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Round Midnight

4.4 out of 5 stars 135 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Round Midnight (DVD)

Jazz great Dexter Gordon plays a brilliant, self-destructive, African American musician who moves to Paris in the 1950s to find an audience more appreciative of his art--and more accepting of his race. There a young, female fan bonds with the talented musician, but even her affection may not be enough to save him from alcoholism, drug addiction and depression in this deeply human drama probing the price a great artist must pay for his gift.

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Product Details

  • Actors: Dexter Gordon, François Cluzet, Gabrielle Haker, Christine Pascal, Sandra Reaves-Phillips
  • Directors: Bertrand Tavernier
  • Writers: Bertrand Tavernier
  • Producers: Irwin Winkler
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    R
    Restricted
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: July 22, 2008
  • Run Time: 131 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (135 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0016OM3TU
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #16,832 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Round Midnight" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By William E Donoghue on December 30, 2000
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
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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Format: 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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Format: 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.
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Format: 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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