*** Official "A BEAUTIFUL MIND" Review Thread

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Edwin Pereyra, Dec 27, 2001.

  1. Edwin Pereyra

    Edwin Pereyra Producer

    Oct 26, 1998
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    Will the real John F. Nash, Jr. please stand up?
    A Beautiful Mind, which was inspired by the biography of the same name by Sylvia Nasar, has nothing to do with the real John Nash, Jr. who won the Nobel Prize in 1994. What we have here is an impostor, a fictional character with the same name as the real John Nash yet director Ron Howard, screenwriter Akiva Goldsman and company have taken it upon themselves to tell his story much like the actual events complete with title cards at the end of the film stating where Mr. Nash and his wife currently resides and what they are presently doing.
    The real John Nash is a complex, difficult and at times, a selfish and insensitive individual. What the filmmakers have concocted here is a work of fantasy (forget fiction). It neither belongs to the real John Nash nor to the psychiatric profession as it inaccurately depicts the schizophrenic condition. Expunged, among other things, are his arrogant, rude and sarcastic behavior; his mistress Eleanor and his illegitimate son; his homosexual relationships; his arrest for indecent exposure; his divorce from his wife Alicia and his involuntary commitments to numerous psychiatric hospitals. His delusions about messages from alien creatures are replaced by espionage and spying only to give the film dramatic weight and tension. The film also takes dramatic license as to the timing of his mental illness.
    With a subject matter that tackles the brilliance and genius of a real life mathematician and his bout with schizophrenia, it is ironic how Ron Howard would insult the intelligence of his audience by dumbing down certain events about the real John Nash. Is he afraid that audiences will be unable to handle the truth and honesty about John Nash’s life and still be sympathetic to him and his condition? From the get-go, Howard gives us a character that is so likeable unlike the real Nash just so that the audience will automatically care for him despite his mental illness.
    However, even with all these faults, Mr. Howard certainly knows how to push the right buttons as most people unfamiliar with schizophrenia and John Nash will ignore these inaccuracies and omissions of fact and still embrace the film. This is the type of film that mainstream audiences love with hardly a single curse word and a happy ending. Expect the Academy to do the same come Oscar time.
    What the film has going for it is the fine performances of its two leads Russell Crowe and Jennifer Connelly. However, there were times where Mr. Crowe would speak at a very low unmannered voice that one could barely hear what he is saying.
    It is very ironic that another film that I would also have problems with its historical inaccuracies and omissions of fact would also star Mr. Crowe himself – Michael Mann’s The Insider.
    A Beautiful Mind avoids the complexity, turmoil and harsh realities of its subject matter. Contrary to what the filmmakers would like you to believe, the screenplay DOES NOT capture the essence of the story. A Beautiful Mind could have been a rich and powerful film of significant human interest. But it isn’t. Strategically released on Christmas day, it does nothing more than lift one’s spirits by using false notes. It neither inspires nor educates. It hardly even entertains.
  2. Scott Weinberg

