I Called Him Morgan
Submarine Deluxe / Kasper Collin Produktion
Reverential Retrospective Revisits Abbreviated Life Of Legendary Jazz Great
Legendary jazz great Lee Morgan (1938-1972) was born and raised in Philadelphia where he received his first trumpet as a gift from his sister on his 13th birthday. He soon became a protégé of Clifford Brown who would die in a car accident at the tender age of 25.
Lee passed away prematurely, too, though he was murdered by his common-law wife, Helen, in a fit of jealous rage. She blew him away in between sets at a Greenwich Village cabaret because not only was he cheating on her but had the temerity to bring his mistress with him to the club that night.
Written and directed by Kasper Collin, I Called Him Morgan is a warts-and-all retrospective chronicling the highs and lows of Lee’s checkered career. He enjoyed a meteoric rise as a member of Dizzy Gillespie’s big band while still in his teens, only to eventually become broke because of a heroin habit that made him so unreliable that nobody in the music industry would hire him anymore.
Upon bottoming out, Lee was lucky to meet Helen, a woman 14 years his senior who put him in rehab and let him move into her Manhattan apartment after he got cleaned up. She subsequently became both his lover and his business manager, negotiating deals and escorting him to gigs.
Initially very grateful, Lee proceeded to make the most of the shot at redemption she afforded him. He resumed performing and churning out albums, and became a very productive and respected member of the jazz community again.
Unfortunately, the accolades and attention accompanying success apparently went straight to his head, and he started taking Helen for granted. Lee had an eye for the ladies and, when he stopped coming home at night, Helen issued him a warning that she couldn’t handle such insulting mistreatment.
Their turbulent relationship came to a head on the night of February 19, 1972, after a heated exchange at Slug’s Saloon. First, Lee’s new girlfriend confronted Helen. Helen then slapped Lee. Lee tossed Helen out of the bar and into a blizzard without a coat. Helen came back with the gun Lee had given her for protection and shot her philandering man once in the chest. Since it took an ambulance over an hour to arrive due to the heavy snowfall, Lee bled out.
What makes this film so fascinating is that much of it is narrated by Helen herself, albeit posthumously. For, just one month before she died in March of 1996, she sat down to talk with a music professor who recorded her life story for posterity. Besides that audiotape, the documentary features file concert footage, plus the reflections of many of Lee’s contemporaries: Ben Maupin, Wayne Shorter, Benny Maupin, Billy Harper and more.
To paraphrase an age-old maxim, Hell hath no fury like a Helen scorned!
Excellent (4 stars)
Running time: 92 minutes
Rated R for profanity and brief frontal nudity
Prodigal Daughter Tries To Reconcile With Estranged Dad In Haunting Parable Of Biblical Proportions
It’s not very clear whether Harry Catto’s (Joe Blakemore) death was a murder or a suicide. One thing’s for certain, though. It wasn’t merely a mishap, because nobody accidentally sticks a gun in his own mouth and pulls the trigger. The cops suspect that he killed himself, but his father (David Troughton) is too much in shock to press them to launch a full investigation.
This tragic state of affairs greets Clover Catto (Ellie Kendrick) when she returns home to attend her younger brother’s funeral. Although she’s been away in veterinary school, she’s been estranged from her father for years. In fact, this is her first visit back to Somerset since the 2013 flood which devastated most of the wetland region’s coastal plains.
Upon arriving, Clover sees that much of the rural area still hasn’t recovered from the deluge, including the flattened dairy farm that she grew up on. But before she can devote any attention to the idea of resurrecting the family-owned estate, the grief-stricken Prodigal Daughter needs to focus on reconciling with her father and on figuring out the circumstances surrounding her sibling’s slaying.
That is the engaging point of departure of The Levelling, a haunting, modern parable of biblical proportions. The deliberately-paced mood piece unfolding against a decidedly-barren, British backdrop marks a most impressive writing and directorial debut by Hope Dickson Leach.
The film also features a nonpareil performance on the part of Ellie Kendrick as Clover. The talented ingénue exhibits considerable range in service of a very emotionally-demanding role. She is assisted in this endeavor by an equally-capable supporting cast basically composed of David Troughton as a dad plunged deep in denial, and Jack Holden as an eyewitness with lots of answers.
