and Downey trail a bunch of rich white high school kids half their age, trying to be one of them as they go slumming. Shields best moment is when she meets a recently married old friend on the Staten Island ferry, and you feel the disparity between Shield's refusing-to-grow-up character and her ordinary, grown-up old friend.

Downey's best moments are when he tries to pick up Mike Tyson and when he tries to pick up one of the high school students, reprising his character in Wonder Boys. It's too bad Hollywood has an insurance clause against him now, because everything he does is exceedingly knowing.

The flattest moments are the James Tolback Obligatory Sex In Central Park scene, apparently a rehearsal for an identical one in this year's "When will I be loved?", and in the contrived Typical Banker's Family Dinner with the Sullenly Rebellious Daughter While The Manservant Ladles the Soup. Please. We know Tolback has a lot of celebrity friends; they're all in his movies. I doubt he has met a single real banker in his life.

Also we are treated to the same flaw which is in Black and White, namely the highly implausible plot devices that tie all of the characters together, wherever they live in the movie and whatever their social strata. He is a big buyer of the Deus Ex Machina.

He's also a big buyer of improvisation. In the DVD he says almost all the films are improvised except the one where Claudia Schiffer impersonates what one critic called "the world's most unlikely graduate student", and another called "a surprisingly believable turn as a faithless brainiac". Whatever. She looks hot for the most part except towards the end where they're one outdoor shot in a riverside park where her lips just look too big and she looks like a squeaky and insufficiently made-up skinny yin-yang. What can you do. Her funniest moment was the split second sitting next to and conversing with Robert Downey Jr. when he turns to compare perfume notes with the young man sitting next to him, and she figures out she's no longer the center of attention and suddenly gets up and walks away. Her least likely moment is when she is about to have sex in a bathroom with her boyfriend's best friend. Not that the premise is unlikely: She is just too Teutonic and awkward beneath all that prettiness to look like she's about to tongue-wrestle with a big sweaty gangster. (Much more believable is the news story about her I read the other day where she is applying to private schools for her unborn child.)

Tolback cast himself as Tolback pretty much, as usual. If you're the director, why not throw yourself a cameo? It's just a stone's throw from there to writing in a sex scene with the lead actress, but if he did that he'd have to write himself a lead part and then he'd be Vincent Gallo, but he's not, he's more of a voyeur; enough to write those Central Park scenes and shoot them in closeup with full improvisatory rein given to the actors. Let them really get into the moment, keep the cameras rolling.

Am I boring you with this review? Is it running on a little long? Does it seem a little disconnected?

If you think this is bad, go see the movie.
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What a frustrating movie!
Infofreak22 July 2002
I always find the idea of improvised (or semi-improvised) film making an interesting one, even if the results themselves are disappointing, and very rarely work (exceptions being some of the movies of Christopher Guest and Abel Ferrara). It's a risky idea because it's a true test of an actors talent. Some succeed and some fall flat on their faces. 'Black and White' is a perfect example of this, for every interesting moment involving say Ben Stiller, or yes, Mike Tyson, there's way too many dull and rambling scenes that go nowhere (come on down Brooke Shields and Bijou Phillips). What makes this movie even more frustrating is James Toback is obviously aiming for a BIG STATEMENT regarding race relations in contemporary America, yet the movie is so superficial and confused it ultimately says nothing much. Toback is a maddingly uneven film maker, but he is responsible for one of my all time favourite movies, the sadly underrated 'Fingers', so I usually give him the benefit of the doubt. Unfortunately 'Black and White' is a missed opportunity and has very little to recommend it. I suppose Toback deserves some credit for at least attempting to do something other than mainstream Hollywood dreck, but ultimately a crappy movie is still a crappy movie, no matter how good the intentions.
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Don't buy the hype!
Shiva-118 April 2000
Black & White: a documentary director and her husband follows several upper middle class high school kids to try and comprehend why they have chosen to emulate black inner city hip-hop rappers.

What is intended to be an avante-garde-in-your-face mockumentary addressing serious sociological issues is a weak series of loosely interconnecting stories with poorly developed and uninteresting characters. The credits tout many big names - Robert Downey Jr., Ben Stiller, Brooke Shields among them - but the performances are lackluster at best: while Downey's stereotypical fey gay character borders on offensive, he can't compare with Mike Tyson's ludicrous attempts at philosophizing.

