‘Round Midnight

January 28, 2012 6 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

This story takes place in Paris in the late 1950s, as a veteran jazz musician named Dale Turner (Dexter Gordon) readies himself for a stint at he Blue Note. Turner is a genius on the saxophone, but when he gets his hands on some alcohol, his skills disappear, as well as his sense of responsibility. So as he prepares for his work, he is surrounded by fellow musicians, his friends who want to make sure he skips the bottle and sticks with the sax. As he performs, a French artist named Francis (Francois Cluzet) listens from the street, as he cannot afford a ticket. So even as the rain pours down on him, he listens and remembers when he saw Turner in person, back in his prime. Francis works as an artist with movie posters, but since his wife walked out on him, he has no inspiration and thus, no work to sell. But when he does have some cash, he goes in to listen to Turner and soon, offers to let the musician move in with him, away from the poor conditions at the Blue Note. And soon enough, Turner is off the bottle and making great music again, but how long will it all last?

I’ve never known much about jazz, but as Warner Bros. has released a plethora of jazz based titles on DVD, I suppose I am getting a small lesson in the topic. I still know very little, but I’ve heard more of the music and seen more of the performers, which is always good. I suppose I am not much of a musical and as such, this film doesn’t speak much to me, but I did find it worthwhile the first time around. The film is draped in jazz music and the scene that come with it, so as an outsider to that realm, I do feel like I missed some elements and details. But I never felt like I missed too much, like to the point where primary points were lost in the equation. I think if you know a lot about jazz, then you’ll get more out of ‘Round Midnight, but you don’t have to be a jazz fanatic to like the flick. And perhaps it might win jazz some new fans or inspire the musician potential inside you, right? I wasn’t taken in much by this motion picture, but I recommend it as a rental and for jazz fans, this is a must see release.

I don’t usually discuss the composers too much in these reviews, but in this case, I simply think it has to be done. The music in this film is very impressive and with an Oscar for his work here, Herbie Hancock is right on the money with this score. But then again, who better to score a jazz based film than Hancock, who is one of the more famous musicians in the realm. In addition to his work on the musical side of the film, Hancock also appears within it and in truth, his acting holds up well and I was glad to see him here. The cast here also includes Sandra Reeves-Phillips (Lean on Me), Christine Pascal (Black Thursday, Nothing But Lies), Francois Cluzet (Sweet Idleness, Bastard Brood), Gabrielle Haker, Bobby Hutcherson, and in a unique turn, famed filmmaker Martin Scorsese also appears within ‘Round Midnight. The main star here however, is musician Dexter Gordon (Unchained, Awakenings, who performs well here as both an actor and a musician.

Video: How does it look?

‘Round Midnight is presented in a 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. This is a very basic visual experience, but as far as the flick goes, this transfer handles all the details rather well. The colors remain very natural and never too bright, but they look good and never bleed, so no complaints. I found this to be darker than I remembered from a television airing, but that seems to be an improvement, as the visuals seem more refined this way. I did see a couple small flaws, but nothing to be worried about and in the end, this is another superb transfer from Warner Bros.

Audio: How does it sound?

This is a music fueled release and as such, the included Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is a real good one, no real complaints here. Unlike a lot of these remixed tracks, this one sounds very natural and full, never forced in the least. I was very pleased with the music presentation, as it comes off very rich and immersive here, which of course adds a lot to the film’s impact. The dialogue is crisp as well and the sound effects come across well, but the real focus here is the music, which is terrific in this mix. This disc also contains subtitles in English, Spanish, French, and Portuguese.

Supplements: What are the extras?

This disc includes some talent files and the film’s theatrical trailer.

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