Category Archives: Music & Musicals

Rocketman (2019) Blu-Ray Movie Review By D.M. Anderson

 

Rocketman Review

Director: Dexter Fletcher
Writer: Lee Hall
Starring: Taron Egerton, Jamie Bell, Richard Madden, Bryce Dallas Howard, Stephen Graham, Gemma Jones, Jason Pennycooke, Steven Mackintosh, Sharon D. Clarke, Tate Donovan, Kit Connor.

Since we all really liked Bohemian Rhapsody, I took my entire family to see Rocketman when it was released in theatres. I’ve always enjoyed music bios, and particularly interesting are those about artists I clearly remember at the height of their popularity. Like Queen, Elton John’s music was a big part of my childhood.

I tend to pay little attention to press or reviews of movies I’m already intent on seeing, so other than its subject, its star (Taron Egerton) and obviously the music, I knew relatively little about Rocketman going in. Considering his wild life and countless classic songs, any movie with Elton John as its subject would be inherently interesting.

But as the film opened, something unexpectedly wonderful happened. Decked-out in one of his trademark stage costumes, a worn and weary Elton John sits down with a support group and counts-off his numerous addictions. When the counsellor asks about his childhood, John begins to quietly sing. Though it sounds like a melancholy ballad, I recognised the lyrics to “The Bitch is Back.” The scene morphs into a huge production number taking place on the street of his childhood home, with dancers, back-up singers and a young Reggie Dwight (Elton’s real name) belting-out the sassy chorus.

My wife gasped in surprise. My musical-loving oldest daughter quickly clapped with joy. The unexpected rush I felt was the same as when I first saw that massive Imperial Star Destroyer enter the top of the frame in the opening scene from Star Wars. Rocketman wasn’t just a music bio…it was a full-blown musical.

With 20/20 hindsight, of course it is. How could any movie about rock & roll’s most fearlessly flamboyant frontman not be?

I suppose comparisons to Bohemian Rhapsody are inevitable, though not entirely fair. Both take dramatic liberties with the facts and timeline, but Rocketman is more than an episodic love letter to its subject. Elton’s life and songs are basically re-imagined, not only for dramatic purposes, but to turn his story into an epic musical fantasy with the glamour and audacity befitting of its subject. The film is filled with brilliantly-conceived musical numbers featuring his best-known songs. But they aren’t isolated pieces of gratuitous window dressing. The numbers are sequenced in a manner that they become part of the narrative and the songs themselves feel almost autobiographical, despite the varied lyrical subject matter.

Though only superficially resembling Elton John, Taron Egerton’s performance is every bit as remarkable as Rami Malek’s portrayal of Freddie Mercury, plus he does his own singing (as does the rest of the cast). As depicted in the film, John is a complicated character who is – by turns – insecure, lonely, egotistical, self-loathing, resentful, sensitive, petty and narcissistic. Egerton convincingly demonstrates all those traits, yet still keeps his character likeable. Otherwise, sequences featuring “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting,” “Crocodile Rock” and “Rocket Man” wouldn’t be nearly as engaging, nor would we care whether or not he wins the battle against his demons.

Regarding Elton John’s sexuality, Rocketman is certainly braver than Bohemian Rhapsody, but that’s not ultimately what makes it a better film. The narrative is more cohesive, the main character more complex and his story more vividly presented, enhanced by knock-out musical numbers. It’s as fun as Elton’s songs and – so far – the most purely entertaining movie of the year.

Yesterday (2019) Movie Review By The Moviie Couple

 

Yesterday Review

Director: Danny Boyle
Writers: Jack Barth (story by), Richard Curtis (screenplay)
Stars: Himesh Patel, Lily James, Sophia Di Martino

Moviie Couple here! We went to see Yesterday this weekend!  Remember we are just a married couple that loves movies!  We’re here to tell you if we liked it.  Film experts we are not!  Just a quick reminder of our rating system. Mrs. Moviie Couple and I, rate films on whether they are worth the cash spent on a night out. We use a 1-6 Dollar Bill system.  1-2 Bills equal a waste of both our time and money!  3-4 Bills equal Meh to Pretty Good, money well spent!  5-6 Bills equal Wow!  Well worth the price of dinner, movie and sitter!  Please take our money again!

