Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Life in E Flat

Charlie and Chan: what are the chances? Yet the real Charlie Parker and Chan Richardson (Parker by common law marriage) made an intricate duo -- and they had two kids together (one died very young). Theirs makes quite a compelling story in both Clint Eastwood's film Bird (1988) and Chan Parker's memoir, My Life in E-Flat (1999).

Clint's movie evokes the jazz milieu of the 40s and early 50s effectively, but the acting team of Forest Whitaker (as Bird) and Diane Venora (as Chan) really drives the film. Samuel E. Wright (as Dizzy Gillespie) provides a nice counterpoint. The music is powerful and intense throughout many scenes. Though I think the film could have been edited and compressed a little, overall I was far more appreciative seeing it now than when it first came out. What I remembered most about Bird over the years, besides the music, was how tortured and despairing the man was, best epitomized in painful scenes of long-distance telephone calling.

Independent spirits both, Charlie and Chan Parker had quite an unconventional, fascinating relationship. Power and freedom on the one hand, Bird's artistry, depression and junkie addictions (morphine, heroin, alcohol, nicotine) on the other. "If you could hear every sound in the world, you’d go crazy," says Charlie Parker at one point. In a way, he could and he did.

Today's Rune: Wholeness.

Birthdays: Hedda Hopper (b. Elda Furry), Manfred von Richthofen, Satyajit Ray, Lesley Gore.

Can you dig?

1 comment:

Charles Gramlich said...

I have never seen this movie, although I've heard good things about it. Whitaker is an excellent actor so I may have to rent this over the summer.