    Scott Weinberg Lead Actor

    Oct 3, 2000
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    Here's my review. Hope you like it.
    A Beautiful Mind - [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG] (out of [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG] )
    Few things are as inevitable during the annual Oscar season than movies featuring handicapped protagonists. Several gifted actors have parleyed their portrayals of the handicapped into Oscar gold, most notably Dustin Hoffman, Daniel Day Lewis and Al Pacino. We may soon be adding Russell Crowe’s name to this list, as his portrayal of the disturbingly schizophrenic genius John Nash is nothing short of brilliant. To say that director Ron Howard adds considerably more to the mix than just Crowe’s performance is a glaring understatement.
    It would perhaps be understandable if Ron Howard started to churn out some more mediocre movies at this point in his career. Director of critical darlings (Apollo 13), blockbuster smashes (Cocoon) and audience favorites (Splash, Willow and Parenthood), Howard went truly high-concept last year with his live-action adaptation of How the Grinch Stole Christmas. It certainly wouldn’t be difficult for the director to slip into moviemaker-autopilot by now, which is what makes A Beautiful Mind all the more fantastic. Howard’s 15th directorial effort easily (and surprisingly) ranks among his best films, and it may prove to be the one “grown-up” film he’s best remembered for.
    As the film opens, we are introduced to John Nash, a young man from West Virginia whose genius is matched only by his social ineptness. It’s the late 1940’s, and Nash (along with several other mathematics prodigies) is attending Princeton University. While several of Nash’s contemporaries are satisfied using their cognitive skills to aid the U.S. war effort, the solitary young man is intent on creating something revolutionary; a concept or ideal so profound that it will immortalize his name alongside those of Einstein and Darwin.
    Although Nash occasionally fraternizes with a sardonic crew of equally ingenious students, his only true friend is Charles, an English roommate who forces the uptight youth to open his perspectives a little. Nash’s skills quickly become well known, and he is eventually invited to the Pentagon to help crack a stunningly difficult German code. It’s during this visit that Nash catches the eye of the shadowy William Parcher, a high-level government operative who realizes how valuable the young man could be to national security. Nash’s social alienation and lack of personal ties is precisely what Parcher is looking for, so the first signs of trouble logically arise when Nash unexpectedly begins courting a lovely student of his named Alicia.
    If it sounds like I’ve given a lot away with this synopsis, I haven’t. The brilliant way director Howard layers the espionage sequences with Nash’s burgeoning schizophrenia is nothing short of cinematic magic. Whenever you’re sure of what’s going on in Nash’s mind, the director deftly twists you in another direction, and the movie follows each fascinating path to its very satisfying conclusion. Even in the most seemingly unimportant of scenes, Ron Howard manages to keep something compelling on the screen. (A Beautiful Mind also features some deliciously clever uses of special effects to illustrate Nash’s staggering genius and his ongoing dementia.)
    Delivering a performance that makes his turn in Gladiator look positively pedestrian by comparison, Russell Crowe is as close to perfect as an actor can get. From his early-story facial tics and hand motions to the devastating scenes of a man tortured by his own mind, Crowe simply becomes John Nash. If last year’s Best Actor Oscar wasn’t enough to convince you of this guy’s talent, his performance here is simply impossible to dismiss.
    Also faring quite well is long-time character actor, first time A-list movie-star, Jennifer Connelly. Fans of this lovely actress have long since made it clear that Connelly is a sadly underrated actress, and her performance here is even further proof of her previously unacknowledged skills. (For those who feel Connelly is mere cheesecake, you can also take a look at her performance in last year’s Requiem for a Dream.) That Connelly manages to handle her role professionally and convincingly is no surprise. That she hangs in there and manhandles a few scenes away from Russell Crowe is simply fantastic. On the subject of character actors, A Beautiful Mind boasts more than a few, and each one is spot-on perfect. Particularly memorable are Christopher Plummer as a concerned psychiatrist, Adam Goldberg as one of Nash’s longtime peers and the always entertaining Ed Harris as the shady CIA operative.
    One of this movie’s biggest “danger signs” among movie fans is the name credited with the screenplay. Akiva Goldsman is one of movie fandom’s most vilified screenwriters, and with a resume that includes titles like Batman Forever, Lost in Space, Deep Blue Sea and Batman & Robin, it’s perhaps easy to see why. I suspect that we movie freaks may owe Mr. Goldsman an apology and be forced to find ourselves a new whipping boy, because the screenplay for A Beautiful Mind is easily his best work yet. Adapted from the biography by Sylvia Nasar, Goldsman’s screenplay takes its time and sets the payoffs up wonderfully. The dialogue is bereft of the mindless babble so prevalent in movies that deal with such high-minded concepts as appearance vs. reality, severe emotional maladies and arcane cryptography.
    Although A Beautiful Mind, on the surface, may sound like nothing more than a puffed-up TV Movie, it’s most assuredly more than that. With a flawless performance by Russell Crowe, and delightfully strong presence from Jennifer Connelly, a handful of very enjoyable supporting performances, a deft, smart directorial touch from Ron Howard and a shockingly meaty screenplay from Goldsman, A Beautiful Mind is so much more than an “Illness-of-the-week” tale. Fascinating, clever and surprisingly heartfelt, it's easily one of this year’s best films.
  3. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator

    Dec 9, 1998
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    Real Name:
    This thread is now the Official Review Thread for A Beautiful Mind. Please post all HTF member reviews in this thread.
    Any other comments, links to other reviews, or discussion items will be deleted from this thread without warning!
    If you need to discuss those type of issues, please post your discussion comments in the Official Discussion Thread for this film which can be found at this link.
    Thank you for your consideration in this matter.
  4. MathewM

    MathewM Stunt Coordinator

    Jun 12, 2001
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    Minor Spoilers

    A Beautiful Mind

    I've never been a big fan of Ron Howard nor Akiva Goldsman and maybe this colored my subconcious going into A Beautiful Mind, however I will say that I went into this film wanting to like it; or to love it like so many others have. Unfortunately, I cannot say that this is the case.