Yesterday tells the tale of an event that turns off  power all over the planet for a matter of seconds.  When the power is restored, our hero Jack Malick is struck by a bus.  Upon recovering, Jack discovers that he is the only one in the world that remembers the Beatles! That’s right, no one has a clue who the Fab Four are and have never heard even a note of their famous songs. What will he do with this knowledge?  On the precipice of giving up his fledgling music career, could this be the miracle his manager and childhood friend had told him may happen?  Even if it is a miracle, should he take advantage? Is it right?  Is it wrong? These are the questions presented to us all in this story. Directed by Danny Boyle of Trainspotting and Slumdog Millionaire fame and starring Himesh Patel as Jack and Lily James as his manager and lifelong girl pal Ellie. Joining our stars Across this Universe is Joel Fry as comedy relief roadie Rocky, Kate McKinnon of SNL fame as musical mogul Debra Hammer and Ed Sheeran as well …Ed Sheeran!

Will Jack find the same success as John, Paul, George and Ringo?  Would that type of possible success drive Jack and Ellie closer or further apart?  Will he be found out?  Does anyone somewhere remember the Beatles as well?

So should we just Let This film Be?  Or should we join our couple down the Long and Winding Road of movie bliss?  Well, come join Mr. and Mrs Moviie Couple as we Come Together (Ok that was the last one I promise) and review this Fantasy/Romantic/Comedy!

So here we go!

Mr. Moviie Couple: This movie wasn’t half bad, but it was just slightly over half good.  The premise of waking up and being the only one that knows the Beatles is a good one. Not being a singer, it wouldn’t do me much good.  I guess I could become a songwriter, but I digress. It’s an interesting concept that puts the audience in Jack’s shoes asking us all what would we do?  The acting was spot on and the direction of Boyle was flawless. Patel and James are particularly good in this. The entire film rests on us believing them as a pair of lifelong pals with feelings for one another and if we don’t buy that, the entire movie is a non starter. Luckily Patel and James are perfect in these roles. James especially! She truly embodied someone so in love with Jack that she would never give up on him no matter what.  Fry and McKinnon do their best to bring some humour into the proceedings, but fail more often then they succeed.  Ed Sheeran, surprisingly does a pretty good Ed Sheeran and his “Hey Dude” scene (it’s not a spoiler if you’ve seen it in the trailer) was great as were most of his scenes.  Bravo, dude.

The acting is not the issue with this film, the issue to me was the writing.  It felt to me like the writers started with this great idea, this great “What IF” of a concept and it works well for about two thirds of the way.  After that, it felt like they had written themselves in a corner and had no real ending.  We never spoil here at Moviie Couple so I can’t say why, but the ending felt rushed and well…not finished.  As if they needed to polish the ending a bit more before the actual filming.  It even had a bit of the Lord Of The Rings end to it, where I was like, OK, that was funny, that’s a good place to wrap this up, but NO, here comes one more end scene to keep us singing just a bit longer.  No complaints on the soundtrack, we all love the Beatles songs, but the film dragged a bit getting to a climax that we all knew we were heading for anyway.

While not a bad film, it wasn’t a particular great one either.  The music was great, the plot line was intriguing, but it fell flat on its conclusion and left a lot of questions on the table afterward. So I found Yesterday to be somewhere between Meh and Pretty Good, so I’ll go with 3.5 Bills.  Not terrible, but without the really great performances by Patel and James, this would have been one forgettable time at the summer movies.

Mrs. Moviie Couple:  She wasn’t enamoured with this film.  She found it to be a sweet, simple, family friendly story of encouragement, friendship, honesty and second chances.  She found it to be a bit slow and far longer than she expected it to be.  She told me to say she was fidgeting in her recliner seat. Never a good sign from Mrs. Moviie Couple. Fidgeting is nearly always a sign of boredom. She felt both lead actors Patel and James were true and believable in their respective parts. Their entire relationship seemed natural and real. Two childhood friends experiencing a blossoming love throughout their life together. She found the ending a bit weak and she herself thought of at least three different ways this story could have ended that were better than the filmed version. She did feel it was a great musical tribute to the songs of the Beatles and just how poetic and amazing they are. She was impressed to learn that Patel himself did actually sing the songs himself.  Overall, the film was too slow and would better be served at home on a streaming service or as a rental rather than as a night out.  She gives Yesterday 3 Bills, Meh!

