I had the rare opportunity to hang out with my friend Karen yesterday. Yes, we’ve both been busy. But it was her birthday celebration and so we did what she wanted to do. We went and saw a movie, Blue Like Jazz. I had not read the book so I was not really sure what the movie was about. Since there was literally nothing else we wanted to see, this seemed like the only option. I was pleasantly surprised. I loved it. I like that it was a newbie cast, (Marshall Allman, Claire Holt), creative, thought-provoking and non-contrived. Everything in Hollywood films these days is SO predictable. The acting was fantastic, too. Don, the main character, was very believable and endearing in his simultaneous coming of age and coming to Jesus quest. I’m not sure how much longer this will be in theaters before going to DVD, but either way, I’d recommend seeing it.
The film follows the journey of a young man who had been raised a Southern Baptist and leaves the nest of Texas for school and travels to none other than Portland, Oregon and Reed College to explore himself and his identity. The question of existence, meaning and the role of religion is thoughtfully presented, never truly steering the viewer towards whether having a belief or not is the right and only way. As a storyline or film, the discussion or concept of God alone could have meant disaster. People are mostly dogmatic when it comes to religion and politics and this could have come through.
I guess I enjoyed that thankfully there was a film open to presenting the idea of thinking about things for yourself. Perhaps one of my biggest gripes about today is that people seem tired, disengaged, burnt out. Not everyone, not all the time, but in general, rich, deep thoughtful discussions about art, love, fear, god, or passion seem generally absent from the way we engage with one another. Life and daily interaction is mostly full of neat and tidy 1-sentence sitcom replies. Even if we disagree with others, I think it’s a major purpose in life to discover our own truths. What we know, see, feel and experience as true.
I know we can’t sit around philosophizing about the meaning of life every day, but once in a while we can stop and reflect, or ask ourselves the deeper more difficult questions. For some people, the answer (either yes or no) to the question, “Do you believe in God?” is as clear as glass. For others, there’s an ongoing uncertainty. Blue Like Jazz goes a step further and asks the question, “Why?” or “Why not?” I liked that.