Combustible Celluloid
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With: Dexter Gordon, François Cluzet, Gabrielle Haker, Sandra Reaves-Phillips, Lonette McKee, Christine Pascal, Herbie Hancock, Bobby Hutcherson, Pierre Trabaud, Frédérique Meininger, Hart Leroy Bibbs, Liliane Rovère, Ged Marlon, Benoît Régent, Victoria Gabrielle Platt, Arthur French, John Berry, Martin Scorsese, Philippe Noiret, Alain Sarde
Written by: Bertrand Tavernier
Directed by: Bertrand Tavernier
MPAA Rating: R
Language: French, English with English subtitles
Running Time: 133
Date: 09/12/1986

'Round Midnight (1986)

4 Stars (out of 4)

Our Man in Paris

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Considered the equal of Clint Eastwood's Bird, and a contender for the greatest jazz film ever made, Bertrand Tavernier's 'Round Midnight stars real-life jazz legend Dexter Gordon in a brilliant, soft-spoken Oscar-nominated performance. He plays Dale Turner, who works the clubs of Paris where his most appreciative audience is. Francois Cluzet plays a smitten fan who takes the alcohol-addled musician under his wing and convinces him to write music again. Tavernier's striking widescreen frame established the rainy, neon-and-smoke filled world of the jazz film. The director frequently holds his camera still to capture some exquisite musical jams. Herbie Hancock's score won an Oscar. Martin Scorsese appears in a small role.

In 2022, the Criterion Collection gave the film its first Blu-ray release, in a beautiful "4K restoration," and with a glorious 2.0 surround DTS-HD audio track, which really makes the music sound glorious. There's also a 5.1 surround DTS-HD track, but I prefer the 2.0. New English subtitles are also offered. Bonuses include new interviews with jazz and cultural critic Gary Giddins, music producer Michael Cuscuna and author Maxine Gordon (Gordon's widow). We get "Before Midnight," a new behind-the-scenes documentary featuring on-set footage, a panel discussion from 2014 featuring director Tavernier, and others, and a performance from 1969 of Gordon's "Fried Bananas." The fold-out liner notes essay is by scholar Mark Anthony Neal. This is highly recommended.

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