Bird
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Bird

3.5 2
Director: Clint Eastwood

Cast: Clint Eastwood, Forest Whitaker, Diane Venora, Michael Zelniker

     
 

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Forest Whitaker stars as the brilliant jazz saxophonist Charlie "Bird" Parker in this elegiac biopic. Director Clint Eastwood pays full homage to Parker's musical genius, but also devotes ample time to the musician's twin demons--drugs and alcohol-which accelerated his death at the age of 34. In his struggles to gain widespread acceptance for his music, "Bird" is

Overview

Forest Whitaker stars as the brilliant jazz saxophonist Charlie "Bird" Parker in this elegiac biopic. Director Clint Eastwood pays full homage to Parker's musical genius, but also devotes ample time to the musician's twin demons--drugs and alcohol-which accelerated his death at the age of 34. In his struggles to gain widespread acceptance for his music, "Bird" is forever stymied by his own self-destructiveness, and forever bailed out by the love of his life, Chan Richardson Parker (Diane Venora). The film bemoans the decline of the brand of jazz fathered by Parker, which came to be replaced by more conventional material -- as illustrated by the "descent" into the mainstream of Parker's mentor Buster Franklin. Also starring in Bird is Samuel E. Wright as Dizzy Gillespie. That's the real Charlie "Bird" Parker on the film's soundtrack, though most of the background music has been re-orchestrated.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide
Apart from being a notorious tough guy, actor/director Clint Eastwood is also a notorious jazz aficionado, and Bird is his sprawling, impressive tribute to one of the great jazz saxophonists of all time, Charlie "Bird" Parker. Parker, one of the originators of bebop, died at an early age due to a long-standing relationship with the high life. Forest Whitaker, who won best actor at the Cannes Film Festival for this role, does an excellent job of capturing the larger-than-life, ultimately destructive man whom many credit for inventing "cool." The film follows Whitaker's somber example, eluding explanations or historical documentation. Though Eastwood has made some very fine movies as a director, Bird is certainly his most accomplished and mature visually. He pulls out techniques that one might not have suspected he had. He also breaks away from the straightforward narrative style of his mentors, Don Siegel and Sergio Leone. Eastwood's almost impressionistic memory montage as Bird lays dying is probably the most striking directorial achievement that he has produced. The narrative is a bit too disorganized to deliver the full thematic punch that the movie strives for, but the performances (Whitaker and Diane Venora as Bird's wife) and the lasting images make it a significant achievement for Eastwood behind the camera. -- Brendon Hanley

Product Details

Release Date:
06/01/2010
UPC:
0883929126392
Original Release:
1988
Rating:
R
Source:
Warner Home Video
Region Code:
1
Time:
2:40:00
Sales rank:
24,223

Special Features

Music-only audio track; Theatrical trailer; Whitaker,

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Forest Whitaker Charlie "Yardbird" Parker
Diane Venora Chan Richardson Parker
Michael Zelniker Red Rodney
Samuel E. Wright Dizzy Gillespie
Keith David Buster Franklin
Michael McGuire Brewster
James Handy Esteves
Damon Whitaker Young Bird
Morgan Nagler Kim
Richard McKenzie Southern Doctor
Arlen Dean Snyder Dr. Heath
Sam Robards Moscowitz
Penelope Windust Bellevue Nurse
Glenn Wright Alcoholic Patient
George Orrison Patient with Checkers
Bill Cobbs Dr. Caulfield
Hamilton Camp Mayor of 52nd Street
Chris Bosley Doorman
George T. Bruce Doorman
Joey Green Gene
John Witherspoon Sid
Tony Todd Frog
Jo de Winter Mildred Berg
Richard Zavaglia Ralph, the Narc
Anna Levine Audrey
Al Pugliese Owner of Three Deuces
Hubert Kelly John Wilson
Billy Mitchell Billy Prince
Karl Vincent Stratton
Lou Cutell Bride's Father
Roger Etienne Parisian MC
Jason Bernard Benny Tate
Gretchen Oehler Southern Nurse
John Miller Southern Doctor
Tony Cox Pee Wee Marquette
Diane Salinger Baroness Nica
Johnny Adams Bartender
Natalia Silverwood Red's Girlfriend
Duane Matthews Engineer
Slim Jim Phantom Grainger
Matthew Faison Judge
Peter Crook Bird's Lawyer
Alec Paul Rubinstein Recording Producer
Patricia Herd Nun
Steve Zettler Owner of Oasis Club
Ann Weldon Violet Welles
Charley Lang DJ at the Paramount
Tim Russ Harris
Richard Jeni Chummy Morello
Don Starr Doctor at Nica's
Richard Mawe Medical Examiner

