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Anyone have any opinions on either of these? I was tempted to buy one or both DVD's but wanted to hear other's thoughts. One thing holding me back is, I think both films would have been more effective if done in B+W, but I'm open to still purchasing them them if other folks think they were well done enough.
 

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I'm very fond of "Round Midnight." Dexter Gordon is brilliant, there's some good music, and it's just very nicely done as a film. I've seen it numerous times, and I always enjoy it, so it might be worth buying.

I haven't seen "Bird" in many years, but my recollection is that it's sensationalistic and disappointing. The focus seemed to be on the personal problems Bird was having in his later years, and not so much on his music and genius.

It probably goes without saying, but neither film should be looked at as an accurate source of biographical info.
 

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I enjoyed both movies. I have not read much adverse comment on Round Midnight, keeping in mind that it is clearly a fictional story of a fictional character (although with elements of Lester Young and Bud Powell late in their lives). I have read considerable adverse comment on the way "Bird" portrayed Charlie Parker. The movie is clearly based closely on Ross Russell's book "Bird Lives" which has also attracted considerable adverse comment. Because Parker was a real person, discrepancies can be identified and discussed.

I get the impression that the majority of objections to the Parker movie and book come from the way Parker's dysfunctions are emphasized; those objecting seem to make their case on the grounds that Parker should not be defined by his problems, that he was about so much more than his problems, and that there was a lot more to Parker's life than the two-three years of his final decline.

I can't really disagree with this view; but on the other hand Parker did have a reputation for extreme unreliability, in a business with a certain tolerance for that; and his dysfunctions did end up killing him at 35 - just imagine if he had lived to the age of Sonny Rollins or even Miles Davis or Gillespie. So the extent to which a movie for popular consumption should focus on those issues is, I think, not a cut and dried matter.

If you keep this in mind, the "Bird" movie is in my opinion well worth the watching.
 

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I enjoyed them both.

Round Midnight, if I remember correctly, had all the music performed and recorded "in camera" while shooting the scenes. There definitely is a bit more excitement between the actors (real-life musicians) during those scenes.

I think of Bird as more of a fable and less of a dramatization of his life. It's definitely one sided in it's telling and misses the mark in what I've read about his humor and focuses too much on the "tragedy" in his life.
 

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First thing you want to do is YouTuba the clip where Lonette McKee sings "How Long Has This Been Going On" with Dexter. If that doesn't either bring tears to your eyes or chills to your spine, you are dead.
 

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Round midnight was really hard to watch for me. Maybe because of the slow melancholy of the film. But also because of how close to death Dex was at the time. His acting was fine. His playing is not really the best. Sitting through the opening number for the first time with my mum, she turned to me and said "Is he supposed to be playing so badly?" I didn't know what to say. I just shhhsh'd her and said watch the movie. It's pretty easy to tell Dex's playing in the movie was not representative of the Titan he was for his extensive career.

Which honestly spoiled the movie for me right off the bat. I haven't seen in in a number of years. Although I watched it a few times.

I really liked Bird. It was very dramatic. The acting was intense and personal. I agree that I think they spent a lot of time on his drug problems. But honestly that was what the legend hangs on. There were so many 'bird stories' they had to cram into that movie that of course that would be a major factor when things got to the editing room.

I recommend Kansas City and Mo' Better Blues. Check em out. Lot's of good playing and solid productions and acting in Mo better blues.
 

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Definitely see both movies - especially 'round midnight' because its being acted by a guy who was there. Yeah, he's older and has lost some edge but he's still formidable. For anybody here to criticize anything he ever played is heresy - you have no standing to critique that man.
 

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...how close to death Dex was at the time. His acting was fine. His playing is not really the best....
He was acting. If you notice, his playing varies considerably through the movie, being more accurate and dynamic in those scenes where the character is doing better and being more sparse when the character is having problems.

Even the "worse" playing is exquisite in my opinion, showing how art does not depend on technique.

Also, Dexter would go on to live 4 years after that movie including at least one other acting role. Not exactly at death's doorstep.
 

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I recall being terribly disappointed in "Bird". It was bad casting, in my opinion, and focused so much on the last part of his life that it missed the tremendous contributions he brought. Women adored Bird, and I don't think Forest Whittaker brings that across at all. He looked pretty awkward holding an alto, to me it wasn't convincing much. Bird had voracious appetites for many things, and rather than being such a lion, seemingly super-human in some ways, his character comes across as just plain sad. He did come to a sad end, and had plenty of problems along the way, but I don't think of him only in that way. Bird himself had a lot of regret about the way that other players succumbed to drugs in attempts to emulate him.

It got good reviews at the time. I think the critics didn't know much about Jazz history. On the other hand, the soundtrack is really something, especially in the time frame of when the movie was made (1988). It's Bird playing alto with a contemporary rhythm section, so the overall audio quality differences are obvious.
 

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It's been many years since I've seen either film, so all I can say at this point is that I don't regret having watched either of them. In other words, they're worth seeing. If you're unsure, maybe try to rent instead of buying. You can watch Bird on Amazon video for $2.99. Amazon had 'Round Midnight too, but it's currently listed as unavailable. Maybe you can find it elsewhere.
 

