H D - S E N S E I

A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze


The Soloist [Blu-ray]


(Joe Wright, 2009)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Universal Pictures

Video: Dreamworks Home Video



Region: FREE! (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:57:02.015

Disc Size: 42,833,088,536 bytes

Feature Size: 33,866,065,920 bytes

Video Bitrate: 30.54 Mbps

Chapters: 21

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: August 4th, 2009



Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



Dolby TrueHD Audio English 3100 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3100 kbps / 24-bit (AC3 Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps)
Dolby Digital Audio French 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio English 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps / Dolby Surround



English, English (SDH), French, Spanish, none



• An Unlikely Friendship: The Making of The Soloist (19:37 in HD!)

Commentary  by director Joe Wright

• Five Deleted Scenes (9:48)

• One Size Does Not Fit All: Addressing the Homeless in Los Angeles (9:45)

Kindness, Courtesy and Respect: Mr. Ayers + Mr. Lopez (4:48 in HD!)

Julliard: The Education of Nathaniel Ayers (4:08 in HD!)

Beth's Story (2:02)

Theatrical Trailer (2:33)





Description: Journalist Steve López discovers Nathaniel Anthony Ayers, a former classical music prodigy, playing his violin on the streets of L.A. As López endeavors to help the homeless man find his way back, a unique friendship is formed, one that transforms both their lives.



The Film:

He's just another homeless man -- layers of mismatched clothing, a shopping cart loaded with all his worldly possessions, a voice that never stops chattering and eyes that never make contact.

"I apologize for my appearance," he says. "I've had a few setbacks."

But as he plays a battered violin, Beethoven pours out. And when he drops the phrase "my classmates at Juilliard," Los Angeles Times reporter Steve Lopez smells a story -- "Violinist has the world on two strings."

It will be a compelling human drama of music and a promising life derailed by..... what? The Soloist is about Lopez's search for answers to that question and his efforts to make a difference in one man's life. That true story makes for an emotional, transportive movie, a film about two "soloists," loners, and how their connection changes both their lives.

Nathaniel Ayers (Jamie Foxx, pitch perfect) so tunes out the world that he goes into highway tunnels to play -- not for tips, but for solitude. Lopez ( Robert Downey Jr.) is so wrapped up in his writing that he has lost a marriage (Catherine Keener plays the editor ex-wife) and is losing touch with his college-student son.

Excerpt from Roger Moore's review at the Orlando Sentinel located HERE



Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc.

The Soloist appears to have an adept transfer to Blu-ray. It skirts under 'exemplary' but looks absolutely fine without exporting superlatives for the visuals. Everything is reasonably tight, colors appear true and nothing looks to have any digital manipulations. I'd say contrast is one of the better attributes of the image quality.

















Audio :

The TrueHD 5.1 at 3100 kbps is pretty sweet. The classical music and Cello solos are absolutely wonderful to take-in. Surround mix effects are limited but there is a kind of buoyancy and the track is clean and crisp with the music and dialogue. No complaints whatsoever. It has optional subtitles and my Momitsu tells me it's region FREE.  




Extras :

The supplements are very strong. I really enjoyed Joe Wright's commentary. He's a very smart chap and has a wonderful voice to listen to. There are plenty of gaps but when he does impart information it is usually excellent. he covers so much ground beyond simple production details (which he seems to avoid). He talks of the film's many references. There are also featurettes in HD - the 20-minute An Unlikely Friendship: The Making of The Soloist, Five Deleted Scenes (9:48) - of which I found the last ('Don't Let the Music Ever Stop') was unfortunately not included as it was beautiful and I suggest checking it out. One Size Does Not Fit All: Addressing the Homeless in Los Angeles runs 10-minutes, Kindness, Courtesy and Respect: Mr. Ayers + Mr. Lopez and the Julliard: The Education of Nathaniel Ayers each run less than 5 each. Beth's Story is a touching 2-minute 'animated' piece and there is an HD Theatrical Trailer running 2:33.



In my first viewing of The Soloist - I thought 'well, that's a pretty good film' - and when, the following day, I watched it a second time I was struck with the feeling that 'wow, this... is a masterpiece!'. The Blu-ray is doing it's job well and the supplements are very viable. This is highly recommended! Give this a spin! 

Gary Tooze

July 25th, 2009





About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 7500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction. So be it, but film will always be my first love and I list my favorites on the old YMdb site now accessible HERE.  

Gary's Home Theatre:

Samsung HPR4272 42" Plasma HDTV
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

Gary W. Tooze








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