Technical Credits
Clint Eastwood Director,Producer
Willie D. Burton Sound/Sound Designer
Judy Cammer Set Decoration/Design
Edward C. Carfagno Production Designer
Joel Cox Editor
Joe Day Special Effects
Jack N. Green Cinematographer
Michael Hancock Makeup
Deborah Hopper Costumes/Costume Designer
Phyllis Huffman Casting
L. Dean Jones Asst. Director
Norman Langley Camera Operator
Lennie Niehaus Score Composer
Joel Oliansky Screenwriter
Verne Poore Sound/Sound Designer
Thomas Roysden Set Decoration/Design
David Valdes Executive Producer,Production Manager
Brad Valdes Executive Producer
Glenn Wright Costumes/Costume Designer

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Bird
1. Early Days [1:59]
2. Lester Leaps In [2:10]
3. After-Hours Humoring [5:09]
4. Bad Medicine [1:57]
5. The Substitute Is Pain [3:03]
6. If I'm Straight [3:26]
7. Special, Creative Man [2:05]
8. Mayor of 52nd Street [2:49]
9. Kansas City [4:00]
10. You'll Dig Him [2:59]
11. With Dizzy AT 4 A.M. [3:17]
12. In Pursuit of Chan [4:04]
13. "You Stop Reading My Mind." [5:11]
14. Esteves and Mrs. Berg [3:40]
15. Mounted Homecoming [2:21]
16. Chan's Revelation [3:45]
17. Contributing Factors [1:00]
18. Bebop Invades... [4:58]
19. Calling on Stravinsky [2:24]
20. Bebop Banned [2:11]
21. Recording Studio [3:50]
22. A Reunion and a Ride [4:37]
23. "Don't Ever Leave..." [2:14]
24. Glory in France [3:12]
25. Junkies Abroad [2:58]
26. Society Gig [3:49]
27. South With the Albino Red [5:44]
28. Now's the Time [6:17]
29. The Fix: Bird's Fault [4:42]
30. Back At Birdland [2:48]
31. Rodney Busted [3:30]
32. Laura Montage [3:50]
33. "You Have a Daughter." [3:21]
34. Not the Way It Works [2:40]
35. His Song [2:35]
36. Paradise [1:40]
37. Martyr in the Making [2:45]
38. Teelgrams [5:44]
39. Inside the Melody [4:29]
40. Moving Out of the City [3:31]
41. Rock 'N' Roll [4:02]
42. Showing Up Eventually [3:01]
43. Hating to Hang Up [3:27]
44. Nica's Doorstep [2:45]
45. Balancing Act Over [3:07]
46. Coroner's Report [1:08]
47. Coda, Dedication and End Credits [5:59]

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Bird 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
TinaTawdre More than 1 year ago
This movie does a fascinating job of portraying the short, complicated and, utimately, tragic life of bop musician Charlie Parker. Parker was a seminal musician instrumental (pun intended) in developing a post-WW II style of jazz music called "bop". This movie tries to give a sense of both the man and musician during his short life. (He died at 34 of a heart attack after a life marred by alcohol and drug addiction.) In this movie, you see many sides of his life: loving father and husband, self-destructive addict, innovative musician. This is certainly a dark movie that ultimately sadly with Bird's death, but there are also a few light moments. I particularly enjoyed the scenes of Bird playing with his children and the humorous side story of Bird's band of black (and one white) musicians traveling to play in the Deep South. The movie includes many great scenes that illustrate the environment for black jazz musicians of this time, particularly touching on racial segregation and the commercial decline of jazz in the 50s as rock and roll rises in popularity. There is naturally a hefty dose of Parker's music in the movie soundtrack. From the credits, I was suprised to see that Parker wrote the main theme to so many of his now-classic jazz recordings. The DVD has a special feature of showing the movie while only playing the music soundtrack -- very nice. This Clint Eastwood Collection DVD has no other special features except for brief synopses of cast members' professional bios.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Mr.Eastwood who directed "Bird" is a devoted jazz fan using jazz in the soundtrack of several of his earlier films. He has had a long collaboration with ex-Kentonite Lennie Niehaus in the musical scoring of several of his projects."The Gauntlet" for example featured alto saxophonist Art Pepper and other prominent West Coast jazzmen throughout. This hommage to Charlie "Bird" Parker acknowledged to be a giant figure in 20th. century contemporary music, is a dark film literally as their often appears to be minimal lighting adding to the somber mood of the story line. Forest Whitaker is convincing in his portrayal but, the criticism by those who actually knew Parker personally was that he was portrayed solely as a tragic one dimensional figure leaving us with an incomplete study of this complex, articulate, highly intelligent, towering musical genius who changed improvised music (jazz if you must) forever much as did Louis Armstrong and Lester Young before him. Dizzy Gillespie collaborated with Parker surely but "Bird" codified the language. Those of us familiar with the life of Charles Christopher Parker would have wished for a more factual story line but, Mr.Eastwood is to be commended for dealing with the subject knowing it would have a limited commercial audience and was free to take artistic license. Perhaps it will make some viewers curious to discover the "real" Bird (Parker's actual solos were incorporated in the soundtrack) through his recordings which in the end is what it's all really about. Indeed, "Bird Lives".