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Blue Like Jazz (2012)

Steve Taylor Christian film

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#101 Thom Wade

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 07:51 AM

I wouldn't think so, this is not a documentary. It is a fictional story built around the book.

#102 Scott Derrickson

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 11:12 AM

So Steve's a good friend of Scott, and Jeffrey hints that he hangs around with the people who made the film and wonders what he might say.

I'll add a note of caution: I think it's relevant to judge this film against Taylor's earlier work, but in no way do I think that, if this movie is superior, it's therefore worth recommending. The point of comparison for most people is not going to be Taylor's previous film, but other films in general. How does this one stack up against similar films?

Scott says there's never been anything like it, and in some sense I suppose that's true. But again, that doesn't tell me whether the film is worth seeing. What might be a good point of comparison -- films with similar subject matter (there aren't many), or maybe films released by the same distributor? Yeah, maybe the latter.

So, is Blue Like Jazz on the same level as Margin Call or Project NIM? Biutiful or Winter's Bone? Goodbye Solo? Heck, even Bella?

EDIT: I haven't been able to find many reviews of the film, but Rebecca Cusey has just posted hers.


It's hard not to judge any filmmaker's work against their earlier work, good or bad. What evens the ground here is that while Taylor did some amazing and brilliant work as a musician, his first feature film was not a good one. I really don't know how you stack Blue Like Jazz against other films -- because even though Steve doesn't want it to be labeled a Christian film, that's what it is. It's a good Christian film, but that might make it the tallest midget in the room. The film has some significant flaws, no doubt -- it may be a great deal better than his first film, but it is still feels quite a ways short of being a great film or a film for all film lovers. The audience for this movie is exceedingly small - but I'm in that demographic, which is why I liked it as much as I did. But conservative Christians will hate its liberalism and tolerance preaching, while most Christians open-minded enough or left-leaning enough to appreciate it won't bother to see it because there are too many other top-quality films out there for them to see.


I think Taylor's musical prowess has a lot to do with what really works in the film -- the tone of the movie is set by the soundtrack, and it's an outstanding soundtrack indeed. And what people find funny is very personal, but I found things in this movie hysterical. It's broad comedy with caricatures for sure - so don't expect much serious realism here. There's a scene in a church near the beginning that had me laughing hard enough to make my eyes water. Taylor's best music was both lightly comedic and fairly severe at the same time, and I definitely felt that quality shining through during the best moments of BLJ.

Edited by Scott Derrickson, 11 April 2012 - 02:00 PM.


#103 Overstreet

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 11:39 AM

Yep. What Scott said. (Although I get the feeling I admired more about Taylor's previous film than he does.)

#104 Thom Wade

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 12:55 PM

I've had Second Chance sitting on my DVR for months now...I keep wondering if I will ever get around to watching it.

#105 Nick Alexander

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 01:12 PM

I wouldn't think so, this is not a documentary. It is a fictional story built around the book.

Nonetheless, the book is non-fiction, and LSUFYF, while a documentary, does contain a story-based narrative, one which ends in a "confessional."

#106 Thom Wade

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 02:36 PM

I am thinking this is like...I don't know... Mean Girls, building a work fiction around a work of non-fiction. It's not a direct adaption of the book, rather it is a movie inspired by the ideas of the book.

#107 Nick Alexander

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 03:38 PM

(Also not seen by me), but how about _Fast Food Nation_? (And LSUFYF is Food, Inc.?)

#108 Stephen Lamb

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 05:35 PM

There's a scene in a church near the beginning that had me laughing hard enough to make my eyes water.


Which is even funnier for Nashvillians who recognize that church as a conservative Episcopal church (where Steve attends), one where I suspect a large number of members are there to get away from the kind of scene depicted in BLJ.

#109 Thom Wade

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 07:04 AM

(Also not seen by me), but how about _Fast Food Nation_? (And LSUFYF is Food, Inc.?)



Oh yeah, I forgot about that one...(I like you have not seen it).