    As much as people would like to say that Ron Howard has matured as a director, he's still just competent at best. Much like John Nash deciphered simple newspaper headlines I saw through the mechanisms used to bring his story to the screen. This film is such a hodge-podge of other movies, Fight Club meets Awakenings meets Rain Man come to mind and I couldn't help but roll my eyes. Don't laugh at my comparison, Ron directed The Grinch and Akiva wrote Batman and Robin; these guys are hacks. James Horner even jumps into the act by recycling his Titanic theme during a key scene in the film. Horners done this before, but not this obvious. John Nash's winning the Nobel Prize for Economics is skirted over favoring tepid dialog and tear jerking. Perhaps Nash's story wasn't cinematic enough to be told literally that it needed to exagerate the scizophrenia and romance elements. The cast is good as it should be, however I feel Crowe is mis-cast as the lead. He was great as the paranoid everyman in The Insider and believable as a, well gladiator in Gladiator but in Beautiful Mind he seems a little out of place playing an eccentric mathematician. He plays the part well but I unfortunately didn't buy it.

    All in all, not a bad film but not deserving of all the acclaim it's recieving.
  5. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator

    Jun 30, 1999
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    I enjoyed this film and the performances of the principals, Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Ed Harris, and the supporting cast as well.

    The director, Ron Howard, had two stories he could tell, and he decided to tell the one of perservance, and not necessarily of brilliance. For that choice, as well as the screenplay, he was able to pull off the feat of getting inside John Nash's mind and showing the audience the daily struggles of his condition with schizophrenia, how it impacted his life, his work, and his relationship with his wife, Elisha, and how his struggles have gone on for the past 50 odds years as he battled his inner demons constantly while regaining the capacity to becoming productive again.

    Though it was a long film, it didn't seem like 2.5 hours long. There aren't any truly awkward sections that drag down the story, so I'd say it flowed well enough to maintain impact of Nash's condition throughout the film.

    I give it 3.5 stars, or a grade of B+.
  6. Kyle McKnight

    Kyle McKnight Cinematographer

    Mar 8, 2001
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    I just went and watched A Beautiful Mind last night. It is one great show. I was afraid that it was only getting a limited release, but it appears as though it goes wide tomorrow. It was a fantastic movie, the first non action/scifi/fantasy filme that I've enjoyed in a very, very long time. All the parts seem to be cast correctly, as everyone meldes together. If you're thinking about seeing it, do, and if you're not, see it anyways [​IMG]
  7. Chuck C

    Chuck C Cinematographer

    Jan 6, 2001
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    C'mon, who else saw this film last night or today?

    I was left with mixed feelings. Russ Crowe was amazing, but a few things were underdeveloped. The moral of the story (love) did not hit home for me. The last act of the movie was rushed. That aside, A Beautiful Mind was beautiful; I loved all the actors in it. The age makeup was incredible. Next to Apollo 13, Ron Howard has put together another great movie (with the same great music composer might I add).
  8. PatrickM

    PatrickM Screenwriter

    Aug 10, 2000
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    I saw this film on Saturday and thought it was an excellent performance by Crowe and Connelly. I was troubled by the portrayal of schizophrenia and its treatments or rather how it portrayed that Nash got through it without medication or treatment which is less than possible. I think Nash mentions near the end of the film that he was on new treatments but it appeared throughout his second time at Princeton that he was battling it on his own.

    Other than that factual anomoly I thought it was a gripping story with great acting the historical inaccuracies notwithstanding.

