Bird Clint Eastwood

Bird is Clint Eastwood’s labour-of-love biopic of legendary alto-saxophonist Charlie Parker. This upgrade 20 years after the film’s theatrical release highlights Parker’s soaring solos by adding a 23-minute CD of music from the soundtrack and isolating the musical score on the DVD. However, those measures aren’t enough to recommend rushing out and replacing your old Bird DVD. Bird stars Forest Whitaker in his breakout role as the tortured musician who battled heroin all his life and eventually lost. Diane Venora excels as Chan, Bird’s wife who commits him to mental institutions yet ultimately cannot save him from the abyss. Eastwood and cinematographer Jack N. Green cast their performers in a dark, moody world that successfully reflects Bird’s tortured psychology. At times, the anti-drug message gets heavy-handed but Eastwood balances the story by truthfully casting the Feds as the villains. Despite some excessive flashbacks, Bird is a fine film and Whitaker’s performance shines throughout. What’s missing from this release is an audio commentary by Eastwood or a jazz scholar who could’ve embellished the work with biographical background and historical context. For instance, someone could have mentioned the car accident that Parker barely survived as a teen that introduced him to morphine, then heroin addiction. Well, maybe next time for the inevitable third DVD release. (Warner)