Bird

Bird

78%
  • R, 2 hr. 20 min.
  • Drama
  • Directed By:
    Clint Eastwood
    In Theaters:
    Oct 1, 1988 Wide
    On DVD:
    Jan 30, 2001
  • Warner Home Video
  • Bird
    2 minutes 47 seconds
    Added: May 9, 2008

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Bird Reviews

Page 1 of 12
hunterjt13
hunterjt13

Super Reviewer

November 9, 2012
This is the biopic of jazz legend Bird Parker.
Forest Whitaker gives a tour de force performance in the titular role of this biopic. It's a complicated role for Whitaker, filled with moments when he battles segregation with strategic charm and other moments when he's so strung out that I found it difficult to sympathize with him. Whitaker handles all the acting challenges with the poise of a seasoned vet.
Clint Eastwood's direction captures the feel of jazz. Smoky nightclubs, some quick dialogue, and an ever-present brassy score bring back the environment of the time with a bygone verisimilitude.
While the narrative structure - telling the middle of the story at the beginning - works toward the start of the film, it falls apart halfway through. Also, Diane Venora can't keep up with Whitaker, and the reasons why Chan loves him become less and less clear.
Overall, you should see this film because of Whitaker, and if you like the music of the era, you're in for a real treat.
sanjurosamurai
sanjurosamurai

Super Reviewer

November 28, 2007
an expertly crafted film. the direction and acting were flawless, and the music was obviously exceptional. my real criticism of the film lies in the choices made in the writing. it seems the film was dominated by parkers personal life rather than his music, and more balance was probably appropriate, and even with the focus as presented there were a few major pieces of parkers life not included in the film that really should have been. overall, an incomplete look at bird despite the films lengthy running time, but what we were given was made with precision and the film was a joy to watch.
TheDudeLebowski65
TheDudeLebowski65

Super Reviewer

June 18, 2010
A biopic on Charlie "Bird" Parker, Clint Eastwood crafts this film as a labor of love. His love for Jazz music is apparent with this film, and its a well told and acted biopic. Clint Eastwood has tremendous flair in telling a great story, and he tells Charlie Parker's story with knowledge on the subject matter at hand. The film is dark and sad. Parker lived a sad life and this is what unfolds on the film. Bird is a terrific biopic on a tremendously talented musician. This is one of the best biopics I've seen seen. As a diehard fan of Heavy Metal and rock music, I thoroughly enjoyed something different such as a film about a Jazz musician. If you want a terrificbiopic on a tremendous musician, then Bird is for you.
Michael G

Super Reviewer

November 22, 2006
Couldn't get into it.
Cameron W. Johnson
Cameron W. Johnson

Super Reviewer

May 23, 2012
I've always been talking about how sudden Clint Eastwood's jump from being a hardcore man's man with no name to a major, kind of sappy dramatic was, but really, I think that this film showed that his transformation was more steady than that, for although this is a drama about a black musician hitting it big during hard times and going on to posthumously become an icon to the hipster subculture, but this is jazz we're talking about, and it doesn't get much flyer than that, cool cat. Well, maybe back in the late '80s, when we still had enough bleed over from the era of jazz to where saying something like "it doesn't get much flyer than that, cool cat" didn't sound lame; but eitherway, the point is that Eastwood was cool even when he was laming out a bit, which isn't to say that he's not still pretty awesome even now, because although he's in his 80s and seemingly very nice now, I'm still intimidated by the dude. Okay, maybe I should cut back a bit on talking about Eastwood, because the way I and too many other people who talk about this film are talking about Eastwood so much, you'd think that he's doing more than directing and producing, and is actually in the movie, in a fat suit and in blackface, playing the saxaphone, only his voice is so deep that even the sound produced by the sax is gruff and raspy; in fact, it doesn't even sound like a saxaphone, it just sounds like Eastwood groaning. Poor Forest Whitaker hasn't been getting the respect he deserves, which isn't to say that I'm going to forgive him for stealing top billing from James McAvoy in "The Last King of Scotland", seeing as how McAvoy was the actual main lead in that film, but I do still have to say that Whitaker needs some love, especially when you see how good he is in this film. He really gave me a lot of deep insight into the world of jazz, and now I feel like I should look more into the genre, because up until now, my closest thing to jazz had to have been Raphael Ravenscroft certain famous sax solo. It should tell you how white I am that my closest association to jazz sax was Gerry Rafferty's "Baker Street", until I saw this Clint Eastwood film starring Forest Whitaker, who really isn't all that black to begin with. Well, I can certainly at least tell you that he's quite the acting talent, though he smooth moves aren't quite enough to drown the blues spawned from some unrealized potential with this film.