  9. Tino

    Tino Lead Actor

    Apr 19, 1999
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    Metro NYC
    Real Name:
    I had heard that Ron Howard's A Beautiful Mind was full of inaccuracies, and I acknowledge that the complaints of said inaccuracies will of course bother some people. And to a small extent, they bother me.
    However, I am willing to forgive the filmakers and grant them the "dramatic license" award since i really found this film to be greatly entertaining.
    I looked at it as a study of a brilliant mind tortured by delusions. It may not be a textbook portrayal of schizophrenia, but that's OK, because I think I got the gist of it.
    Russel Crowe's portrayal of John Nash (or whoever he was portraying[​IMG]) was an amazing display of his versatile acting skills. An Oscar nomination is a SURE bet.
    Equally good, and another Oscar nom., is Jennifer Connelly as Nash's faithful, long suffering wife. I have always admired Ms. Connelly's talents, and I am pleased that she is finally getting some long overdue recogition.
    Ed Harris, Adam Goldberg, Christopher Plummer, among others, contribute very nice performances.
    In the end, this may be somewhat a work of fiction, but a greatly acted, vastly entertaining work it is.[​IMG]
  10. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Lead Actor

    May 8, 2001
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    i saw this film over the weekend and thought it was great.

    i don't know about the historical accuracy of the film so i can't gauge it on that.

    i did feel the movie had a great look. it really made me want to be in college during that time. it looked exactly like how i imagine princeton would during the 40's.

    good acting on all fronts...i really liked crowe's performance. i believed his portrayal of a brilliant man plagued with disease.

    i also liked some of the camera tricks...(the code popping out, outlining shapes in the stars, selecting the girls in the bar, etc.) i know they were cheesey but they were pretty cool.

    i would have to give this movie a B+.

    btw - i'm guessing, but near the end of the movie:

    when he was getting the pens, was the guy in the wheelchair the real nash? kinda seemed like it.
  11. chris c

    chris c Stunt Coordinator

    Jun 30, 1997
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    Wow, I couldn't even finish reading Edwin's post - he wrote exactly my thoughts on the film. I agree with everything he said. Ron Howard is a hack. What is it with him and old age makeup?
  12. Allen Hirsch

    Allen Hirsch Supporting Actor

    Jan 29, 1999
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    I understand the criticism of some (many?) of Ron Howard's other films, and tend to agree there.

    Here, I thoroughly enjoyed this film. I didn't feel emotionally manipulated, and the film avoided sentimentality to an amazing degree, given the subject matter. I thought the special effects were perfect, and not overused; Crowe is a fantastic actor, and I was pleased to see Jennifer Connelly get a mainstream breakout role that she handles quite well. The music also worked well with the movie's theme. I know it's common to bash Horner for re-using the same tunes from many of his earlier movies, but I didn't notice that here at all.

    I did know that the movie avoided the homosexuality angle before seeing it, but wasn't aware of the other biographic facts Edwin included in his post. Maybe, if I'd known those additional facts BEFORE seeing the movie, it would have lessened my enjoyment or appreciation for the movie, but I'm having a hard time letting those facts color my impression of the movie afterwards. IOW, I'll accept Hollywood license in this particular story, because I think ABM still showed quite effectively what mental illness is like - how a tormented, delusional mind might work. I haven't seen much promotional stuff for ABM. If, OTOH, Howard and Imagine Entertainment claimed this was Nash's life story - i.e., a faithful telling of the biography, I'd probably be more critical of the film for its material omissions in telling that story.

    I thought it was realistic that Nash was never "cured" - he still had delusions, but learned to ignore them for the most part, and I was glad his Nobel speech included that he was taking medication (so it wasn't just willpower, without medication, that helped him - just as drugs, without willpower, likely wouldn't have allowed him to "function" ever again.)

