Blue Like Jazz Review
isn't what I
was expecting it to be. Though, to be frank, I really wasn't sure what
it was I
was even expecting. I had heard a few good things about the Donald
by the same name. I wondered if the film would be appealing to someone
Blue Like Jazz was so surprising to
me because it was real. It was
flawed, to be sure, but so is everything else too.
to fill you in on a few details first. Just in case you haven't heard
of Blue Like Jazz. I
wasn't always aware of it myself, so no
worries if you are entirely new to hearing about it. I might as well
saying that I have read only a small fraction of the book written by
Miller. It's something I want to read
in entirety sometime. He wrote a book that in essence is a compilation
essays and thoughts on Christianity today. Unlike some of his
Miller is more open about his own feelings regarding his Christian
stated earlier, the book works primarily as a collection of thoughts
To adapt this format to a feature film there were changes made to tell
a more linear
story. This led the script writing team of Donald Miller, Ben Pearson,
Steve Taylor to work to figure out a way to adapt things in a far different-than-normal approach. Most
books turned into films aren't left with that kind of obstacle in front
Blue Like Jazz works surprisingly well
given that understanding.
things first: The script shifted Donald Miller from being a
reflecting upon his past and writing about it to instead focusing in on
Donald Miller, now a college student who
enrolled in and is attending a highly "progressive" campus, Reed
encountered a "game-changing" event at his old Church that made him
question his entire belief in the Church and in religion. This clearly
part of a typical conversation found in a film all about faith.
first contemplates how he feels about a college different from his past
experiences but after a while he begins to drift into negativity and a
self-understanding. Yet there is much
for Miller to learn from his fellow students, who teach him not only
their own experiences but about his own. He comes to get an
himself through these beautiful connections with others.
is not a film with an agenda against people: Instead, rather, it's the
film I am absolutely certain was made to embrace people with a variety
viewpoints on spirituality and faith. Miller wonders why he turned his
his faith at times, and he poses this question to anyone
who might need to hear it.
film itself isn't specific about its feeling towards religious
institutions (other than to arrive
at the conclusion that Church-going isn't a bad thing) but it also
present or try to sway viewers into feeling like the only solution to
spirituality is to be found in the Church. This is a different approach
any modern Christian films that I have personally seen before and it is
refreshing to see a film that is truly meant to be for anyone who
God and not only those of a particular and specific religion.
film is inconsistent when looked at with a filmmaking perspective. Some
just don't ring as true as you would like them to because of some
poor development and some strange attempts at humor. The scene with
his father plays somewhat comically in tone and style but isn't really
the film has any major disappointment factor it's that it seems to
think of itself
as something akin to a silly teen comedy at times and almost as
it considers itself as a serious philosophical and spiritual piece
quest and acceptance of our personal faith. Your
mileage might vary somewhat, but I thought
the film was better with deep ponderings and character-based moments
than any attempt
at getting the audience to laugh.
film has many strong performances by young actors. Marshall Allman has
sense to him that manages to hold the film together nicely and he is
by several other strong performers in Claire Holt, Tania Raymonde, and
Welborn. You will be impressed by the strength in spirit found with the
performances by these talented actors. They all do exceptional work
material and make the film as convincing as possible, and I grew to
these characters through the performer's excellence.
a Christian and I am similar (relatively
speaking) to the main character in the film, Donald Miller. I have had
of blistered faith. I have had moments of upmost confidence in the
the universe, world, and the beating heart of humankind. I believe we
all come from
somewhere of a higher-degree. We all stem from a creator in my view and
creator is God.
imagine there are many people out there who doubt the existence of God.
always easy being capable of admitting that we live in a world where
much that is uncertain, and belief in God is inherently an act of
this hasn't managed to stop me from believing.
see the stem of God through so many pathways of good: the establishment
family, the world of animals and creatures inhabiting our forests,
skies. The food that naturally grows in earth: watermelon, potatoes,
countless food. There's too much to
list in one review. Pondering our
existence and my very being always
leads me to consider these important aspects of understanding humanity.
