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The West Wing
A down-and-out LA columnist (Robert Downey Jr.) befriends a homeless man who was once a musical prodigy (Jamie Foxx), but lost his way due to schizophrenia. Nathanielís story inspires Steveís writing and changes his outlook on life.
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It seems like they've been promoting this film for a year now. It seem that way because it is that way. The Soloist was suppose to come out last September, but at the last minute its studio bumped it for a 2009 release. So while the summer film season of 2008 was going on, we were seeing trailers of this drama starring the guy who just played Ironman. The guy who won an Oscar for playing Ray Charles. And directed by the guy who earned an Oscar nomination for his film Atonement. Then the ads stopped. And the question is why?
I guess the studios thought this film wouldn't get that Oscar buzz that they wanted and needed, so they decided to invest their money into another film and throw The Soloist out to no-mans-land in April 24 2009. The last weekend before the Summer movie season officially begins. Then we witnessed another order of trailers and promotions in early 2009 and now the film is finally out.
I liked this movie a lot and it shocked the hell out of me. Sitting into a movie theater these days comes with a lot of baggage. Especially if you do for a living what I do. You know too much and no matter how much you attempt to watch a film with virgin eyes, it's almost impossible. So I had low expectations for The Soloist because of the way their owners handled the film. It was obvious that they didn't believe in it so it's hard for the audience to believe in it too.
But The Soloist is a decent film. You'd think by watching the trailer (see below) that the title has to do with Jamie Foxx's character. But this is really Downey Jr's film. We've seen a lot of these films before where a successful man learns how to be a good person by becoming a friend with another person. Seeing the trailer for the first time reminded me of the movie The Fisher King. This film does have that plot cliche but it does take it to another level. A level I've never seen before in a Hollywood release.
And perhaps that was why they bumped the movie. They just thought that the film was too simple in its explanation and there wasn't a gigantic Hollywood climax that had people crying in their seats. The more tears and laughter in a film equals more dollars for the studios. This is now the world of the gigantic story and character arc. There needs to be a do or die crisis or else we stop watching.
The Soloist is a film about friendship. I related to this film a great deal and how I have failed as a friend just like Downey Jr's character has. He is a man who is good at his job because he is dependable and extremely focused. He's not a bad guy at all with people but rarely does he get close with people. That's because he only knows one gear. Either he's in all the way or he's not in at all. So life is easier most of the time to not get too close.
But there is this musician that he takes a shine with. Initially because he has a story for his column. Then he can't help himself to know more and then he's now hooked in with this guy. AKA - he now cares and perhaps loves him. And that's trouble for a lot of people.
Friendship is a tricky thing. Sometimes when you love someone and see them in trouble, you want to fix the situation right away for them. And that's not always the best thing. Usually what happens is that you try too hard and fail at being their friend because you miss the obvious. The obvious is all about listening and being there for them. Not fixing them or taking care of all of their problems, but just listening to them. Because coming up with the solution of fixing them comes from your ego and mindset, not theirs. So you actually think you're doing good but more often than not you're doing a whole lot worse.
The musician in the film has a lot of problems mentally and will probably always have a lot of problems. And if people love someone like that all you need to do is listen to them and they will get better. As better as they can. You can't fix them but help them as much as you can by just doing the most simplest of things: Listening.
The Soloist makes a lot of sense and is a good movie. But perhaps in these times it makes too much sense. In movies we want to watch people be saviors to the world and the ones they care about. In reality the saviors in the world are the ones who just sit down and listen because they care. Isn't that what the definition of a great therapist is? The one who just lets their patient talk and talk. They end up talking so much they figure out their owns problems themselves. This happens more often than not.
When tend to underestimate people a lot. And 99 times out of 100 we just want to be loved and love someone back. Then the problems handle themselves. Today we live in a society of confidence. The more confident you are (without overheating into cockiness), the more you succeed. And confidence comes with knowing that people love you. And that's what The Soloist is all about. Just being there and nothing else. Problem solved. THE END!