At least there are no shades of grey here - it is all bad.
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Dazed and confused
cofemug18 July 2001
Well, at least that's what this movie becomes in the end. Actually, I couldn't finish the movie. I got 90 minutes into it, and gave up hope that the movie would return to its beginning. The movie starts out good, with a nice angry premise. It seemed so full of venom and froth that the movie would turn out to become a great statement about white culture, black culture, inner city culture, middle class culture, etc.

The movie begins with a black man and two white girls having sex. Then jumps to show that one is middle class. Then, in one of its greatest moments, it has a white guy explore the difference between N-a and

N-r. That was a priceless moment. It adds to the fun with Brooks Shields, and Downey (unnecessarily, but fun). And it keeps going with brutality.

However (There's that nasty word), the movie loses itself fairly quickly. It gets caught up with a basketball player being bribe to lose a game, then blackmailed for accepting it. It goes on, and the movie begins to have a plot instead of a theme, which has nothing to do with the theme. Its like, the movie lost its way, and had nothing left to say. I think I knew where it was going to go with it, but it didn't go there. Maybe it was still on its way, I dunno.

But, in the end, the movie would have made a better episode of "Strangers With Candy" than anything else. It lost its way, and I wonder how it ever got greenlighted, nevertheless had all the big stars in it. Well, we all make bad choices (check "Ready to wear (Pret-a-porter)"), but this one should never have been made.

3/10 (for the beginning)
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Characters Who Believe Their Own Strutting
tedg9 September 2002
Warning: Spoilers
Spoilers herein.

This project should have worked. It has at least one, maybe two, good actors, several competent ones, a couple genuine personalities and a few committed explorers. It has a moderately interesting subject: the adoption of middleclass white teenage rebellion modes by urban blacks and the its exploitive encouragement by the marketing machine as `black.'

Plus, it is framed in a promising perspective: weak minds finding roles, which gives the actors a chance to play people who are acting but don't know it. Add to this the approach that you let those actors create their own lines because they will be more `genuine,' an absolutely mindboggling self-referential irony. If you go this far, you must be explicit about the self-reference so make the film about the making of a film about the same thing. Even double it by putting filmmaker in a role of the `recording' boss.

More and more: make the key characters (and actors) `performers' of different kinds: models, sports guys, a DA, a journalist, a thesiswriter, in addition to the rappers. Turn sex into performance, not particularly original, but helpful. (The first scene is of `performance sex.')

This could have been a good film, even an important one in the hands of a filmmaker who could control and shape it, someone like Tarkovsky, possibly Soderbergh. But this guy isn't intelligent or strong enough. So we get a jellied mess of each actor strutting about. I have oft maintained that the actors are the last people who usually know what a project is about. The simply have different interests and concerns than filmmakers and almost every time you put them in control you loose.

The two actors who could have worked with the "knowingly acting a role which is acting a role but doesn't know it" bit are wasted: Downey and Stiller are motivated by compulsions (sex, gambling) and are out of the self-referential mechanism.

Ted's Evaluation -- 1 of 4: You can find something better to do with this part of your life.
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** Garbage
Bil-328 March 2001
Exploitative and depressingly awful film by James Toback about rich white kids and their identity-seeking obsession with all things black. Toback proudly stated that most of the actors were improvising their scenes and dialogue; didn't he know that it only makes him look worse for letting such a mess go on in front of his cameras? The performances otherwise are all good, especially from Marla Maples and Claudia Schiffer, two names I never thought I'd be giving praise to. Unfortunately, the film just seems to be constantly looking for new ways to p**s you off.
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I hated them all
Steven Reynolds7 February 2002
Watching Robert Downey Jr. try to seduce Mike Tyson is worth the ticket price alone, but only just. The appropriation of black hip-hop culture by privileged white teenagers should prove interesting ground for storytelling, but James Toback's film is undermined by the lack of even one likeable character. It's very hard to care about the motivations or destinies of people you hate. Two pleasant surprises amongst the vignettes: Ben Stiller can be convincing outside of trash comedy; and Claudia Schiffer can actually act.
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1/10
THEY SHOULD PAY YOU TO SIT THROUGH IT....
kd4soccer2 January 2002
I rented this title because I saw Elijah Wood was casted in it, my favorite actor. Make a notation that I use the word "title" rather than movie because it isn't deserving enough to be called that.