The film opens jarringly plopping us in the middle of a key segment in Charlie Parker's life with no immediate development or, by extension, basis for immediate emotional investment. I love a good flashfoward opening, but that took much too long and was handled too sloppily, which isn't to say that the film didn't continue to get spotty with its handling of the flashbacks, for although major non-linear moments fall into place here and there, they're still jarring and dropped in at too unfitting of points, with a couple of segments of glaring inconsistencies in story focus and direction making it all the worse, thus leaving the film to throw off the audience and become convoluted. The reason why, outside of the aforementioned, seems to be that while the story jumps all over the place, it's hard to tell when it jumps exactly or even when it's doing something different, in general, as the film walks a straight line in storytelling, or at least until it loops back around. Much of the film is so very repetitive, as well as jumbled, and the sting of that all hurts worse when it's under the intensifying grip of consistent slowness that dulls the film down and leaves it to pump out steam faster than it was already doing when it simply had repetition, some story unevenness and convolution to worry about. Still, it all ultimately comes down to the film's lack of depth, for although Eastwood seems to be inspired enough to give the film weight, as I'll get into later, there's really never enough exposition or focus, let alone dynamicity in this study of such a fascinating spirit, even with its 160 minute runtime, making it both underwhelming as a character study and as a portrait of the late, great Charlie Parker. I suppose Clint Eastwood has never been a terribly great storyteller, and yet, outside of that aspect, he's a perfectly competent director, especially when he's inspired, and make no mistake, he is inspired with this film. Sure, that inspiration may be detrimental to the film, as it plagues the film with overambition, yet at the end of the day, this film wins you over in many ways, including style.

Clint Eastwood seems to love that dark lighting, which is great and all, but this Jack N. Green fellow is certainly no Tom Stern when it comes making Eastwood's taste in style look as good as all get-out, as we can clearly see at the points where it's so dark that you really have no idea what's going on onscreen. Still, more often than not, Green delivers on handsome style and visual grace to capture the smooth but dramatically deep tone of the film, while the nifty production designs subtley but noticably capture the film's roaring time period and the fine sound design makes the classic tunes that much more boastful. Still, one of the biggest key players in livening up this world is, of course, Clint Eastwood, whose storytelling flaws remain the darkest, most potential-squandering faults in the film, yet he all but makes up for them with his accomplishments as director on a tonal level. Sure, the tone of the film is hardly diverse, yet if there is something good to come out of its consistency, then it's probably gonna have to consistent effectiveness, as the film, while not structured to have a lot of depth, still has much resonance and emotional impact pried from it by Eastwood, whose subtle and graceful touches of sobering resonance and meditation gives the film the deeply compelling weight needed to keep going and ultimately reward the viewers. Eastwood's compelling tone is certainly backed up by the performances, all of which are distinctive and compelling, with charisma and chemistry keeping the film anchored down to earth. Still, this is Forest Whitaker's show, and you better believe that he's not gonna let you forget it, conquering the screen with Charlie Parker's classic charisma and wit placed on such a transformative level that, after a while, Whitaker melts away and becomes Parker, complete with that engaging stature and presence. However, it wasn't all roses in the life of Yardbird, and Whitaker, realizing that, swiftly and awe-inspiringly champions emotional depth, incorporating human vulnerability and powerful emoting in his strong and charismatic presence in order to give us a truly subtle, yet palpable sense of a good man trapped by circumstance and his own mistakes, and whether he's compellingly portraying Parker's regrets or nailing the anguish found in Parker during his unbearable final days, Whitaker owns the screen with transformative profoundness that carries the picture.

At the end of the show, such storytelling faults as occasional uneven focus and jarring non-linear shifts supplement steam loss intensified slowness, repetition and overall lack of detail in the somewhat tight-to-a-fault, yet lengthy story, yet with handsome style to engage the eyes and ears, as well as inspired tonal direction by Clint Eastwood and a long line of strong performances, headed by a charismatic, layered, emotional and ultimately rivetingly transformative Forest Whitaker, "Bird" soars on as an ultimately thoroughly enjoyable portrait on the life of the King of Bebop, even with its areas of unrealized potential.

