Blue Like Jazz
Tony Kriz is, in many ways, the definitive postmodern Christian. He’s a Christian writer, teacher, and he even lives in intentional community with fellow Christ-seekers. He comes from an evangelical background, and, though he claims portions of the theology of his youth, he also continues to reinvent himself as he forges the path of Christ in his cultural context.
Known first in the public eye as “Tony the Beat Poet” from Donald Miller’s bestselling book, Blue Like Jazz, he is a voice and a presence unto himself. He’s more inclined to meet friends over a beer than he is to join a particular congregation in worship every Sunday. He is both deeply embedded in the Christian conversation and cultural identity and, at the same time, a stark contrast to what tradition dictates a “good Christian” should look and act like.
I shot a handful of questions his way after a recent book discussion we conducted at First Christian Church in Portland. Here’s what he had to say.
Steve Taylor, film director and rock hero, visits our (mine and Jordan Green's) Homebrewed Christianity podcast to talk about the disappointing theater run of his film, Blue Like Jazz, what made him leave music for film, and to announce his return to music through a new album he’s been working on.
So, yeah, that’s a big deal. And yeah, we’re pretty much breaking the story.
In the Echo Chamber, we talk about the election, Superstorm Sandy, scary movie commercials, and, you know, a bunch of other stuff. Finally, we discuss some common Christian cliches.
Listen ... inside the blog.
I should recognize up front that I can hardly be considered a neutral party with respect to the Blue Like Jazz movie. First, I got to see a screening of a rough cut a few months ago, and then sit in on a podcast interview with Steve Taylor, the film’s director. I also got to meet Taylor, Don Miller and Marshall Allman at a screening in Colorado Springs, and I was invited with my wife, Amy, to write up the study guide that I posted earlier today.
When you get that close to a project, it’s hard to be objective. But people have been interested in my opinions both about the book and the film, so I thought I’d reflect on both a little bit.
Christian Piatt, who recently interviewed the creators behind the upcoming film Blue Like Jazz, was asked to write a discussion guide for the movie. The e-book will be distributed to anyone who wants a copy for free.
We’re excited and honored to be a part of this, and it’s my hope that the e-book will help individuals and small groups who see the movie to go a little deeper with it and come away with something meaningful.
Do not confuse the upcoming film Blue Like Jazz with Christian market movies like "Fireproof" or "Courageous."
"A Christian movie genre has formed. Our first goal with this movie is that we didn't fit into this genre," said director Steve Taylor.
Author Donald Miller, who wrote the 2003 best-selling book Blue Like Jazz, from which the movie was adapted, agrees.
"We wanted to show that movies about the faith struggle that millions of Americans deal with don't have to be cheesy," he said. "They don't have to have bad actors. They don't have to be low budget production. They can compete with other films at the box office."
Before he caught up with them in Colorado Springs this week, Christian Piatt interviewed Blue Like Jazz's director Steve Taylor and star, Marshall Allman, via Skype while they were in Austin, Texas for the premiere of the film at SXSW.
We give you, BONUS BLUE: THE LOST CYBER INTERVIEW:
And there's even more bonus 'Blue' goodness inside the blog...
Blue Like Jazz has got a leg-up in the alternative world. Two years back Paste ranked it #18 in its “20 Best Books of the Decade.” The film just finished up its debut run at SXSW and it features a soundtrack that’s largely the brainchild of the Portland indie rock outfit Menomena.
Steve Taylor, director of Blue Like Jazz, tells Sojourners that the music of Menomena served as the muse for the storytelling, and that he was “trying to find a soundtrack of what a Reed student might be listening to.”
Editor's Note: Earlier this week, our intrepid blogger/reporter/resident-God-Nerd Christian Piatt sat down with the makers of the highly-anticipated film Blue Like Jazz — Donald Miller, director Steve Taylor and Marshall Allman, the actor who portrays protagonist "Don" in the screen adaptation of Miller's best-selling memoir — to talk about faith, film and ... fate.
Blue Like Jazz premiered at the SXSW Festival in Texas earlier this month and opens nationwide April 13. Piatt caught up with the filmmakers in a Colorado Springs theater where they were hosting a sneak-peek screening and persuaded the gents to unpack the story of the-little-film-that-could and the Spirit that buoyed them along the way.
The wide-ranging interview covers everything from John Coltrane's "A Love Supreme" and what Miller calls "dangerous theological ideas" to the astounding grace of God and peanut butter cups. Fascinating and funny, the conversation with the hearts and minds behind Blue Like Jazz is a humdinger.
Watch the interview in its entirety and read Piatt's reflections on the film and his conversation with its makers inside the blog ...
"There are people who struggle with not being understood; God is not one of them."
~ Donald Miller to Christian Piatt
in 'Blue Like Jazz' - The Sojourners Interview
coming Wednesday on God's Politics
Earlier this week, our intrepid blogger/reporter/resident-God-Nerd Christian Piatt sat down with the makers of the highly-anticipated film Blue Like Jazz — Donald Miller, director Steve Taylor and Marshall Allman, the actor who portrays protagonist "Don" in the screen adaptation of Miller's best-selling memoir — to talk about faith, film and ... fate. The far-ranging interview covers everything from John Coltrane's "A Love Supreme" and what Miller calls "dangerous theological ideas" to the astounding grace of God and peanut butter cups. Fascinating and funny, the conversation with the hearts and minds behind Blue Like Jazz is a humdinger you won't want to miss.
But because we like you a whole lot , we've prepared a wee taste of what's to come ... inside the blog.
Each of us is our own worst enemy at one time or another. My eight-year-old son, Mattias, takes himself to the mat more often, and more violently, than most.
My wife and I recently accepted a call to pastor a historic church in downtown Portland. When we told the kids, Mattias – my beloved resident Aspie – would go from unhinged excitement one moment, followed by tearful preemptive mourning the next. Kids like Mattias tend to have more dramatic mood swings than average, and pressure just amplifies the swings.
We took a trip to meet the congregation as an opportunity to show the kids around and sell them on the idea of their new home. The beach is a little more than an hour from Portland, so we took them out to the coast for lunch one afternoon. After searching for sand dollars for half an hour under an unforgiving canopy of clouds, we all agreed that a visit to the arcade on the main drag would be a welcome relief from the cool ocean wind.
As a progressive Christian in my mid-20s, it'd be safe to bet I might be a fan of Donald Miller. And I am. Miller's Blue Like Jazz and Searching For God Knows What are among the books that have significantly affected my faith journey.
And, like many others in my demographic, I met the news of an adaptation of Blue Like Jazz with both hope and apprehension. Like Miller himself, “at first, I didn’t understand how it could be a movie. I couldn’t see it on a screen.”
My own anxieties about a big-screen adaptation fell into two categories. First Jazz is, for all intents and purposes, a memoir. And memoirs — or the biopics they often become onscreen — are, in my opinion, rarely great films. They are usually little more than a path to the Oscars for actors who are pining after an ego-boost (but I guess that’s another story).
What saves Blue Like Jazz, thankfully, is that it is a memoir with a difference. It isn’t a rose-tinted, romanticized account of some historical or celebrated figure. It is the memoir of someone who is very much like me — just a little bit funnier. That’s where the appeal comes from and I'd expect that's what will make Blue Like Jazz (the film) a success both here and abroad.