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'Round Midnight
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Reviews & Ratings for
'Round Midnight More at IMDbPro »

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29 out of 31 people found the following review useful:

Nice Story Even For Non-Jazz Fans

8/10
Author: ccthemovieman-1 from United States
16 December 2005

This is jazz-fan's delight: tons of jazz, featuring tenor saxophone with some bebop thrown in. Most of the music is nice mellow stuff and interesting to hear, even to a non-jazz buff like me.

The music and interesting story made me purchase the DVD, which I have subsequently watched three or four times and always enjoyed. The story is pretty laid-back, a simple tale of an American alcoholic sax great playing in France who reforms because of a French fan who cares about him.

Dexter Gordon's unique voice makes helps him become an interesting character to hear and the real-life jazz great proves to be a decent actor, too. Francois Cluzet plays the admirer who goes out of his way to help his idol. Gabrielle Haker is pleasant to watch as Cluzet's young daughter. She always seems to have a beautiful smile on her face.

I don't why this film was rated "R" because there is no sex, no nudity, little profanity except for a couple of "f-words," which must be the reason for the rating. Nevertheless, it's a pretty tame movie.

I found it a different and nice, gentle story.

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20 out of 23 people found the following review useful:

French Connection

Author: directoroffantasies from Tampa Bay, Florida
31 October 2004

In the Existentialist '50s, bebop jazz expanded beyond Manhattan and became all the rage in Paris. French intellectuals such as Sartre (in his pro-American hotdogs-and-bourbon phase) applied their knowledge to the music of poorly-educated African-Americans and discovered that this too, like the cinema of Jerry Lewis, was something they could like about America.

Director/scenarist Bertrand Tavernier, a veteran of the St. Germain des Pres scene, crafted "Round Midnight" as a nostalgic tribute to a now-vanished European musical scene. (The Blue Note Club is a studio set, the original having been pulled down). Melding the life stories of pianist Bud Powell and sax man Lester Young into a memorable character called Dale Turner, Tavernier benefited from the fortunate casting of real-life musician Dexter Gordon to play this role.

Gordon spent much of his working life in Copenhagen and in 1963 made a record with Powell in Paris. The two were part of a large group of black American jazzmen who gigged across Western Europe as the 52nd Street scene back home began to wane. Essentially, Gordon played himself, for which he deservedly received an Oscar nomination on his first try.

Musicians are not necessarily actors, but "Round Midnight" is bolstered by strong performances from a number of U.S. and French jazz players paying tribute to their own. As pleasant as the film's musical score is, "Round Midnight" succeeds because the cast of music professionals shows what they can do away from the bandstand.

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15 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

A film that captures the soul of jazz

9/10
Author: contronatura (contronatura@aol.com) from Los Angeles, CA
22 February 2000

The one thing I remember about this film is Dexter Gordon's voice. Weary, sad, and wry. It's a voice that has played a lot of sad songs and smoked a lot of cigarettes, and it's a beautiful instrument in its own way. Gordon plays Dale Turner, an expatriate jazz musician in Paris and a recovering heroin addict. This film is the story of his time in Paris and his eventual return to New York City. This film slightly parallels Gordon's own life - he too was a former heroin addict who spent much of his career in Paris, eventually returning home to New York City. A very touching and lovely ode to the beauty of jazz music, and a film that gave Dexter Gordon a deserved career comeback late in his life. Not to be missed.

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12 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

A great drama (despite its slow pace)

9/10
Author: kel_har from VA
1 June 2000

What a wonderful movie! A musical drama about two men from different worlds who share their love of jazz music, circa late 1950's. I would have to admit that the film slows down a bit so that the audience/viewer can get to know these two characters-the aging alcoholic saxophonist and his French confidant who idolizes him. The direction, the entire cast, and the Oscar-winning score are noteworthy!! (Make note of some of the dialogue in the film.) Overall, "Round Midnight" is a great film for jazz lovers, like myself, and anyone that loves a great story! Highly recommended!!

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14 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

