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Blue Like Jazz Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85: 1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24 (23.976Hz)
  • Audio Codec: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
  • Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish
  • Region: A (Region-Locked)
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Discs: 1 (1 x Blu-ray)
  • Run Time: 107 Mins.
  • Studio: Miramax/Lionsgate
  • Blu-ray Release Date: August 7, 2012
  • List Price: $39.99

Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Film
[Rating:4/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(All TheaterByte screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG at 100% quality setting and are meant as a general representation of the content. They do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Film

[Rating:4/5]

Blue Like Jazz takes a hard look at the head-on conflict between faith and flesh. A semi-autobiographical account based on Donald Miller’s best-seller, the story follows Don (Marshall Allman), a Baptist-bred Texas junior college transfer who enrolls at uber-liberal Reed College.  Along the way, Don meets a kooky bunch of undergraduates, including the elusive blonde Penny (Claire Holt), who challenge every traditional belief that he has ever held. Strong supporting performances are turned in by outspoken lesbian Lauryn (Tanya Raymonde) and the Pope (Justin Welborn) The resolution of this young man’s inner struggle moves gradually as he begins to recover his lost faith and inner strength. Blue Like Jazz is brilliantly directed by Steve Taylor who takes what could have been a trite and “preachy” subject and turns it into a film that is often quite moving.  Some of the plot devices work better than others: the contrasting juxtaposition of church and college make the grade while the jazz analogy and the acronym SCCR (setting, conflict, climax, resolution) don’t quite get their due to the constraints of time.

Video Quality

[Rating:4.5/5]

The film is well shot and the camera work helps develop the nature of the different scenes, and do they ever differ.  Close ups are natural and clean, the atmospheric rain of Portland is an effective mood setter, and the Renn Faire orgy is a riot of color and over-the-top costumes.  Overall, the composition is superb and, after a while, you get the impression that you are watching real events rather than a movie.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4/5]

The soundtrack is an essential element to the emotions of this film. Danny Seim’s score is brilliant and hearkens back to a combination of updated and traditional elements like those Thomas Newman created for the Oscar-winning American Beauty. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 version does a great job in evoking atmosphere and bringing out the dialogue that is extremely critical to the essence of this story.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:3/5]

While the list of extras seems pretty generous, they are mostly brief and more promotional than informative:

  • Audio Commentary with author Donald Miller, cinematographer Ben Pearson, and director Steve Taylor
  • Making Blue Like Jazz
  • Master Class: Directing Actors on Set
  • Deleted Scenes
  • “Save Blue Like Jazz” featurette
  • “The Cast” Featurette
  • “The Animator” Featurette
  • “This is My Story” Featurette
  • “The Music” Featurette
  • Photo Gallery
  • Trailers

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4/5]

Blue Like Jazz is a rewarding watch in many respects. The cast from top to bottom is strong and credible as college undergraduates, particularly when we discover that “The Pope” is actually a ninth-year senior.  Steve Taylor handles the story, cobbled together from a series of essays, as a compelling narrative of a year in the life of a conflicted young man who eventually finds his way.  While there are elements of religion peppered throughout in both literal and figurative senses, this is not a made-for-Christian television drama. Rather through the clever amalgam of storyline, cinematography, and soundtrack, we are drawn into a personal voyage that becomes quite compelling. Both sight and sound are beyond reproach.  Potential viewers may be assured that, rather than preaching from the pulpit, the subject of faith lost and found is treated with a remarkably even hand.  Highly recommended.

Additional Screen Captures

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Purchase Blue Like Jazz on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Blue Like Jazz

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

[amazon-product]B0085A9IEG[/amazon-product]

Purchase Blue Like Jazz on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Blue Like Jazz

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Film
[Rating:4/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3/5]

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