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: A Scanner Darkly (2006)

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The world of Philip K. Dick adaptations is one that has been explored on my blog for quite some time now. Which is interesting considering the fact that I haven’t read anything by him at all. Oh well, I guess I’ll get to his books at some point. But until then, let’s review this adaptation of one of his books.

Ladies and gentlemen… “A Scanner Darkly”.

The story is about an undercover cop (Keanu Reeves) who gets involved with some people to keep track of where this drug called Substance D comes from. Problem is that he gets a little too involved and he basically starts losing his damn mind and even his own identity. And based on that premise you should expect that this plot gets weird, deep, and pretty interesting. And I’d say you’re correct in assuming such things. The plot gets pretty strange and mindbending as it goes on… and I loved it. Not gonna lie, I had to take a good moment to gather my thoughts about all of this. And when I was done thinking I came to the conclusion that I really loved the plot of the movie. It’s interesting to no end and it’s kind of a mindfuck at times.

The characters in the movie are all kind of a bit… odd, to put it gently. No one in this movie is 100% there, everyone’s a little bit loco. Keanu Reeves has never been that great an actor, but I’m still a big fan of the guy. But I have to say that his performance here is one of his better, he’s actually good in this movie. Robert Downey Jr. is also in the movie, playing one of Reeves’ friends and he does a really good job too, playing a fast-talking, and quick-witted guy who’s like I said… loco. Then we also get some other great supporting performances from people like Rory Cochrane, Woody Harrelson, and Winona Ryder. Yeah, only good acting in here.

The score for the movie was composed by Graham Reynolds and it’s really weird and psychedelic. Yes, I can still classify it as music, I can still hear the instruments being used. It just sounds really weird. And by weird I mean good, it really works for this movie. I’m just saying that it is the definition of psychdelic.

This movie was directed by Richard Linklater, and this is the first of his movies that I have ever seen, but that’s not important. What is important however is that this is one of the most uniquely directed movies that I have ever seen. I think you would say that too if you have seen the movie or by simply looking at the picture I chose to head this review with. This entire movie is rotoscoped. Or rotoshopped, if I’m to believe wikipedia. Basically they filmed the actors doing the scenes, only to animate over each frame to create something really weird, unique, and pretty fucking cool. Seriously, you can look up image comparisons on google regarding some frames in the movie where you see the normal version compared to the animated one. It’s quite fascinating to say the least. Fascinating, creative, cool, impressive, weird… there are plenty of adjectives that can be used to describe it.

This movie has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 69% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 73/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,1/10.

“A Scanner Darkly” is one of the coolest movies I have ever seen. It has an interesting story, odd yet interesting characters, really good acting, good music, fantastic directing with a unique style and some really good writing. Time for my final score. Woaw. My final score for “A Scanner Darkly” is a 9,86/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.
Seal of Approval

My review of “A Scanner Darkly” is now completed.

Stay off drugs, kiddos.