Clint Eastwood‘s 1988 Charlie Parker biopic doesn’t gloss over his dark side, and uses his obsessiveness and heroin addiction as the basis of his personality. Forest Whitaker gives a well-rounded central performance, struggling with grief, junk and booze and constantly trying to make a new form of music pay and be understood. The music runs like a dazzling thread through the picture, as Eastwood’s Parker takes us through the dark underbelly of American life, where racism, class difference and glib fashion conspire to destroy unique personalities. Set in blue-lit back streets and nightclubs, Bird is both a modern film noir and a monument to one man’s struggle with his own genius.
It’s back on screen as part of the Bristol International Jazz and Blues Festival 2020.