Film

‘Blue Like Jazz’ Film Aims to be Christian, Not ‘Cheesy’

Photo by Heather Kennedy/WireImage

Director Steve Taylor and actors Don Miller and Marshall Allman speak at screening. Photo by Heather Kennedy/WireImage

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."

BONUS 'BLUE': The Lost 'Blue Like Jazz' Cyber Interview and More

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:

http://youtu.be/8pXsLSbxEK0

And there's even more bonus 'Blue' goodness inside the blog...

COMING WEDNESDAY: 'Blue Like Jazz' - The Sojourners Interview

'Blue Like Jazz' filmmakers. Photo by Christian Piatt.

Actor Marshall Allman (who plays "Don" in the film), Donald Miller and director Steve Taylor. Photo by Christian Piatt.

"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.

Revolution or Revival: A Response to the Tea Party- Occupy Film

Photo by David McNew/Getty Images

Occupy LA Health Fair, Photo by David McNew/Getty Images

Christianity Today’s film This is Our City is provocative because of its gritty, grounded honesty. This is not a film about political pundits who banter back and forth exchanging policy talking points. No. This short film reveals the lives and thinking of two very ordinary people, their deep faith in Jesus, and how that faith is leading them to engage two of the most consequential grassroots movements of our time. These two movements share one beautiful thing in common; they are groundswells of ordinary citizens reengaging their democratic civic duty—to let their messages by heard and considered in the public square.

D.C. Innes rightly points out in his reflections that the film’s title, “Liberty or Justice for All,” and its structure seem to pit the virtues of liberty and justice against one another. Within the first minute of this nearly seven-minute film, liberty is clearly the motivation for Emmett Bailey’s Virginia Tea Party involvement, while the motivation for Pam Hogeweide’s Occupy Portland involvement is clearly “justice.” And both subjects say their involvement is an outworking of their faith.

Movie Review: Game Change

Game Change movie still, via HBO.com

Game Change movie still, via HBO.com

First, let me say that this is about a movie based on real people, and I’m critiquing the movie as a piece of entertainment. This is a movie review, not a political analysis. We can do that later.

Reading Game Change was a thrill for me- it was inside baseball at its best. John Heilemann and Mark Halperin are favorite authors of mine, and not only did I read this book right when it came out, I read it again when it was assigned for a class. It was that good. So to say I was excited about the movie version of this book is putting it lightly. The bar was high.

Is it my fault then that Game Change didn’t clear the hurdle for me? Nope. This happens every time you see a movie that had a book first--the book is always better.

For those of you who don’t know, Game Change follows Senator John McCain’s presidential run in 2008 during the tumultuous weeks of general election after adding Governor Sarah Palin to the GOP ticket. The movie focuses in on this facet, whereas the book branches out into the election as a whole, primary season and all.

Wanderlust: A Sojourn to Elysium

(Photo by Lester Cohen/WireImage)

Producer Judd Apatow, Jennifer Aniston and Paul Rudd arrive at the L.A. Wanderlust premiere. (Photo by Lester Cohen/WireImage)

If there were a movie about your life, what would it look like? Which celebrity would play you?

Ah, the timeless ice breaker question.

Over the weekend, I made plans to see Friends with Kids with a few coworkers. I thought I was heading to see a comedic depiction of my current life stage as the young adult who is left in the dust of the friends-getting-married-and-having-kids frenzy.

If this confession prompts an eye roll from you on account of my young adult angst, let me add one bit of vindication: the movie was sold out.

Our next option was to see Wanderlust, and something interesting happened: in my search for one snapshot of my current context, I found a wholly different but still parallel other. Bring on the ice breaker questions — I have found the film about my year in intentional community.

Unresolved ... Like Jazz

Still from the film, "Blue Like Jazz," via www.bluelikejazzthemovie.com.

Still from the film, "Blue Like Jazz," via www.bluelikejazzthemovie.com.

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.

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