slightly above average
i didn't know what to expect from "Black & White" because i hadn't heard
much about it, except one good review from a thoughtful friend of
Toback has made a loose, rambling essay on something that intrigued him:
relationships between blacks & whites in late 90's new york, and the
influence of hip-hop & black culture on these upper class white
I gave it a 6/10.
It was thought provoking enough, my friends and i spent about an hour
discussing it on the way home after the showing.
Toback throws a lot of wet shaghetti at you in this film from a political
and sociological perspective. Some of it sticks, and some doesn't. It
reminds me about being in college and writing a research paper on a topic
that I was enthusiastic about but lacked a lot of knowledge. I spend a lot
of time finding facts, essays, opinions, analysis, etc. on a subject. The
information being consumed gets overwhelming at times(much like the charged
dialogue in this movie), and a lot of its interesting.
The challenge is, however, to put everthing that I was just bombarded with
together, and make it mean something, tie it together with a thesis, or at
least attempt to develop some meaning out of the senselessness. Toback
throws it all to the audience, asking them to draw a conclusion from all
heady information he serves: The thoughtful pondering vs. dogmatic
manifesto, the careful studied opinions vs. the reactionary irrational
But I don't think Toback himself knows what to make of it all, he seems
in the pahse of being excited and overwhelmed by all the
I think it would have been better and more interesting if Toback actually
made the documentary about the race relationships, instead of making a
rather improvisational movie in some part about documentary
Some of the things I liked about the film: The stylized, jump-cut editing,
the busy camera work, the sound and sound mixing: weaving in and out of
conversations abruptly. i enjoyed the characters Ben Stiller and Robert
Downey played (as underdeveloped as the characters were), and their
performances were the only glitter in the muck
What I disliked about the film: The general lack of characterization
flat), the sheer number of irritating and dislikable characters,
I was bothered by the lack of empathy built up with
the murder of the basketball star (and the lack of signifigance the film
seemed to place on it) and the topsy-turvy ethics of Schiffer's character.
thought it wassn't a very well thought out script in general, possessing
entirely too many characters.
the content of the literary & theatrical elements of any film are more
more important than the technical aspects. A great script and great acting
performances can usually more than make up for technically sloppy or dull
film-craft (that is: editing, lighting, photography, sound), but even the
finest craftwork (which this movie had) can't make up for this films
performances and a far-below average script..
Chaotic & Confused
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..