From the very beginning to the very end it was nothing but a major disappointment. I had no idea that Wood would even be in a movie so bad. I never even knew a movie that he was in could be bad! He had very little lines, and was the only decent character in it.

As for the film... IT HAD ABSOLUTELY NO PLOT!! None at all. There was no major internal conflict, or external for that matter.(Well at least that the movie was based on, just small disagreements). Everyone in this film played a static character, making no change within the movie. It starts off with white kids wishing they were black, and ends the same way. Many small plot strands were thrown together to make a meaningless, unsubstantial, stupid film. It was thought out like something a 5 year old could do, that is, a 5 year old with a terribly sick mind. Even if there was a plot there was too much swearing and cheap sex (which pertained to nothing at all in the movie) to even get a message across. I would rate this movie a perfect 1 on a scale from 1-10. And I think many would agree.

These white kids were not "hip-hop culture", they were a bunch of winey teenage posers who couldn't see how good they had it, middle class suburbs, so they stooped down a level where they had their own fantasy world of being black and from the ghetto, which they weren't either.

As for the "rappers" in the movie, their parts were thrown in for nothing. They did nothing accept waste time on the screen. Maybe (that's a BIG maybe) if as much thought went into emphasizing the the white kids (whom I thought it was about) the movie could have been semidesent.

The last 2 minutes of the film were the worst. It ended with an unpredictible twist that in no way pertained to anything that was seen during the other 97.
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Bizarre, and Unoriginal
cardinal13429 March 2003
Like many people I really never heard of Black and White, but when I saw the all star cast (including New York Knick Allan Houston, and controverisal boxer Mike Tyson, not to mention Robert Downey Jr. and Ben Stiller) I was drawn to it. The results were cold. Toback tries to create a movie that will educate audiences about todays black culture, and how white people imitate them. The result is multiple story lines that criss cross each other (sometimes just haphazardly) that involve people who are all somehow connected to up and coming rap artists (played realistically by Power) who have a criminal past, and may still be criminals. However Toback deviates from the real point of this movie (a look at black culture) and sticks in murder, homosexuality, corruption, and lots and lots of sex, drugs, and rap. It tries far too hard to be something its not, and it seems that all the actors were given downers to eliminate all emotion from them as the acting in this movie is just downright awful (excluding Robert Downey Jr. who is actually very good in his role). I'm surprised so many big names accepted such unusual roles (Ben Stiller as a cop???). One credit I give to Toback is persuading Mike Tyson to smack around a homosexual, and to talk about murder. Who knows why he would do that, but he was natural behind the camera. Ultimately the movie is unorganized, the acting is bad, and the script is worse. Watch it once.
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3/10
Black, White and crap
mario10zeus13 October 2008
Warning: Spoilers
The idea of the movie sounds interesting, white kids who imitate black hip-hop culture, but that's it. Toback is a 60 year old man who doesn't anything about the youth at the time this movie was made, and was simply trying to cash in on the hip hop craze. With the help of Wu-Tang clan. We have a series of vignettes ,where these characters interact. Few scenes are memorable like Robert Downey trying to pick up Mike Tyson or Claudia Schiffer's ramblings. But many parts have simply to much holes in the plot,..oh wait, there is no plot, just htese vignettes.

This movie is racist. Blacks are all thugs, rapper, who want to have sex with white women and smoke weed. All whites are losers, posers and have no personality. There are no Hispanic nor Asian characters, even though it's supposed to be New York. They are no Black females either. Kidada Jones plays Power's love interest, but her character seemed Puerto-Rican to me, and in real life she is biracial. The threesome in the park seemed odd,..who the f*** has sex in Central Park in broad daylight? Can't they go to a motel room? Power is supposed to have money. I'm not from New York, I'm from Miami and the only public place I know people have sex at is a beach at night, but Central Park? Is Claudia Schiffer's character a psycho? she gets her boyfriend killed by his best buddy, whom she later hooks up with. She is evil incarnate. What would she find in Ben Stiller? She is several inches taller. and even her character is a feminist, she ends up with Mike Tyson?

