Archive | 4:00 pm

And to Think That I Saw It on Newbury Street

26 Apr

With all due apologies to Dr. Seuss, today was a great day to be out and about in the Back Bay area. Not that I saw anything soooo exciting, but the sights and sounds were nice enough that I thought they merited a quick blog post.

The sun was shining, the sky was blue, the weather was warm, there was a pleasant breeze at times, a parade was going by on Boylston St., musicians were playing in the Public Garden, flowers were in bloom, stores were practically empty, outside dining areas were crowded, people were wearing less clothing … and I took it all in with a great big smile on my face.

This has been a really great weekend and it’ll be a bummer to have to be back in the office tomorrow. Continue reading

He’s Got a Friend

26 Apr

“I’ve had a few setbacks,” says Nathaniel Ayers by way of explaining why he, a talented musician, is living on the street. The same could be said about Jamie Foxx, who, after starring in Ray and winning an Oscar, went a long time before he found a role as good. With The Soloist, Foxx finally has a chance to show filmgoers how good an actor he can be. As Ayers, a schizophrenic, Julliard-trained homeless man, Foxx gives a moving performance. He never once resorts to caricature, and he makes you wish he took on such serious roles more often.

The Soloist is not a one-man movie, of course. Robert Downey Jr. plays Steve Lopez, a Los Angeles Times columnist who meets Ayers one day by chance and becomes his friend. He, too, gives an impressive performance. In a refreshing change from most movies of this type, Lopez is no perfect white knight. He’s wary of getting too involved with Ayers, and he loses his patience at times. Screenwriter Susannah Grant (Erin Brockovich) and director Joe Wright (Atonement) don’t give Lopez some cheesy realization scene either when he realizes the impact he’s had on Ayers’ life, nor do they create a lame montage of reader reactions. Both are much appreciated. (By the way, this film is based on a true story, and on Lopez’s book of the same name. )

Like State of Play, The Soloist seeks to canonize newspapers and newspaper reporters, showing the lengths they will go for a story and the ways their work can be effective. There’s a welcome believability to it here that doesn’t feel forced or heavy-handed. Further authenticity comes from the fact that Wright uses actual homeless people as extras and in small supporting roles, not actors. And I suppose it should also be noted that the music is quite nice, even if it is mostly string instruments (and you know how I feel about those).

The Soloist was originally supposed to be released last fall, in the heart of Oscar season, but it was delayed. Usually that’s a bad sign, but not here. That said, the film’s good, but I don’t think it would have been a strong awards contender. Releasing it now allows The Soloist to get a little more attention, something it deserves. I’m giving it a strong B.

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