Film Review: BLAZE (USA 2018) ***1/2

Blaze Poster
Trailer

The life of musician Blaze Foley.

Director:

Ethan Hawke

Who is this American country and western singer called BLAZE?  For one, he is not that famous that many have heard of him.  Blaze Foley (played by non-actor Ben Dickey) is supposed to be the one that blazed (pardon the pun) the way for Willie Nelson.  And why would actor Ethan Hawke make it his ambition to direct his biography and co-write the script with his girl Sybil, based on her book?  That could be the very reason Hawke decided to do it – that Blaze was that ordinary a person.  To Hawke’s credit, as much as I am a non-fan of country music, BLAZE is a remarkable piece of work, one that comes across as a sincere warts and all tale of Blaze Dexter.

The film interweaves three stories into one.  The first is Blaze’s love affair with Sybil, the second of his songs as he performs around the country and at his home bar, often not that successfully and the third is the story told by his two buddies after his death.  The latter is told from an interview conducted by Hawke himself, his back to the camera and him smoking away just as all the characters in the bio do.  Hawke has created the total character of his subject showing both his ease at creativity as well as the demons haunting him, that include his drinking.  He smashes the guitar that Sybil saved her money up to get for him in one self-destructive act after being being thrown off stage for insulting the audience.  It is his love, loneliness, creativity, insecurity and self-destructiveness that make up a life wonderfully created by Hawke on screen.

Are his songs good?  Well the genre is country western, but Blaze’s songs (there is rendering of songs like “If I Could Fly”) are at least decent, though one can hardly tell from the film as Blaze plays to empty bars most of the time.

The film contains messages in terms of life lessons subtly dished out to the audience.  One can be learnt from the way Blaze died – by taking a bullet in the stomach after intervening with the son who stole his father’s security check.  When asked whether he wants to be a star, Blaze says no, that he wants to be a legend.  He tells to his girl seriously but smiling while they hitch a ride at the back of a pick up, ‘a star shines for himself; a legend is forever and for things that matter.”  This is one of the film’s very poignant and effective moments, that captures the spirit and genius of Blaze, a man so casual that his insight passes through you.

The real BLAZE can be observed in the reading aloud of a heartfelt written letter he writes to Sybil, telling her of his love for her and his true feelings about his music.

Hawke captures the drama in the man’s life – the difficulties of both his relationship with Sybil and his performances.  One of the film’s most amusing scenes is Blaze’s encounter with an offer by three record label’s representatives played by Richard Linklater, Steve Zahn and Sam Rockwell.

In the end, Hawke’s non-judgemental bio leaves the audience to make up their minds on whether Blaze Foley was a loser with no money or a cool guy.  Legend?  I don’t think so.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sXvwFdTTwhI

Movie Review: GREEN ROOM. Starring: Anton Yelchin, Imogen Poots, Alia Shawkat

Deadlines to Submit your Screenplay, Novel, Story, or Poem to the festival:http://www.wildsound.ca

green_room.jpgGREEN ROOM (USA 2015) ***
Directed by Jeremy Saulnier

Starring: Anton Yelchin, Imogen Poots, Alia Shawkat

Review by Gilbert Seah

Character development is not really important in a slasher horror film. But it helps that the audience can identify with the characters and know something about them so that they are not just numbered victims. An example is the upcoming BODY in which the director spends a considerable amount of time giving each of the three girl victims a distinct personality.

The premise of the film is a simple one. A punk band called ‘The Ain’t Rights’ is dead broke. Their car is stranded and they are so out of cash that they have to siphon gas from other cars to get to their gigs. One of their desperate gigs is a Neo-Nazi skinhead bar headed by a no-nonsense meanie played by Patrick Stewart. After witnessing a stabbing, the band members and the victim’s friend (Imogen Poots) are locked in a GREEN ROOM. The Neo-Nazis want them (the only witnesses) done away with. It is Neo-Nazis vs. punks.

In GREEN ROOM, spending time on characterizations seems useless for two reasons. Firstly, there is no need to know anything about a victim who is no longer there in the film and characterization serves to give a hint as to who will survive. The nasty personalities are usually killed of first, as stated in the spoof SCARE films, a fact only too true. But director Saulnier (BLUE RUIN) cleverly introduces each of the band members at the start of the film through an interview in which each member has their say. Much can also be read from each’s favourite band, a running joke in the film.

The characters are all nasty in their own way. Saulnier makes none of them any less sympathetic. It finally comes down to the question of who is the least nasty.

Atmosphere and mood wise, GREEN ROOM has an extremely scary look – credit to the tech department involved. Whether out in the open or in the green room, the film always has a claustrophobic feel that the victims can never escape.
Performance-wise, the one that stands out is Patrick Stewart as D’Arcy. Stewart appears to have moulded his role out of Rob Zombie (THE DEVIL’S REJECTS, HALLOWEEN). Of the cast, all do well in the screamingly best.

Saulnier also teases the audience in number of ways. In one scene he shows a victim with no blood and just a sharp object on the side of her head. No blood. Want blood? The next scene has the object pulled out with lots of blood gushing out flooding the carpet.

Saulnier does have a soft spot for innocent victims. The killer dog in one scene is allowed to survive and is shown sadly putting its head down and mourning its dead owner.

GREEN ROOM finally emerges as an efficient chiller, not suitable for the weak-hearted or even for the strong hearted in the early hours of the day. An entertaining nasty piece of work if one has the stomach for it.

 

Also, Free logline submissions. The Writing Festival network averages over 95,000 unique visitors a day.
Great way to get your story out: http://www.wildsound.ca/logline.html

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Happy Birthday: Alia Shawkat

aliashawkat.jpgHappy Birthday actor Alia Shawkat

Born: Alia Martine Shawkat
April 18, 1989 in Riverside, California, USA

Read reviews of the best of the actor:

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THREE KINGSThree Kings
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dir. Julian Farino
Stars:
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Hugh Laurie

The Runaways Movie PosterThe Runaways
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MOVIE POSTERTHE TO DO LIST
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Stars:
Aubrey Plaza
Johnny Simmons

tv POSTERARRESTED DEVELOPMENT SEASON 4 TV SHOW PILOT
2013
Creators: Mitchell Hurwitz

MOVIE POSTERTHE BRASS TEAPOT
2013
dir. Ramaa Mosley
Stars:
Juno Temple
Alexis Bledel

actorARRESTED DEVELOPMENT Season 1
2003-2004
Stars
Jason Bateman
Michael Cera

actorARRESTED DEVELOPMENT Season 2
2004-2005
Stars
Portia de Rossi
Will Arnett

actorARRESTED DEVELOPMENT Season 3
2005-2006
Stars
Alia Shawkat
David Cross

actorARRESTED DEVELOPMENT Best of the Series
Creator:
Mitchell Hurwitz