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51 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Real emotions from real characters
This touching and realistic movie is quietly dedicated to jazz pianist Bud Powell and saxophonnist Lester Young (both expatiriates who lived in Paris) on whose life the character of "Dale Turner," the saxophonist, is based. The character of Dale Turner, a jazzman in his last days, is played by Dexter Gordon, a jazzman soon to die of throat cancer. Dexter...
Published on December 30, 2000 by William E Donoghue

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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "Good jazz music performances"...
The movie and plot moved too slow...

Except for the sparatic musical jazz performances (and I love jazz music) the movie was boring and had a very depressing plot for the image of jazz musicians...Perhaps that was the intent and realistic...For me it was hard too keep interested throughout with the French/English language mixed dialog...Sound on the spoken...
Published 15 months ago by Don W. Armstrong


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51 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Real emotions from real characters, December 30, 2000
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This review is from: Round Midnight (DVD)
This touching and realistic movie is quietly dedicated to jazz pianist Bud Powell and saxophonnist Lester Young (both expatiriates who lived in Paris) on whose life the character of "Dale Turner," the saxophonist, is based. The character of Dale Turner, a jazzman in his last days, is played by Dexter Gordon, a jazzman soon to die of throat cancer. Dexter Gordon, a real-life expatriot jazzman who spent much of his playing years in Denmark, deservedly received an academy award nomination for his moving portrayal based on not only a real life story but people and settings with which he was personally familiar. In many ways it is the story of all three musicians, Gordon, Powell and Young. But even more it is based on a fine book on the life of Bud Powell by the young Frenchman who befriended him (which I cannot put my hands on right now). It's as close to truth as you can come. By the way, Dexter played Montreux the next year and while he sounds fragile in the film, he play with great strength.
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38 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No middle ground, September 16, 2001
By 
Charles Andrews (Fort Worth, TX USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Round Midnight (DVD)
I find it curious that in all the reviews of "Round Midnight" that there is virtually no middle ground. People either loved the movie (most) while others hated it. I suspect those that didn't like the movie are devotees of fusion and fail to appreciate the jazz of the 1950's. Gordon while not the "topical" character of the film, lived this story as an expatriated saxphonist. He brings a reality to the picture that is lacking in similar ventures such as "Bird". While I think "Bird" is too an outstanding film, the reality of watching the music being created live is not there.
This film shames efforts like "Lady Sings the Blues" because of its stark reality. There is no glossing over and memorializing Dale Turner in the movie. He's there with all his warts for all the world to see. This wasn't a star vehicle like "Lady..." was for Ross. This may be the most honest film ever made.
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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Portrait of an Artist as a Jazz Man, November 17, 2005
By 
Joe Pierre (Los Angeles, CA United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Round Midnight (DVD)
"Round Midnight" is a masterpiece of a film that portrays the life of a jazz musician on an extended residence in Paris in the 1950's whose struggle with alcoholism and abuse by his "handlers" invites the friendship of a young Frenchman who attempts to aid him in sobriety and salvation. The protagonist jazzman, "Dale Turner," was based on a composite of real-life jazz legends Lester Young (tenor sax) and the tortured and enigmatic Bud Powell (piano). In fact, while much of the film is fictionalized, much of it is drawn directly from the memoir/biography "Dance of the Infidels" written by Francis Paudras, who in real life befriended Bud Powell during his Parisian expatriate days and on whom the character "Francis" is based.

The tone of the film is wistful and tragic as it follows Turner's struggle as an artist creating incredible beauty but destroying himself with alcoholism, and the desperate attempts of his friend to save him (if you like happy stories over realism, stick to your standard Hollywood fare). Tavernier defied the movie studio by insisting that real-life jazz tenor sax great Dexter Gordon (who himself played with Bud Powell in Paris in the 50's) play the role of Turner (he also helped to revise and rewrite the script). Gordon has a soft, but gravelly voice that is difficult to understand on first listen, but his acting is top-notch (he is after all, playing someone he knew, as well as himself to some extent) and he nails one scene after another. He captures Turner's struggle with disillusionment, death, loneliness, paternalism, racism, and the constant pressure to create art to a T.

