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Jazz

Round Midnight!!

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I saw this for the first time not too long ago.

I thought it was AMAZING. I'm not sure what I was expecting, maybe some weird unintelligible attempt at art film, but Dexter Gordon did an excellent job acting. I actually couldn't understand a word he was saying until my friend and I turned on the english subtitles.

Of course, the extended scenes of these amazing jazz combos cranking out amazing music didn't hurt!

I will refrain from saying too much more in case someone hasn't seen it and wants to.

Has anyone else seen this? What do you guys think of this movie?

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I still haven't seen it. I guess I had the same fears that it might not be very entertaining.

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Its very entertaining, and Dex is excellent.

The question many had at the time was, was he acting or just being himself? I tend to think it was the latter, a perfect synergy of performer and character.

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Love it. I cried the first two or three times I saw it. Dexter's NOT acting.

Contrived dialogue or not (how is any fictitious dialogue not going to be contrived to some extent?), there's a lot of truth in that movie. Sometimes it brings a smile, sometimes not.

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I love it too. Had it on VHS for years, and recently picked up a used copy of the DVD. For me it's enough just to see Dexter do his thing (not to mention Hutcherson, Higgins, etc), but I also love some of the other performances (especially Cluzet and Scorcese) as well as Tavernier's direction. Beautifully filmed, with one evocative scene after another.

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there's a lot of truth in that movie

I totally agree! It's definitely one of the most unpretentiously philosophical movies I've ever seen. You know what else I loved about it? The definitely un-contrived nature of the dialogue. I mean, this movie was made with the idea that not every plot/subplot has to be talked about in full just so we, the dumb audience members, can follow along. In fact, I don't remember any exposition in this movie at all. My friend and I discussed the virtues of a movie that lets the audience members decide what is happening at length after we finished watching it. Man I need to see that again soon...

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I think it's about as good a movie centering on jazz and the "jazz life" as we're ever going to get, largely because of Dex's incredible turn (but also the heavy involvement of people like Herbie Hancock).

Hey, you can tell from my avatar (one of the people pictured is Dex...I'll let you guess which!) I dig it.

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I have the movie and I think it's excellent. What I find amazing in reading some of these comments is that's perceived to be as complete fiction or that Bud Powell's name is not mentioned here because this movie (even though what happened to Lester Young is in there) is really about Bud and based on Francis Paudras' Dance of the Infidels. Heck, even Dexter's "wife" is named Buttercup, just like Bud's common law wife. After I finished the book recently, I went back and watched the movie and howled when I saw that they had named her Buttercup. Another incident in the movie that was from the book is where in the movie the owner's wife of the Blue Note, where both a lot of the musical action in the movie and book took place, complains about Dex sitting down while playing. In the book, she complained about Chet Baker sitting down when sitting in one night. He promptly stopped and left the club for good. So, I know there's some fiction here but there's a lot of truth as well.

If you think this movie is excellent, you need to get the Paudras book, one of the most moving books I've ever read.

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Hi All,

I'll totally agree with Jim and Brad on this one! I remember watching this film when it first came out (1986/1987?) at a particularly tough time in my life, and thought it to be absolutely brilliant. Like Jim, I also shed a tear or two during the movie (and Dexter is definitley not acting, as Jim mentions... if you want to see Dexter "act", check out the movie "Awakenings").

Then several years ago I read Francis Paudras' book, and the movie 'Round Midnight became much more easy to understand. In fact, I can easily understand how someone might be "lost" when watching the film if they first hadn't read the book (lots of references to things that happened in both Bud Powell's and Lester Young's lives that the casual viewer/non jazz fan would totally miss).

My take? 'Round Midnight is a brilliant film!! And, if you haven't already seen it, read Paudras' Dance of the Infidels first. It makes the movie that much better.

And damn... Dex was even nominated for an Academy Award for his role!

