Have you ever heard Clint Eastwood play jazz on a piano? If not, you should. He does not have the mastery of a pro, but he does feel the deep roots (the blues) of the black American soul. It is in his blood. Indeed, he plays not like a man who wants to get jazz right, but like an animal who simply and wholly wants to revel in it, to fall into its muddy and messy rhythms, and roll around and roll around, and turn and turn. Yeah, you know how he feels. Eastwood—who is now making dumb Trumpy films for low-information white America—loves the rich and complicated African music of black America like nothing else.
And so it is not surprising that his 1988 biopic about the tragic jazz genius Charlie Parker, Bird, is, in every shot and scene and sequence, filled with this love. Yes, Parker fucked up much of his life with heavy drugs; yes, he was mentally unstable; yes, he died way too young (at the age of 34). But Eastwood's film, which stars a young and excellent Forest Whitaker (he deserved an Oscar for this performance), emphasizes the saxophonist's otherworldly brilliance.
What Eastwood understood is that people like Parker are rare, and so, in a sense, cannot really be judged. They appear in a world that is not of their time and is packed on all sides by mediocre people, minds, ideas, ambitions, rules. If their greatness as artists is to be expressed as fully as possible, then these rare men or women must reject all conventions and make life miserable for themselves and those close to them.
All in all, Eastwood directed Bird in much the same way he plays jazz piano—not with caution, not with precision, but with a love that is supreme.