6.6/10
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Blaze (2018)

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A reimagining of the life and times of Blaze Foley, the unsung songwriting legend of the Texas Outlaw Music movement.

Director:

Ethan Hawke
4 wins & 12 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Ben Dickey ... Blaze Foley
Alia Shawkat ... Sybil
Charlie Sexton ... Townes Van Zandt
Josh Hamilton ... Zee
Kris Kristofferson ... Edwin Fuller
Richard Linklater ... Oilman
Sam Rockwell ... Oilman
Steve Zahn ... Oilman
Gurf Morlix Gurf Morlix ... Himself
Ethan Hawke ... Radio DJ
Alynda Segarra ... Marsha (as Alynda Lee Segarra)
Sybil Rosen Sybil Rosen ... Mrs. Rosen
Nancy Roppolo Nancy Roppolo ... Outhouse Waitress 1
David Hinson David Hinson ... Outhouse Cook
Aaron Augustus Aaron Augustus ... Bus Boy
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Storyline

Inspired by the life of Blaze Foley, the unsung songwriting legend of the Texas outlaw music movement that spawned the likes of Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson. The film weaves together three different periods of time, braiding re-imagined versions of Blaze's past, present and future. The different strands explore his love affair with Sybil Rosen; his last, dark night on earth; and the impact of his songs and his death had on his fans, friends, and foes. The braided storyline terminates in a bittersweet ending that acknowledges Blaze's profound highs and lows, as well as the impressions he made on the people who shared his journey. Written by Michiel Hanswijk

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Based on a True Texas Love Story

Genres:

Biography | Drama | Music

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language throughout, some sexual content and drug use | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

17 August 2018 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Blaze See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,200,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$44,050, 19 August 2018

Gross USA:

$704,955

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$704,955
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The second film involving students of the Ringling College of Art and Design to open at the Sundance Festival. The first one was Dark Night (2016) which opened at the festival in 2016. See more »

Goofs

During a montage scene when Blaze is writing postcards from the road, Sybil is shown counting a handful of redesigned $20 bills. Foley was killed in 1989, but the redesigned $20 was not available to the public until 1998. See more »

Connections

Featured in Conan: Ethan Hawke/Daniel Sloss/Ninja Sex Party (2018) See more »

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User Reviews

 
A Blaze of Legend
21 August 2018 | by ferguson-6See all my reviews

Greetings again from the darkness. "When the legend becomes fact, print the legend." "I don't want to be a star, I wants to be a legend." The first quote comes from THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE and the second is drawled by Blaze Foley as he snuggles with his muse and lover in the back of a pickup truck. We can imagine the first quote inspired many stories over the years by those who knew Blaze, and it might also have served as a driving force for writer/director Ethan Hawke as he crafted this graceful tribute to an underappreciated songwriter and his too short life.

Mr. Hawke is a 2-time Oscar nominee as an actor, and his best known previous turn as director was for CHELSEA WALLS (2001). He (a distant relative of Tennessee Williams) has also been twice Oscar nominated as a writer (BEFORE SUNSET, BEFORE MIDNIGHT), and his movies are often music related or influenced. His latest is a biopic of a mostly unrecognized country-folk artist, and Hawke collaborated with Sybil Rosen to adapt her memoir "Living in the Woods in a Tree: Remembering Blaze Foley". It's Ms. Rosen who shared the bed of that pickup referenced in the first paragraph above.

Ben Dickey plays Blaze and Alia Shawkat plays Sybil. Not only does Dickey capture the spirit and sound of Foley's music, but the scenes with Blaze and Sybil as a couple are some of the most touching and realistic relationship sequences we've seen on screen. We understand their connection ... and their disconnection. It's proof that two people can be both 'made for each other' and 'wrong for each other'. Director Hawke utilizes different time periods, as well as a framing device in the form of a radio interview. None of this works in traditional biopic manner as the interview features the great troubadour and musical poet Townes Van Zandt (played exceptionally well by Charlie Sexton) recollecting the times (both good and bad) he spent with his friend Blaze. He's joined by another Foley friend and collaborator, Zee (Josh Hamilton) as the two color in the blanks to ensure the legendary status desired by Blaze. The DJ is voiced by Ethan Hawke, who is only seen from behind.

In addition to the radio interview and the relationship with Sybil, we also have multiple scenes of Blaze's final live show being recorded at the old Austin Outhouse. The nearly two hours of music and philosophizing were turned into a record release that remains (nearly 30 years later) a mesmerizing listen. These 3 very distinct pieces fit together to bring Blaze into focus as both a songwriter and troubled man - one who found himself in too many fights and, ultimately, on the wrong end of a gunshot in 1989.

Philosophy and homespun wisdom and catchphrases flow from Blaze during his songs and even when he's just hanging with his buddies or Sybil. The real Sybil Rosen plays her own mother in a scene where Blaze meets the parents, and there is a touching moment in the film where Blaze plays for his estranged dad (a wonderful, albeit brief performance from Kris Kristofferson), the founder of The Singing Fuller Family where Blaze got his musical start. It's these kind of touches that elevate the film into a must see whether you are familiar with Blaze Foley or not.

BLAZE FOLEY: DUCT TAPE MESSIAH is a 2011 documentary that would nicely compliment Mr. Hawke's film, although this version contains much more humor - including cameos by Steve Zahn, Richard Linklater and Sam Rockwell as Zephyr Records executives. With Louis Black (founder of SXSW and a former film class TA of yours truly) as an Executive Producer, and songs by Blaze Foley and Townes Van Zandt, this little gem is likely to awaken viewers to a bygone era of music that tends to be remembered only for Willie, Waylon, Jerry Jeff and Merle.


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