Cheers,

Shane

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for me it´s brilliant too

last time i was in the US i got it on DVD and i can´t get enough of it

when columbia re-released the CD sometime ago i was convinced that we would have some unreleased stuff such as the marvellous Chan´s Song played by Dex, Freddie, Ron & Tony or the full ensemble by the end of the movie.

the last words of Dale Turner on the movie are fantastic for me when he says that maybe one day we will have plazas, avenues, squares & etc glorifying the jazz masters.

maybe i should see it again tonight :g

Marcus Oliveira

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Am I the only one who thought Round Midnight a pretty good movie but Dance of the Infidells NOT a v. good book? In part that's because books and movies are two different things; romaticism and subjectivity are more tolerable in the former than the latter. And in part because so much of the good stuff in both was things that realy happened (to Bud, Lester or whomever) for which FP can take no credit. I found FP hovering presence in the book to be insufferable and his partisanship whereby everything Bud did was great even (esp'ly) when it obviously wasn't, to be not just not objective but almost unintelligible...OK, he picked my butt. Dexter lived the life, FP is a groupie. Guess I should quit before I get carried away... :angry:

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Not out of bounds Mr. Goodstuff.

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Very good movie in many respects, most importantly that it's heart was in the right place and it's honest..you can tell the director felt for the subject matter and the characters. Dexter was excellent and his scenes with the little girl are very touching. Hutcherson is hilarious as the next door neighbor who is always cooking...

Only real complaints are of the technical variety, don't think the period look of the film is accurate, the sound is all wrong and too modern, some of the sets are poorly constructed and then there's the one scene in the club with the boom mic in clear view while they are talking to Scorcese's character. But these are minor inconveniences when the film is this lovingly made.

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I love it!!! Must get me the DVD, my VHS has bad muffled sound. It moved me to tears, still does, and Dexter is marvellous! To me, one of the best jazz movies made so far.

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One big flaw in the movie (among many virtues) IMO is that it's vital to the plot, as I recall, that Dexter's character, Dale Turner, be in less than vigorous shape physically and, above all, musically at one point, then get himself together and play with considerable strength before his final decline and death. But Dexter, at the point in his life when the movie was made, could only play one way, even if he had wanted to first sound a bit weak, then much stronger -- and that one way, however good it might be to hear, was definitely not on the strong side. Thus, what we heard from Dale Turner in the movie didn't match what the movie, and the people in it, said we were hearing from him. Also, while I'm sure that everyone here can tell the difference between the Dexter of the soundtrack and, say, the Dexter of "Go," I don't think that would be true of a whole lot of viewers any movie, including this one -- thus it might have been a "mistake" in movie terms to build the movie around a dramatic shift in behavior that most of the audience couldn't grasp unless it were spelled out (or cued in) for them in some extra-musical manner, like those films in which we know that Chopin's music is sensitive and fraught because he's coughing up blood all over the keyboard.

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thus it might have been a "mistake" in movie terms to build the movie around a dramatic shift in behavior that most of the audience couldn't grasp unless it were spelled out (or cued in) for them in some extra-musical manner, like those films in which we know that Chopin's music is sensitive and fraught because he's coughing up blood all over the keyboard.

You see though, that is what I absolutely hate about most movies. I feel like I'm being talked down to by alot of films. Like they have to have some guy walk across the screen with a big sign that says "feel sad now" because I'm too dumb to get it myself.

Interesting point about Dexter's playing ability though, I never thought of that. I'll have to watch it again with my friend and see what I think!

