One More Thought on Blue Like Jazz


So, now I’m getting emails from people, asking why I’m so negative toward Blue Like Jazz: The Movie. Let me state unequivocally, I’m not against the movie. I haven’t seen it! (One person has offered to buy me a ticket.)

As background, I’m picky about my movies. While I did recently see Hot Tub Time Machine on Netflix, I tend to only watch movies that have scores above 70 on Rotten Tomatoes. I care what critics think. I don’t care much what the American movie-going public thinks. I will never see the Twilight movies. I will see The Hunger Games.

The critics don’t like BLJ. That means that I probably won’t like it, either. My tastes in movies tends to follow the critics’.

But that’s not what’s bothered me about BLJ. What bugs me is all of the people who suggest that I have an obligation to see the movie because it’s Christian — and not just Christian, but slightly progressive Christian. “We need more movies like BLJ,” shout my friends on Facebook, “So let’s all go see it and keep it afloat!” Some even want me to buy extra tickets, just to increase the film’s revenue.

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Did You See Blue Like Jazz?

So, I’m wondering if any of you saw Blue Like Jazz over it’s opening weekend. As expected, I saw many posts like this on Facebook:

That’s right, it’s a Christian’s duty to buy tickets for this movie, even if you can’t go, in order to send the message to the fat cats in Hollywood that we want more movies like this.

It seems the “crucial” opening weekend didn’t go so well. BLJ came in 20th at the box office, according to Variety, behind even John Carter. It did make more per theater than John Carter, because BLJ was only in 136 theaters. This weekend, BLJ made 1% of the number one movie, Hunger Games.

The comments left on my earlier post and the FB posts and tweets I read about the movie ranged from “Meh” to “Everyone seemed like a sophomoric cartoon of real people.”

On Rotten Tomatoes, there seems to be a split between critics and fans:

So, I’m wondering if you saw it. And, if so, what did you think?

I’m Feeling Ambivalent about Blue Like Jazz: The Movie

If you travel in the same online circles as me, you are being inundated with urgings to support and see Blue Like Jazz, the movie based on Don Miller’s best-selling memoir. Friends on Facebook who once begged me to send money to the Kickstarter campaign for the film are now pleading with me to buy tickets in advance, an effort to show theater owners how great this film is.

But these efforts give me the willies. It reminds me of when Christianity Today literally wrapped itself in a promotion for Evan Almighty, a sophomoric and poorly made movie (23% on Rotten Tomatoes) — editor David Neff called it a “bold symbol of the new cooperative spirit” between Hollywood and the evangelical church.

Hollywood must have forgotten about that cooperative spirit, because Steve Taylor couldn’t find investors to make the BLJ movie. Supporters of the film decided to crowdsource it, raising over $345,000 on Kickstarter, the second-largest Kickstarter campaign of 2010. As you can imagine, I’m a fan of crowdsourcing and of making end-runs around traditional media (hence my ebook publishing), but I was a little put-off by the often panicky appeals during the fundraising campaign.

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C’Mon, Squirt a Few

At Duke’s Call and Response blog, Scott Benhase ties The Great Santini, one of the most iconic and troubling movies of my youth, to Lent:

The father is clearly damaged goods. He has a tough time expressing his emotions maturely and relating lovingly to his wife and children. He treats his children the way he treats his subordinates. One night he comes home drunk from an evening with his fellow officers and is in a foul mood. When he enters the family kitchen, he gets into an argument with his older son. When his wife intervenes, he slaps her. This causes his older son to come to his mother’s defense by striking his father with his fist. So, the father begins to pummel his son with his own fists. As he is doing so, his young daughter jumps on his back with her arms tight around his neck, yelling: “No Daddy, no!” The younger son, whimpering with his eyes shut tightly, wraps his entire body around one of his father’s legs trying to prevent him from stepping into his punches.

Read the Rest: Duke Divinity Call & Response Blog | Faith & Leadership | Scott Benhase: A sanctus bell.


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