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Bird (Two-Disc Special Edition) [Import]

Forest Whitaker , Diane Venora , Clint Eastwood    R (Restricted)   DVD
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 47.75
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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

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A MASTERPIECE OF JAZZ AND DRUG FILM NOIR. March 7 2004
Format:DVD
Wow, I can't believe the negative reviews for this MASTERPIECE by Clint Eastwood. Being a big fan of Jazz, I've owned this film for many years in more than one incarnation, and have watched it more times than I care to tally.
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.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Birdland Revisited.... Nov. 17 2002
Format:DVD
"Bird" is an excellent film depicting the music and downfall of American Jazz legend Charlie Parker. This labor of love Directed by Clint Eastwood takes us from the early beginnings of "Bird"s" musical career as a saxophonist, playing with such greats as Dizzy Gilespie(who gave him his nickname "Yardbird"), to his eventual self destruction and death due to his abusive life style. Eastwood was awarded Best Director for this film at the Golden Globes.
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
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4.0 out of 5 stars Academy Award For Sound June 22 2002
Format:DVD
The work required to restore the old sound recordings of Charlie Parker earned this film an Academy Award. The cinematic talent of Clint Eastwood, though often overlooked, demonstrates an exceptional understanding of film technique. He is one of the finest directors working today. Evidently his early contact with Don Seigel and Sergio Leone had a contributing influence. The repetitive scenes in Bird serve to marry style and substance into a story line which develops into a cinematic equivalent to jazz music. The death scene at Nikka's is remarkable. Eastwood later earned an Academy Award for Unforgiven, but his early film work, The Outlaw Josey Wales, and Bird, represents some of the cumulative force behind the academy's recognition of his cinematic accomplishments. The DVD earned a low rating for contrast and picture quality. The technical shortcomings in this copy may be the result of aesthetic decisions made during the film making process, and reflects the hand of the film maker, who uses light and dark to paint a representation of his subject on the screen.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Unblinking honesty Oct. 14 2001
Format:DVD
"Bird" has had to withstand constant comparison to "Round Midnight", and my friends usually choose the latter as their favorite "Jazz Bio". As good as 'Round Midnight is, it is important to remember that "Bird" is the one based in fact, and the truth isn't always a pretty thing.
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.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Good Docudrama, Clint Eastwood is a great storyteller and ...
Very Good Docudrama , Clint Eastwood is a great storyteller and shows his love of music and musicians warts and all.
Published 2 months ago by Chales V. Jones
4.0 out of 5 stars Historical
The Great Charlie Parker... his life...his tragedy...

Everyone have to know about this Historical Musician
Published on May 18 2009 by Christian Morissette
2.0 out of 5 stars This Bird doesn't fly
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 more
Published on April 5 2004 by Anne La Mont
4.0 out of 5 stars Never forgot it
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 more
Published on July 14 2003 by Amazon Customer
1.0 out of 5 stars Warning - DVD does not play in computers
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
Published on Feb. 15 2003
2.0 out of 5 stars Tried to watch it twice - kept falling asleep...
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
4.0 out of 5 stars The tragedy, and some of the triumph, of Charlie Parker...
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 more
Published on April 10 2001 by J. Lund
5.0 out of 5 stars great movie
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 more
Published on March 18 2001 by me
3.0 out of 5 stars A celluloid fan letter--better study up before viewing...
The story goes that Clint Eastwood saw Charlie Parker perform in the early 1950s, and was a fan from that time onwards. Read more
Published on Oct. 27 2000 by The Sanity Inspector
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