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I'm not sure it's a matter of movies talking down to us but of a good and bad matches between a filmmaker's skills (or lack of skills) and the sort of story that's being told. Or maybe, which may amount ot the same thing, it's a matter of movies that talk in movie terms. For instance, Hitchcock's "Notorious," where as French director Jacques Rivette said everything resolves in the final three minutes -- "the love story, the family story, and the espionage story in a few magnificent, unforgettable shots" and in a way that would be difficult if not impossible to realize in any other story-telling medium. Likewise, a month or so ago, I tuned in the beginning of Howard Hawks' "To Have and Have Not" on TV and thought I'd watch a bit of a movie I'd seen a lot and then turn away to read the paper during a less than gripping and/or essential moment, only to find that there no such moments in the whole amazing thing. Again, this was a movie I'd seen many times. BTW, Bertrand Tavernier, who made "'Round Midnight," is a terrific director. What may have happened there is that Tavernier, a big jazz fan, got a little goggle-eyed about the project, and especially the fact of Dexter's presence in it, and thus wasn't as hard-headed and objective about shaping things as he needed to be.

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Wow, great analyzation! :tup

Are you someone who knows a few things about cinematography? (sp?)

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Jazz--I'm probably not a movie expert by movie-expert standards, whatever they are, but I have seen a lot of them, like to think about what I've seen, and have read a fair amount about movies here and there.

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Wow, great analyzation! :tup

Are you someone who knows a few things about cinematography? (sp?)

A few years ago Larry wrote the capsule movie reviews for the TV section of the Chicago Tribune. I knew a number of people who read that section from end to end each week just for the insights. Much more fun than Maltin.

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Awesome! Larry, do you have any reading material to recommend someone who has NO understanding of movie criticism? Something I could definitely get into also is cinematography. I just don't know where to start, except possibly Cinematography for Dummies. (Do they even have that? They have one of those "for Dummies" books on everything else...)

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Jazz -- A good place to start would be David Thomson's "The New Biographical Dictionary of Film." Thomson's a stimulating, opinionated guy, and there are entries for just about everyone under the sun. I probably look up something in it several times a week, maybe even more than that. Cinematography as a subject in itself, I don't know -- most of the books I think would be how-to tomes for would-be cinematographers. There is a nice old Dover paperback by Leonard Maltin, "The Art of the Cinematographer," which may still be available. It's a critical-historical survey of the craft, followed by interviews with five celebrated veterans. But cinematographers, while highly skilled, creative guys at the top level of the profession, are still basically executing the wishes of whoever on a particular movie (almost always the director) is finally in charge. Gregg Toland, for instance, is famous for his work on Orson Welles' "Citizen Kane," and Welles certainly fed on Toland's ideas and expertise. But Welles went on to make a lot of other distinctive, fascinating movies, none of them with Toland behind the camera, while Toland, when realizing the notions of other directors, was not part of a great movie again.

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Thank you very much for the recommendations! I've been wanting to learn more about films for a long while now and didn't know where to start.

:)

Jazzy

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Regarding the observation that Dana made, there is a certain absoluteness to the book, I'll agree. By the time I got to the end of the book, I was wondering if, for example, Bud's common law wife, Buttercup, was as completely bad as he depicts it. From what I've been able to read so far, she doesn't sound like any angel. But I didn't get the idea that everything Bud did FP agreed with. What came across was a person trying to help his jazz idol live as much a normal life as he possibly could. He probably prolonged his life by his help. I also think his strong observations come from someone who was constantly around Bud for several years. His constant presence with Bud helps make this book so gripping. He witnessed the ups and downs that someone with mental illness (or possibly epilepsy) suffered.

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Watched this again for the first time since it came out (1986!) last night and thoroughly enjoyed it. The music is great throughout and watching the various bands on stage is a real pleasure. My DVD sounds great too and I'm a little disappointed that the reissued album and my DVD doesn't have full live performances from the movie added...

Its not perfect and sometimes the fictionalised reality especially the time its set in and the actual time it was made are a little confused but I'm being picky. Dex is great (acting and playing) and I definitely don't have enough of his records beyond the blue notes.

Cluzet is someone I've enjoyed in a few recent movies (Untouchable (2011), Tell No One (2006) and Little White Lies (2010). so it was good to see him in his younger day, nearly 30 years ago...

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