On the way home, We talked about the poor ending, the great performances by the leads and how we both thought there was a better movie somewhere in the meeting room floor.  It wasn’t the worst, but if the ending wasn’t so Helter Skelter (I had to, sorry) it would have been better.  I give it 3.5 Bills, not bad, but not great.  The Mrs. gives it 3 Bills!  She loved the themes throughout, but not the execution.  So we average it out to 3 Bills! MEH!

So until next time, remember all you need is love…and a great ending!  Our Twitter poll revealed our next review and Yes, the Mrs. will be joining me to review Spiderman: Far From Home!  But only because you demanded it on our poll!  She is not very happy about it.  Mr. & Mrs. Moviie Couple out!

Rocketman (2019) Movie Review By The Moviie Couple

Rocketman Review

Director: Dexter Fletcher
Writer: Lee Hall
Stars: Taron Egerton, Jamie Bell, Richard Madden

Moviie Couple here!   We went to see Rocketman this weekend!  Remember we are just a married couple that loves movies!  We’re here to tell you if we liked it.  Film experts we are not!  Just a quick reminder of our rating system. Mrs. Moviie Couple and I, rate films on whether they are worth the cash spent on a night out.  we use a 1-6 Dollar Bill system.  1-2 Bills equal a waste of both our time and money!  3-4 Bills equal Meh to Pretty Good, money well spent!  5-6 Bills equal Wow!  Well worth the price of dinner, movie and sitter!  Please take our money again!

Rocketman tells the life story of Elton John.  His rise to fame from his childhood home in the Pinner area of London to the world wide success as a mega star is covered in this bio-pic.  We see the  various relationships that formed who he was and more importantly who he grew to become.  The film focuses on his life from childhood to his sobriety years well into his fantastical (He was Captain Fantastic after all) career.  The film is directed by Dexter Fletcher of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Eddie The Eagle fame and stars Taron Egerton as Elton himself with Jamie Bell co starring as lifelong musical partner Bernie Taupin, a nearly unrecognisable Bryce Dallas Howard as his Mum, and Richard Madden as John Reid the infamous paramour and Music Manager.  As one would expect many of Sir Elton’s hit songs are spread throughout the film in expected and many unexpected ways.  Huge musical performances, drama, excess of alcohol, drugs, shopping and food and many ,many sequinned costume changes are met along the way!  Well the curtain rises, wrap your boa around your neck, throw on your bedazzled glasses and lets all say goodbye to the yellow brick road and get to the reviews!

So here we go!

Mr. Moviie Couple:  I was not expecting to be enthralled by a bio pic, I love true stories, but you sort of know what your getting going in.  I have to say Rocketman grabbed me early with its unorthodox start!  Right from the opening scene, this film pulled me in and let me know this was not going to be a by the numbers biography movie!  Even in a movie like this we don’t spoil, so that will be all I say about that.  As a fan of Elton John’s music (isn’t everyone?) I admit I was ignorant about much of his personal life.  This movie gave me all I needed to actually feel for young Reginald Dwight, the boy that would grow up to become Elton Hercules John.  The dramatic pieces hit me in all the right spots.  All the actors shine in this movie, but let’s be honest it swims or sinks on the performance of Taron Egerton.  I am pleased to tell you his portrayal of the Rocketman soars!  The pain and doubt he displays as Elton struggles through life, pre and post success, is seen all over his face.  He relays what Elton is feeling and words are not even necessary!  Bell and Madden seem to embody both Taupin and Reid as well.  Just captivating performances throughout really.  Dallas Bryce Howard also shines as a Mom not even a son could love.  The way this movie places Elton’s songs throughout the film maybe not be in order of release (I’m not knowledgeable enough to say), but shows up in times of Elton’s life where they relate the most and are placed perfectly.  As were the numbers!  Yes, I said musical numbers, not just performances (which again headdresses off to Mr. Egerton as he actually sings the songs himself).  The numbers break out in fantasy/imagination scenes as Elton remembers key moments of his life!   This is like a hybrid bio pic/Broadway musical and it’s all a hit!  I learned a lot about Sir Elton and enjoyed this film the entire time!

