10 fantastic music biopics that you may not know

Films you might have missed but need to see.

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DRAMA No. 4

BOLDEN (2019)

Bolden is not an easy movie. Then again, Buddy Bolden’s life was not easy. Bolden, who was instrumental in the early development of the jazz cornet, suffered from acute alcohol psychosis and spent the last 24 years of his life in an asylum. At least, that’s the common belief.

Dan Pritzker’s movie about Bolden’s life calls some of that into question. There is no doubt that Buddy Bolden was highly gifted and deeply troubled. An institution may have been the best place for him. But he was done no favors by a society that had no clue how to deal with this troubled genius and a legal and medical system that didn’t have much interest in him.

As with the Chet Baker movie, Bolden attempts to incorporate jazz rhythms into its very structure. The movie jumps around. A lot. This put off some viewers who had trouble following the narrative. So did the drab, almost unbearable asylum scenes that play like a horror film. But the film has an intoxicating power, especially if you are eager for stories of musicians that don’t follow a cookie-cutter chronology.

From the asylum, Bolden’s memories are frequently triggered by a radio broadcast of some young kid named Armstrong playing his horn, and there is the definite suggestion that Buddy Bolden opened the door for Louis Armstrong to walk through. It’s hard to know since there are no extant recordings of Bolden’s cornet. Gary Carr stars, in a tour de force performance.