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Blue Like Jazz (2012)

Steve Taylor Christian film

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#121 Overstreet

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 12:26 AM

Thanks so much, Scott. This may be the first time that my review is longer than the film itself.

#122 Jeremy Ratzlaff

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 01:02 AM

Jeff, that review was my favorite. I was captivated by the whole thing, and it caused me to fall in love with this film before even having seen it.

I'm desperately hoping it somehow makes it's way to Canada, otherwise, I guess I'll have to wait until I can snag a DVD copy online.

#123 Overstreet

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 01:06 AM

Thanks, Jeremy. Don't let your expectations rise too high -- it's a film of many strengths and considerable weaknesses. (That's why I used the word "clunky.") And it's best appreciated as a modest but thoughtful comedy about coming-of-age in faith and reason. (Kind of like Saved! without the last-act cop-out.) I just wanted to spell out certain strengths in the film that I felt were overlooked in other reviews I'd seen. But I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Edited by Overstreet, 16 April 2012 - 01:10 AM.


#124 mrmando

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 02:15 AM

Josh Hurst's CT review:

http://www.christian...uelikejazz.html

The downside? Separating "Christian spirituality" from the fundamentals of the gospel message means, in the case of Miller's book, an emphasis on feelings and experience, on social justice and an individual search for truth. Little traction is given to the mortification of sin, to the atoning significance of the Cross, and so forth. In the movie, it means we get a vivid portrait of where evangelical culture has gone wrong, but the alternative we're given is a "Christian spirituality" that emphasizes all the wrong things (and pretty much excludes Christ himself).


Well, Josh's 2.5-star review got a 0-star meta-review of its own, from Jonathan Martin, an emergent-church pastor and prolific blogger in North Carolina. What Martin lacks in thoughtfulness he strives to make up for in verbosity:

http://pastorjonatha...-jazz-no-stars/

While the reviewer does not give the film a unilaterally negative review, they ultimately gave Blue Like Jazz 2 and 1/2 stars for, well, if you understand what you are reading–not being Reformed enough theologically...

First, Martin here assumes that Josh's theological quibbles with the film somehow factored into his rating of it, a leap in logic that I would hesitate to make. Second, Martin apparently assumes that only Reformed theologians are concerned about things like sin and redemption. It appears that Martin has a Pentecostal background, so maybe he got his back up when Josh dissed the book for its emphasis on feelings and experience. But still, the issues Josh raises are hardly exclusively Reformed ... they'd be of equal concern to an Arminian, Catholic or Orthodox reviewer, methinks. That Josh happens to be Reformed in his theological outlook suggests that Martin either made a lucky guess or Googled Josh. In either case, Martin is misdirecting his readers here. Third—

What I can’t handle is the sudden doctrinal piety. ... of course a dark mainstream film like Dragon Tattoo has to be viewed through the lens of Christian charity in the name of cultural relevance, whereas Blue Like Jazz has to pass through the filter of Reformed theology.

As I was saying, third, after summing up what he sees as the film's theological shortcomings, Josh goes on to write, "Not that it falls on the film to lay out a full gospel presentation"—a sentence that seems to have escaped Martin's notice. Martin continues:

We should look to find the value or “the truth” embedded in depictions of graphic sexual violence, but the lack of atonement in Blue Like Jazz is, pardon me, offensive?

The word "offensive" never appears in Josh's review, so I'm not sure what Martin's getting so worked up about. But you can see where he's going with this Dragon Tattoo comparison:

Then again, I suppose The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo has enough “wrath” to “satisfy” anybody, even Reformed movie critics.

OK, I mean, you can see where he's going after getting in that one last cheap shot:

I love you, Christianity Today. But the double standard is inexcusably stupid. In your reviews, you can be the savvy “engage the culture intellectually publication” if you like, or you can be the orthodoxy police of culture. I frankly don’t care which you choose, just thought you should know you don’t get to be both at the same time.

The "double standard" he's attacking here is a straw man. For one thing, he's comparing Josh's review of Film Apple to Brett McCracken's review of Film Orange, and AFAIK Christianity Today doesn't require all of its reviewers to look at every film from the same perspective, theological or otherwise. For another thing, the films themselves have radically different perspectives: one poses difficult questions about the shifting faces of good and evil in a resolutely post-Christian society, while the other, I gather, seeks to offer reasons not to give up on Christianity. When a film is made by Christians and purports to be about Christianity, then it is appropriate for a Christian reviewer to apply theological questions that probably aren't very useful for other types of films. That does not amount to a double standard.

