BRUNO'S BLUES (Michael Simard). 80 minutes. Opens Saturday (June 23) at the Carlton. See Times. Rating: N
A mockumentary set in the Vancouver jazz scene, Bruno's Blues opens with this statement: "Being a musician is one thing. Making a living is another story."
I don't disagree, but the film should have said, "Being a musician is one thing. Being an actor another." The decision to cast jazz musicians and have Canadian pianist Bruno Hubert play himself results in stilted acting, so Bruno's Blues struggles to hit the right notes.
Inspired by the life of Hubert - once part of the Brad Turner Quartet, he went on to become the leader of his own trio despite not starting to play jazz until his late 30s - Michael Simard's film picks up the story as his world begins to fall apart: first overdue bills, then a court summons and finally the demolition of his house.
While he's on the street, Hubert's bandmates search for him and his demo falls into the hands of the right record label manager. All this is intercut with sequences of Hubert performing in coffee houses and clubs, showcasing his talent and explaining why the film is screening as part of the Toronto Jazz Fest.
Bruno's Blues fails to strike the comedic chord it's aiming for and descends into gross-out humour (eating dog meat, yoga flatulence) - doing the music, and Hubert, a disservice.