see God in humanity's capacity for good things to happen. I see God in
beauty of the world. I see God In the
air that I breathe. I see God In the air that I breathe out. You can
connected to God daily just by being.
sounds simple, doesn't it? The easy
answer is to say that it is simple. Faith
is so simplistic; it isn't something
anyone would ever have struggles with, right? As I said... that's a
really easy answer to give to people. Miller doesn't
give out the easy answer.
takes the difficult roadway with obstacles in front of him. He is
struggled with himself and with his faith. He writes and explores this
other Christians who might be experiencing similar things -- in the
present. If you want to see this movie, all I ask is this: Does that
say this much: It sounds like me, and at the end of the day, I still
I have my faith.
Like Jazz is
presented in 1080p High
Definition with an AVC encoded transfer which has preserved the
theatrical aspect ratio of 1:78:1 widescreen. The film has a sleek look
everything about it, because the cinematography has a nice modern edge.
the best of all transfers out there, though. The colors are somewhat
the appearance is sometimes a bit more akin to a nicely produced
episode than to a theatrical film. The transfer is a clean and pleasant
English language 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio presentation is more robust
than I was
ever expecting. There's a lot of good directionality to the audio and
manages to have some neat sound effects throughout. The
film's score by Danny Seim is also
pleasant accompaniment, surprisingly strong, and helping the film in
moments. It is something which does round everything out rather
quite a few supplements on this release. I was surprised by how much
went into this section of the release. Fans will be pleased. Please note: The included extras are all
in High Definition (though the commentary's presented in standard 2.0
certainly no deal breaker).
with Director Steve
Taylor, Original Author Donald Miller and Cinematographer Ben Pearson.
was pretty interesting from
what I listened to. I liked that none of them talked about the film as
were a perfect film but instead they even mention parts they struggled
It helps the film seem even more grounded in its worthy ambitions to
it actually was a film where the filmmakers had some struggle figuring
(11:40) is a behind the scenes
piece about the making of the film. It has some interviews and footage
(6:24) is a strange piece about the music in the film. It
is essentially just an interview with the composer, but he talks quite
about his dog, makes some sly jokes, and appears to be stoned or
pretty funny actually.
(2:48) explains about how the film
almost wasn't made and how production was stalled for a short time
saved, literally, by the fans of the book hoping to see the film
(4:18) features short moments and interviews with the cast
members talking about the experience they had making the film.
(1:19) is a creative piece in which
a young boy with a painted face explains in brief about the
the film's animator, Jonathan Richter. It's pretty comical too.
(3:15) explains through brief
snippets of interview thoughts about how the book Blue
Like Jazz had a significant impact on a number of people.
(1:56) is perhaps the funniest
collection of deleted moments I have ever seen contained on any film
moments can be amongst my least-favorite extras just because of the
behind watching excised footage. Deleted scenes or shots are usually
because the material isn't on par with the film itself. This is no
But the included notes/comments on why the material was removed had me
laughing. Funny stuff!
Class: Directing Actors on Set
basically a short-film with a comedic tone in looking at how the
worked with everyone to make the film. It's also funny. It has a
number of Lost and The Hunger Games
things are rounded out with the original theatrical trailer, a photo
and trailers promoting other Lionsgate releases.
Like Jazz is
genuine. The film isn't perfect from a
film-making standpoint, but it still is worthwhile for what it is
Few films actually attempt to talk about Christian faith while
of self-doubt and discovery amidst open confusion about the world at
large. Blue Like Jazz isn't judgmental, either.
It's worth seeking out for anyone spiritual who wants to see a film
these themes. I do ponder this though: why aren't more films in line
spirit of Blue Like Jazz made? It's
wonderful to see filmmakers exploring
spirituality through storytelling. Art and storytelling bring us closer
the greatest artist.
Neil Lumbard is a lifelong fan of cinema, and a student who aspires to make movies. He loves writing, and currently does in Texas.