I don't see any place on Martin's blog to leave comments (maybe I have to subscribe first?), which smacks a bit of "can dish, but can't take" to me ... anyway, that's why I'm writing here.

Edited by mrmando, 16 April 2012 - 01:45 PM.


#125 Scott Derrickson

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 02:33 AM

Thanks, Jeremy. Don't let your expectations rise too high -- it's a film of many strengths and considerable weaknesses. (That's why I used the word "clunky.") And it's best appreciated as a modest but thoughtful comedy about coming-of-age in faith and reason. (Kind of like Saved! without the last-act cop-out.) I just wanted to spell out certain strengths in the film that I felt were overlooked in other reviews I'd seen. But I'm glad you enjoyed it.


I agree with that. The movie is clunky. I don't fault detractors for dismissing it outright for this reason - but there's much there of worth if you're open to it. You have to look past the film's faults, and if you do, there's some stuff there you simply won't find anywhere else in the history of cinema. And sometimes, good can actually be better than perfect. There's something about the whole clunky package that works for me.

#126 Attica

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 04:50 AM

Thanks, Jeremy. Don't let your expectations rise too high -- it's a film of many strengths and considerable weaknesses. (That's why I used the word "clunky.") And it's best appreciated as a modest but thoughtful comedy about coming-of-age in faith and reason. (Kind of like Saved! without the last-act cop-out.) I just wanted to spell out certain strengths in the film that I felt were overlooked in other reviews I'd seen. But I'm glad you enjoyed it.

I was kind of hoping the film would make its way to Canada as well, but I really doubt it. By the way...... I kind of liked the "rant". Maybe sometimes it just needs to be said. Posted Image

Edited by Attica, 16 April 2012 - 04:53 PM.


#127 vjmorton

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 04:34 PM

Thanks, Jeremy. Don't let your expectations rise too high -- it's a film of many strengths and considerable weaknesses. (That's why I used the word "clunky.") And it's best appreciated as a modest but thoughtful comedy about coming-of-age in faith and reason. (Kind of like Saved! without the last-act cop-out.) I just wanted to spell out certain strengths in the film that I felt were overlooked in other reviews I'd seen. But I'm glad you enjoyed it.

I AM NOT ENTERTAINED!!!

#128 bloop

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 04:57 PM

Ted Baehr apparently doesn't think too much of it, because Jesus is a Republican, duh!, which means I'd probably be inclined to at least like it. I just read the book last week, which didn't tell me a lot about what to expect from a film adaptation.

Edited by bloop, 16 April 2012 - 05:02 PM.


#129 Overstreet

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 05:28 PM

Wow. They caution us about "implied urination" and "references to real condoms" and such shocking content as "man comically shoves people off a stage." And yeah, they're really, really upset about references to U.S. foreign policy.

#130 Overstreet

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 05:51 PM

Conclusion:

Instead of watching BLUE LIKE JAZZ, moviegoers should read or re-read some books on Christian apologetics, Christian history, and American history. Such books will help them defend their faith, overcome evil with good, defend the United States from leftist utopian tyranny and revisionist history, and stand upon the Truth of Jesus Christ and His Gospel


Wow.

#131 Crow

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 06:01 PM

I really enjoyed the film and reading Jeffrey's thoughful review. I agree that the film is somewhat “clunky”. But what I think the film gets right is in showing what it’s like to be an 18, 19, 20-year-old college kid, the mixture of self-confidence and being vulnerable and adrift, of no longer being tethered to the foundations of living in your parents’ house, being passionate without the life experience to know how to channel your passions. I see this in Don trying to throw off his subcultural baggage but at this college, he has nothing to latch onto, so he has to grasp onto hanging out with the "cool kid" (the "Pope"), and trying to reach out to a fellow Christian (Penny) who herself is enigmatic.

I thought the empathy the character of Don offers to his lesbian friend when she needed comfort was touching and pretty daring for a Christian filmmaker to tackle. And I thought the conclusion in the confession booth was well done, not overwritten, but offering enough space to show Don struggling to communicate, yet offering empathy.

In his films, I think Steve Taylor is developing into a thoughtful commentator on issues within Christian evangelicism, whether it's the race relations issue of Second Chance or the exploration of a postmodern Christianity in Blue Like Jazz. I am looking forward to where he goes from here, and hope he can refine his craft while hopefully finding a more intelligent example of traditional yet intellectual Christianity to explore how Christianity and American culture will be shaped in the upcoming years.