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It's been a long time since I saw Round Midnight but I recall it was slow and depressing. At least that's how I recall it. Regarding Bird, I thought there wasn't enough music in it. I also agree the casting was poor. Parker didn't do the raised shoulder thing and stick his head forward. If you watch the one film of him receiving a player of the month award (what a joke, should have been best player ever award and the moron handing Parker the award called him "boy") you can see he didn't move much at all and he stands up straight. Personally I'm not impressed by a lot of emoting even if the player is good. It's just distracting and makes me think they're in love with themselves. Yoyo Ma or whatever his name is the worst I've ever seen, I can't even look at him when he plays. He probably stands in front of a mirror and kisses himself when he's alone.
 

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"Bird" could have been a lot better but at least it depicted Parker as someone of influence and stature. For some reason I just wasn't that wowed by "Round Midnight" although I really wanted to be. I second littlewailer's suggestion of "Kansas City" — kind of hokey in places but the jam sessions are pretty hot. Lot's of fedoras and porkpie hats, too.
 

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“Round Midnight” is great fun to watch solely for the presence of all of the jazz greats who act and play in the movie. I wasn’t able to find this movie on any of my many streaming services, so I bought a DVD copy on Amazon for $7. It’s great. I watch it every few months for fun, mostly to see those cats do their play acting thing. The French guy gets on my nerves now, after seeing the film for a few times. It’s cool that the movie shows a depiction of expat American jazz guys hanging out in Paris, and then the contrast with coming back to to the states for Dexter’s character. Plus it does touch on the lives of Lester Young and Bud Powell without being really overt about it, and it’s interesting to watch Dex acting this out. “Bird” I haven’t seen for years, but it does seems more exploitive, kind of like “Born to be Blue” with Chet Baker. I know that Clint Eastwood is a jazz lover, and I don’t doubt that he appreciates Parker as a musician. It seems like “Round Midnight” offers stuff for those who are already into jazz, an insider thing, while “Bird” may be more over the top to an outside broader audience.
 

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I have both DVDs. And a bunch more. Bird is kind of cartoonish.
Round Midnight disappointing. Loved the fact of live playing.

Really was hoping for a lot more from DG though.

dsm
 

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I was really hyped when Round Midnight came out and saw it on the big screen the first night it was released in theaters and that may have something to do as to why I think it's the better movie. Just to listen to Dexter speak is a good enough reason to watch this movie. Herbie Hancock did a great job with the music.
Bird was a disappointment but then again, I watched it on video and I think that although Clint Eastwood is a dedicated and knowledgeable jazz fan and record collector..... and not to mention a great Dirty Harry, he is also a horrible movie maker. I think Lennie Niehaus was the musical director and he just didn't bring it. For me, the "jazz" or music essence was missing from it and it was more of a story about a pitiful guy and that's about it.
 

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Great comments from all, thanks. I think my inclination is to buy 'Round Midnight' except ouch, I thought it was like 7 bucks and now its 24.99 on Amazon. I'm not in a rush so maybe I'll wait. I'd probably pay to see 'Bird' once if it's only 2.99. I can be critical of movies that are supposed to be a biography that emphasis parts of someones life more to "sell the movie" or be sort of "sensationalist"....it's sounding to me that's maybe what my reaction to 'Bird' would be - focusing more on his issues than the jazz. Who knows. As someone mentioned, I think I'd pay just too see Dexter playing someone similar to himself, that's good enough. But 24.99, I dunno....
 

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Sitting through the opening number for the first time with my mum, she turned to me and said "Is he supposed to be playing so badly?" I didn't know what to say.
His playing in the beginning of the movie was purposely dulled. For obvious reasons. But if you're a Dexter fan, you gotta see Round Midnight. He was in fact nominated for an Oscar for that part... though he was pretty much playing himself... playing Lester. What I didn't like about Round Midnight was the adoring fan guy. Just not convincing at all.
 

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Bird has it's moments. but i didn't appreciate Clint's imagining him berating a rock and roll player. that was Clint's prejudice against youth music. Mr. Lee, King Curtis and other early rock greats were not Bird (who was), but they were not chopped liver.
 

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His playing in the beginning of the movie was purposely dulled. For obvious reasons. But if you're a Dexter fan, you gotta see Round Midnight. He was in fact nominated for an Oscar for that part... though he was pretty much playing himself... playing Lester. What I didn't like about Round Midnight was the adoring fan guy. Just not convincing at all.
Absolutely. Dexter was playing a guy who drunk and barely able to get through the song, but still showing flashes of genius. Not an easy thing to do convincingly, but necessary to the role, because the arc of the story depends on Dexter's character starting off on death's door, then kind of coming back to life and making one last run of great music before (spoiler alert) he dies. But I'm sure a lot of people see that opening scene and think, "That's Dexter Gordon? I thought he was supposed to be good."
 

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there were some old threads on this too. A lot of the same sentiments.
Also some pretty rough critiques of a self indulgent dad neglecting his daughter in favor of his jazz legend.

I dont know that I share that opinion but its an interesting angle to consider.

It was a bit slow...it was somewhat depressing but it was cool seeing dex anyway.
 
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