The Soloist

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Tonight was an unusual night.  A promotional agency contacted me through the Triangle Brass Band website wanting a group to play some prelude music to the advance showing of the new movie The Soloist starring Jamie Foxx and Robert Downey Jr.  Since I had another thing I needed a chamber group for, I put together a tuba quartet of some of my former students, all euphoniums, and we put together one rehearsal to work up enough tunes to play both gigs.  Tonight we played for about 45 minutes prior to the movie, in the theater, as there were no previews or advertisements on the reel.  I have to say that I knew very little about what was going on, and I did not feel like the people putting this showing on had much experience dealing with ‘real’ musicians, so it was a show up, be flexible and see what is going to happen type of deal.  The group did great, and the audience clapped and was nice, including one lady who gave us a standing ovation (I told Jesse I didn’t know he brought his Mommy to the gig).  Kristin and I stayed and watched the film, so, anyways, here is what I thought of the movie:

Kristin loved it. I really wanted to like it, but could not really get into it. Now, it is certainly a tough story to tell, as there really is not a whole lot to it. There were a few moments where I thought the story was just lagging, or not going forward, and wasted a lot of time. They put some really funny moments in there, and by really funny, I mean cute funny, not haha funny. Downey seemed to had real problems with urine, and it really had nothing to do with the plot except to add some humor.

I do not think the script developed Downey’s character very well, and rather than him coming off as a caring, growing person, he seemed like a jerk. After seeing Fox play Ray Charles, this is a bit of a letdown. I also think that if you are going to make a true to life movie, then the world you are attempting to portray should be realistic, instead of playing to the misunderstood stereotypes of classical musicians. They would have been better off showing the real classical musicians in the film as real people who are generous and caring, rather than snooty, uptight wads that do everything for Jesus.

A couple more things really bother me. This guy is still homeless, and doing his thing on the streets of LA. What will happen to this guy after Friday’s release of the movie? Now, in addition to being homeless, he is going to be an attraction and freak show. The movie seems more like exploitation in the image of bringing awareness to homelessness, but nothing has really changed because of all of this. Ayers is still psycho and homeless, 90,000 homeless roam the streets in LA, and the classical musicians world has still not been portrayed for what it really is. The musicians of the LA Phil opened themselves to this guy, worked with him, welcomed him to their rehearsals and concerts, and they choose to portray them in this music as they did is kind of insulting. BTW, Jim Miller was sitting in the 3rd trombone chair, or at least it looked like him.

So, was there anything positive in this movie? Yes. One thing that does come across is the power of classical music. How much, we will see, despite the over romanticizing of the way people listen to classical music. Its not always a tantric experience with eyes closed and mouths open. I guess, in a lot of ways, this movie is really no better than Drumline was. Everyone hopes there is a movie that comes out that can accurately show the world what your world is like, and for whatever reason, they miss the mark. Has there ever been a football story that hit it on the head, exactly what it is like to be in the NFL, or college? NO. Do football players get pissed about it? I dunno.

I guess any expose for the arts is good exposure right now. If kids start playing the cello because of this movie, that is awesome. I just hope this dudes life doesn’t get any worse with all of the people prancing around downtown LA looking for Jamie Foxx playing the cello on the street.

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