3/5 - Good
John B

Super Reviewer

September 20, 2007
A far superior performance by Forest Whitaker than his Oscar turn in the Last King of Scotland. If you haven't seen, see it! Not all the great jazz performers survived to a ripe old age.
jimbotender
jimbotender

Super Reviewer

September 19, 2008
A film that will bring shame to melodramatic Eastwood attempts like Changeling,Million Dollar Baby and overall a brilliant biography of a prolific jazz musician.Moody,plunging in details and yet the culmination in so many viewpoints offers such a joy and pity at the same time,the music is a sorrowful mourn to a past legend.
tmannamt
March 23, 2011
Granted this movie moves slow (20 minutes under 3 hours) but Clint Eastwood again makes a dark and sad but terrific movie with great performances from Whitaker and Venora, it's a crime neither of them was nominated for an Oscar for their brilliant work.
princesspatricia122
November 19, 2007
Forest Whitaker shines in the role of the great jazz saxaphonist Charlie Parker in this film; his genious and talent cannot prevail over his tragic descent into heroin addiction & mental illness. The talented Diane Verona ( Al Pacino's wife in Heat ) stars as well
jonathanstephenson
May 9, 2007
My favorite Clint Eastwood Directed movie, about Jazz Legend Charley Parker, and his degeneration unto death through drug abuse, Parker played by Forest Whitaker in one of the altime great roles in film period.
Morris N

Super Reviewer

February 22, 2007
It's Chan's version of Charlie Parker, and she was with him near the end, so we don't see his more successful years. This makes the movie pretty dark throughout. It's very intense and the music is great.
April 18, 2014
I found it repetitive and boring. Maybe it was because I'm not a huge jazz fan.
July 2, 2011
You would think Forest Whitaker playing Charlie Parker and being directed by Clint Eastwood would make for great cinema, but it ultimately played out like your standard biopic.
February 1, 2013
Awesome work by Clint, superb performance by Whitaker and a amazing score.
December 30, 2012
Certainly lengthy, but worth the entirety of its 161 minutes.
June 24, 2007
a very nice movie with a great performance by forest whitaker
August 19, 2012
I hesitated because Forest Whitacker, Verona is is pleasant- cold but pleasant. The club scenes are realistic, the hate is in there , the movie makes you want to bathe, oh , and steal some delaudid to do with your popcorn. --the best line is "I wanted to see if your sax could play more than one note at a time" he says to buster as he is caught stealing his horn in an alley behind the Paramount
July 7, 2012
As far as I can tell, Bird is Clint Eastwood's most underrated film. Bird is an expertly crated work of cinema which focused both on the music and life of jazz musician Charlie Parker. This is a beautifully crafted film cast in almost eternal night with the narrative weaving in and out from the past, present, and even the future. At times this film feels almost like a noir due to the film making conventions used to create the setting and atmosphere, and hey maybe this is a noir. This ranks high among my favorite Eastwood directorial efforts, and one of the best performances by Forrest Whittaker. It should be noted that the music is quite excellent, the soundtrack is worth the film alone.
Cameron W. Johnson
Cameron W. Johnson

Super Reviewer

May 23, 2012
I've always been talking about how sudden Clint Eastwood's jump from being a hardcore man's man with no name to a major, kind of sappy dramatic was, but really, I think that this film showed that his transformation was more steady than that, for although this is a drama about a black musician hitting it big during hard times and going on to posthumously become an icon to the hipster subculture, but this is jazz we're talking about, and it doesn't get much flyer than that, cool cat. Well, maybe back in the late '80s, when we still had enough bleed over from the era of jazz to where saying something like "it doesn't get much flyer than that, cool cat" didn't sound lame; but eitherway, the point is that Eastwood was cool even when he was laming out a bit, which isn't to say that he's not still pretty awesome even now, because although he's in his 80s and seemingly very nice now, I'm still intimidated by the dude. Okay, maybe I should cut back a bit on talking about Eastwood, because the way I and too many other people who talk about this film are talking about Eastwood so much, you'd think that he's doing more than directing and producing, and is actually in the movie, in a fat suit and in blackface, playing the saxaphone, only his voice is so deep that even the sound produced by the sax is gruff and raspy; in fact, it doesn't even sound like a saxaphone, it just sounds like Eastwood groaning. Poor Forest Whitaker hasn't been getting the respect he deserves, which isn't to say that I'm going to forgive him for stealing top billing from James McAvoy in "The Last King of Scotland", seeing as how McAvoy was the actual main lead in that film, but I do still have to say that Whitaker needs some love, especially when you see how good he is in this film. He really gave me a lot of deep insight into the world of jazz, and now I feel like I should look more into the genre, because up until now, my closest thing to jazz had to have been Raphael Ravenscroft certain famous sax solo. It should tell you how white I am that my closest association to jazz sax was Gerry Rafferty's "Baker Street", until I saw this Clint Eastwood film starring Forest Whitaker, who really isn't all that black to begin with. Well, I can certainly at least tell you that he's quite the acting talent, though he smooth moves aren't quite enough to drown the blues spawned from some unrealized potential with this film.