For a film that didn’t involve hammer wielding superheroes, radioactive lizards or invincible hitmen this movie blew me away!  I gave Rocketman a solid 5 Bills!  Great performances, full blown musical numbers!  Just a great time.

Mrs. Moviie Couple:  She was surprised by the unexpected format the movie took in telling its story!  She did not expect it to become a full blown musical, she was expecting something similar to Bohemian Rhapsody.  As a huge fan of Broadway, she was delighted!  She could easily see this film adapted to the Broadway stage and being even more successful.  She loved Taron Egerton’s acting!  She felt he actually was Elton John, his resemblance and performance took her breath away!  She commented on what a great actor he is and how he doesn’t get enough credit for his versatility.  How he can play both tough action hero in the Kingsman films and then vulnerable and sweet as seen in Eddie the Eagle and now Rocketman.  The film nearly brought her to tears at times.  She found the film full of emotions and left her with a deep sense of how a negative childhood could be overcome to bring out the best in a person.  She found the costumes and music all matched the flair that Elton had become famous for back in his younger years!  She loved the end credits as well, during them we are told how Elton is doing today and shown real life photos of the scenes Egerton recaptured so accurately.  She would see it again in a heartbeat and can’t wait to see if it really does go to Broadway!  Mrs. Moviie Couple gives Rocketman 6 Bills!!! Yes, I believe that is the first 6 Bills given out by the Mrs.!!!

On the way home, We talked the entire way home!  We discussed Egerton’s performance, his singing, the musical numbers!  We both loved the unique way the story was told.  Before we arrived home we were playing Elton John in the car, which is quite the endorsement.  I give it 5 Bills, just a great film with a unique vision.  The Mrs. gives it 6 Bills!  She wanted to see it again!  She was touched by the drama and absolutely loved the musical numbers!  So we’ll go with an average of 5.5 Wow!  Great time out, worth the money and highly recommended!

Till then, Hold your tiny dancers close and we’ll see you at the movies!  Be sure to check our facebook page for a clue to our next movie up for review!  Mr. & Mrs. Moviie Couple out!

Rocketman (2019) Movie Review By Philip Henry

ROCKETMAN

Director: Dexter Fletcher
Screenwriter: Lee Hall
Stars: Taron Egerton, Jamie Bell, Richard Madden

I’m not a big Elton John fan. I like a lot of his 70s output and a few other songs here and there, so I come to this not knowing very much about his personal life.

The film starts with Elton in a rehab meeting, dressed a little more flamboyantly than anyone else, he begins to tell the story of what led him here. As a young boy growing up in post-war London young Reggie Dwight, for that is his real name, shows an aptitude for piano. His father is aloof and distant towards the boy and his mother – a barely recognisable Bryce Dallas Howard – is more concerned with chasing her own desires than her son’s future. So the only encouragement comes from his grandmother, who takes him to study at the Royal Academy of Music.

Young Reggie soon gets his first gig in his local pub and that is the catalyst for the film’s first big musical number, and it is impressive! Where this film differs from Bohemian Rhapsody, to which it will no doubt be compared, is this film is a musical in the true MGM sense of the word. During the narrative, people break into Elton’s back catalogue and start singing their feelings, and in the scene where we transition from young Reggie to teenage Reggie, it’s an all singing, all dancing extravaganza. These moments of musical fantasy happen throughout the film and it’s impossible not to have a big wide grin on your face when they do. They’re full of joy and energy and that’s something I think a lot of modern musicals lack.

Teenage Reggie gets a job in a backing band and hones his craft, and discovers his sexual leanings, but no matter how good a piano player he is, he’s unable to get a record deal without original songs. So they pair him up with lyricist Bernie Taupin and history is made. I must say a word about Jamie Bell at this point. I’ve never really liked him as an actor. He always came across as arrogant in interviews and I think he was over-rated by British critics when he did Hollywood movies. I remember a certain reviewer saying Bell ran rings around Hayden Christensen in Jumper, but I couldn’t see it. I thought they were both fine, but neither noticeably better than the other. Anyway, I will eat my words with this performance. Anyone who has ever heard Bernie Taupin interviewed will know he has a very strange accent, and Bell nails it perfectly. His whole restrained performance is the yang to Egerton’s manic yin, as Elton descends into alcoholism and drug addiction.