#110 Jason Panella

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 10:33 AM

The AV Club gives it a B+.

#111 Christian

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 12:31 PM

Here's the Metacritic page.

I thought this bit from the Variety review was worth highlighting:

The budgetary restrictions are plain to see in the serviceable tech package, which uses rudimentary animation and graphics to visualize Don's occasional flights of fancy.

Scott, Jeffrey: What did you think of the cinematic treatment of Don's "occasional flights of fancy"? I'm not so concerned with budgetary limitations as I am with whether or not you thought those sequences made any sense whatsoever, especially to those who haven't read the book. Comment today if you're willing and able, but if you think doing so might constitute a "review," please wait until tomorrow, when the film opens.

Edited by Christian, 12 April 2012 - 12:33 PM.


#112 Overstreet

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Posted 13 April 2012 - 03:53 PM

Has anybody compared this movie to Saved! yet in a review? I think it's an important point of reference.

#113 Jason Panella

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Posted 13 April 2012 - 04:00 PM

Has anybody compared this movie to Saved! yet in a review? I think it's an important point of reference.


I haven't seen anything in a review, but this comparison has definitely been brought up in the AV Club review's comment section.

#114 Scott Derrickson

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Posted 13 April 2012 - 06:18 PM

Jeffrey, are you writing a review?

#115 Overstreet

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Posted 13 April 2012 - 06:52 PM

I am writing a review. But it's only half-drafted. I'd put it off, because a publicist told me she'd set up interviews for me. She still hasn't contacted me with details. Now I'm in Chattanooga with the family for the weekend, and the circumstances (a funeral, comforting the family) are less than ideal for finishing film reviews. I posted my review of The Cabin in the Woods because it was ready. This one... not even close. Hopefully I can finish a review during my two flights tomorrow and post it. But it'll be a review without the interviews I'd been waiting for.

#116 Scott Derrickson

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Posted 15 April 2012 - 04:18 PM

I was right about the limited audience for this. It only made $281,000 in 136 theaters -- per screen average of $2,066. It won't be expanding.

#117 Overstreet

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Posted 15 April 2012 - 05:14 PM

My review ballooned into an essay. I'm going to keep editing it for a while, trying to tone down the parts that sound like a rant. But I had promised myself I'd get something posted on opening weekend. Sounds like I'll may be talking to an empty theatre.

#118 Gina

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Posted 15 April 2012 - 05:59 PM

But conservative Christians will hate its liberalism and tolerance preaching


Not necessarily. I'm a conservative Christian and I liked it. Better than I expected to, actually. Posted Image

Interestingly, one of the friends who was with me (and knew very little about Miller or the film going in) said that Miller's church at the beginning reminded her very strongly of the liberal church she used to go to -- lots of hokey games and little substantial teaching. Which was why she left that church and ended up at our more conservative one!

Edited by Gina, 15 April 2012 - 06:02 PM.


#119 Christian

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Posted 15 April 2012 - 07:18 PM

I was right about the limited audience for this. It only made $281,000 in 136 theaters -- per screen average of $2,066. It won't be expanding.

My review ballooned into an essay. I'm going to keep editing it for a while, trying to tone down the parts that sound like a rant. But I had promised myself I'd get something posted on opening weekend. Sounds like I'll may be talking to an empty theatre.

Well, I highlighted Jeffrey's essay at my Facebook page and encouraged people who might be on the fence to see the film this week if they want it to stick around at the theaters where it's currently playing. I realize it's kind of late for that sort of push, but although I was negative on the film, I don't want it to fail (if that makes sense).

#120 Scott Derrickson

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Posted 15 April 2012 - 11:24 PM

My review ballooned into an essay. I'm going to keep editing it for a while, trying to tone down the parts that sound like a rant. But I had promised myself I'd get something posted on opening weekend. Sounds like I'll may be talking to an empty theatre.


I liked the film, but this essay made me appreciate much, much more. After reading it, I felt rather astonished at how other critics had barely scratched the surface of what is truly praiseworthy in the film. Excellent job Jeff.





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