Jazz just sounds cooler when it's backing a black and white scene, doesn't it? Gives it an organic, refreshing sound, almost a palpable texture. Jazz under neon blue lights and nightclub smoke makes for a great atmosphere, too, but that's sultry and mysterious and can be too confined by its own setting.
The reason I point this out is because Damien Chazelle's Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench (which made waves at Tribeca in April but is still seeking financing for a theatrical release) gives jazz a shot in the arm that not only gets your toe tapping, but your spirit soaring. You're not seduced by the riffs so much as you're invigorated by them.
It's a verite-style romantic musical dramedy that defies categorization precisely because it fits so many descriptions: indie, docudrama, mumblecore, to name a few. At different times it reminded of new cinema (In Search of a Midnight Kiss and Medicine for Melancholy) and classic cinema (the dancing scene from Jean-Luc Godard's Band of Outsiders), and it won't work for everyone if only because it's so peculiarly surreal. But I think that's why I loved it, aside from the fact that it was shot on the Boston and Cambridge streets that hold a special nostalgia for me.