    Chris C- Nash got the Nobel in '94, when he had to be almost 70 years old. Are you saying Crowe and Connelly SHOULDN'T look old in the movie when that part of the story is told? Or should the story stop when the leads are no longer "convincing" in playing people older than they actually are? I don't quite understand your criticism of Howard and old age makeup in the context of this movie's story.
  13. Joe D

    Joe D Supporting Actor

    May 21, 1999
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    I'll start by saying that I no nothing of John Nash. If this movie took any liberty in the process of movie making, I accept it. If a film has historical inaccuracies with the material I do not care if the overall picture is good. The Insider happens to be my number 1 film of 1999.
    Why do I say this? Well, because most negative reviews of this film have been focused on what the real story is.
    The Beatiful Mind is a flawed film, that flirts with greatness in some moments, and then lavishes into ordinary film making in another. It is as if Ron Howard and company couldn't decide what the film was all about, so they lumped in a lot of different aspects in life without a sense of overall direction to carry them.
    The Postive Points:
    The acting in general. Everyone in this film is great. Russel Crowe continues to amaze me with his great roles. I plan on enjoying his future career along with fellow super actor Edward Norton. Jennifer Connely turns in a good performance, along with the cast of the cast.
    The Music. I quite liked parts of the music in the film. While some of it was worthless hollywood scoring, there were parts that I was quite impressed with.
    The First Half. This was where I thought the film was dabbling in greatness. It was funny but touching at the same time.
    The Math. While limited, I enjoyed all the math parts of the film.
    The Negative Points:
    The Second Half. This is where the film lost its focus. It quit dealing with the math, which to me was the backbone of John Nash.
    The Editing. I didn't like how some scenes were edited together, focusing on aspects that didn't fit in with the flow of the film. It seemed to me that Daniel P. Hanley and Mike Hill, the editors of the film, worked heavily in some scenes(good) while neglecting others(bad).
    The Math. I thought the math sequences was great, but there weren't enough and there weren't a lot of depth to them. I would have liked more explanations for things, like how his theories are used everyday in *this and that* application. While focusing too much on them would be bad (since I wouldn't have a clue what's going in) but they didn't delve deeply enough.
    *Side Note*
    This sort of the thing is hit or miss really I guess. A computer game actually captivated me the most for finding out information on a subject matter. A Gabriel Knight: The Beast Within it's called. It's about werewolves, and I am amazed at how great the designers went to providing factual(sort of) information on the subject matter. I was quite fastcinated, I wish I was more often.
    Oscar Wise
    I'd like to see Russel get another nomination for his performance, and I wouldn't mind him winning it. It's definately better than his performance in Gladiator, which was fine but not the best, unlike his performance in The Insider, which I'm amazed by. Jennifer should get a nomination as well.
    But, this is not Best Director and certainly not Best Picture material.
    I liked parts and disliked parts. I think there is a better movie inside there somewhere that got flubbed up because of editing and overall direction of the picture.
    I hate rating a movie with stars until I see it twice, but I don't have a lot of motivation to watch it twice, so I'll give it a very low [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] (out of [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] )
  14. Seth Paxton

    Seth Paxton Lead Actor

    Nov 5, 1998
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    It's late and I don't feel up to a proper review so I will keep it brief (rare for me so enjoy it[​IMG]).
    8 of 10 (not in my top 10)
    A very fine film and possibly Ron Howard's best film (I think Apollo 13 is very good too though). Crowe is exceptional with his character and Connelly gives her standard strong effort to yet another juicy role (following Requiem for a Dream).
    One of the strengths of the film is some beautiful visual effects which help bring us into his mind. While the basic idea of highlighting things as he thinks of them isn't amazing, it's presentation here comes off very nicely.
    Also, while the story is criticized for not staying true to Nash I see it more as a choice to not confuse the issues at hand, namely paranoia and schizophrenia and how a person who relies on their logic can maintain when they can no longer trust their own mind. The script is respectful of the true issues of living with insanity both from the inside and from those who must live with that person.
    I found a few slow moments, but not many. I thought the score was very well done and quite moving at several points. Finally the makeup used to age the characters is fantastic (although nothing can hide Connelly's beauty). I would expect ABM to get some nod regarding this effort. I noted a specific makeup credit isolated during the credits and I wonder if ABM might not be in the running for some technical achievement award given out before the actual Oscars.
    A very enjoyable film that will grab some people enough to make them talk "best of the year" and should please most viewers that take the time with it. Still, a more dramatic slip into insanity exists in the previously mentioned Requiem for a Dream, as one example. This keeps it at 8 rather than 9 or 10 for me.
  15. Alex Spindler

