Clint Eastwood presents: a documentary about jazz genius. Thelonius Monk is portrayed as an artist both blessed and cursed just by his genius. Apart from typical format of 'talking heads' of the genre master (John Coltrane), collaborators, figures from music business and Thelonius, Jr., there is shown small but intense piece of the musician's life: in the studio, on the road, during live concerts. And a note about unusual, long-lasting friendship between Thelonius and Baroness Nica de Koenigswarter. The makers were able to grasp tension coming from creative process (songs being written on the run, then played in front of huge audience without proper rehearsal), routine of life on tour with ever-tendering wife Nellie by his side, biased or just silly questions from journalists, more or less visible symptoms of mental illness (which might have been confused with artist's mannerisms, stage antics or eccentricities at most). And trademark exotic hats (could anyone else in the 20th century look cool in that historic Polish head thingy?). Another memorable thing is Monk's diction and his simple, street-like way of talking, being in contradiction with the kind of a man he was (supposedly extremely complex one) and with undeniably sophisticated music he composed and performed. Luckily, there is plenty here of the latter. Chamber, suggestive film in black and white about an extraordinary man. And a must not just for "jazz purists" but music lovers in general.
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