I received an invitation to see a screening of Blue Like Jazz The Movie a few weeks ago, and to be honest, due to the craziness of my schedule, I wasn’t planning to attend until I read THIS. It seems the “christian movie establishment” is decrying the film. That fact alone was enough to get me to the screening. I’m so glad I went.
The movie is based on the New York Times best-selling book Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller. I read the book when it was first released and loved it. It was honest, refreshing and different. And to be candid, those three words don’t really describe most of my “christian” book experiences.
Here are 5 reasons I loved the movie:
1. It wasn’t hokey. I love a great movie. Pan’s Labyrinth, The Matrix, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Crash and most recently, Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris are just a few of my favorites. All, I repeat, ALL, the movies I have seen made by christians with a christian intent have been hokey. Terrible. Embarrassing. Hokey acting, hokey directing, hokey story line, everything hokey…you’ve seen them. This movie wasn’t hokey. Now, I’m not saying it is Academy-Award quality by any means, but it was a quantum-leap for movies made by christians that contains christian intent.
2. It hit home. I’m a baby-boomer. The honest portrayal of church shortcomings really pegged my life experience. It was interesting talking afterwards with some of my 20 and 30 something friends who have never really been part of a traditional evangelical church, and they missed the point and thought it was a little over the top. I thought it needed to be said. At least, for my generation.
3. It actually portrayed real life. A recurring and chilling disappointment for me with the CCM (contemporary christian music) business and the CBA (christian booksellers association) has been the refusal of the gatekeepers of these organizations to allow art to be created that portrays life as it really is. This movie has drugs, lesbians, partying, existential questions, college life, pregnancy outside marriage, sex with ministers and more. In other words, real life. A pivotal quote in the movie reads like this, “Life is like jazz, it never resolves.” The christian business gatekeepers steadfastly refuse to admit that fact, and the mainstream christian consumer continues to bury their heads in the sand of the subculture and buy into the propaganda.
4. It had a great score. From the Blue Like Jazz The Movie blog: “It’s been said that the movie business is unique because it combines all the arts into one. Music within a film will build tension, create emotion, and is paramount to the viewer connecting with story. Danny Seim, of Menomena fame, was the first and only choice to create the score to drive Blue Like Jazz. His style and personality fits indie music, Portland, and Blue Like Jazz so perfectly.” I liked the music. A lot. I would have expected nothing less from my friend and director of the movie Steve Taylor.
5. I got lost. I have heard it said that great acting causes one to lose themselves in the story. That happened to me. For the first-time ever in a movie made by christians, I got lost. For about ten minutes, in a movie screening, where the intent is to critique, I was immersed in the story. I had tears. The story nailed me where I am at this point in my life. Maybe, just maybe, that will happen to you. If so, your money and time will be well-spent.
Plan to go see Blue Like Jazz The Movie on opening day, April 13. If your experience is anything like mine, you will be glad you did. And if you are a christian, I think you will be proud that the creative team that produced this movie actually attempted to create culture, instead of replicating it. That deserves a round of applause.
Question: If you have read the book or watched the screening, what were your impressions?