    Alex Spindler Producer

    Jan 23, 2000
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    Here I am with an obscenely late viewing of a BP nominee.
    This was quite the film. I had the impression that it was one of those Academy tailored films (like I am Sam), but it did impress me nonetheless. I know that this film has been criticized (and rightfully so) for not cleansing John Nash's life in favor of a more sympathetic story. However, taking the approach that this is a movie only inspired by his life, I found it to be quite good as entertainment and a bit of education.
    The film is first and foremost and acting vehicle for Crowe, who gets to inhabit the character quite completely. I was impressed by his ability to communicate the mannerisms and thought process that the movie required. He also did, with the help of some very capable makeup artists, to portray Nash in his later years with remarkable success. To be honest, Crowe has shown to have some amazing abilities. This movie only cements the idea for me.
    Ron Howard does include some personal touches in the film as well. There is a curious use of special effects in the film that intially irked me, but I grew to enjoy as the style of the film. I normally don't like the use of special effects to simulate the ability of the gifted (as used in Phenomenon and Little Man Tate), but it seemed acceptable here.
    The story was very compelling, both in establishing Nash as a visionary. Then it creates his delusional world with conviction that makes it hard to separate from reality. The final act only works because of how well the first two sections paint Nash as a sympathetic character.
    Of particular note in the film was Jennifer Connely. I have to say that she acquits herself well in this demanding role. She has really proven that she isn't just a pretty face with her recent work in Requiem for a Dream. She carries a huge amount of the emotional acting in the film, and survives the journey in fine style.
    All told, I think ABM is worthy of it's nominations for the Academy Awards. I still believe that LotR represents the superior accomplishment, but I won't be quite so disappointed if this pulls the win.
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
  16. Allen Skurow

    Allen Skurow Extra

    Oct 13, 2002
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    Schiz-Opie: Howard's ugly/beautiful 'Mind.


    Patient: Ronald Howard.

    Age: two Ritchies and a couple of Opies.

    Diagnosis: Hollywood hubris.


    1) Crowe's asocialism steered towards the self deprecating/humorous - away from arrogance/snobbishness.

    2) Crowe's excessive look-at-me-Oscar/Geoffrey Rush/Shine mannerisms and tics.

    3) Connolly's constant iconoclasm and self assuredness.

    4) Everyone's general sage/elegiac philosophizing.

    5) Harris's customary lack of subtlety.

    6) The 'I'm-more-perceptive/sensitive-than-you-glass-glare-ugly-tie' scene.

    7) 'Jokey/sparring/comradery/bar/babes' movie scene number twelve billion.

    8) 'Frustrated-spouse-reaching-out-sexually-and-being-reluctantly-rejected' bed scene number thirteen billion.

    9) Cornball 'cementing-our-devotion-amid-the-mythic-panoramic-starscape' scene number fourteen billion.

    10) "This is what's real" scene (compose your own remark.)

    11) Connolly's 'I'm-really-pissed-and-screaming-and-smashing-stuff-so-scope-my-range-and-give-me-an-Oscar' scene.

    12) The Cool Connolly courting an awkward Crowe scene (the beginning of Howard's gambit that the physically/mentally imposing Nash is essentially dating his mother.)

    13) Hanky talisman (how 'bout a girl in a red coat or a bloody volleyball.)

    Recovery signs:

    1) Fascinating, thought provoking, discombobulating presentation of Nash's illness and perspective provides for great post-film debriefing/discussion.

    2) Russell's got skillz dog! Great technique and a marvel to watch.

    3) Connolly does a very good job.

    4) Howard's Hitchcockian flourishes/red flags:

    - The 'abandoned' campus warehouse that turns into Steve Jobs' rumpus room.

    - Nash's 'roommate' never did interact with anyone else.

    - Parcher doesn't show up or send anyone to the nut house to help Nash.

    - When the little girl is in the park flitting around among the pigeons they don't fly away or even stir!


    Patient continues to interact with visages of hacks Joel Schumacher, Nora Ephron, and Joe Johnston. Filmatic maturation is incremental and imaging is becoming textured/nuanced, however, hokum pathology potential remains high.

    (And btw, who's that wax dummy in Connolly's chair at the Nobels?! 'Blow all the good prosthetics on Crowe's old age makeup?!)

    Someone check Howard's desk for a cache of little pink pills...

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