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Bird (Two-Disc Special Edition) [Import]
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Clint Eastwood's moody, evocative direction and Forest Whitaker's strong, sensitive performance are the chief proponents to recommend an otherwise muted biopic of '40s jazz legend Charlie Parker, who fell victim to his chemical excesses and convinced the doctor who pronounced him dead that he was a good four decades older than he actually was. The film doesn't try to assign clear blame for Parker's demons, though the era's racism is addressed unflinchingly. Clearly a labor of love, Eastwood's movie structurally attempts to ape the angular music of bebop itself (there are flashbacks within flashbacks, which gets a little confusing), but doesn't quite capture the smolder of the period. Diane Venora registers strongly as Bird's wife, Chan, the woman who can't rescue Bird from the abyss into which he peers. --David Kronke --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Many reviewers said it's overly dark. Yep. Jazz musicians spend most of their time in dark smoke-filled nightclubs. So does BIRD. This is a great MOOD PIECE. It could also be called FILM NOIR.
Many said it doesn't establish why Charlie Parker was one of the greats of Jazz. In one particularly brilliant scene of writing in this film, Parker is talking about himself and the legend of BIRD to Red Rodney, partner in Jazz and fellow heroin addict. He talks about "going inside the melody" of Cherokee, a song he had played many times and was tired of doing. Parker decides to go around the melody with little notes and discovers his style. Thus, a whole new form of music called Be Bop is born. A superb scene.
Many reviewers said it dwelt too heavily on the negative aspects of Parker's drug abuse. This is true. However, heroin played a significant part in early Jazz music in this country. Heavily significant. A majority of the best and brightest Jazz stars were plagued by addiction for many years. Read Miles Davis' autobiography. He lists them all. Eastwood recognizes this in a scene where Parker is in Paris and is debating whether to return to the States. A fellow sideman is trying convince him to stay in France where he can make a decent living. SIDEMAN: "You can't make no living playing Jazz in the States." BIRD: "Dizz can. Duke can." SIDEMAN: "Well you ain't Dizz. And you certainly ain't Duke." BIRD: "So I kick." The Sideman laughs uproariously. BIRD: "I can kick." The Sideman laughs harder.Read more ›
Forest Whitaker turns in a superb performance as the strung out musician, as does Diane Venora as his wife who supported him wholeheartedly but could not help him. Whitaker and Venora were also both honored for their work, Whitaker with Best Actor at the Cannes Film Festival and Venora was the New York Film Critics choice for Best Supporting actress.
The Soundtrack, mostly Parker's music was remastered in Dolby Digital 5.1 and is outstanding.It too was awarded with Best Sound at the Academy Awards.One of the songs that really stood out for me was "Bird's" rendition of "Laura" from the film noir of the same name.
The film does not glamorize Parker's life, but is an honest look at his departure from life and dependence on drugs.We see him turn inward at the loss of a child, the attempt at suicide, desperate attempts at finding work, and his depression at the change in the music world during the rock and roll revolution in the 50's, and finally his death at such a young age.
As far as the DVD, the sound was very good in the Dolby Dig 5.1.The picture was presented in the original widescreen aspect, but was very dark in places, making the actors undistinguishable at times.This may have been the way the film was made due to the dark content of the story. It was slightly distracting (my only reason for 4 stars) but otherwise an engrossing well made story with a great soundtrack.
Bebop Lives On in this film........Laurie
Every time I watch this film, I marvel at how Forest Whitaker renders the musician/addict with such pathos and compassion. Like his friends and lovers in the film, the viewer never loses a sense of empathy and willingness to help, no matter how futile such help may seem.
The supporting cast also delivers some fine performances. Diane Venora is strong and sympathetic as Chan Parker. And Samuel E. Wright presents a light and breezy Dizzy Gillespie, unburdened by the perils of drug abuse. Combined, they provide a perfect counterweight to Whitaker's dark and brooding Bird.
While the music in the film is wonderful to hear and beautifully recorded, the topic of why Bird was a musical giant is carefully avoided. I think that this was a wise choice by Eastwood, as it helps make Whitaker's Charlie Parker all the more accessible to us mere mortals. Tackling a personality as complex as Bird's within a single film would have been an unachievable and necessarily diluting task. Focusing primarily on his personal sphere makes for a much more satisfying film experience. Eastwood clearly did not intend for this to be the definitive biography of Charlie Parker, but instead, a more universal character study. Those who need to know more will find many excellent and detailed bios available.
Most recent customer reviews
Very Good Docudrama , Clint Eastwood is a great storyteller and shows his love of music and musicians warts and all.Published 19 months ago by Chales V. Jones
The Great Charlie Parker... his life...his tragedy...
Everyone have to know about this Historical Musician
This movie was a disappointment for me. I had hoped to learn about a creative musician's life but that is not the story here. Read morePublished on April 5 2004 by Amazon Customer
Forrest Whittaker is one of the best actors in Hollywood. It's a shame we don't see more of him but he had a triumph with Bird. Read morePublished on July 14 2003 by Amazon Customer
I saw this movie a long time ago and liked it. Unfortunately,
the DVD is "copy protected" and will not play on most
computers unless you have CSS cracking... Read more
I know this is an unpopular opinion - but this is NOT a good film. It isn't even an interesting one! I love jazz, and love documentaries - but this was just confused and boring.Published on Oct. 11 2001
How does one make a mass market movie about a cult figure? Director Clint Eastwood seems to have a satisfying if imperfect answer with BIRD. Read morePublished on April 10 2001 by J. Lund
Leonard Maltin writes "...he used to play the flugelhorn and coronet". How can you trust a review that complains that the movie is "overlong" by someone who... Read morePublished on March 18 2001 by me