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Movie Review: The Soloist

Alternate Title: Through a Glass Darkly

Story: A film about a schizophrenic, homeless, musical genius is not going to draw a big audience. Unlike A Beautiful Mind where that schizophrenic won a Nobel Prize, this poor guy remains haunted with no illusions of ever getting better. The film was sensitively directed by Joe Wright (Atonement, Pride and Prejudice) and written by Susannah Grant (Erin Brokovich), based on the book The Soloist: A Lost Dream, an Unlikely Friendship, and the Redemptive Power of Music by Steve Lopez.

Los Angeles Times writer Steve Lopez happens upon Nathaniel Anthony Ayers while he was playing a two string violin on the street. A quasi-friendship begins while Lopez, through his many columns on Ayers, gathers a growing interest in Ayers, the homeless and mental illness. The movie does a fine job of depicting mental illness, voices in one's head (I can relate) and the tireless job of people trying to help these sick individuals all the while attempting to keep dignity in tact.

The film has strong elements, thanks to the two sensational leads. In lesser hands both of these parts could have been eye-rollers but director Wright did not choose to go that route and I am grateful.

Watch the trailer here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TaZYz_WzyPo

Watch the real Lopez and Ayers in this 60 Minutes piece with Morley Safer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=907pVLbXdHg

Acting: Jamie Foxx as Nathaniel Anthony Ayers, was spot on and did not go over the top in his performance. Robert Downey Jr. as Steve Lopez, is one of the most consistently good actors we have today. Catherine Keener as Mary Weston, plays her usual supportive, yet spunky woman role. Nelsan Ellis as David was terrific as was Lisa Gay Hamilton as Jennifer Ayers-Moore.

Trivia: In Ray, Jamie Foxx wore prosthetic eyelids which made him virtually blind. His Oscar win for Ray (2004/I) along with Morgan Freeman's win for Million Dollar Baby (2004), was the second time two African-Americans won Oscars in the same year. The first was in 2002 when Denzel Washington won Best Actor for Training Day (2001) and Halle Berry won Best Actress for Monster's Ball (2001). Only one of a few actors to win the quadruple award crown during motion picture award season. Foxx won a Golden Globe, the SAG Award, the BAFTA Award and topped it off with the Oscar. Robert John Downey Jr. was born in Greenwich Village, New York City, at 1:10 pm. He's the son of underground filmmaker Robert Downey Sr. He is of Irish and Russian-Jewish ancestry from his father's side and German-Jewish and Scottish descent from his mother's side.He has spent a lot of time in rehab and jail and has been clean and sober for some time.

Predilection: I like Robert Downey, Jr.

Critters: Two cats, a raccoon and a rat.

Food: Bacon and eggs

Sex Spectrum: None

Soundtrack: You can't go wrong with a lot of Beethoven and soaring scores throughout by Dario Marianelli with a smidgen of Neil Diamond.

Opening Titles: A short sequence showing the typical day in the life of writer Lopez, the printing presses of the paper and then the titles.

Visual Art: The district featured in LA was not at all a visual treat.

Theater Audience: The audience could have played an octet somewhere.

Weather: It was lovely in LA

Sappy Factor: 0

Quirky Meter: 0

Squirm Scale: It is difficult to watch mental illness so well depicted on the big screen.

Drift Factor: I drifted a bit.

Predictability Level: I knew the story.

Tissue Usage: I welled up a few times. The music made me do it.

Oscar Worthy: No

Soap Box: The 90,000 homeless in Los Angeles is shameful.

Big Screen or Rental: Either.

Length: Under two hours