One of my favorite Spike Lee films. Won the Fidelio Film Award for Best Comedic Feature. I saw it opening night in New York City, before I even moved here–on one of my trips. An awesome NY audience who gave a standing ovation afterwards. Unfortunately, I found out later, this awesome NY audience will give a standing ovation for almost anything, like Spielberg’s THE TERMINAL. But oh well, it’s still a cool memory.
My offical review:
Bamboozled (2000) -R- DVD
Written and Directed by: Spike Lee
Starring: Damon Wayans, Savion Glover, Tommy Davidson, Jada Pinkett, Michael Rappaport, Thomas Jefferson Byrd
Lee Attacks TV Industry in Dark Satire, Gets Applauds in NY
The one thing that sold me on the culture of New York City, on my recent visit, is that on opening night of Spike LeeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s new film Bamboozled, the audience applauded at the end. Spike Lee is one of my favorite filmmakers and to be with an audience who appreciates his art is uplifting.
Lee is criticized too often for being racist, his films too abstract, hard to follow, and pretentious. Like in his new film, Lee always has something to say. He uses film the way it should be, as a medium for art. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s also willing to take chances directing.
Bamboozled is a dark satire of how the TV industry is run by white executives who make African Americans out to be buffoons on TV. He shot most of the film in digital, which gives it a hazy real quality. This of course will throw off the average moviegoer, but it adds to the film. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s about the TV industry, so why not make it look like TV.
Damon Wayans, in his first big onscreen role since 1996Ã¢â‚¬â„¢s Bulletproof, plays Pierre Delacroix. Delacroix is a writer for CNS, a UPN like network, whose projects featuring positive roles for African Americans, like The Cosby Show, keep getting turned down by white executive Dunwitty (Rappaport), who reminds him of his contract when he threatens to quit.
He comes up with the brilliant idea of writing a show so vulgar, so repulsive, so offensive and insulting to African Americans that he will be fired on the spot and can go out and get a new job. This of course backfires on him and Mantan: The New Millennium Minstrel Show is born.
Mantan: The New Millennium Minstrel Show becomes an instant hit. But at what expense? DelacroixÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s hit brings back the Minstrel shows of the 20Ã¢â‚¬â„¢s and 30Ã¢â‚¬â„¢s, exploiting blacks. The setting of the show is in a watermelon patch, and the black stars put on an even blacker face, mimicking the white stars of the original shows who wore dark face.
Manray (Glover) and Womack (Davidson), MantanÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s two stars, realize that their fame comes at a cost. Delacroix ends up realizing it as well, but by then itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s too late.
Savion Glover hands in a remarkable performance as Manray/Mantan. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a famous tap dancer whoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s gained fame on Broadway, starred in Tap with fellow tap dancers Gregory Hines and Sammy Davis Jr., and now expands his credentials into this very dramatic role. Tommy Davidson, of In Living Color and films like Bootie Call, expands his acting into the dramatic realm as well, and pulls it off too.
The best performance though is WayansÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ Delacroix. Delacroix talks almost like a white businessman and finds himself at odds with his black heritage. At one point, Dunwitty exclaims, Ã¢â‚¬Å“IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m more black than you.Ã¢â‚¬?
Lee explores the racial prejudices of television with an uncompromising look at the industry. The subject matter may turn off some audiences, but only because what heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s saying is so true, and some people donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t like being confronted with their own fears and prejudices. The way this country portrayed blacks back in the turn of the century is disgraceful, an obvious understatement, and Lee points out how itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s still going on even today.
Bamboozled stands as one of his most important works, and shows that Spike Lee continues to challenge the medium of film as an art form to express his opinions. This is exactly what film should strive to do and is why Lee stands as one of the most talented young filmmakers around today.
The Bamboozled DVD contains an awesome documentary on the making of the film that points out LeeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s influences and touches on GloverÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s and DavidsonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s feelings about putting on the black face. As on the Do the Right Thing Criterion DVD, LeeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s commentary track is very informative as well.
There are 19 deleted scenes, with 3 variations on the Ã¢â‚¬Å“Da BombÃ¢â‚¬? advertisement and 4 variations on the Ã¢â‚¬Å“HillniggerÃ¢â‚¬? advertisement. *A little trivia question: What was the first Spike Lee film to advertise Ã¢â‚¬Å“Da BombÃ¢â‚¬??
The music videos include Mau Maus Ã¢â‚¬Å“Blak iz Blak,Ã¢â‚¬? the group headlined by the very talented Mos Def, seen most recently in MonsterÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Ball. I was disappointed though that there was no video for Stevie WonderÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Ã¢â‚¬Å“Misrepresented People.Ã¢â‚¬?
All in all, the features make the Bamboozled DVD worth it. On a side note, when Bamboozled was released on DVD, I met Spike Lee at Virgin Megastore, where he signed my copy.
[color=LimeGreen]*Answer: Clockers (in the bar)