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Posts Tagged ‘Josh Hamilton’

Benjamin Dickey as Blaze Foley

“BLAZE” My rating: B- (Opens Sept. 28 at the Tivoli, Screenland Armour and Glenwood Arts)

128 minutes | MPAA rating: R

Ethan Hawke’s “Blaze” is unlike any other music biz film biography I can think of. Its closest competition in its nontraditional approach would  be 2015’s “Miles Ahead” with Don Cheadle playing the great jazz trumpeter in a narrative-tossed-salad retelling.

The ostensible subject of “Blaze” is Blaze Foley, a Texas musician and songwriter who hung out with country/folk music’s “outlaw” wing until his untimely death by gunshot in 1989 .

Hawke’s film (he  directed and adapted the memoir by Foley’s wife Sybil Rosen) follows no particular chronology. It’s all over the place. As a framing device he has given us a radio interview with fellow folkie Townes Van Zant (Charlie Sexton); scenes from Foley’s life play out as Van Zant provides a running commentary.

Foley (Ben Dickey) is a bearded, burly good ol’ fella.  He can be charming in a down-home way. He can also be a drunken maniac.

A Foley concert might be sublime, or it might be a slog, given the musician’s tendency to rap endlessly when the customers only wanna hear some tunes.  A few of his songs were recorded by the likes of Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Lyle Lovett and John Prine, but he was never a household word or a major player.

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Elsie Fisher

“EIGHTH GRADE” My rating: A-

94 minutes | MPAA rating: R

Middle school means isolation, mortification and general angst. Such was the case even before cell phones and the internet upped the ante on  peer pressure.

Bo Burnham’s “Eighth Grade” perfectly captures that indefinable sense of adolescent unease.  You may find yourself looking away from the screen as his 14-year-old heroine undergoes yet another wince-inducing humiliation. This film is so true in its harrowing honesty, so aching in its inarticulate yearning that it is almost too much to bear.

But stick with it. With its savagely dead-on sense of humor, its unflinching depiction of pubescent peril and a star-making performance by young Elsie Fisher, the film slowly sucks us in, leaving us wiser, more sympathetic and superbly entertained.

The film follows Kayla (Fisher), a 14-year-old enduring her last week of eighth grade before summer break.  She wants desperately to be somebody — from her bedroom she launches a chirpy daily videocast (“Hi, guys, it’s Kayla back with another video!?”) in which she dispenses advice to her fellow 8th graders. She suspects, though, that nobody  is watching.

And there’s more than a little irony when she tells her possibly nonexistent viewers that  it’s important to be themselves.  As if she has a clue as to her own essence.

It’s not that the other kids are mean to Kayla.  Most of them — like the deb-in-training Kennedy (Catherine Oliviere) — don’t  even acknowledge her existence. That anonymity is both infuriating and suffocating.

All this has made Kayla a very prickly young lady, and she takes out most of her anger and anxiety on her single dad (Josh Hamilton), a chipper optimist whose transparent efforts to instill in his daughter hope and self-worth only fill her with eye-rolling contempt.

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