If you wondered how much Dexter Fletcher really contributed to Bohemian Rhapsody, this film will make you wonder how much Bryan Singer actually did on it. Fletcher seems more at home in this genre than Singer would ever be, maybe because he started his career long ago on the classic children’s musical Bugsy Malone – yes, he was Baby Face, remember?

This is easily Fletcher’s most confident and creatively interesting movie to date. The song and dance sequences are carried off with aplomb, and the recreations of Elton’s performance in Tommy and some of his music videos will make a lot of fans smile. It’s not all fun and games though, Elton’s destructive relationship with his manager John Reid (Richard Madden) will really make you feel for the kid who gets too much too soon, but Fletcher is just as accomplished with these small, emotional scenes as he is at recreating huge concerts.

Taron Egerton throws himself into the role wholeheartedly and captures the energy and excitement of Elton’s early live performances with the swagger and poise of the man himself. His cocaine and alcohol addiction isn’t lingered on as much as it probably should be, but even this serves to keep the film upbeat and entertaining.

I’m a much bigger Queen fan than I am an Elton fan, but I have to admit, this is the better movie. Its scale, invention and sheer exuberance elevate it way above your average biopic.

Bohemian Rhapsody (2018) Blu-Ray Movie Review By D.M. Anderson

Bohemian Rhapsody Review, The story of the legendary rock band Queen and lead singer Freddie Mercury, leading up to their famous performance at Live Aid.

Director: Bryan Singer
Writers: Anthony McCarten (story by), Peter Morgan (story by)
Starring Rami Malek, Lucy Boynton, Gwilym Lee, Ben Hardy, Joe Mazzello, Aiden Gillen, Allen Leech, Tom Hollander, Mike Myers, Aaron McClusker.

As a die-hard Queen fan during the height of their popularity, I can confirm many of Bohemian Rhapsody’s historical inaccuracies regarding their career trajectory. The timeline of certain events has been changed, while others depicted in the film didn’t actually happen.

I can also attest that Freddie Mercury’s sexuality was never an issue with fans back then. We always suspected he was gay. We just never cared because his over-the-top flamboyancy perfectly enhanced the band’s bombastic, genre-bending approach to music. Even after media wagons began to circle around Mercury’s private life, none of their so-called revelations seemed particularly scandalous because most of us suspected as much all along. When Mercury publicly disclosed he had AIDS (the day before he died), we were extremely saddened, though not all that surprised.

So no, Queen was not an overnight success, not everything they touched turned to gold and Freddie was not diagnosed with AIDS prior to Live Aid. And if the film omits most of the more sordid details of Mercury’s life, so what? It is obvious from the first frame that Bohemian Rhapsody was put together by people who love the band – and its music – as much as everyone else. Accusations of the film glossing-over the truth are moot points. This is not-so-much a biography as it is a big, sparkling thank you letter to Queen and their legions of fans, both old and new.

As such, Bohemian Rhapsody is fabulous fun, much like Queen’s music. Their humble beginnings are superficially outlined – and greatly condensed – in order to present the Queen we know & love as much as possible. The concert sequences are depicted in all their glamorous glory, as are the band’s numerous numerous musical milestones. With a soundtrack that’s wall-to-wall with Queen’s best-known songs, the film plays very much like a greatest hits album. Historically, some of them appear out of order. “Fat Bottomed Girls,” for example, was not one of their early hits. Within the context of the narrative, however, the song’s timing is perfect. As it appears in the story, “Who Wants to Live Forever” achieves a level poignancy never reached in the movie it was originally written for (Highlander).

Much has already been said about Rami Malek’s amazing performance as Freddie Mercury. It is indeed phenomenal, but the actors playing the rest of the band are just as convincing (and criminally overlooked). While they may not be spitting images of their real-life counterparts (though Joe Mazzello as John Deacon comes damn close), they completely embody Queen’s on-stage moves and mannerisms.