Rent this movie only to make fun of the idiocy of Toback, and the stereotypes.
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NOT TRUE ENOUGH
kayfabe18 February 2002
The biggest problem with this film is simply that the white characters are portrayed with more couth than their "Real Life Counterparts". Look around at WHO(meaning white youth) embrace the Hip Hop culture 1)undereducated,rhetoric spouting revolutionary wannabees 2) lazy minded,material driven, "instant gratification junkies" 3) simple minded sheep who have such identity problems that they assimilate into a culture which basically despises their existence...AND THOSE ARE THEIR GOOD POINTS

As far as the film goes, I watched it all the way through, hoping something would happen.Finally something did: the film ended and I got to watch something else.
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Toback's best movie since FINGERS
nunculus8 April 2000
It's the one Tobackonists have been waiting for since the thrill of his debut movie FINGERS--a movie with the soar and rush of obsession that also has the sanity and craft of a grown man. This movie about the uneasy millennium-era relationship of black and white people in America is not, as many people have said, a work of moony White Negroism. It resembles one of Godard's mid-sixties essay-movies like MASCULINE FEMININE or TWO OR THREE THINGS I KNOW ABOUT HER, but with race substituted for sexual politics, and with a heavy dose of pornography and melodramatic pulp. Toback keeps cranking up the heat as the cast--a conceptual-art demonstration of stunt casting--leaves the audience openmouthed.

Bijou Phillips is a wonder as the wigga-talkin' Upper East Side chiclet who proclaims, "I wanna be black--I'm a kid in America." Ben Stiller, as a tormented dirty cop, gives the performance of his life in a high-speed monologue of self-analysis that's like a speed freak's channeling the essence of Robert Downey, Jr. The great man himself appears here as well, as a gay artist who comes on to Mike Tyson (playing himself) at a party. The scene of violence that ensues should have James Toback clinking a glass in celebration in the mirror: he managed to top the Jim Brown/Tisa Farrow head-smashing sequence in FINGERS. Brooke Shields is an amazement as a fervent, sincere documentarian with dredlocks--she's like a deadpan version of the Geraldine Chaplin character in NASHVILLE, and Shields astonishes.

Toback wants to cram everything into this bird's eye view of race--sexual fantasies, money machinations, the class strata of New York City. That none of the scenes is a dud, that the movie is beautifully shot and edited, that nothing feels merely "excessive," is a testament to the passion behind the camera. BLACK AND WHITE is a miracle to this viewer: it renewed my excitement and faith in movies at a moment when I felt it falling down.
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3/10
Crap, could have been a much better movie.
Alexander_seth200011 May 2008
Warning: Spoilers
I am not sure what this movie was trying to portray, whether it was white kids wanting to act black, or life stories of black hip hop artists/basketball players living in new york. If it was trying to display both it made a total mess of it.

No story in the film was shown in depth, out of the all star cast only Brooke shields, Robert Downey Jr and Mike Tyson shone. Nice to see Claudia Schieffer on screen, she can act but her part in this film is awful. I became bored from listening to one constant hip hop song after another as well as the black rapper actors speaking in an unintelligible language which made the film even more confusing then it was before. The only highlights of the film for me was Robert Downey Jr confessing to his wife he is gay at the end, and Mike Tyson giving advice to a young rapper (he doesn't just box!) Anyways in my opinion, terrible, but if you got time to waste then perhaps watch it.
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3/10
This is not a good movie
Madde-230 September 2000
I remembered hearing some fuss about this film some time ago when it was (briefly) in some theaters. So, I got sucked in an picked it up tonight on DVD.

Most of my feelings on this particular movie can be summed up by mentioning something that James Toback said during the 5 minute featurette on the disc. He seems to think his lack of direction and allowing for improv during the film's controversial opening sequence somehow makes him a great filmmaker.

And while he is right, you can't reasonably direct every move during a 3 way love scene in Central Park, but his lack of direction during the rest of the movie does, in my opinion, not work in its favor.

Clearly the script for Black & White was about ten pages long and this could help explain why it makes no sense whatsoever and says absolutly nothing, other than the fact that it's really easy to exploit racial stereotypes and degrade women.

This movie doesn't know if it is a documentary on black and white interaction or a murder mystery and seeming as how it is billed as a movie that takes on the issue of white kids trying to act "black" then it might have been better to spend a little more time dealing with that as a serious subject.

There are a lot of interesting ideas presented here, but the format, bad acting, and lack of function detract from the pursuit of them all. Instead of making a movie about a documentary perhaps Toback just should have seriously made the documentary. Now that would have been some interesting entertainment.
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4/10
OK. You Don't Like Rap, But So What...
create25 October 2015
Warning: Spoilers
An examination of the New York rap scene in the late nineties uncovers a lot of characters who don't know anything about themselves, and don't care about much about anything else.

