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The year: 1946. The event: Oakland's "Jazz at the Philharmonic." The music streaked into the unknown, daring listeners to grab hold and fly there, too. On stage was the creator of those new sounds: Charles "Yardbird" Parker. In the crowd was the 16-year-old who would someday bring Parker's extraordinary story to the screen: Clint Eastwood. "Americans don't have any original art except Western movies and jazz," observes Eastwood. Movie fans, of course, know that few heroes sit as tall in the saddles as Eastwood. Now the legendary America icon, whose Dirty Harry films have been praised for their jazz scores, ventures deeper into that other original American art. Eastwood produces and directs Bird, a film burnished with the magic of that 1946 concert encounter between legend and future legend and honored with an Academy Award for Best Sound in its spellbinding recreation of a man and his music. Like jazz itself, Bird rings with counterpoints and embellishments. Past and future overlap as the film explores Yardbird's soaring skill and destructive excesses.
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Top customer reviews
I almost have seen all the movies about Jazz. Some of them are good some not.
So far there are only a hand full of them that are good enough for me to watch them again which is BIRD, MO BETTER BLUES AND FABULOUS BAKER BOYS. All the other movies are so so.
And above those three, this movie is the best.
The movie is about the legendary saxophonist Charile parker. I am not a huge fan of his since most of his albums are recorded in mono.
But anyway,during watching this film, I almost cried watching Forest's acting. It is so real and touching.
Clint Eastwood have something that other people doesn't have. That is his warm heart. And that heart sometimes touches audience so deep that we as an audience can feel so deep and we just carry it for days. I also do know that he is a huge Jazz fan as well.
There are many good actors involved in this film and they are all good but since Forest was so good that I cannot but think about him after the show for so long. This movie is a must see music film for everyone.
160 mintes went so fast that I was surprised!!
It's worth a viewing if you are a Jazz Fan.
This is a dark film, but Charlie Parker's life was not a happy one, and Bohemia in New York City was and is a dark place. Does that mean it isn't interesting?
I don't think this film is about jazz, per se: it's about a troubled, self-destructive man who is also a genius jazz musician, and the conflict between his demons and his talent, where the demons win--a sadly common story among so many of our greatest musicians. If anything, it's a tragedy, which fits: jazz was born from blues, and blues is the music of tragedy.
If you want accuracy and an emphasis on music over drama, check out one of the many excellent documentaries on Parker, or better yet, just listen to the music.
Clint Eastwood, an avid jazz fan, is also an accomplished jazz pianist. Despite the negatives listed above, he has created a memorable musical sound track of Charlie Parker's genius.
Charlie Parker died in March 1955, aged 34. The doctor calling the coroner at the scene of his death described him as a 65-year-old male. Bird was a drug addict, an alcoholic, who had bleeding ulcers, cirrhosis of the liver and a weak heart. At least twice, he had tried suicide by drinking iodine. Several times when picked up for drug usage, he lost his New York State lounge card for playing jazz and had to go to the West Coast to join Dizzy Gillespie, where a lounge card was not required. From our point of view, that was a good thing, for it helped spread bebop throughout California and introduce other audiences other than in NYC, to his fantastical, sensitive and miraculous way of playing.
Was it his sensitivity that made him so inept at handling the down times in life? When his little daughter died, he went back on drugs, after having been clean for a number of years, but having also during that time, increased his alcohol intake.
Bird died young, on the verge of the rock and roll surge and the waning of bebop. But other great jazz performers managed to survive this time, such as Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie and many another great. It could be though, that Bird died within his time, on the verge of changes in musical taste.
The movie features strong performances by Forest Whitaker as Bird, Diane Verona as Bird's wife, Chan, and an excellent performance by Michael Zelniker, as fellow musician and friend, Red Rodney.
It won several international awards, and an Oscar for Best Sound for its soundtrack.
Whatever Clint's defects in his first directorial job, he has given us a stunning and lasting portrait of Charlie "Bird" Parker, one of the greatest jazz musicians of all time.