I don't think you need to like jazz to like this film, but it probably wouldn't hurt. There are a lot of extended scenes where Dexter Gordon is playing the music, along with a supporting cast composed of other real jazz legends such as Herbie Hancock, Freddie Hubbard, Bobby Hutcherson, John McLaughlin, Wayner Shorter, and Pierre Michelot. The result is an authentic portrait and tribute that captures the Paris jazz scene of the 50's, along with a stellar soundtrack (released in two parts as the official soundtrack "Round Midnight" and "The Other Side of Round Midnight" under Gordon's name).
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A realistic look at jazz musicians in Paris, December 28, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Round Midnight [VHS] (VHS Tape)
With an all-star cast like Dexter Gordon and Herbie Hancock, along with many of their jazz colleagues, this movie is a realistic look at what many jazz musicians have had to go through. Countless musicians, like "Dale Turner" (Dexter Gordon) have had to deal with drugs, alcohol, discrimination and other problems. What makes this movie even better is the fact that real musicians are playing instead of just faking their instruments like in so many other movies. Herbie Hancock wrote an excellent score, and even stuck in his own "Watermelon Man" as background music in a bar scene. Other jazz greats like Wayne Shorter, Tony Williams, Ron Carter, etc. make cameos in the film. Dexter Gordon is excellent as the lead character. Highly recommended for any jazz fan who wants to see a movie with real musicians playing their instruments, and a lot of good music. "Syrupy jazz ballads" they may be, but I somehow don't think "Cherokee" or "Ornithology" would be appropriate here. A mellow film, mellow music, and loud and clear message that promotes respect for jazz and its many enduring musicians.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Come and celebrate the music!, May 5, 2001
This review is from: Round Midnight (DVD)
If you've ever been in a small, smoke filled club, oh, 'round about midnight, when the beauty of the jazz being played brings absolute tears to your eyes, well, you'll know why this film is so special. Jazz itself swims in the river of risk, and director Bertrand Tavernier jumps in feet first. Instead of using regular actors to play the parts of these creative people, he does it one better and uses the musicians themselves to tell the story. Starring the remarkable late tenorman Dexter Gordon, we follow the story of a 1950's american jazzman in Paris who is on the slow decline to destruction until he his befriended by a local fan, played wonderfully by Francois Cluzet. Dexter was not the only musician to grace the screen. Others such as Bobby Hutcherson, Herbie Hancock, Billy Higgins, Wayne Shorter, Ron Carter, and several others not only provided the music in the film but many played pivotal roles as well. This use of musician that have been there, done that brings a special "realness" that could never have come across by using regular actors. On a side note, this film was unique in quite another way. Almost all of the music that you see being performed in the movie was actually being played and recorded right on the stage. In nearly every other movie the music is rerecorded at a later date in order to take out any "mistakes". This just shows the lengths that director Tavernier was willing to go to bring the true spirit of jazz to the screen. In ending, this film, like jazz itself, will probably not be for everyone. However, if you pass up the chance to see this film you will miss the chance to add two hours of magic to your life!
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Friendship, music and far too much whisky, January 14, 2004
This review is from: Round Midnight (DVD)
This movie stars Dexter Gordon and features among others Herbie Hancock, Billy Higgins, John McGlaughlin, Wayne Shorter, Tony Williams, Freddie Hubbard and Ron Carter. If you like jazz that's probably all you need to know to make you go see it.