The film opens jarringly plopping us in the middle of a key segment in Charlie Parker's life with no immediate development or, by extension, basis for immediate emotional investment. I love a good flashfoward opening, but that took much too long and was handled too sloppily, which isn't to say that the film didn't continue to get spotty with its handling of the flashbacks, for although major non-linear moments fall into place here and there, they're still jarring and dropped in at too unfitting of points, with a couple of segments of glaring inconsistencies in story focus and direction making it all the worse, thus leaving the film to throw off the audience and become convoluted. The reason why, outside of the aforementioned, seems to be that while the story jumps all over the place, it's hard to tell when it jumps exactly or even when it's doing something different, in general, as the film walks a straight line in storytelling, or at least until it loops back around. Much of the film is so very repetitive, as well as jumbled, and the sting of that all hurts worse when it's under the intensifying grip of consistent slowness that dulls the film down and leaves it to pump out steam faster than it was already doing when it simply had repetition, some story unevenness and convolution to worry about. Still, it all ultimately comes down to the film's lack of depth, for although Eastwood seems to be inspired enough to give the film weight, as I'll get into later, there's really never enough exposition or focus, let alone dynamicity in this study of such a fascinating spirit, even with its 160 minute runtime, making it both underwhelming as a character study and as a portrait of the late, great Charlie Parker. I suppose Clint Eastwood has never been a terribly great storyteller, and yet, outside of that aspect, he's a perfectly competent director, especially when he's inspired, and make no mistake, he is inspired with this film. Sure, that inspiration may be detrimental to the film, as it plagues the film with overambition, yet at the end of the day, this film wins you over in many ways, including style.

Clint Eastwood seems to love that dark lighting, which is great and all, but this Jack N. Green fellow is certainly no Tom Stern when it comes making Eastwood's taste in style look as good as all get-out, as we can clearly see at the points where it's so dark that you really have no idea what's going on onscreen. Still, more often than not, Green delivers on handsome style and visual grace to capture the smooth but dramatically deep tone of the film, while the nifty production designs subtley but noticably capture the film's roaring time period and the fine sound design makes the classic tunes that much more boastful. Still, one of the biggest key players in livening up this world is, of course, Clint Eastwood, whose storytelling flaws remain the darkest, most potential-squandering faults in the film, yet he all but makes up for them with his accomplishments as director on a tonal level. Sure, the tone of the film is hardly diverse, yet if there is something good to come out of its consistency, then it's probably gonna have to consistent effectiveness, as the film, while not structured to have a lot of depth, still has much resonance and emotional impact pried from it by Eastwood, whose subtle and graceful touches of sobering resonance and meditation gives the film the deeply compelling weight needed to keep going and ultimately reward the viewers. Eastwood's compelling tone is certainly backed up by the performances, all of which are distinctive and compelling, with charisma and chemistry keeping the film anchored down to earth. Still, this is Forest Whitaker's show, and you better believe that he's not gonna let you forget it, conquering the screen with Charlie Parker's classic charisma and wit placed on such a transformative level that, after a while, Whitaker melts away and becomes Parker, complete with that engaging stature and presence. However, it wasn't all roses in the life of Yardbird, and Whitaker, realizing that, swiftly and awe-inspiringly champions emotional depth, incorporating human vulnerability and powerful emoting in his strong and charismatic presence in order to give us a truly subtle, yet palpable sense of a good man trapped by circumstance and his own mistakes, and whether he's compellingly portraying Parker's regrets or nailing the anguish found in Parker during his unbearable final days, Whitaker owns the screen with transformative profoundness that carries the picture.

At the end of the show, such storytelling faults as occasional uneven focus and jarring non-linear shifts supplement steam loss intensified slowness, repetition and overall lack of detail in the somewhat tight-to-a-fault, yet lengthy story, yet with handsome style to engage the eyes and ears, as well as inspired tonal direction by Clint Eastwood and a long line of strong performances, headed by a charismatic, layered, emotional and ultimately rivetingly transformative Forest Whitaker, "Bird" soars on as an ultimately thoroughly enjoyable portrait on the life of the King of Bebop, even with its areas of unrealized potential.

3/5 - Good
Page 1 of 12
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