Mo’ Better Blues (1990): Spike Lee’s Directs Denzel Washington

In the smoky environs of late night jazz clubs, Bleek Gilliam (Oscar-winning actor Denzel Washington), a gifted musician, faces crises in both his personal and professional life.

Obsessed with his music and caught between two girlfriends, Indigo (Joie Lee, Spike’s sister) and Clarke (Cynda Williams), Bleek struggles to keep his musical quintet together and make a commitment to one of the women.

A mid-range, not particularly ambitious film, “Mo’ Better Blues” boasts stunning cinematography, a rousing score and good performances from the central triangle, but the drama is too light and diffuse, lacking the hard edge and raw energy of Lee’s more overtly political films, such as “Do the Right Thing,” which preceded it, and “Jungle Fever” and “Malcolm X,” which followed it.

“Mo’ Better Blues” is part of Spike Lee’s DVD collection, which also includes “Do the Right Thing,” “Jungle Fever,” “Crooklyn,” and “Clockers.”