Edited by Crow, 16 April 2012 - 06:09 PM.


#132 David Roark

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 08:02 PM

Well, I guess it's time I join the conversation. My review: http://www.christand...christian-film/.

#133 kenmorefield

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 08:27 PM

Well, Josh's 2.5-star review got a 0-star meta-review of its own, from Jonathan Martin, an emergent-church pastor and prolific blogger in North Carolina. [....]

http://pastorjonatha...-jazz-no-stars/


Josh is a big boy and can take care of himself, and normally I think the best response to these sorts of personal comments/criticisms is to shrug them off/ignore them. I would like to say, though, in regards to the following comment

What I do fault CT for is the inconsistency (I bit my tongue not to say hypocrisy) of being more generous with [....]


that it would be really, really difficult for me to overstate the degree of my disdain for those people, Christians in particular, who practice the rhetorical move "I bit my tongue to not say..." or "I am tempted to call it..." etc. I am tempted to say what I think of people who use this rhetorical move but I will, instead, just say that if I were made emperor of the Internet for a day I think I would pass a law that anyone who uses that rhetorical move is sentenced to read Screwtape Letters a hundred times before he or she can make another post.

Edited by kenmorefield, 16 April 2012 - 08:32 PM.


#134 mrmando

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 10:10 PM

Josh himself remarked that he was bemused at being outed as Reformed, although he thought, as I did, that there wasn't anything specifically Reformed about the objections he raised in his review. He didn't say anything about the rest of it. Perhaps you're right, and there's really nothing to Martin's post apart from a little sniping at Josh and a profound misunderstanding of how film criticism works at CT. I did, however, want to bring Josh's review into this thread in case we wanted to talk about it or any of the points he makes.

If I were given to vulgarity I'd say that people who use paraleipsis the way Jonathan Martin does are usually full of shit.

#135 Darryl A. Armstrong

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 10:14 PM

Wow. They caution us about ... "references to real condoms" ...


As opposed to fake condoms?

#136 Attica

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 10:28 PM

Conclusion:

Instead of watching BLUE LIKE JAZZ, moviegoers should read or re-read some books on Christian apologetics, Christian history, and American history. Such books will help them defend their faith, overcome evil with good, defend the United States from leftist utopian tyranny and revisionist history, and stand upon the Truth of Jesus Christ and His Gospel


Wow.

Are you still possibly going to have those interviews with the Blue Like Jazz folks? I'm interested in what their response to this kind of review might be and I'd be suprised if they didn't expect some of this stuff. Of course, now I'm dying to view the movie to see if it's content touches on the very type of Christian thinking that leads to these kinds of comments. From what I'm reading I'm suspecting that it does, and if so then I'll appreciate the irony of it all.

Edited by Attica, 16 April 2012 - 10:39 PM.


#137 Overstreet

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 10:43 PM

I'll have a conversation with Steve Taylor later this week. I might bring it up, for amusement, but I want to find out what *he* wants to talk about at this point.

#138 Attica

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 11:22 PM

I'll have a conversation with Steve Taylor later this week. I might bring it up, for amusement, but I want to find out what *he* wants to talk about at this point.

Sounds good.

#139 Overstreet

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Posted 17 April 2012 - 12:32 AM

Well, here's an interesting development. This comment just appeared after my review:

"If you are the same Jeffrey Overstreet that is listed in the credits of the film as an "associate producer" I think that should be mentioned in your review. I believe associate producers, the list was at least several hundred, must be a pseudonym for "donor". Maybe you mentioned your own involvement in this lengthy review but I missed it if you did."


Baffled, I replied like so:

If I am listed as an associate producer, that's news to me! I didn't donate a penny to the effort. At one point, I was asked to be a script consultant, but I was under deadline for my novel and had to politely refuse. I'm guessing it's a coincidence, and somebody else has my name, or else ... well, frankly, I don't know what other explanation there might be. I'm interviewing Steve Taylor later this week. Maybe he can shed some light on this. (Forgive me, but I didn't take the time to read that long list of names. It was a very, very long list, and I was paying attention to the music credits that were going by simultaneously.)


To be continued...

#140 mrmando

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Posted 17 April 2012 - 12:43 AM

Well, Jeffrey, remember that 20 bucks you thought you misplaced?





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