A wonderful video memory of a great man of jazz

9/10
Author: anonanon from USA
23 February 2003

I never write or read these comments because I don't care much what others think of a movie and I sure as heck can't stand reading a pointless review by someone pretending to be the NY Times movie critic using words like "iconoclastic" and otherwise taxing their thesaurus. But being a musician and avid fan myself, I felt I owed this to Dexter Gordon, an excellent musician whose work (I would have said "oeuvre" if I was pretentious, but I say what I mean and I don't need to impress you to make me feel better) was nothing short of legendary. Yes, Dexter Gordon is not an actor, but he did a good job and apparently the folks who hand out the Oscars thought the same, not that I would necessarily use them as a barometer, mind you, but they do pick more winners than losers. Although Dexter did spend about 15 years on/off in Paris, this story is NOT autobiographical, but the storyline of dealing with addictions, mental pain and physical suffering while honing a great talent can be applied to the lives of many jazz greats like Charlie Parker, Lester Young & Bud Powell just to name a few. It's a "dark" movie indeed, but the life of a musician can be very dark. This movie shows how 2 people can work together to overcome their fears, regrets and troubles, and how they interact with the various people and situations in their lives, a true character study revolving around music. The movie is actually more about Francois' character than Dexter's as it's seen from his point of view. It's about the frailty of the human soul and it's about compassion for supreme artistry. Most importantly, regardless of your impression of the movie, you get to see some real legends perform some wonderful jazz. Yes, Dexter Gordon was certainly beyond his prime and you will hear a few clunkers and pitch variance, but you will appreciate his talent nonetheless if you understand or enjoy jazz music at all. If you want to hear him really shine, go listen to his music from the late 40's & also the 60's during his first comeback; Dexter had 3 great comebacks --- and they say Sinatra was a genius at reinvention. That will give you a true sampling of his talent before he got old and started losing his wind. Even though he didn't play to perfection, he still played damn well in this movie and you can hear the experience in his phrasing and choice of notes --- for instance, at the very end of "Body & Soul", where he formerly played a very long ending like a virtuoso in an earlier recording (something you probably expect from someone like Kenny G, who plays about 40 notes where only 10 fit comfortably), Dexter now plays a single, beautifully-placed note. That one single note blew me away! You have to understand and appreciate the fact that most players (and most people) say way too much with their music or words when a carefully placed note or word can say volumes with its understatement, like a single picture with no caption. To play that one note in that one spot was pure genius. Bob James has been known to do the same --- less is more sometimes. Francois Cluzet does a heckuva job as protector and friend and the cameo by Martin Scorsese is priceless. The ending always leaves me wanting more and that's the mark of an excellent movie --- one so good you don't want it to end; you want to be within the movie yourself and you feel you're a part of it. The only reason I gave this a 9 instead of 10 was because it's not a great classic movie like Casablanca or The Godfather, but it touched me as much or more than those movies ever had. But this wasn't meant to be a piece of cinematic history and achievement, it is what it is, a period film about life of a jazz legend and in that respect it does everything possible and them some. This movie deserves your respect, your time and your admiration of a great jazz saxophonist, Dexter Gordon, and kudos to all the musicians involved, especially Herbie Hancock. Actress Lonette McKee does an excellent job on the vocals as well. It also gives you a good feel of a real urban jazz club in the early 60's and how life was for these jazz legends. If you get hooked on this stuff you'll never listen to anything else as it will never measure up, but jazz is very cerebral and it takes someone with a passion for aesthetics to appreciate it. Chess is great too, but you don't see many kids playing Chessmaster on their computers. This movie is an acquired taste and an excellent one at that. Thanks for the memories, Dexter.

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15 out of 20 people found the following review useful:

The Best Ever Non-Documentary Jazz Film

10/10
Author: Dan Bayer
20 June 2003

A vivid portrait of a Bud Powell/Lester young type who, like the vast majority of American jazz artists, receives more appreciation and love for his art overseas than here in the U.S. even though this is where Jazz was born.

It saddens me every time I watch it because jazz is still so under-appreciated in this country. And we can largely thank commercial radio for that.

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10 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

Great Movie with Great Jazz

8/10
Author: gbheron from Washington, DC
15 April 2000

Dexter Gordon plays Dale Turner, an aging tenor sax player at the end of his days. Beaten but unbowed by years of drug and alcohol abuse Turner arrives in Paris (1959) for a gig at a small, smoky, jazz club. Acknowledged as one of the greats he is joined by other stellar musicians as he quietly struggles to quell his demons and make great music. For a while, at least, he succeeds at both. Gently constructed without much plot this movie is a treat for all, and a grand slam home run for jazz fans.

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9 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

Appreciation for a true American art form!

Author: Walter Frith from Hamilton, Ontario, CANADA
15 March 1999

Herbie Hancock's Oscar winning score is the marvel that proves that the Academy screens even the smallest films for consideration. Dexter Gordon is brilliant in an Oscar nominated performance as an improvising and misunderstood jazz genius whose speciality is the tenor-sax.

The film is set in 1950's Paris and Gordon is supported in his art by a loyal Frenchman who is his biggest fan. The way the film moves in pace is equivalent to listening to a warm and richly textured jazz score with medium movement. In fact, turning down the volume and watching it with sub titles suitable to your language while listening to that type of jazz score through headphones is a great way to enjoy it. Better yet, do it with the film's authentic score. It cooks!

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6 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

The Joy of Life in the Miracle of Creating/ Performing Music

10/10
Author: clotblaster from United States
11 January 2006

This movie is about an aging, venerable jazz musician and composer, but it could be about any artist, particularly a musician, be he a classical, country western or blues artist. But the real star of the movie is the performing of the music--how it makes ineffable beauty, brings people together, touches the individual soul, creates love. The story shows how jazz and, in particular, this jazz musician (a composite of real jazz musicians and composers) inspires a young Frenchman whose life has been changed by this jazz artist's music. The plot is simple and transparent, but digs deep into the soul of a viewer who yields himself up to the movie, whether he likes jazz or not. I highly recommend this movie that shows the ups and downs of life in several aspects, but is really a tribute not merely to jazz musicians, but actually to the beauty of life that is found in personal experience and, more importantly, in inspiring works of art. The director Bertrand Tavernier is French and has made many movies, on a wide variety of subjects. This film is almost all in English, but his French films are well worth watching, even if you have issues with subtitles. This film made me cry and other of his films have similarly moved me. I hope readers will see this film and perhaps venture to watch some other films by director Tavernier. "A thing of beauty is a joy forever."

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8 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

A perfect movie for round' midnight or a rainy day.

Author: ralpho2001 from Los Angeles, CA
3 February 2001

I had never heard of this movie before, when I purchased the laser-disk by impulse. I like jazz and the title of it "Round' Midnight" grabbed my attention (also, it was on the bargain bin for only $7.99!).

Wow...was this a pleasant surprise! It has become one of my favorite movies to watch (and listen to). I find that this is not so much a story, but an experience. You experience this movie & its atmosphere.

If you have a good sound system, turn off the lights. Pour yourself a drink, Light up a cigar and turn the volume up! It's an experience that will move you. The music is the lead character here. It's a great movie about jazz for jazz lovers and I would now gladly pay five times what I bought it for!

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