I just watched this film sixteen years after it was made, and give the film credit for attempting to catch the language of the generation that it portrays. It doesn't succeed. It doesn't even try to catch the trouble of the times, nor the immediacy of the subject matter. The topics of racism, poverty and discrimination - which powered most of the New York scene in the nineties - weren't covered. Instead, much of the focus was on confused European Americans who worshiped hip-hop as a form of rebellion. Those scenes weren't even done right.

James Toback wrote and directed the film in a vignette format. He jumps around from character to character giving them very little to do other than show no respect for whoever might be the authority figure.

Who are the authority figures? Well, one is a banker, and another is the D.A. of NY. Ironically, the banker was probably involved with trading dirivatives which would go on to wreck the worldwide economy seven years later. And the real D.A. of NY at the time of this film's making would later be thrown out of elected office for funneling money to a prostitute and her escort services business - an escort that he was seeing at the time of the film's release.

That's the problem with Toback's film - not that it lacks foresight. (It truly has no vision.) The principal problem is that it doesn't take the grievances or problems or wants of the character's it tries to portray as serious. Part of it was because he didn't do sufficient research into the characters or the genre of Hip Hop.

The black rappers in the film are gangsta rappers - which if Toback would have done any type of investigation into the field, he would have found that the group he was writing about were West Coast rappers - not East Coast. There is no Puff Daddy or 50 Cent in this group. The basketball player that he portrays wouldn't have been asking his girlfriend if he should take $50,000 from a gambler. He would have asked his super rich drug dealing friend if he should have taken $50,000 from a gambler. Not to show any disrespect to his girlfriend, but his friend had probably more experience with that type of money, and problems caused by taking that type of money.

Was Toback trying to create a film that showed his dislike of Rap? It seems that way. That's not where the fault lies. It lies in the fact that his dislike of the subject matter blinded him from doing the necessary crafting that goes into making a good film.
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This movie is criminally bad
mictlantechutli1 February 2002
I wish the the summary line I wrote was a joke, but unfortunately, it isn't. This film catered to every tired-out racial cliche known, and the dialogue was stilted and wooden. Every character was completely unbelievable. Nauseating. That anyone reviewed this film positively is a sign at just how far we have to go on matters of race...most people would rather lie to look PC than tell the truth and actually embrace people based on their own merit instead of having outmoded racial stereotypes.

By the way, it's "bass", not "base", Mr. Canadian Reviewer.
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Simply a poorly-acted and profanely bad film.
TxMike12 October 2001
Warning: Spoilers
SPOILERS - What do you get when you mix a simple story with marginal acting and sloppy editing? Yes, "The Blair Witch Project" fits that description, but so does "Black and White." Writer/director Toback tried an experiment and it did not work at all for me. The characters are not believable. The improvised dialog is mostly sophomoric. The profanity becomes such a background "noise" that any possible message gets lost. I dislike this film for all the reasons that critic Ebert gave it a favorable rating.

Many viewers simplistically said this was a film about white kids who want to act like they are black. No, it is about a hand-picked collection of amoral New Yorkers and how they live their corrupt lives. Having a friend agree to kill someone is handled like most of us would handle neutering of the family cat. The young white and black men and women are depicted as only valuing sex, drugs, rap, and intimidation. I can't imagine any group being flattered by the film. Nor can I imagine any group thinking this in any way depicts "normal" life.

Brooke Shields shows up with digital movie camera and gay husband Robert Downey the Druggie, to do a "documentary" on white kids who want to act like they are black. Both of their characters are absurd, especially Downey's. In fact, I thought Mike Tyson, playing himself, was the best actor in the film. I laughed out loud when Downey was describing his dream of Tyson, "I was holding you", and Tyson hauled off and slapped him smartly across the face. Ben Stiller as the detective was the least favorite role I've seen him in. Claudia Schiffer cannot act, and cannot fake an American accent.

I rate it "3" of 10, and might have been a decent film if the director had toned down the gratuitous sex and profanity. Pretty much a mess, in my opinion, a film with very little redeeming value.
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Chaotic & Confused
CRichardSemple17 April 2001
Despite what other favourable reviews might have contended about this movie, the simple fact is that it is all over the place. There is little to no clear direction of the story of this film, and a tiny coda at the end comes completely out of nowhere.

