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Movie Review: A Beautiful Mind

Story: When I won the math award at 8th grade graduation from PS 222 my family laughed out loud and I thought it was a mistake. (I still have the little medal.) Since that time the only two things for which I use math is to figure out the check when I am with a bunch of friends and when I was in 'sales' it helped me to figure out my commission very quickly. I learned in A Beautiful Mind there are more important things for which math is used.

Based on the life of John Forbes Nash, Jr (who is alive, living in Princeton, NJ, liked the film -- particularly the way his wife was portrayed)) this film is by no means a documentary. Directed by Ron Howard (Apollo 13, Ransom and of course he will always be Opie to me) based on the biography by Sylvia Nasar, much of the film takes artistic license with his real life story. Essentially his achievements (Nobel Prize winner) are depicted but the focus of the film is on the struggle for most of his life with paranoid schizophrenia. The scandalous personal details of Nash's life (the kind of stuff that would be in the National Enquirer) are left out. This is a Ron Howard film, so there is also no sex. This film is ultimately about human frailty, determination, devotion, love and commitment, oh yes and math. Don't be afraid of the math. It is really quite interesting.

Acting: Russell Crowe is either good or great. In this film he is great. He is one of my favorite actors. He plays a difficult, complex character without any of the expected tics, gestures or stereotypical displays. He takes on the aging of Nash with both body language and makeup and I bought it hook, line, and hallucination. Jennifer Connelly (Requiem for a Dream, Pollock) is fabulous. She is able to match Crowe's dynamism without faltering. She is both beautiful and intelligent. I look forward to seeing her in future, even larger roles. Ed Harris (Pollock) is also terrific as the scary Government secret agent wearing the 'black hat' role. By the way, Harris and Connelly have been in three films together in the past four years (Pollock, Waking the Dead and now A Beautiful Mind).

Critters: None. I guess critters and math don't mix very well.

Food: Some unappetizing sandwiches.

Visual Art: A Chagall and a Henry Moore. Connelly's character was (is) a painter so there are many started canvas' around the house.

Blatant Product Placement: I don't think there was any -- unless you count Princeton, MIT and the Nobel Prize as products.

Soundtrack: Annoyingly cloying with a bit of Charlotte Church thrown in.

Opening Titles: Black and white.

Theater Audience: A small Christmas morning crowd (mostly men).

Quirky Meter: 3

Predictability Level: A biopic -- so there is no big surprises (unless of course you have no idea who John Nash is). Does not apply.

Tissue Usage: One

Oscar Worthy: Yes. I would be shocked if both Crowe and Connelly are not nominated.

Nit Picking: There is a scene where Crowe, as the nerd is in a T-shirt, but he still had his sculpted Gladiator body in real life. I did like viewing his biceps but it didn't seem like this math whiz ever worked out and he should not have had all of those gorgeous muscles. He was better when he had on his schlumpy ill fitting clothing as the professor in the rest of the film. I also laughed when they fast forwarded five years at the beginning of the film, from 1947 to 1952 and they wrote the words five years later at the beginning of the new scene. Gads! Here is a film about game theory, equilibrium concepts, the economics of Adam Smith and they somehow think they need to add up the five years for the audience rather than simply writing the new time period. OY!

Big Screen or Rental: Big Screen. How about a Russell Crowe weekend with my favorites -- The Insider ( I think he should have won the Oscar for his remarkable performance as Jeffrey Wigand), LA Confidential, and Proof.

Length: 12 minutes over the 2 hour rule (close enough in this case).