Compare Offers on Amazon
Black and White (James Toback's) [Import]
Enhance your purchase
- Aspect Ratio : 2.35:1
- Is Discontinued By Manufacturer : No
- Language : English
- Product Dimensions : 1.78 x 19.05 x 13.72 cm; 109.43 Grams
- Canadian Home Video Rating : Parental Guidance (PG)
- Item model number : CTR5288DVD
- Director : James Toback
- Media Format : Color, Anamorphic, Dolby, Closed-captioned, Widescreen, DVD-Video, NTSC, Subtitled, Import
- Run time : 1 hour and 38 minutes
- Release date : Sept. 26 2000
- Actors : Ron Silver, Rory Cochrane, Gina Gershon, Robert Downey, Jr., Robert Downey Jr.
- Subtitles: : English
- Language : English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround), Unqualified (DTS ES 6.1)
- Studio : Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
- Producers : Michael Mailer, Daniel Bigel, Ron Rotholz
- ASIN : B00004W21Z
- Country of origin : USA
- Number of discs : 1
- Customer Reviews:
From experimental director James Toback comes the highly unique BLACK AND WHITE. Shot documentary-style with largely improvised dialogue, the film examines the burgeoning influence of the urban rap scene on middle-class high school kids. The eclectic ensemble cast also includes Claudia Schiffer, Mike Tyson, Jared Leto, Bijou Phillips and rappers such as Method Man and Ghostface Killah.
Top reviews from Canada
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
As I watched the film, I got the feeling that Toback meant to use hip-hop (rappers) to represent "Black" culture, and upper-middle class white teens, their families, and various other adults to represent "White" culture. I have two problems with this:
#1) There is an imbalance of cinematic representation: on the Black side, we see rappers, two athletes, and just one Black female (Kidada Jones). On the White side, we see teens, their parents (including a District Attorney), a police officer (Ben Stiller), an anthropological student (Claudia Schiffer), studio owners, lawyers, a teacher (Jared Leto), and two documentary filmmakers (Brooke Shields and Robert Downey Jr.). Put concisely, I feel Toback's assertion that Black people as a whole can be defined by solely "hip-hop" culture is just plain silly, and incredibly stereotypical.
#2) Hip-hop, while it has roots in African-American tradition, is no longer the "Black" artform or culture that it once was. Like Jazz and Rock'n'Roll music before it, people of all races (Def Jam Germany anyone?) are currently participating and excelling in their study, appreciation, and performance of hip-hop. A more accurate description of hip-hop music now would be to call it a "youth culture" music.
The fact that some White youths tend to look outside their "culture" for a sense of identity is nothing new, and is definitely not limited to just "hip-hop" culture. Sociologically speaking, some segments of White culture have always been fascinated with the idea of appropriating aspects of foreign cultures (both domestic and international) for their own uses - from Madonna's late '90s fascination with Eastern religions, to Paul Simon's Graceland album. Really, this is nothing new. I think the conflicts (and shocking sex scenes) in this film will only help to crystallize racial divisions in our society. There are no solutions proposed, let alone explored.
The only redeeming performance in this whole film was Robert Downey Jr -- he never seemed to take himself too seriously, and this worked brilliantly well considering the pathetic context of this film.
Setting his tale in New York City and employing an intriguing mix of established and first time actors, many of them playing themselves on screen, writer/director James Toback explores the ways in which both sides of the black/white equation are essentially attempting to achieve the same basic goal: to gain acceptance in the other side's territory for reasons of either financial gain or personal validation. Here we have, for example, a group of white, upper middle class high school students, disillusioned by the empty materialism of their family and home lives, so drawn to the contemporary trendiness of the black hip-hop culture that they end up emulating and adopting its fashions, its terminology and its angry, anti-establishment attitudes. Yet, acceptance is not a guarantee in any area of life and what these youngsters do not realize is that they are perceived by the blacks as little more than pathetic hangers-on, cultural nomads to be exploited for their willingness to perform sexual favors or rituals of bloodletting when it is most convenient to the users.
Conversely, the blacks find themselves doing virtually the same thing, in this case, cowtowing to the white record industry executives who in turn exploit them for success and profit. Here we have gangster rappers attempting to go "straight" in order to achieve acceptability in the high-class world of the corporate entertainment elite.
Toback explores this often confusing but always fascinating world by laying out its topography in a non-linear fashion. The "story" consists of interlocking and overlapping characters culled from a wide range of social strata. Like a fine jigsaw puzzle, the film reveals a full panoramic picture as the assorted pieces fall nicely into place. The most morally complex plot strand involves a shady undercover cop (Ben Stiller), his ethically ambiguous ex-girlfriend and her new black, basketball star boyfriend. The first two characters in particular so thoroughly defy conventional pigeonholing in terms of moral consistency and clarity of motive that they keep the audience off balance and questioning throughout. In fact, it is this very refusal to simplify the moral (or perhaps amoral) complexities of the world he is showing us that makes Toback's document such a fascinating one to watch.
One could quibble with a few editorial choices, of course. The use of Brooks Shields and Robert Downey Jr. as a couple of bizarre documentary filmmakers seems a bit forced as a way to get the "outside world" into the proceedings. Some of the acting seems a bit amateurish, to say the least, and the dialogue occasionally sounds stilted and poorly rehearsed. And the use of Mike Tyson, appearing as himself, is positively surreal in its effect as we see him beating up a man who has made a sexual advance on him and advising a buddy to commit murder as an act of retaliation. How Toback got Tyson to agree to such an unflattering and downright damning portrayal of himself is truly beyond imagining.
Despite its few weaknesses, "Black and White" provides a searing look into the world of racial relations in this country. For its honesty, bravery and refusal to compromise, this is a film well worth studying and applauding.
Brooke Shields plays a documentary filmmaker and Robert Downey Jr. plays her gay husband. This dynamic was clever as these types of relationships do exist in society. It was refreshing to see it portrayed on the big screen. Shields performance was the better of the two, although it was lost on this movie.
There are many stories weaving through this screenplay, many to do with race or sexual relations. However, it was not as tight as it could have been and I lost interest, and got lost along the way.
I have to admit, throughout my life I have seen many white teenagers emulating the Hip-Hop culture. I never had a problem with it as I am on the flip side of that coin. However, this movie was just to annoying in bringing this to light. Bijou Philips performance as one of the white teens was the most irritating. I believe if they had a different actress playing it, it might have went over better. Elijah Wood plays her boyfriend who is rather timid and a bit too understanding and at times I wish he would have just popped her one...but there was already enough violence in this film, though not nearly as much as other movies.
The contrast between the race relations just confused me here. At some points they seemed to 'tolerate' one another and at other times they were beyond hostile.
I could have also done without the tonsil hockey between Shields and Woods at the end. OK we get it, they hook up, do we have to watch two minutes of them slobbing each other down?
I feel it was a nice attempt at showing this side of life, but it fell short of entertaining.
Growing up in and around this culture this movie seemed to tense for reality.