BluelikejazzthemovieeditedBlu-ray Like Jazz... the film incarnation of Donald Miller's Blue Like Jazz comes to Blu-ray disc.

Blue Like Jazz
Starring: Marshall Allman, Jason Marsden, Eric Lange
Director: Steve Taylor
Blu-ray Disc
16X9 Widescreen
Closed-captioned, DTS Surround Sound, Subtitled (English, Spanish)
107 minutes (feature)
Lionsgate / Roadside Attractions / Ruckus Films

Blue Like Jazz – the movie that almost wasn't – is out on Blu-ray Disc looking and sounding great. Aside from the film, the disc includes features that fill in the gaps between Donald Miller's New York Times best seller book and the actual realization of director Steve Taylor's theatrical adaptation.

Blue Like Jazz, the movie, is the fictionalized version of author Donald Miller's search for a meaningful Christianity (as detailed in his introspective but non-linear book). In the film, college-bound Donald, disillusioned by situations in his conservative, fundamentalist church life, takes the road more often traveled and ends up at Reed College – an environment that's as liberal and outrageous as his former environment was safe and sheltered. A pendulum-swing that might make some viewers wince eventually brings Donald to a confrontation with his own hypocrisy and the beginning of a fresh understanding of what his spiritual quest is all about. It's not as dark as it might sound, since the story is rich with interesting characters and humor.

This is not so much a review of the film itself, as you can find that elsewhere here at The Tollbooth (see links below), as it is a review of the Blu-ray version. The image quality is very good – showing off the animation and effects even better than in the screenings I attended. The color is vivid and image resolution is pleasing and, of course, it's shown in the proper aspect ratio.

The sound is clean, clear, crisp DTS audio, and you might just want to crank it at the end to hear some interesting music over the credits.

Although the menu navigation was a bit awkward (and I have to say here that I find many blu-ray menus to be frustrating – maybe it's me), there are several bonus features:
  • Audio commentary with author Donald Miller, Cinematographer Ben Pearson and Director Steve Taylor
  • Making of Blue Like Jazz
  • Master Class: Directing Actors on Set
  • Deleted shots
  • Photo gallery
  • "Save Blue Like Jazz" featurette
  • "The Cast" featurette
  • "The Animator" featurette
  • "This is My Story" featurette
  • "The Music" featurette
  • Theatrical trailer

Watching the film with the commentary activated gives interesting insights not only into the making of the film but the personalities of Miller, Taylor and Pearson, who reveal an almost boy-opening-presents-on-Christmas-morning type of wonder about actually watching the film together as they record commentary for home video. With often self-effacing humor, the three men start out by second-guessing some decisions but eventually show signs of being happy with what they did in this shot or in that scene.... We get to learn about the 'real' Reed College and how it compares with Steve's interpretation. We also get a fascinating glimpse into how a film maker sometimes pieces shots from different parts of the country (from Nashville to Oregon) to simulate something as simple as opening the door of a college dorm-room and stepping out into a hall.

With Steve Taylor at the helm you have to expect some gags, so "Deleted Shots" (unfortunately there are no actual deleted  scenes) becomes an excuse to show images from the production with humorous captions describing highly unlikely reasons why they were excluded from the film. The "Master Class' featurette also becomes more of an SNL skit than a master class on directing.

The star of the package here is the film itself, which is well deserving of a home viewing and holds up extremely well on the flat screen in your living room. In a way, watching this very personal film actually gains from viewing in a less distracting setting than the local multiplex. Certainly a landmark film, you would do well to have this one in your library. In terms of 'Christian' films it's a big, important step outside the evangelical box. In a musical analogy, Blue Like Jazz is to most Christian films as Chagall Guevara is to most mainstream CCM. Speaking of which....
One nice feature of the Blu-ray disc is that you can go to a still-frame and check out some of those music credits. Danny Seim of Menomena provided most of the score, with some Coltrane (of course), but a couple of tunes were written by four guys named Furler, Taylor, Painter and Abegg.....

For a full review of Blue Like Jazz see: 

Bert Saraco
{module Possibly Related Articles - Also search our Legacy Site}