Everything culminates with the band’s now-legendary performance at Live Aid. It wasn’t really a “reunion” as the film suggests (Queen never actually broke up), but by rearranging and altering certain events for dramatic impact, this scene is easily Bohemian Rhapsody’s emotional high point. Watching the band return to glory before a 100,000 fans (and a billion TV viewers) is enough to cause goosebumps. 

Ultimately, we don’t learn much more about Mercury than we did going in (though he appeared to have a lot of cats). The film is narratively disjointed and its historical accuracy is questionable. But as an affectionate tribute to a band we’ll still be listening to 100 years from now, Bohemian Rhapsody captures Queen the way we’d like to remember them: a great band with one helluva charismatic frontman. 

Blaze (2018) Movie Review By Gianni Damaia

Blaze Review, A reimagining of the life and times of Blaze Foley, the unsung songwriting legend of the Texas Outlaw Music movement.

Director: Ethan Hawke
Writers: Ethan Hawke, Sybil Rosen
Stars: Ben Dickey, Alia Shawkat, Charlie Sexton

The tragedy of the Bard is a tale as old as time. The lonesome wanderer that walks the world finding purpose in the bottom of a bottle, the eyes of a lover, and the tune of a guitar. While it may be familiar, we continually revisit this narrative because it feels romantically human, and in my mind ‘romantically human’ is the perfect way to sum up Blaze. The same tropes you may expect to find in films like ‪Crazy Heart‬ and ‪Inside Llewyn Davis‬ are alive and well inside Blaze, but the difference is in how director, Ethan Hawke, carefully edges his story into a visual poem that often allows its songs to speak with more specificity than its characters. That’s not to say that Blaze features incoherent characters, it’s merely a comment about how they each resign themselves to a rhythm in language that is not immediately obvious. These are Shakespearean figures who just so happen to be in a movie about nomadic hoodlums struggling to find purpose. In this regard, Blaze is far better than it has any right to be.

Blaze tells the true story of a musician, Blaze Foley, in the prime years of his life as he meets his love and struggles to maintain his identity within the confines of a pervasive industry he is increasingly encouraged to pursue. We see Blaze unfold in three acts spliced within one another intermittently and occasionally without rhyme or reason. There is the story of Blaze and his love, Sybil, as they live their life of solitude in a shack-like treehouse in the woods, the story of Blaze’s final live show in the Outhouse bar in Austin, and the story told to us about Blaze posthumously by his two best friends and collaborators. The assembly allows each of these stories to contribute to one another, but the threads are rarely directly linked in a specified timeline, allowing the film to float through narrators and perspectives as effortlessly as a note in Foley’s music. The compilation of each of the narratives make the film feel less like a structured piece, and more like the experience of remembering a loved one by trying to piece together fragmented moments in time and stumbling upon golden stories and songs left behind. In this way, Blaze feels wholesomely intimate in a way that many musical films have a hard time grasping.

The titular character is as much a mystery to the ones he loved as he is to the audience, yet somehow he feels understandably idyllic and human. Blaze Foley is magnetic from the opening beats of the film. Whether he’s waxing on philosophically behind the microphone, playing songs with the woman he loves, or piss drunk and falling flat on his face, Blaze is shockingly relatable. Blaze could so easily play as a pretentious caricature, but it doesn’t. Instead, Hawke is able to focus on exactly what made him so special despite having such glaring faults. At one point in the film, a character mentions the “two sides to Blaze”. The erratic drunkard juxtaposed with the sensitive artist. Blaze’s greatest strength is how easily these polar opposite sensibilities have been so acutely fleshed out.

What strikes me the most about Blaze is how deeply romantic it is, not just in the sense that the movie is partly a love story, but in the way it’s story seeps through the pores of love. The warm textures of the coloration allow Blaze to feel like a careful embrace from the titular character. The way Hawke drenches every song in a profoundly felt honesty makes certain that Blaze doesn’t just feel like an ode to a forgotten legend, it feels like an ode to the love of art. And it’s that same love that tragically brought Foley to his breaking point. In every scene, he fights to regain the same beautiful inspiration he often found in the woods with the love of his life, and as the movie wears on, he slowly loses his ability to find it. Blaze isn’t the usual story of a singer succumbing to his vices. It’s a story of a bard who was never meant for the life of an artist.

