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3.5 out of 5 stars
3.5 out of 5 stars
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on 22 March 2004
I saw this on tv last night and while I didn't find it especially engaging it does have some interesting stuff to say, but mainly its worth seeing for Robert Downey Jr's performance. He's real funny, and the scene where he's coming on to Mike Tyson is brilliant. I mean personally if I was a fella I just wouldn't say to Tyson 'I had a dream and you were holding me', would you? Tyson is pretty good too and came across as having a much softer character than I'd thought. The character of Greta was well played by Claudia Schiffer too, though I have to admit for most of the film I was thinking 'she looks just like Claudia Schiffer' until it dawned on me it was her. Dopey or what? Ben Stiller plays a good creep, and somewhere in there, according to the credits, is Jared Leto but I don't recall seeing him. Maybe he was the kids teacher, I don't know. But if you don't recognise an actor they must be doing something right.
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on 20 June 2017
On rainy days, I shut myself up and watch it by myself. I like the leading lady. The story comes from life, higher than life. The overall effect of the film is not bad. The ending was good and I felt the next one. I don't know what other people think, but I think it's a good movie.
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#1 HALL OF FAMEon 13 April 2002
This is a film that I think was unfairly looked over- probably because it deals with issues that America likes to look away from. The film moves between a 'fiction' of New York encounters between 'black' & 'white' people & towards a Brechtian depiction of racial relationships. This is seen with people playing themselves: Mike Tyson,Method Man, Ghostface Killah etc. We look at the white tourists of the hip-hop/gangsta-rap world: Elijah Wood,Bijou Phillips, Brooke Shields etc- there is the whole talking 'black' patois. By accquiring the same rap-vernacular they feel they are 'on the level'. The most interesting point here is how white-Americans want to be 'black'- which has been evident since Norman Mailer's 'white Negro' concept or Lou Reed's 'I Wanna be Black'. See also John Turtorro in 'Do the Right Thing' or Quentin Tarantino in 'Pulp Fiction' (using blaxploitation language). The latest development is the awesome 'Bully' (which also stars the wonderful Bijou Phillips- one of the best actors in film today) where all the characters are white & middle class- yet soundtrack their lives to Cypress Hill & Dre. As with 'Black & White' they profess to be 'real'-when we know they're not- but the posturing gangsta speak leads to peer-machismo & then murder. A similar thing happens with the DA's son in 'Black & White'...The camerawork is brilliant- particularly when we cut to Shield's digital-camera or the conclusion where Raekown raps to the camera as we shift between a multitude of split screens...The characters are so interesting that I wonder if they could have continued this into a spin-off TV-series? Robert Downey Jr. is great as ever- while Jared Leto proves that he is going to be a De Niro (or at least a James Woods) for the 21st Century. Look at the edgy roles he's done: Fight Club,American Psycho,Requiem for a Dream, The Thin Red Line, Panic Room...Another interesting facet is the notion of homosexuality- through the Downey Jr. character mostly & inter-racial relationships- that are closer to Fassbinder's 'The Marriage of Maria Braun' than Lee's 'Jungle Fever'. Anyone who has read Susan Faludi's 'Stiffed' will find lots here that relate to her themes of masculinity in crisis...There is so much in 'Black & White'- from the notion of redemption in an injust justice system, to the notion that "we're all slaves now"- relating to the final summation by Raekown & co. that colour/race is no longer an issue. It's those in power: "cash moves everything around me/get the cream dollar dollar bill" & the startling depiction of New York cityscape.
James Toback has delivered an audacious & fiercely intelligent dissection of the racial divide in America today. Hopefully it'll find an apprecitive audience in years to come- which is doubtful in a world raised on the lightweight notions of Hollywood.
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on 7 October 2001
This is a very good film if your in to hip-hop or not. The story is followed easily and makes you think about what the director ment. The guest stars in the film make it even better i couldnt help but feel good when Raekwon (Wu-Tang Clan) is stood by "The Wall" in Statten Island and Method Man (aslo Wu-Tang) rolls up in his jeep with his tunes playin. Also Mike Tyson as himself makes for a brillinat scene and acting on his part. This is a good film that talks about racial issues and looks in to gangta criminal life and leaves you to make up your mind.
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on 29 June 2007
As a big RDJ fan, I was hoping for an intellectually challenging and provocative film in which his talents were allowed to shine... I got half of what I wanted. Robert Downey Jr is excellent, as always, but the film itself is a muddled, self-indulgent, vaguely exploitative vanity project with little to commend it. I would imagine that the production team were aiming for words like 'edgy', 'brave', 'challenging' and all the other issue-confronting pscyho-babble that people struggling to justify a film's existence tend to spout. However, it fails on every count, and the simple truth is that the characters are unconvincing and poorly developed, the narrative is almost non-existent, the acting is largely mediocre, and the big over-riding issue that the makers are apparently trying to 'confront' is such a cliche as to be almost meaningless. Please, don't waste your time or your money watching this.
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on 16 July 2001
An extremely well executed study of the racial hotpot and subcultures that exists within New York city. You've got a bunch of white kids wanting to be black - attracted by the hip-hop, gangsta culture and you've got the actual gangstas themselves trying to go straight through their music.
Much of the dialogue was improvised and it shows in the relaxed delivery. Mike Tyson as himself was the most impressive part of this film. He really shines. Robert Downey Jr is also impresses with his overtly camp character.
Soundtrack is funky too...
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on 29 January 2007
Nothing remarkable at all in this film. It's meant to show what happens when poor black kids get involved with rich white kids but it's not very gritty or shocking or anything really, just a waste of an hour and a half.

The vast majority of the charcters don't have any reason to exist and re only in the film because they contractually have to be. There seems to be more concern with getting top names from Hollywood and the hip-hop scene than finding characters for them to play.

The only redeeming feature is seeing Robert Downey Jr. chatting up Mike Tyson. By the way, Mike Tyson plays himself in this film. He just happens to be hanging around with a load of kids while he's on parole.

When there is some kind of plot it's a good film, but there's just not enough to make you want to watch it again. Ben Stiller's character and storyline are good, and you could probably have made the whole film about him, an opportunity wasted.

If you just like seeing the stars come out then this is for you. I won't bother watching it again.
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on 30 June 2001
Although I gave the film four stars, this film left me feeling fairly empty, ie not fulfilled. At 98 minutes, the film could easily have been extended to 2 hours, with many subplots breaking through at the closing scenes of the film. But maybe this is director Toback's point; because he wants to keep it on the subject of not only race but the human agenda in general, and how men women deal with the contrast of different people. This is extremely well dealt with, and although the characters can seem stereotypical at times, the film serves more as a metaphor than anything else. Great acting all round too, notably Mike Tyson and Robert Downey Jr., makes this film worth seeing, if only to have one's mind opened somewhat.
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on 1 April 2014
worst film ever, made absolutely no sense, robert downey jr's role was just senseless, what on earth did i just witness
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on 16 July 2002
great film with one of the better commentries which gives particularly interesting insight into the scenes with Mike Tyson and Method Man.
It doesnt get five stars because it can be quite cliched occasionally and isnt a patch on other films of the same genre but then any film which sees Robert Downey Junior getting an unexpected slap and sqealing like a girl as a result gets my vote.
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