Runtime: 92 min
Iran / France
Directed by Kasper Collin
Starring: Lee Morgan, Helen Morgan
Rated 96% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes!
Synopsis: Hailed by some as the most talented trumpeter of his generation, Lee Morgan was playing with Art Blakey and Dizzy Gillespie while still in his teens. Sadly, Morgan’s life was cut short one February night in 1972 when his common-law wife Helen Morgan shot him at the New York jazz club Slug’s Saloon. Morgan was 33 years old. Kasper Collin’s new documentary traces the lives of Lee and Helen from their very different roots to the events of that cold winter’s night. Part jazz history, part true-crime, I Called Him Morgan is a beautifully constructed double portrait of individuals transformed by art, love, and overpowering impulses. The film makes superb use of archival footage and draws from a trove of great stills, especially those taken by photographer and Blue Note executive Francis Wolff. The new interviews collected by Collin, along with a candid archival interview with Helen, tell the ill-fated pair’s story with the pacing and detail of a suspense film.
About APERTURE, The Screening Room’s Monthly Series:
The Aperture monthly screening series, much like the optical mechanism it is named after, takes a shot at showing recent films that have captured the attention of The Screening Room staff. Aperture refers to the size of the opening which allows light to pass into a camera or the human eye. Likewise, this one-night only series will showcase unusual films that provide a glimpse into new and fascinating worlds.
This is not a lurid true-crime tale of jealousy and drug addiction, but a delicate human drama about love, ambition and the glories of music. -A.O. Scott
Collin, in collaboration with cinematographer Bradford Young, has filled out the usual with a vital evocation of the bandleader’s milieu, often with new 16mm footage that audiences might take for an archival find. -Village Voice