Let’s speak more specifically about what you can appreciate about Blaze without digging too deep into the symbolic filters that permeate through the film. Ben Dickey in the role of the titular character gives one of the most transfixing performances I have had the pleasure of seeing this past year. The cadence of Foley’s speech, the explosive energy flexing beneath the surface of his relatively delicate demeanor, and his understanding of Blaze’s casual prophetic phrasing all adds up to make Dickey’s performance nothing short of exceptional. It’s the kind of performance that tears your mind into two layers of thinking: I want to now see him in every movie, and I want to never see him in a film ever again. The former because Dickey clearly has an exceptional talent in regards to acting. The latter because Dickey’s work here is so exceptional that it feels like lightning in a bottle that deserves to be contained and never again reopened for fear of losing the magic. Dickey is also blessed with a talented supporting cast with Alia Shawkat, Charlie Sexton, and Josh Hamilton. Even cameos from Richard Linklater, Sam Rockwell, and Steve Zahn are fun (albeit odd – more on that later) compliments. But this is Blaze’s story through and through. And whenever Dickey leaves the screen, you can’t help but to miss him.

Hawke also (unsurprisingly) proves himself to be a beautifully poetic storyteller. The visual language of Blaze feels so enriched with serene mysticism. As I noted before, Blaze makes great use of its warm textures and colors, often giving the feeling that it exists in a back alley bar with a performer onstage that feels too good to be there. But take note of the poignant moments that Hawke decides to strip those textures away to knife his audience with a tragic reversal. Credit should also go to cinematographer Steve Cosens who contributes to the film’s treehouse essence with just the right amount of lens flares to make you feel like you are truly in the room witnessing a moment or the magic of a song.

As I have also stated before, Blaze’s storytelling techniques are abstract enough to make the film exceptionally compelling, but in some regards, it’s also the film’s greatest weakness. The flippant viewpoints of narrators intertwining with less and less rhyme and reason keeps the audience at a distance at times and betrays the general sense of being in the room remembering an old friend. Sometimes, the first-time audience will spend too much time watching Blaze trying to fit together pieces of a puzzle encompassing his life. It’s a rare occurrence, but Blaze’s structure very occasionally grates against itself in this way. Moments like a shot of a man smashing a guitar with intense backlight spliced within a scene give weight to the poetic mysticism of the titular character, but certain aforementioned cameos feel abstractly satirical in a way that almost feels like an out of place joke. Blaze is also disinterested in introductions. Most characters will simply come to exist in the narrative with an established relationship to Blaze that feels unearned. They quickly gain personalities of their own, but it feels worth noting that context is occasionally left by the wayside.

As with any good musical movie, Blaze’s songs enrich the experience of the film in ways that cannot be understated. For a casual audience member, the music will appeal to anyone who enjoys folk country or the brilliance of an artist like ‪Bob Dylan‬. For someone more interested in Foley’s artistry, I cannot recommend listening to this soundtrack enough. Each song bares such significance to the underlying themes within Blaze. The more I hear Dickey’s renditions of ‘Picture Cards’ or ‘Cold, Cold World’, the more I am reminded of my time spent with Foley and his ambitious pursuit of happiness in spite of sanity.

Its unfortunate that I stumbled across this film after creating my ‘Best of 2018’ list. Blaze struck a cord with me in a way that not many films do. While that may not be true for everyone that comes across it, I certainly hope this review emboldens you to view it for yourself. It’s difficult for me to talk about Blaze without rambling or philosophizing on its deeper contextual meanings. To its core, Blaze bares the identity of the drunkard in the bar. His story is palpable, but it falls upon deaf ears. In some bizarre way, the same could be said of the movie itself. Blaze is a story of a musician that you likely don’t yet know. Christian Bale isn’t attached as the star with Oscar worthy prosthetics. The story follows a non linear pattern, and has little resemblance to other plot structures you may be familiar with. And as a result, you may not have yet seen or heard of Blaze. But in this regard, I can think of no better biopic to capture the essence of its titular character. ‪9/10 ‬