Ostensibly it purports to be a study of interracial (the term in this context apparently being exclusive to blacks and whites, not any other ethnic groups) cross-culturalisation. However, what it really does is portray foolish urban upper class white kids who are rebelling against their parents by acting black, which seems to involve smoking weed, utterly mispronouncing English words, swearing left, right and centre and practicing total sexual promiscuity. Pardon me if I don't think that just a little denigrating not only to blacks but also to whites.

Besides that...the criminal element of the black story, the gay husband of the documentary filmmaker - these things don't have any relevance to what one might think was the main issue of the story.

If the film really does anything at all, it certainly points up the self-evident stupidity of teenage rebellion. At the start of the 1990s, teenagers acted surly, refused to wash their hair and listened to loud, angry white rock music. At the turn of the millennium, apparently they slur their words almost into incoherence, and listen to loud, angry black music. Nice progression there, kids. However, I fail to see why precisely this not exactly pressing issue required a filmic examination and, even if it did, this wouldn't be the movie that did it justice. It's an incoherent mess, plain and simple.
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In three words "An Awful Movie"
Chuck-2036 October 2000
In three words "An Awful Movie." James Toback should get to know some black people besides Hollywood stars. His essay on Hip Hop culture is so stereotypical and inane it borders on the ludicrous. If you are a white person who has happened to never meet an African America you might believe the ramblings of this movie. But if you live outside the milita compounds of Utah or wherever, you'll know that African Americas don't live their day to day lives as one giant orgy of sex, drugs and basketball. Don't watch this movie for any reason! It has no redeeming values and I mean NONE!
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1/10
Black and White and hard to watch
KGitt4449816 August 2003
I like a few of the actors from other movies, and had heard Eberts's positive review (especially about Robert Downey Jr, & Mike Tyson's part) so I decided to watch Black and White.

This movie now sits in the bottom of the barrel of bad movies I've seen, next to Armageddon, Lost and Delirious, and a few others.

I've never seen Brooke Shields look worse - dreadlocks and a nose-ring...I understand it is not a movie about her or her looks, but still, her dialogue ("Let us share your life!" or whatever - I'm trying to forget the movie) was just weak. Also, for some reason, that tiny camera she carried did not convince me of her documentarian prowess...

Robert Downey Jr was kind of interesting as Brooke's gay husband, and his brief scene with Mike Tyson was kind of funny, but that did not make up for the rest of the movie.

Claudia Shiffer was pretty good, although her character sucked, as did all the others.

I had no interest in the characters or the lifestyle that was portrayed.

The commentary by James Toback was just as hard to listen to as the movie was to watch. He seemed to be on tranquilizers, mumbled frequently, and thinks himself great.

1 star, only for Robert Downey Jr & Mike Tyson. Can you decipher my vernacular?
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6/10
Not so real
paul2001sw-17 May 2006
Hip-hop is not just a style of music, for it comes associated with an attitude, an attitude that notoriously does not wholly reject the ghetto from which it springs. Whether the music, and culture, should thus be seen as the free expression of the dispossessed, or as one of the chains tying them down, is this a moot point (though it's worth noting that every revolution in popular music over the last half-century has been seen by respectable society as the end of the world). 'Black and White' is a celebrity-studded collection of small stories about characters living the hip-hop life, its focus on the interplay of the white community with this essentially black form of music. It's not badly executed, although it's hard to get very interested in any of the characters. One peculiarity, though, is how little hip-hop there actually is on the soundtrack, a strange vacuum at the heart of the film; also, we see little in the way of everyday life in the world from which the music emerged. The result is watchable, but there are no real insights, sociological or musical, to be had.
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Why the Bad Reviews?
birdy318224 March 2004
I just don't understand how some people can comment on this film saying that it had little structure yet can comment about Independance Day being good!!!! This film is realistic and quite humerous. It doesn't depict Blacks as wanting a quick lay and it doesn't potray White as trying to be bling!!

It just depicts the characters we see do what they want to do... And besides, if you hated the film so much, you should have turned it off. The fact the very vast majority did not suggests you are not at all being honest in your opinions of this film.

Get a life people and carry on watching your Hollywood Superflicks!!

