'Round Midnight (1986)
A French music lover befriends a once-great American jazz artist and attempts to save him from self-destruction in this moody drama. Saxophonist Dexter Gordon portrays Dale Turner, a fictional musician inspired by a number of famed jazz figures, including Bud Powell and Lester Young. Largely forgotten in his home country, Turner has moved to Paris in search of a more appreciative audience. He finds it in the form of Francis Borler (Francois Cluzet), a bebop aficionado who befriends the expatriate player. Borler soon becomes familiar with Turner's darker side, including his struggles with alcoholism, drug addiction, and depression. Fearing for the musician's life, the fan becomes his caretaker, an arrangement that leads to a brief improvement in Turner's health and fortunes but places great emotional strain upon them both. Director Bertrand Tavernier pays great attention to the visual and aural details of the jazz world, with outstanding musical supervision provided by Herbie Hancock. 'Round Midnight's greatest asset, however, is Gordon's Academy Award-nominated performance, informed by his own life experiences. His naturally fascinating presence combines with the film's obvious love of the music and its milieu to provide what many have hailed as one of the more authentic and affectionate presentations of the jazz world on the silver screen. ~ Judd Blaise, Rovi … More
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Critic Reviews for 'Round Midnight
Round Midnight is a superbly crafted music world drama in which Gallic director Bertrand Tavernier pays a moving dramatic tribute to the great black musicians who lived and performed in Paris in the late 1950s.
The director's perenially heavy mood seems especially well suited to this indigo-shaded story of a black American saxman (Dexter Gordon) living and performing in Paris in the late 50s.
Dale Turner, as played by Dexter Gordon, seems to be an amalgam of Bud Powell and Lester Young, but the private, rueful dignity that he brings to bear is all his own.
No actor could do what the great jazz saxophonist Dexter Gordon does in 'Round Midnight.
You do not need to know a lot about jazz to appreciate what is going on because, in a certain sense, this movie teaches you everything about jazz that you really need to know.
Gordon goes the limit as Turner, dedicating his performance to all the cats who've gone before.
Dexter Gordon received a Best Actor nomination and Herbie Hancock the Original Score Music Oscar for this moody jazz piece anout an alcoholic musician down on his luck.
He's not just writing about a dying old man, he's writing about jazz.
Tavernier's striking widescreen frame established the rainy, neon-and-smoke filled world of the jazz film.
One of the best jazz films ever made, this succeeds by melding French sensibilities about atmosphere with American sensibilities about the music.
It's a brooding yet warm elegy, as plaintive as a slow, low-toned ballad in a minor key.
The film's quality lies not just in its vivid portrayal of the bebop milieu, but also in its sensitive examination of the turbulent forces within an artist compelled to create on a nightly basis, despite personal consequences.
Audience Reviews for 'Round Midnight
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