Black And White

Black And White


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Thanks to the success of hip-hop, black street cool has become the fashion for rich white kids.

James Toback's movie follows the tradition of neo-realism in its improvised US form, using rappers and celebrities as actors.

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Set in New York, the plot is multifarious, which is intentional, as the director wants to paint a picture, not tell a story.

He uses Brooke Shields and Robert Downey Jr as a crude device to get teenagers to talk about themselves. She is supposedly making a documentary about white attitudes to black culture, which allows her little camera access to everyone and everything.

Downey plays her husband, who hangs around making passes at every man he meets, including Mike Tyson - BIG mistake. For a renowned heterosexual, he seems to thrive on these gay roles - he was at it only weeks ago in Wonder Boys.

The black posse is an inarticulate bunch of hustlers, who carry guns and terrorise the neighbourhood, have sex with white chicks whenever it's offered, which is all the time, and generally abuse people with their threatening manner.

The sense of a society eating itself alive on a gangsta myth is very strong. The rich kids are out of control, particularly the girls, and their parents seem to exist on another planet.

The weirdest character is Ben Stiller, who plays an undercover cop. His motive for blackmailing a basketball star and withholding evidence in a murder case appears to concern his desire to get back with his girlfriend (Claudia Schiffer). Little chance of that since she is sleeping her way through the black cast with considerable ease.

Whatever else this may, or may not be, reassuring it aint. Civil rights, the sexual revolution and private education have created a terrible freedom.

"I can do what I want," the wild child of an Upper East Side family exclaims. "I'm a kid in America."

She can waste her life. It's cool.

Reviewed on: 19 Jan 2001
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Rich white kids in New York want to be black, while rappers from the projects exploit them.
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Director: James Toback

Writer: James Toback

Starring: Brooke Shields, Robert Downey Jr, Power, Ben Stiller, Bijou Phillips, William Lee Scott, Claudia Schiffer, Allan Houston, Mike Tyson, Joe Pantoliano, Raekwon, Elijah Wood

Year: 2000

Runtime: 100 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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