Born To Be Blueis not a straight ahead biopic of late jazz trumpeter Chet Baker, and that’s a good thing. Baker, played in the film by Ethan Hawke, lived a life that, even to this day, is shrouded in mystery (how he lost his teeth as wells as his death in Amsterdam still aren’t clear cut). Such an enigmatic and seductive presence is painted in fever dream strokes by writer/director Robert Budreau leaving us with an impressionistic and ultimately evocative look at Baker.
The narrative begins its surreal journey with Chet starring in an actual biopic of himself and falling madly in lust with his co-star Jane (a luminous Carmen Ejogo). Understandably fascinated with Chet’s talented yet troubled soul, Jane becomes an integral part of his life, supporting him through his heroin addiction and his painstaking struggles at reclaiming his once formidable musical skills. Callum Keith Rennie co-stars as Dick, Baker’s longtime agent who believes his client has simply run out of chances.
As Chet courageously attempts a life of sobriety, his main focus is to play a convincing set in Birdland. Years before, Miles Davis approached a much greener, teen idol looking Chet and tersely told him to come back to Birdland when he’s actually lived a bit of life and had something to say. Hawke, who transcended his own leading man magnetism with lifelong collaborations (director Richard Linklater) and inspirations (playwright/actor Sam Shepard) that keeps him engaged in the process, probably sees a kinship with the Baker that’s conjured up in Born To Be Blue.
Baker’s master recordings were left out of the film, as Hawkeprovides the vocals for the standards “My Funny Valentine” and “I’ve Never Been In Love Before,” and music supervisor David Braid assembled a quartet (including trumpeter Kevin Turcotte) to capture the late musician’s West Coast jazz aesthetic. Since Baker’s recordings are well documented and easily accessible, attempting to evoke his spirit with new recordings one of the film’s greatest assets (and a gift for jazz fans).
With an ear full of immersive music to light the way, Born To Be Blue is already halfway there, and it’s the first rate performances between Hawke and Ejogo that truly make the film sing. From the jump, we are invested in Jane’s struggles to keep Chet on the straight and narrow as well as his attempts to finally prove Miles Davis wrong and finally succeed at Birdland.
Hawke and Linklater had previously discussed a Chet Baker movie many moons ago, but thankfully that shelved idea didn’t end the actor’s obsession. To play an artist struggling with addiction yet still reaching for a new horizon takes subtle and heartbreaking shadings that may have been a bit too much for a younger Hawke to handle. Timing, as they say, is everything, and thankfully Born To Be Blue is a compelling story with enough inspired notes to keep us listening.
Born To Be Blue opens in select theaters Friday and will be available on VOD March 31.
Zootopia continued its dominating box office run, as it retained the top spot with a $38 million take, beating out newcomer The Divergent Series: Allegiant which did a solid $29 million it its debut.
The Jennifer Garner headlined drama Miracles from Heaven also had a solid opening weekend with $15 million, and considering its estimated budget is $13 million, the picture should make a decent profit for Sony Pictures. Unfortunately, the Sony comedy The Brothers Grimsby is one of this year’s box office turkeys, as it managed a meager ninth place finish with just $1.4 million. Considering it’s a Sacha Baron Cohen (Borat, Bruno) comedy, that’s a total disappointment.
Natalie Portman has played a ballerina and Luke Skywalker’s mom, but is she convincing brandishing a six shooter? The Western Jane Got A Gun, which has the actress playing a woman who takes on a cutthroat (Ewan McGregor) and his outlaw crew, hits Blu-ray, DVD, and On Demand April 26 via Anchor Bay Entertainment.
The project also stars Joel Edgerton (Midnight Special,The Gift) as a man from Jane’s (Portman) past who aids her in inevitably becomes a huge, blood-letting showdown with John Bishop (fellow Star Wars universe vet McGregor). Gavin O’Connor, who previously worked with Edgerton in the MMA film Warrior, directs the picture.
Portman previously proved she was adept at action years ago in the Luc Besson feature The Professional, and although the film performed poorly at the box-office, maybe it will get a much needed boost with its home video release. With the cast and filmmaker involved, it’s hard to see this movie not working as a Western.
Have you seen Jane Got A Gun? Feel free to comment below!
It was another emotional night on American Idol, as 15-year-old songbird Tristan McIntosh was the latest elimination. Though McIntosh gave a solid rendition of the Martina McBride tune “Independence Day,” but it was Sonika Vaid who was saved.
Along with Vaid, La’Porsha Renae,Trent Harmon, Mackenzie Bourg, and Dalton Rapattoni are the remaining singers left in the competition. “I think the five that we have are very strong singers,” said Lopez. “And we will see as time goes on who stays in but everybody’s got to get out there and vote because who you think might stay, might not. If you love somebody, you better get out and vote.”
Click on the media bar below to hear Jennifer Lopez wistfully talk about her American Idol experience (the comments stem from her emotional reaction to Trent Harmon’s performance of “Simple Man”).
The Confirmation centers on Walt (Clive Owen), a carpenter who takes care of his kindhearted eight-year-old son Anthony (Jaeden Lieberher) while his ex-wife (Maria Bello) and her new husband (Matthew Modine) go out of town.
Walt’s relationship with Anthony isn’t exactly a solid one, but during their weekend misadventures in finding Walt’s stolen toolbox, the pair form a gradual bond.
The story behind The Confirmation comes from a personal place, as director/writer Bob Nelson’s (Nebraska) father was a tradesman who also would lose his toolbox. Inspired by such films as Winter’s Bone and The Bicycle Thief, Nelson wanted to infuse The Confirmation with a healthy dose of realism. Our Hollywood Outbreak interview with Clive Owen and Jaeden Lieberher is below, and if you want to check out my thoughts on the film (I loved it!), check out our new podcast CinemAddicts.
The Confirmation (PG-13, 90 minutes), co-starring Patton Oswalt and Tim Blake Nelson, opens Friday in select theaters and On Demand.