Louie Bluie - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Louie Bluie Reviews

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March 9, 2012
Terry Zwigoff's debut film is a brief hour in length, but it's the kind of absorbing documentary that I could have gone on watching for five or six. Yet perhaps it is the film's short running time that makes it so special, so interesting. Zwigoff gives us an hour of time with the titular Louie Bluie, or more formally Howard Armstrong- one of the most interesting musicians ever committed to celluloid. Here he is nearing the end of his life, yet he shows no signs of stopping his art. Alongside playing fast, hard and soulful blues music, he is also a drawer and poet, and part of the brilliance of Zwigoff's hand is that he intertwines these talents. In one of the best moments of the film, Bluie shows a fellow musician a piece of art that looks as though it probably took years to compile. He calls it the ABC's of Pornography, and it is a book containing pages devoted to prose, photos and drawings that make sex both poetic and obscene. I think that book is probably one of the most personal things Bluie ever did, as it seems to mirror his personality; as the film progresses, we get to see two sides of the man- one is sweet, thoughtful and passionate and the other is crass and dirty. It's a fascinating combination. Besides being about such an interesting subject, the film also contains some mesmerizing musical sequences (thanks to said subject), and these moments, which feature Bluie and pals collaborating on sporadic tunes in their home or on the street, are so raw and unique. It doesn't matter if you like the blues or not; if you're interested in people, this is a must-see movie.
December 17, 2011
In the first scene Howard "Louie Bluie" Armstong is shaving without soap or water, just a razor blade. And you just kinda stare at him totally fascinated. That level of fascination is maintained for the rest of the film. This documentary consists of Armstrong telling stories, playing alot of music and even showing you his book of pornography. Zwigoff's first film is alot like his masterpiece 'Crumb' in that it doesn't try to pigeonhole the man its documenting. I wish the film was longer but a few scenes near the end start to stretch this material a little too thin, so maybe its a blessing in disguise.
September 5, 2011
Pretty hilarious portrait of an old bluesman.
September 4, 2011
Awesome doc, albeit too short and not very comprehensive. As it stands its just a slice of a very interesting life. Louie Bluie is instantly charming and an absolute genius. Even if you're not a fan of old-timey music, you'll get a kick out of him.
March 8, 2011
Engaging, if slight, documentary about blues fiddle/mandolin musician Howard Armstrong. Just a blast to watch and listen.
½ February 2, 2011
Formally aimless but brilliant and entertaining. This could have been four hours and I wouldn't have been bored. There is some great music here.
October 30, 2010
As sharp and bright as his suits and shoes.
October 19, 2010
Early documentary effort from Terry Zwigoff is an utterly charming and engaging character study of a man too fascinating for simple description and an affectionate tribute to a dying (or more probable as of 2010, already dead) American culture. One of the rare instances where I thought a film was way too short, I could have spent hours with these people and their music.
September 20, 2010
In the first scene Howard "Louie Bluie" Armstong is shaving without soap or water, just a razor blade. And you just kinda stare at him totally fascinated. That level of fascination is maintained for the rest of the film. This documentary consists of Armstrong telling stories, playing alot of music and even showing you his book of pornography. Zwigoff's first film is alot like his masterpiece 'Crumb' in that it doesn't try to pigeonhole the man its documenting. I wish the film was longer but a few scenes near the end start to stretch this material a little too thin, so maybe its a blessing in disguise.
September 9, 2010
Terry Zwigoff's odyssey in producing this low budget doc is almost as memorable as the movie itself, and on Criterion's unexpected, welcomed DVD, he gets a showcase commentary track to tell the story.

A longtime aficionado of old time blues and country music, Zwigoff set out to write an article on long forgotten Chicago mandolin master Howard "Louie Bluie" Armstrong, but when he finally tracked down the musician, living in a rundown Detroit housing complex, he was so fascinated by the man that he put his life savings into a film project, and through additional grants, and ingenious self-made situations (like pairing Armstrong with his old recording friend Ted Bogan, and fellow blues masters Ikey Robinson and Yank Rachell for a series of impromptu sessions), a 60 minute film was crafted, serving not only as Armstrong's own charming oral narrative, but of black country blues music dating back almost to the slave quarters.

Armstrong, 75 when Zwigoff filmed him, comes off as a man of many talents; besides being a virtuoso mandolin and fiddle player, he's an exceptional painter and narrator, spinning yarns five decades old like they just happened, and cultivating a chronology of his life's experiences (and a bizarre opus about the eroticism of pornography; something in common with Zwigoff's next subject, Robert Crumb) in beautiful watercolor, and surreal whimsy.

This is a strange, loving portrait of a man, a sound, a culture, practically lost to the history books and dusty collections of obsessive record collectors; it was worth the director's life savings at the time, and it's priceless now.
August 19, 2010
I blind bought this based on liking Zigoffs other work. It was one of those rare films that became an instant favorite. I'd never heard of Howard "Louie Bluie" Armstrong before seeing this, and I bet you haven't either. Don't let that stop you from seeing this. It will make you feel alive. If you like documentaries or music, you owe it to yourself to see this. I can't recommend it enough. My only complaint is that there's only about 90 minutes of footage, I could watch and listen to Armstrong for days.
August 16, 2010
Terry (Crumb) Zwigoff's first film has FINALLY been released on DVD from Criterion. The film is a documentary of bluesman Howard Armstrong who was 75 when this was filmed in 1985...and he's a wonderful character. It's great seeing him play with his old bandmates and joking around and chatting with them about the old days. The man was a great artist as well and shows many of his paintings and drawings. I recommend this film highly.
August 9, 2010
Finally out on Criterion! Go get it! I'll post my film-forward review here when it's ready. Just imagine all of those awesome little moments about the blues from Ghost World given the docu-treatment of Crumb.
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