My verdict: 7/10
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1/10
BORING
kfurnas8 April 2000
"Black and White" breaks nearly all of the rules of a traditional movie.

There is essentially no plot, only a set of circumstances. There are no central characters - instead there are about a dozen characters of equal importance. Of those dozen characters, none are protagonists and all are highly flawed individuals. The movie has the most conversational dialogue of any movie this year.

It's also probably the most boring movie of the year.

"Black and White" takes a glance at race relations between young blacks, and young whites who try to imitate them. But that's really all it takes - a glance. The rest of the movie uses tired stereotypes to try to poke fun at cultural differences. The movie is highly unsuccessful either as a drama or a comedy, however, and would really only have worked as a true to life documentary. (As a subplot, one of the characters in the movie - a movie maker played by Brooke Shields - is making a documentary about white youth imitating black culture.)

However, knowing that every line in this movie was scripted and acted defeats any type of message the movie was trying to make. It's unfortunate to say the movie could have benefited from more of a Hollywood feel, but it at least should have had a similar formula.

Additionally, the movie makes extremely poor use of some high name talent. Elijah Wood, Brooke Shields, Robert Downey Jr., Ben Stiller and Claudia Schiffer all come away with weak performances - mostly because of weakly written characters. Maybe the most entertaining performance is by Mike Tyson, who plays himself and, for the most part, is pretty true to life. He doesn't make himself out to be a hero, which goes a little ways in helping the credibility in the film.

It's unfortunate that with such a volatile theme, the script of "Black and White" could become such a dud. Nevertheless, there is no entertainment value to this film, and even less of a lesson to be learned.
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5/10
Lost in translation
ramsri00721 October 2015
This James Toback movie is about Hip Hop culture & the influence it has on the American Kids while growing up. The way Black & White panned out, it seems to me that the scrip was written extemporaneously. Many parts felt disjointed and just did not gel well with the overall story. Or was there a story? Toback touches on a lot of issues and topics but he failed to fit them well into the story and therefore the final feel of the movie is more documentary like. He tries a little too hard to be cutting edge.

There are quite a few cameos in this movie - Mike Tyson, Brooke Sheilds, Joe Pantoliano, Jared Leto Robert Downey Jr. Had Toback worked more on the script and the screenplay, we would have had a great film about teens, race relations and cultural impact.

Although I loathe the pace of the movie and the story, I would surely watch it just for Downey Jr. He plays a documentary film maker, Terry who along with his wife, Brooke Shields, follow a group of rich white kids who are desperate to match their black hip-hop heroes.

The best moments in the movie belong to Downey Jr and his interactions with the characters. He hits on every guy in the movie including Mike Tyson! In the movie, a visibly nervous Downey sidles up to Tyson and mentions a dream he had about him that involved Tyson 'holding' him. At which moment Tyson, in pure rage, slaps Downey and grabs his throat. One can see the terror in Downey's eyes. This exchange is definitely electrifying and funny in a sense. Another moment is when Downey Jr confesses to his wife that he is gay towards the end of the movie & also his exchange with Jerad Leto at the club.
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3/10
Mucked up movie, which could have been really good
Avwillfan894 April 2010
Warning: Spoilers
James Toback tried to send out a message of what white American kids do to adapt to a hip hop culture while growing up. Like the movie Thirteen, it explores themes of what kids will do to fit in. Rich white kids preferring the black hood life of sex, violence and drugs tearing their own lives apart, black kids mingling with whites, trying to claim their own business deals, with guns and taunts when they have the cash, not trying to make their lives better, just expanding their stereotypes. This makes neither the group of whites or blacks likable. There's a lot of different story lines but none of them really click.

The one that does is when a corrupt cop (played by Ben Stiller) approaches a black guy with a bribe that turns out to be a con, to get at his friend Rich. When he finds out about it, not only does he screw his girlfriend (Claudia Schiffer) but he also gets one of his white cats to take him out, without even telling him why, and he does it. The girlfriend is neither happy nor sad when she hears the news.

There are a hell of a lot of cameos in this movie, including a then fit Mike Tyson, whom Toback is a fan, Brooke Sheilds, Joe Pantoliano, Jared Leto and last but not least, Robert Downey Jr, as a gay man looking a lot like Elton John. Unfortunately all the famous people in the world can't make up for how screwed up the story line is. It could have been a great film about teens, race relations and cultural impact, but it totally missed the spot.
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