It's a loving recreation of Paris in the 1950s when many of the best American jazz musicians liked to hang in and around the Blue Note café, a venue which, if I only had a time machine is probably where I would most want to spend my evenings. There we find Dale Turner (Gordon) who is in France playing his tenor and drinking himself to death. Turner is based on a kind of amalgam of Bud Powell and Lester Young. His self-destructiveness and bizarre speech habits (all his male friends are nicknamed "Lady" something or other) are pureYoung. The friendship with a young Frenchman Francis (Francois Cluzet) with forms the film's dramatic centre is based on an episode in the life of Powell.
Cluzet's character is perhaps one of the weaker aspects of the film. His conversations with Turner are a bit unsuccessful in getting very far past fanspeak, You are so wonderful, I love your music so much, etc., etc., which I confess I started finding a little tiresome. But generally it's a really delightful movie and one it is possible to enjoy even if you aren't a jazz nut.
But the music is certainly a huge treat. The scene where Gordon and Lonette McKee's Darcey Leigh (clearly based on Billie Holiday) perform "How Long Has This Been Going On" is one of the most unforgettable and mesmerizing musical moments in any film.
Music aside, it's a rather quiet, low key drama about how Turner befriends Francis and his young daughter who must then struggle to help him control the drink habit which is inexorably killing him. It's fairly slow moving. Not a lot happens. But it's a touching and likeable movie, slow and tender like much of its soundtrack, and is kept interesting mainly by Dexter Gordon's marvellous performance as Turner, a heartbreaking mixture of poetry and kindness on the one hand and hopeless alcoholic desperation on the other. He acts almost as well as he plays and he plays, well, he plays like Dexter Gordon.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Greatest Movie on Jazz, May 9, 2000
By 
Denis L. Baggi (Lugano, Switzerland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Round Midnight [VHS] (VHS Tape)
I state unequivocally that this is the greatest movie on Jazz ever made. It has the depth of that music and illustrates the internal drama of an artist, and thus succeeds far better than other attempts (such as "Bird" by Clint Eastwood, even "Mo' Better Blues" by Spike Lee). Perhaps that's because Tavernier, instead of applying pre-conceived (if not racist) ideas on the music and the musicians, just let Dexter Gordon talk freely about what he knows, jazz music. Perhaps it's because, at least in respect to jazz, Europeans have been in the past more respectful and have consistently applied the highest musicological criteria and critical metholodology.
The plot is patterned on a true story, the friendshpid between the French jazz lover Francis Paudras and Bud Powell - perhaps the greatest pianist of the 40's - who suffered from artistic and personal lapses and was living in Paris. There are also some aspects of saxophonist Dale Turner (Dexter Gordon) borrowed from the tragic destiny of Lester Young, who died in New York at the age of 49.
The recreation of the "Blue Note", a jazz club in Paris, is great, and some of the ancient ones (Pierre Michelot, a bass player who was member of the rhythm section with Bud Powell and Kenny Clarke) can be seen and heard. Also the scenes in New York, e.g. the hotel on Times Square (Lester for instance spent years at a window of a room like that drinking gin) are above criticism.
The only criticism is with some scenes that have little relevance: Francis' invitation of the jazzman to his parents' place in Lyon (Tavernier's home town), and their excursion on a beach in Northern France. This is perhaps a fantasy of the movie director, some interjection of his own life in something that has to do with jazz, a weakness that ought to be forgiven.
Therefore this is a great movie for jazz lovers, as well as an accurate rendition that music for the general public, especially that which does not suspect its depth. As Dexter says, Monet, etc., it's all be bop. Yes, I have been with a woman, he answers the shrink, and he caresses his woman, his tenor sax. Touchy moments in the development of that friendship. A movie which, in spite of its focus on jazz, should appeal to everybody.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An authentic showcase of bebop jazz in a perfect setting., November 21, 2005
By 
This review is from: Round Midnight (DVD)
This review is for the 2001 Warner Brothers DVD.

