DVD Talk
Release List Reviews Shop Newsletter Forum DVD Giveaways Blu-Ray Advertise
Reviews & Columns
Reviews
DVD
TV on DVD
Blu-ray
International DVDs
Theatrical
Adult
Video Games

Features
Collector Series DVDs
Easter Egg Database
Interviews
DVD Talk Radio
Feature Articles

Columns
Anime Talk
XCritic.com
DVD Stalk
DVD Savant
High-Def Revolution
Silent DVD

discussion forum
DVD Talk Forum
Resources
DVD Price Search
Customer Service #'s
RCE Info
Links

DVDTalk Info
Review Staff
About DVD Talk
Advertise
Newsletter Subscribe
Join DVD Talk Forum
DVD Talk Feeds


Special Offer

Search: For:
Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Bird
Bird
Warner Bros. // R // January 30, 2001
List Price: $19.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Gil Jawetz | posted February 11, 2001 | E-mail the Author
Buy from Amazon.com
C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Rent It
E - M A I L
this review to a friend
P R I N T
Printer Friendly
THE STRAIGHT DOPE:
Clint Eastwood has incorporated bits of jazz, his favorite music, into some of his most popular films and has even recorded a jazz piano album of his own. His paen to jazz great Charlie Parker, Bird (1988), shows his love and respect for the art as well as his curiosity with the volatile forces that help create great music. Parker was a notorious junkie and was famously unreliable, but he is remembered even more so for being a primary innovator of the be-bop era, a shift that took jazz musicianship out of the background and into the spotlight with complex rhythms and solos. Parker's tenor sax is without equal and his records sound fresh today.

To tell Parker's story, Eastwood creates a tapestry of time frames and locations, weaving together Parker's tragic final days with his earlier musical triumphs. Although the film spends virtually no time on his childhood, Bird draws a pretty vivid picture of a man with a conflicted soul and a gift for songcraft. Thank Forest Whitaker for his textured performance as Parker. He really seems to understand his role and attacks it with a vitality and urgency that's captivating. Diane Venora gives a somewhat stage-y performance as Parker's long-suffering wife Chan. Her delivery can be overly mannered and she seems to be playing to the back of the room. Faring better in smaller roles are Michael Zelniker as white trumpeter Red Rodney and Samuel E. Wright, popping in occasionally as a charismatic Dizzy Gillespie.

The film itself, however, does feel disjointed. Eastwood's intercutting of different eras can leave the viewer stranded. Characters disappear for hours and then briefly return. At 160 minutes Bird has perhaps too broad a scope; a tighter focus on fewer scenarios might have worked better. Some moments have real bite, like Parker playing a Jewish wedding and actually having a ball, or a tour through the deep South with Red Rodney billed as Albino Red to skirt segregationist racism. However, unlike Raging Bull or Malcolm X which definitely add up to a whole only visible near the end, Bird doesn't really coalesce into a bigger picture. What Bird does excel at is displaying the rush of live musical performance and, in a film like this, that's really the most important thing.

VIDEO:
Bird is one of the darkest films around, with images set almost entirely in the shadows. The nighttime world of jazz clubs and hotel rooms is accurately depicted, but can be tough on a tv screen. While the anamorphic transfer is true to the muted cinematography, some scenes are almost without any image at all.

AUDIO:
The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack really brings out some of the beautiful breathy quality of the music. Luckily much of the music used is from Parker recordings and you can't beat his unique playing. The dialog scenes are particularly quiet when compared with the raucous concert scenes, but overall this is a well-produced track. There is also a Dolby Digital 2.0 music only track, but, with long spaces of silence in between gigs this track would have benefited from some additional or extended recordings.

EXTRAS:
Aside from the music only track there are some bios, a trailer (in mono), and a list of awards.

FINAL THOUGHTS:
Bird is far from perfect and it seems to drag at times. While the portrayal of the man himself is engaging, the film gets bogged down in domestic stickiness and drug melodrama, and, ultimately, Bird suffers for it. While Bird should be of interest to jazz aficionados and beginners alike, it is certainly not the final word on one of the most vibrant, and tragic, figures in America's musical history.

Other Jazz reviews:
Hi De Ho / The Duke is Tops
A Great Day in Harlem
'Round Midnight

Gil Jawetz is a graphic designer, video director, and t-shirt designer. He lives in Brooklyn.

E-mail Gil at ">buskerdog@yahoo.com
Popular Reviews
1. Criminal Minds: Season 9
2. Batman The Complete TV Series Limited Edition Blu-ray
3. The Expendables 3
4. L'avventura: Criterion Collection
5. It Happened One Night - The Criterion Collection
6. Sgt. Bilko - The Phil Silvers Show: The Complete Series
7. The Shooting / Ride in the Whirlwind: Criterion Collection
8. Corky (Warner Archive Collection)
9. 22 Jump Street
10. The Jeffersons - The Complete Series: The Dee-Luxe Edition


Special Offers
DVD Blowouts
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
Alien [Blu-ray]
Buy: $19.99 $9.99
8.
9.
10.
Special Offers
Release List Reviews Shop Newsletter Forum DVD Giveaways Blu-Ray Advertise
Copyright 2014 DVDTalk.com All Rights Reserved. Legal Info, Privacy Policy, Terms of Use