Movie Review: The Changin’ Times of Ike White (2020)

Howdy. Back in January, in my “Last Breath” review, I kind of alluded to the fact that I’d try to cover more documentaries this year. Well, I better try to keep that promise, I guess. So here’s such a review for y’all.

Ladies and gents… “The Changin’ Times of Ike White”.

This movie documents the life of Ike White, a young man sent to prison for life for killing someone. During his tenure in prison, he gets the opportunity of a lifetime… to record an album while still incarcerated. An album which would help change his life forever. And if you don’t know the story of this man, which I certainly didn’t before watching this, then I won’t say much more about his life. But let me just say that finding out about White’s life was fucking fascinating, but that says more about White than it does about the way the documentary presents it all. Something about the execution just feels quite standard, which does affect the pacing at times. White is a fascinating subject, which is what kept me somewhat engaged throughout. But there’s something about the delivery of the entire thing that just feels a bit too dry for such a colorful individual. He’s an interesting person, and I did like hearing about him and all his shenanigans, but I wish there was something more to the storytelling than just him. The second half does pick up a bit more, and changes direction ever so slightly, but it still has slight drag in the pacing.

There is a little bit of music throughout composed by Andrew Phillips, and it’s fine, nothing you’ll remember after hearing it. Now, let’s talk about the other songs used in the movie… that being the songs written and recorded by White. They’re a sort of soul-funk-R’n’B-psychedelia hybrid that I found myself quite fascinated by. It’s clear that White was a talented musician, as shown by his tunes that were featured in this. It’s good stuff.

“The Changin’ Times of Ike White” was directed by British TV/documentary filmmaker Daniel Vernon, who did an okay job with it. There’s some nice energy given to the shots of the people getting interviewed. You can tell that he’s competent, and knows how to put together a solid product. Now, it’s not just interviews and such, as there’s also recreations of stories told, using minimalistic animations that are really interesting to look at, giving the movie a bit of much needed extra style. The occasional use of found footage and home videos also adds a bit to the film’s presentation.

This movie doesn’t have a lot of data on my usual sites, but here’s what I got. On Rotten Tomatoes it exists without a rating. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,2/10.

While it does feel slightly lacking in parts, “The Changin’ Times of Ike White” is still a watchable documentary about a fascinating man. It has an interesting tale to tell, with some good music and direction to boot. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Changin’ Times of Ike White” is a 7,02/10. So while flawed, it’s still worth a watch.

My review of “The Changin’ Times of Ike White” is now completed.

Part “Searching For Sugar Man”, part something else…

Movie Review: Blaze (2018)

Biopics are fascinating. They give us a glimpse into a real life individual’s personal life, while also trying to provide a couple hours of entertainment. And striking the right balance between fact and compelling drama can be tough. But some people manage it.

Disclaimer: I know this thing is based on a true story, but I will not base my review on how perfectly accurate to the real situation it may or may not be, but I will instead judge it as a movie… which it is. Disclaimer over.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Blaze”.

The story follows the life and times of Blaze Foley (Ben Dickey), a raggedy man with a talent for music. From his humble beginnings, and through the highs and lows, including his marriage to Sybil Rosen (Alia Shawkat), we get a good glimpse into Foley’s life. And I think that the plot here is really good. There are elements that we recognize from other biopics, but the way they’re used throughout “Blaze” feels fresh, due to the gentle and nuanced writing. It creates a fascinating tale that can be as heartbreaking as it is warmly nostalgic. The deliberately slow pace might prove a bit frustrating for some, but I thought it worked very well for the story here.

The characters here are flawed, nuanced, charming, and overall feel very real. Ben Dickey plays the titular musician. A likable man with a lot of tragic flaws. Seeing his journey as a character here is really fascinating, and I really grew to care about him. And Dickey is great in the role. Alia Shawkat plays Sybil Rosen, a woman and aspiring actress/writer that Blaze has a committed relationship with. The journey she has here, which really are the ups and downs of being with Blaze, is really interesting, and makes her an interesting and sympathetic character. And Shawkat is really good in the role. We also get supporting work from people like Charlie Sexton, Josh Hamilton, Wyatt Russell, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

As this is a biopic about a musician, it should be expected that one would hear a lot of songs from said artist throughout. You’d be correct in that assumption, you do hear a lot of Foley’s music here… and I love it. Not only because the music is incredibly well written, but also because the way it’s implemented in the storytelling is absolutely wonderful. So yeah, the music here is great.