A heartbreakingly-palpable exploration of a strained father-daughter relationship as well as a thorough post mortem on their loved one’s untimely passing!
Excellent (4 stars)
Running time: 84 minutes
OPENING THIS WEEK
For movies opening March 31, 2017
The Boss Baby (PG for some mildly rude humor) Animated family comedy about a precocious infant (Alec Baldwin) who teams up with his 7-year-old brother (Miles Christopher Bakshi) to foil the dastardly plan of a diabolical CEO (Steve Buscemi) determined to destabilize feelings of love around the world. Voice cast includes Jimmy Kimmel, Lisa Kudrow, Tobey Maguire, ViviAnn Yee and Eric Bell, Jr.
Ghost In The Shell (PG-13) Futuristic sci-fi based on the Japanese comic book series of the same name about a cyborg counter-terrorist commander’s (Scarlett Johansson) deployed to prevent power-hungry computer hackers from purloining powerful, mind control technology. With Pilou Asbaek, Juliette Binoche and Takeshi Kitano.
The Zookeeper’s Wife (PG-13 for violence, disturbing images, mature themes, smoking, sexuality and brief nudity) Jessica Chastain plays the title character in this true tale, set in Poland during World War II, recounting how a fearless woman hid hundreds of Jews during the Holocaust on the grounds of the Warsaw Zoo. Cast includes Daniel Bruhl, Johan Heldenbergh and Timothy Radford.
Aftermath (R for one scene containing graphic violence) Fact-based docudrama about a grief-stricken vigilante (Arnold Schwarzenegger) who seeks to take revenge on the air traffic controller (Scoot McNairy) whose mistake led to the crash which claimed the lives of his wife and daughter. Supporting cast includes Maggie Grace, Kevin Zegers and Hannah Ware.
All This Panic (Unrated) Coming-of-age documentary, set in Brooklyn, chronicling the transition of a group of teenage girls from adolescence to adulthood over the course of three years.
Bwoy (Unrated) Homoerotic drama revolving around a closeted, former physician (Anthony Rapp) who starts cheating on his wife (De’Adre Aziza) with a hunky young Jamaican (Jimmy Brooks) in the wake of their son’s untimely death. Featuring Jermaine Rowe, Drew Allen and Ashton Randle.
Cexanne And I (R for profanity, nudity and sexual references) Bifurcated biopic chronicling the lifelong friendship of novelist/philosopher Emile Zola (Guillaume Canet) and Post-Impressionist painter Paul Cezanne (Guillaume Gallienne). With Alice Pol, Deborah Francois and Pierre Yvon. (In French with subtitles)
David Lynch: The Art Life (Unrated) Reverential documentary following David Lynch as he discusses the formative years of his life which helped turn him into an iconoclastic film director.
God Knows Where I Am (Unrated) Poignant post mortem reenacting the events leading to the death by a starvation of Linda Bishop, a homeless woman who tried to survive a harsh New Hampshire winter in an abandoned farmhouse on apples and rain water.
Here Alone (Unrated) Post-apocalyptic sci-fi thriller chronicling the struggle of a young woman (Lucy Walters) to survive in the wilderness in the wake of a mysterious epidemic that has decimated civilization. Cast includes Gina Piersanti, Adam David Thompson and Shane West. (In English and French with subtitles)
Live Cargo (Unrated) Crime thriller about a couple (Dree Hemigway and Lakeith Stanfield) that retreats to an island in the Bahamas to mourn the loss of a baby, only to become entangled in a turf war between the mayor (Robert Wisdom) and a human trafficker (Leonard Earl Howze). co-starring Sam Dillon, Ayumi Iizuka and Frantz Lecoeur. (In English and Creole with subtitles)
The Prison (Unrated) Action thriller revolving around an ex-cop (Rae-won Kim) who pretends to be a convict in order to infiltrate the crime syndicate operating behind bars responsible for the murder of his younger brother. With Woong-in Jeong, Seok-Kyu Han and Kim Sung Kyun. (In Korean with subtitles)