It's 1959 in Paris with jazz saxophonist Dale Turner (Dexter Gordon) playing in the Blue Note Club. His stage presence seems sedated as he sits rather than stands and holds the sax rigidly through most of set, but his music is mesmerizing. His biggest fan, Francis Borler (François Cluzet) isn't inside the club, but outside in the rain, listening to every note as though his life depended on it. As a struggling graphic artist, Francis doesn't have enough money to be inside the club, but one night after Turner leaves the Blue Note, he bumps into Francis and asks the Frenchman if he'll buy him a beer and Francis gladly accommodates Turner even though it will probably cost him all the money he has to his name.

Later it becomes clear that Turner has a drinking problem and all his close friends including his landlady try to isolate him from alcohol. The film moves on with more great sessions inside the club, but one night Dale is picked up for public intoxication and from that point on Francis takes on the role as Dale's personal caretaker and even cajoles Turner into moving in with him and his young daughter into their small apartment. The close-knit friendship continues with Turner being clean and sober. Near the end of the film, Turner goes to back to America with Francis tagging along but Francis' visit is short lived as he decides to return to France.

The movie is the best jazz film I've seen, and it works magic because the main character is a real professional jazz musician and not an actor and the music is live and not piped in. Having the movie take place in this small lounge in Paris, adds international appeal, warmth and a very personal connection to this brilliant art form. As wonderful as the movie is, too much time was devoted to Borler's obsessive relationship with Turner. This could have been the quintessential jazz film if it had focused more on Turner's relationship with other musicians with more discussions about the mechanics of the music. By far, the best off-stage scene in the movie is when Turner has dinner with an attractive female singer whose been a longtime friend and she reminds Dale in a voice of gratitude, "You were the one that taught me to listen to the bass and not the drums" and Turner quickly replies back, "You would have figured it out in 10 or 15 years anyway". The other thing that makes this film so special is the intimacy of the nightclub in a time when jazz musicians seemed far more accessible. The final scene of the movie is many years later on a large stage of an amphitheater which is commonplace for today's jazz concerts and gives older jazz fans a longing for that golden age of bebop in those small clubs with special musicians who played like Dale Turner. This is a must-have DVD for any serious jazz fan.

The DVD presentation is does the film justice. The color widescreen presentation is immaculate and most importantly the stereo soundtrack sounds fantastic.

Movie: A-

DVD Quality: A
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice Story Even For Non-Jazz Fans, April 20, 2006
By 
Craig Connell (Lockport, NY USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Round Midnight (DVD)
This is jazz-fan's delight: tons of jazz, featuring tenor saxophone with some bebop thrown in. Most of the music is nice mellow stuff and interesting to hear, even to a non-jazz buff like me.

The music and interesting story made me purchase the DVD, which I have subsequently watched few a couple of times. The story is pretty laid-back, a simple tale of an American alcoholic sax great playing in France who reforms because of a French fan who cares about him.

Dexter Gordon's unique voice makes helps him become an interesting character to hear and the real-life jazz great proves to be a decent actor, too. Francois Cluzet plays the admirer who goes out of his way to help his idol. Gabrielle Haker is pleasant to watch as Cluzet's young daughter. She always seems to have a pleasant smile on her face.

I don't why this film was rated "R" because there is no sex, no nudity, little profanity except for several "mf's," which must be the reason for the rating. Nevertheless, it's a pretty tame movie.

Even though the story is a bit slow and would probably bore the heck out of most young people today, I found it entertaining and definitely different. It's just a nice, gentle story, whether you are a fan of jazz or not.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's more than a movie about jazz., December 29, 2005
By 
Bárbara (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Round Midnight (DVD)
Round Midnight is the most delicate, sensitive and deep movie I've ever watched.

It's a movie that goes much beyond jazz and musicians.

It's a movie about love, about the possibilities, about us, human beigns.

And amazingly played by two INCREDIBLE actors: Dexter Gordon and François Cluzet. Dexter Gordon was a special human being, he was an angel. I really belive this. It was up to Bertrand Tavernier to see it and he did. That's why the movie is a masterpiece, it's a combination of untouchble and unique souls.
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'Round Midnight
'Round Midnight by Bertrand Tavernier (DVD - 2008)
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