A new official trailer gives fans a broader sense of producer and director Ethan Hawke's vision for country music biopic Blaze. It's based on Living in the Woods in a Tree: Remembering Blaze Foley, a 2017 biography by Blaze Foley's longtime partner and the film's co-writer, Sybil Rosen. Fresh off a strong debut in January at the Sundance Film Festival, it gets a wider release this summer through IFC Films. Per IMDB, the film hits theaters on Aug. 17.
An unsung songwriting legend, Foley commanded the respect of Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson. His influential output includes the often-covered "If I Could Only Fly," "Election Day" and "Clay Pigeons." With his duct-taped boots, Foley represented a truly underground continuation of the Texas outlaw music movement.
For those of us who're avoiding Sundance spoilers, It'll be interesting to see how far Hawke and his team go in exploring the full story of an artist Lucinda Williams lovingly called a "beautiful loser." The full story ends with Foley murdered in his Austin, Texas home in 1989, so there's a lot of dark themes and true-life tragedy the filmmakers might've explored.
Ben Dickey plays fellow Arkansas native and singer-songwriter Foley, while Alia Shawkat (Arrested Development) portrays Rosen. Additional star power includes "record label cowboys" Steve Zahn, Sam Rockwell and Richard Linklater. The cast also features musician and actor Charlie Sexton (Boyhood) as the incomparable Townes Van Zandt, Josh Hamilton as Foley's bandmate and Kris Kristofferson as the title character's father.
It'll be interesting to see if the film renews interest in Foley's music. Curious film-goers will have options, including the 2017 release of The Lost Muscle Shoals Recordings and a prior film, the 2011 documentary Blaze Foley: Duct Tape Messiah.
It's easy to distrust Hollywood with biopics, but with a solid cast and unbelievable source material, this film definitely deserves a fair shake from country music fans.