This feels like the year of southern movies. They seem to be coming out more often than usual, especially in recent years.
The story looks like it’s about a man who wants to be a famous musician. That’s… literally all I got from the trailer. And he faces opposition because… well, you can’t have a movie without conflict.
Here’s the cast. Starring, we have Ben Dickey (acting debut; congrats, sir), Ethan Hawke (JULIET, NAKED , MAUDIE , MAGNIFICENT SEVEN , and the upcoming STOCKHOLM ), Kris Kristofferson (THE STAR  and A STAR IS BORN ), Richard Linklater (SPY KIDS ), and Sam Rockwell (THREE BILLBOARDS , IRON MAN 2 , and upcoming films VICE  and TROLLS WORLD TOUR ).
Now for the crew. Directing and co-writing, we have Ethan Hawke, known for directing stuff that I’ve either never seen or heard of. Hawke’s partner-in-pen, who is the author of the memoir the movie is based on, is Sybil Rosen, making her feature film debut. This film has no score, so no composer is credited. The cinematographer is Steve Cosens, known for stuff that I’ve either never seen or heard of. Finally, the editor is Jason Gourson, known for stuff that I’ve either never seen or heard of, and the upcoming SECOND ACT (2018).
Overall, I think this might be alright. It’s got a solid cast behind it, but the story itself looks pretty standard. Wide-eyed artist wants to become famous but is met with ridicule and nay-sayers, I’ve seen this many times before. But I ain’t bashing before seeing.
This is my honest opinion of: BLAZE
The story follows the life of famed country musician, Blaze Foley (Ben) and his marriage to Sybil Rosen (Alia Shawkat) prior to his murder in 1989.
This review is pretty late, but I look back on this movie and all I can say is… never again. God, never again. Now, that’s not to say that I think it’s a bad movie. Not in the least. But it’s way too damn long.
And to be fair, it’s not even that long. I know I’m making it sound like it’s a three hour flick, but its only a little over two hours long. That’s not that bad when you think about it. But this movie felt like years went by. I was going so stir-crazy by the hour and a half mark that getting through that last near-forty minutes was a chore. The primary issue for this is that very little in the movie warrants the length. Yes, the acting is pretty good. Nothing that really pops and leaves a huge impact, but it’s enough to get you through. There’s some bits where Sam Rockwell and Steve Zahn enter the picture, and it’s a huge breath of fresh air as they basically show up on camera to dick around. It’s about as glorious as it sounds. And whether or not this was intentional, but Kris Kristofferson was literally on screen to look happily awkward, like an extra given direct screentime, but has to deliver his lines like he’s in a classroom. Yes, yes, he plays Blaze’s father and he’s got what I can only assume to be Alzheimer’s, but it’s still more awkwardly funny than moving.
But the movie is a slow-ass burn. It’s like, a quarter of the movie is all lovey-dovey romance scenes, then another quarter about how great the fame is, another quarter about being drunk and miserable, and the rest about being a good man, but kind of a loser. It’s almost exactly like every other biopic that has ever been made about a musician. About the only thing that separates it from others is confusing editing at the beginning. It’s nearly impossible to tell where certain scenes take place in what point in time, as there’s no time stamps anywhere. At least, none that I saw and it takes awhile to catch on to when something takes place. Hell, I didn’t even realize that the drunken, soft-spoken asshole on the stage in that dive bar was the same dude that was hiding in the closet with Sybil as there was a mad gunman in the house, or whatever the hell that was.
The weird thing is that I’m actually not that against slower moving films, so long as something interesting is happening. The movie takes its time to show the relationship between Blaze and Sybil, which is done well and even has this wonderful sense of rawness as they wander around naked in their tree house, all that good stuff. The problem is that the drinking is spontaneous. Why does he start drinking and so much? Why does he start cheating on Sybil? I guess you can say that the fame got to his head, but that isn’t exactly shown, or explored, it’s simply implied and that’s not that interesting. Then the rest of the movie is all about him being a drunken ass-wipe. Even though the movie kind of picks up toward the end, by that time, I’ve been so sick of the movie that I barely cared.
Look, I know I’ve done very little other than complain about this movie. The truth is, it’s not as bad as I’m making it out to be. But there were so many scenes that felt unnecessary that the movie felt like it should have ended thirty minutes prior to the rolling of the credits. I wish I had the foresight to have written down the unnecessary scenes but that’s just how I feel about it. As a directorial debut for Ethan Hawke, it’s an admirable effort and it shows. I think he should yell at the editor, but his talents as a director are certainly visible and I would welcome him in the director’s chair again. But as far as this movie is concerned, I didn’t click with it. It’s not as bad as I’m making it out to be, so I recommend seeing what others are saying, but as for me, not my cup of tea. So as a recommendation, I say older audiences and fans of Blaze Foley may like it, but younger audiences like me may not. Just have two hours to spare. You’ve been cautioned.
My honest rating for BLAZE: a weak 3/5
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