johnlink ranks THE SOLOIST (2009)

Here is another movie I was upset I missed in theaters. I’m becoming more of a Robert Downey Jr. fan with every movie he does, and it’s nice to see him take dramatic turns amidst some of the big name stuff like IRON MAN and SHERLOCK HOLMES. I also think Jamie Foxx is another actor who has been doing some real solid work over the past several years. This was one I was anticipating.

The story is that of a Los Angeles Times Reporter (Downey) befriending a homeless Julliard dropout (Foxx).

I watched THE SOLOIST (2009) at movie night on 7.23.09. It was my first viewing of the film.

NOTE: THIS RANKING UTILIZES THIS SITE’S ORIGINAL SYSTEMIC ARTICLE WRITING METHOD. THE METHOD BY WHICH THE RANKINGS WERE ARRIVED AT, HOWEVER, REMAINS THE SAME.

FILM

There was a moment at the beginning of the film when the camera sweeps through the LA Times building to show us the ‘every day’ there. Everything feels choreographed. The camera work, the movement, the dialogue… all of it. I have to say that I was slightly put off by the intro. Then something amazing happened… the film made barely a false note (pun intended) the rest of the way out.

There is a scene in this film which depicts music as color. It is the kind of scene not often found in Hollywood films, and (when it is) doesn’t usually get to last so long. I’m not sure the depiction is correct for every viewer, but it sends a message which is received clearly.

There are several visual motifs which recur in THE SOLOIST. One is the opposition between feeling isolated and feeling not alone. Ultimately, the film takes the stance that these two concepts don’t need to be mutually exclusive.

The Oscars just expanded to ten films for best picture. So far this year I feel I have seen two of them. UP and THE SOLOIST. SCORE: 9

MOVIE

I want to watch this again to pick up some of the thematic layering in the mise-en-scen. I found myself catching some of it, but wanting to see more.

There was a point maybe thirty minutes in, when I wasn’t sure how much I would enjoy the movie. I knew it was good, but I was unsure of how entertaining it would be. Once Downey and Foxx really get going though, it is non-stop enjoyment. SCORE: 7

ACTING

Foxx is brilliantly subtle for an actor playing a schizophrenic. You don’t realize how smart and aware Nathaniel is until a good percentage of the film is done. You suspect it, but don’t KNOW it. Wonderful performance.

Downey is great as well, though he is relegated as the straight man a little bit. I loved seeing Nelsan Ellis (from TRUE BLOOD) in a serious role. He’s a solid character actor who I hope to get more of in the future. SCORE: 9

WRITING

The script is smart enough to let the music and visuals tell the story much of the time. However, I did feel like the flashbacks were unnecessary. I wonder how the film would have played out never getting a fully acted picture of who this strange prodigy was. I especially feel this way in his flashback scenes of isolation. Whose vantage point is this from? Nathaniel is not cognizant enough to accurately give us these memories. The rest of the film tells us a story through the eyes of Lopez (Downey). Why is the film’s viewpoint selectively omniscient?

Ultimately, though, the characters ring true. I love the symmetry of the script as well. One such moment which especially stuck out was when one of the first off-the-cuff remarks Lopez makes is repeated back to him in anger at the end of the film. Another is the differences and similarities between Lopez and Nathaniel being alone in a music hall as well as being in a packed music hall. SCORE: 7

FINAL TALLY

FILM: 9; MOVIE: 7; ACTING: 9; WRITING: 7

9+7+9+7+0= 32

FINAL SCORE: 8

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~ by johnlink00 on July 23, 2009.

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