Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Solopsist

The film, "The Soloist" based on the book of the same name by former Inquirer columnist Steve Lopez, is now out and in theaters.

It's the true story of his friendship with a mentally ill black man who had been a gifted cellist and violinist before he became psychotic.

I heard Lopez talking about the movie on NPR not too long ago and it gave me the creeps. Of course, I'm just jealous. I'm just a hack stuck at a little newspaper and he's big time, gone on to write books and become famous. But listening to him talk about his relationship with this poor, mental case, was cringe inducing. It was a little too much "All About Him" if you know what I mean.

I haven't seen the film, but the reviews are generally good. Portions of a couple of them, however, amused me to no end.

Roger Ebert, our own film critic, says the movie is a "uplifting drama, except for the uplift." He couldn't figure out what it makers wanted him to "feel."

But this was the line that I got such a kick out of... Ebert going from movie reviewer to social critic. He does this a lot.

After telling us that the movie does a "very effective job" showing us Skid Row he informs us:
"Indifference about adequate care for our homeless population was one of the priorities of the Selfish Generation."

How about that? "Indifference" as "a priority." That darn Selfish Generation.

But what age group is that SG again? 20 to 40? 40 to 60? What a minute, doesn't he really just mean "Republicans?"

Anyway, Ebert put me in mind of the best line spoken in a movie this year, maybe the greatest of the decade.

From the film (and play) "Doubt"

Suspected pedophile Father Flynn: "Where is your compassion?"

Sister Aloysius: "Nowhere you can get to it."

Sister Aloysius should be head of the NSA.

The second review comes from Lopez' own paper, the L.A. Times, which interestingly pans the film.

In so doing, Kenneth Turan reveals a couple of the movie's distortions of the truth and makes clear the willingness of filmmakers to bend the truth so that it fits a narrative more to their liking.

Turan mentions a scene that shows an arthritic old lady donating a cello to the Jaimie Foxx character, when it real life, the cello was donated by a corporate chief executive.

But who would believe that? Who could believe in this day and age that a CEO would do anything that nice? No sense alarming the audience with such a confusing truth.

Oh well. As they say, That's Entertainment!


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