Based on “Living in the Woods in a Tree: Remembering Blaze Foley” (bit of a mouthful) by Sybil Rosen, this movie was written by Ethan Hawke & Sybil Rosen, with Hawke also handling directing. And the craft here is wonderful. It has a warmness to it, and a willingness to just sit down and really get to know these characters, not always feeling the need to get to the next “big event”. Like I said in the story bit, the pacing is deliberately slow, and the direction embraces that and turns it into some truly compelling stuff. And the cinematography by Steve Cosens helps kind of give it all a nostalgic storybook feeling that really adds to the experience.

This movie has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 95% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 75/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,7/10.

“Blaze” is a wonderful movie about a very interesting man. It has a really good plot, good characters, great performances, great music, and great writing/directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *AHEM*. My final score for “Blaze” is a 9,77/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Blaze” is now completed.

That was a nice experience.

Movie Review: Walk the Line (2005)

walk-the-line-guitar

Hello there guys, and welcome back to the “Mangoldathon”! For anyone wondering what the fuck I’m talking about, 2 weeks ago I announced a series of reviews leading up to the release of “Logan” in March. Most people would logically review all of the “X-Men” movies leading up to that, but I chose to go a different direction. I opted to instead review a couple of movie directed by James Mangold, the man directing “Logan”. This started with my review of “Cop Land” two weeks ago, and continues today with… this.

Disclaimer: I know this thing is based on a true story, but I will not base my review on how perfectly accurate to the real situation it may or may not be, but I will instead judge it as a movie… which it is. Disclaimer over.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Walk the Line”.

“Walk the Line” tells the story of musician Johnny Cash (Joaquin Phoenix) and his rise from simple salesman to big musician. It also follows Cash as he through many ups and downs develops a relationship with June Carter (Reese Witherspoon). And from this we get an incredibly interesting, entertaining and emotionally powerful drama. It’s not just your typical “rags-to-riches” story, though it does use a few of those elements, but it’s more a general look at a troubled man getting famous and going through some stuff. I was invested throughout the entire runtime and I do think that the plot is pretty great.

The characters here are all interesting and feel very real. Joaquin Phoenix is fantastic as Cash, playing him with so many subtle nuances that makes it endlessly fascinating to watch. Reese Witherspoon is great as June Carter, playing her in an energetic yet very grounded and real way. She’s the order to Cash’s chaos, creating a good balance. We also had Ginnifer Goodwin as Cash’s wife, and she was really good too. And we also had Robert Patrick as Cash’s dad, and he was really good too. All actors in the movie did very well to be quite honest.

The score for the movie was composed by T Bone Burnett and it was really solid. It’s not one of those scores that is meant to be noticed, but more just be in the background to help keep a certain mood in some scenes, and the stuff Burnett composed… yeah, good shit. And of course, since this is a movie about a real life musician we have to talk about how said musician’s music was done in the movie. The songs performed by Phoenix, Witherspoon, and the various other cast members in the movie were great. They all sounded very good and worked well in the movie.

This movie was (as mentioned in the beginning of the review) directed by James Mangold and he really did a fantastic job. The scenes flow very well and the camera work is absolutely gorgeous. Really, it’s a very well directed movie.

This movie has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 82% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 72/100. Roger Ebert gave it 3,5/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,9/10. The movie won 1 Oscar in the cateogry of Best actress (Witherspoon). It was also nominated for an additional 4 Oscars in the categories of Best actor (Phoenix), Best film editing, Best costume design, and Best sound mixing. 

“Walk the Line” is a fantastic bio-pic about a great musician. It has a great plot, great characters, great performances, great music, and great directing. Time for my final score. *Clears throat*. My final score for “Walk the Line” is a 9,89/10. Which means that it of course gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.
seal-of-approval

My review of “Walk the Line” is now completed.

Love is a burning thing
And it makes a firery ring
Bound by wild desire
I fell in to a ring of fire
I fell into a burning ring of fire
I went down, down, down
And the flames went higher
And it burns, burns, burns
The ring of fire
The ring of fire