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I have a lot to say about Blue Like Jazz, the movie, which opened today. But it’s proving to be too much for me to condense and a tad confrontational. I think I need more quiet time to process, and maybe get my attitude in check. That probably won’t help, except that I might piss off some of you later rather than sooner.
Even though I haven’t figured out how to tactfully say everything I want to say, I can say a few things for sure:
1. This is not a typical “Christian film.” Those who made it don’t even want to classify it that way. Given the quality and tone of most Christian films, I don’t blame them. But I think it would be disingenuous to deny that it comes from a Jesus-oriented sensibility (and, for the record, I don’t think they do deny that).
2. It’s surprisingly authentic and open. Clearly for some folks it’s a little too authentic. But, call me crazy, I kinda think films about faith and spirituality should be authentic.
3. If you’re not a Christian, this is one film about faith that might not make you hurl. And if only for the last scene, I beg you to see it. Please. If you’re totally disappointed you’re welcome to rail at me later. For those of you have been damaged, please be assured, there’s not an altar call or a salvation prayer or an Amway commitment or an RNC platform statement at the end.
4. If you are a Christian, you especially need to see it. I feel pretty good about not telling you (aside from what I’ve already suggested) the many reasons why.
5. If you read the book, I’m guessing you’re interested in seeing it already. It’s different from the book and in some good ways. They created more of a narrative but they managed to capture the spirit of the book and many of its most powerful moments.
6. You should see it with someone you love and/or disagree with and talk (or argue or make obscene gestures) about it afterward. For believers that someone could be God. For many of you that someone can be the other, unnamed (or, hell, named) voices in your head. But a flesh-and-blood someone that you can (but probably shouldn’t) punch (I’m not sure why I chose that image to convey tangibility, but I’m sticking with it) would be awesome.
In addition to seeing an advance screening of the film, I recently re-read the book.
It’s been eye-opening, perhaps more than anything for how I’ve changed since I first read it. I probably disagree with more of it now than I did then, but I still think it’s a great book and I still recommend it (I’m happy to say that a friend at work recently read it on my recommendation; yay for people who read . . . and who take suggestions; by the way, she liked it, or at least she said she did).
IMO, the book and the film address many of the things about faith that church folks are often unwilling to talk about. And it doesn’t reduce them to narrow and formulaic answers. As much as anything it asks questions. I think asking questions is a good thing.
So is looking for the answers; maybe this is just me, but I think looking the answers is a helluva lot better than having them shoved down your throat.
Please see the film this weekend. It’s excellent. It’s unusual. It’s liable to not be in theaters too long precisely because of those two characteristics.