Sunday, August 09, 2009

On Friday, I made the mistake of heading over to Target to pick up my brother's school supplies.

Curse you, tax-free holiday.

Afterward, I involuntarily saw The Soloist (and subsequently missed that rather painful Red Sox game). You know, I had my prejudices against this movie before I saw it, mostly because the last movie involving musicians that I saw was August Rush, which was really, really bad. So bad that even Freddie Highmore couldn't make me feel any emotion other than disgust. But I actually ended up liking The Soloist, which is based on the articles and book that Steve Lopez, LA Times writer, wrote based on his real-life friendship with a schizophrenic, homeless, cellist/violinist/double-bassist/trumpeter/french-hornist/drummer, former-Julliard student named Nathaniel Ayers. The movie caught some flak from most reviewers, who claimed that the writing and direction were hokey. It seems to me that the filmmakers chose to honor the integrity of the real relationship between Lopez and Ayres over the production of a well-developed, artful storyline, which is totally fine by me. Lopez and Ayres are still friends and Ayres' condition hasn't improved by a lot, so there's no real "ending" to the story in both real-life and in the movie. I will agree with the reviewers when it comes to the acting, though. Robert Downey Jr., who I've loved ever since seeing A Scanner Darkly, plays Lopez and Jamie Foxx plays Ayres, and they are both incredible. It's almost flawless. I was kind of nervous about seeing Foxx play the cello, but he faked it pretty well. More importantly, he conveys Aryes' passion for music with a really believable earnestness. You'd probably have to be a musician, or just really sharp about these sort of things, to notice that he fakes the playing (although I will admit that his playing did bother me from time to time). I didn't really have any qualms with the writing (except there is this one sort of cheesy scene where doves fly over a tunnel and into the sky, paralleling Ayres' ability to transcend his illness through music, all while Beethoven plays in the background), thought the acting was near-perfect, thought the cinematography was super (it's done by Seamus McGarvey, who did Atonement, High Fidelity and The Hours), and thought it did an excellent job of highlighting the problem of poverty in the LA area.

In other news, Shark Week is over.

Now what?


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