Film Review: ‘Bolden’

  • Variety
The conundrum that haunts “Bolden,” a murky drama inspired turn-of-the-century New Orleans musician Charles “Buddy” Bolden, is right up front in the opening titles, which inform the audience that little is known about the man’s life story, but he happens to be responsible for inventing jazz. The gulf between Bolden’s importance in pioneering a great American art form and his anonymity in the historical record is the one director Dan Pritzker and his co-writer, David N. Rothschild, must bridge. But what sounds like a great creative opportunity proves here to be more like a trap: In trying to turn Bolden’s biography into the paradigmatic tale of early jazz musicians — and more generally of African Americans in the Deep South — they lean on stereotypes and clichés and never quite define their elusive central figure. Jazz aficionados may appreciate the ambience, including original contributions by trumpet virtuoso Wynton Marsalis,
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