Grand Piano

2013

Action / Music / Mystery / Thriller

110
Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 77%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Spilled 48%
IMDb Rating 5.9 10 15391

Synopsis


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April 12, 2014 at 10:02 AM

Director

Cast

Tamsin Egerton as Ashley
John Cusack as Clem
Elijah Wood as Tom Selznick
Allen Leech as Wayne
720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
698.64 MB
1280*720
English
R
23.976 fps
1hr 30 min
P/S 2 / 6
1.23 GB
1920*1080
English
R
23.976 fps
1hr 30 min
P/S 4 / 9

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by LCShackley 4 / 10

Hit lots of wrong notes

Damien Chazelle must have had a horrible time with music lessons growing up; at least that's my guess after seeing his screenplays for WHIPLASH and GRAND PIANO. The plot is a mix of SPEED, THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH, and PHONE BOOTH. Who is the mystery man who threatens a concert pianist unless he plays a flawless performance? That portion of the plot unravels fairly well, with a few "aha" moments. But the movie's riddled with errors, from the bizarre drive through Chicago (up and down several fairly close streets, but lasting from day until night), to the concert which starts at 9:30 (what?), to the talky conductor who's more like a game show host, to the concerto that conveniently has piano-free moments allowing the star to vanish offstage for long stretches at a time, to the "impromptu" song by a soprano in a box seat which somehow the orchestra has parts for. The music itself is laughable: a symphonic mess of various styles, none of which is terribly difficult for the pianist. Some of the cinematography is nicely executed, but overall it's a pretty silly exercise that would have made a fun TV episode. As others have noted, it's a short film extended by 12 minutes of credits. Elijah Wood and the camera operator do a good job of "faking" the piano parts. It's harmless fun, not to be taken seriously.

Reviewed by rooprect 9 / 10

An fun & amazing tribute to the golden age of movie thrillers

The plot in a sentence: a piano player has to play an 'impossible' piece perfectly or a bunch of people are gonna get whacked.

Now put that in your pocket and forget about it. I'm serious; if I hear one more person whining about the silly plot, I'm going to strangle someone with a low A string.

To make a point, let me throw a different plot-in-a-sentence at you: two strangers agree that they'll each commit murder for the other guy. I'm sure the silly-o-meter is lighting up, but cinephiles will recognize that plot from the classic Hitchcock masterpiece "Strangers on a Train". Hitchcock himself joked how insignificant a plot can be, introducing the concept "mcguffin", something that doesn't necessarily exist but is the motivation behind all the characters' actions. Like a box that everyone's killing each other over.

Why am I harping on Hitchcock? Because "Grand Piano" is perhaps the most loving tribute to Hitchcock that I've seen in my life. This means it's a throwback to the days when thrillers didn't need 29 plot twists, 54 explosions and 3.75 sex scenes to keep audiences awake. The audience's enjoyment came via the filmmaker's technique at telling a story. If you've ever been at a campfire when your spooky uncle Greg tells the story of "the claw" for the millionth time, to the delight of everyone present, you know what I mean.

So now let's talk about the storytelling presentation. I'm trying hard not to slip into film dweeb mode, because the technical points of this film are so stunning I could ramble for hours. Camera shots are carefully planned and orchestrated without distracting edits, meaning the camera often follows the action for several minutes before jumping to another angle. This is reminiscent of the famous Orson Welles "Touch of Evil" opening where the camera runs for nearly 4 minutes through city streets and dialogue closeups before a cut. Or how about Hitchcock's own "Rope", a 2 hour suspense thriller with only 10 camera cuts. Here in "Grand Piano" such scenes are prevalent, and the best one has to be the "Wayne" scene which follows the character Wayne frantically running through the theater for help while the action on the stage remains in the background. No cuts. If you're wondering how the eff they managed to do that, check out the movie.

Another piece of technical WOWery which you might not consider at first is that actor Elijah Wood is really playing the piano. In real life Elijah is a casual pianist who had to take a 3 week crash course in how to play the parts in his scenes, which often involve dialogue and physical action while staying right in time with the music he's playing with his hands. If you're one of those people who hates it when actors can't fake their instruments, rest assured this is very convincing. The director himself is a musician so you can bet he insisted on getting things right.

Which leads me to my overall feeling about this film. It is extremely precise. Not a scene is wasted, and every element is carefully orchestrated like, well, like an orchestra. Basically the entire film unfolds in real time, as Elijah ("Tom") tries to make it through 3 movements of a classical performance without too many bodies piling up. The movie's "soundtrack" is actually the music that's being played by the orchestra as the story unfolds. That itself is an original and very impressive feat, if you consider every scene has to by synchronized with the mood of the performance piece.

What makes "Grand Piano" extra fun is that the movie is not afraid to make fun of itself a bit. There's some nice humor and a sort of lighthearted cheekiness to it, even though there might be a few brutal killings going on. You could almost call this a "dark comedy" except that all the classic thrillers were dark comedies, so such a label would be redundant. It should be noted that Hitchcock himself had a wonderfully morbid sense of humor, and here the director upholds that spirit as well the classic storytelling style. Anyone taking this plot too seriously should be hung from the rafters with rusty bolts and dangled over an orchestra pit playing fortissimo. Oh wait, that might've happened in the movie.

The acting. I won't dwell on Elijah Wood's amazing performance except to note that prior to this film I hadn't seen much of his work, and this movie made me an instant fan. John Cusack is... well, John Cusack. He's one of those actors like Christopher Walken who can sneeze and make it an Oscar winning performance. Although he doesn't get a ton of screen time here, he scenes were gripping. Another actor who deserves major kudos for bringing to life the terrifying/hilarious/lovable henchman character is Alex Winter (wait for it... wait for it... BILL from "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure"!) Omg he gets my vote for best bad guy sidekick since Jaws in James Bond Moonraker. And finally I have to tip my hat to "Wayne" (Allen Leech) and his barbie-doll manipulative girlfriend "Ashley" (Tamsin Egerton) who are a real treat to watch.

This movie has so many fun things going on, you forget how technically masterful it is. Like the old thrillers of the 40s & 50s, that's the way it's supposed to be. It's a funny irony that a Spanish production does the best justice to the golden age of Hollywood.

Reviewed by Nick Walde 6 / 10

Thrilling premise - Disappointing execution

I have come watching "Grand Piano" right after the very similar movie "Whiplash", which I count to one of my most stunning movie experiences I had. "Grand Piano" on the other hand, was a very disappointing experience. However, this does not necessarily make it a bad movie.

The premise of "Grand Piano" is a very interesting one. A concert pianist with stage fright is getting blackmailed into playing a perfect piano concert, or he will be shot. A musical version of "Speed", with a bit less action, but a much more thrilling atmosphere, undermined by a dramatic orchestral soundtrack.

Sadly though, the premise is about everything this movie has to offer. The reason behind the blackmail is kind of forced and only serves to allow the premise, without much deeper thought behind it. This pattern can be transferred over to the whole movie. It's not bad, but there are an immense amount of missed opportunities. Instead of letting the orchestra a similar, overly dramatic style of music for the whole film, it could have been more dynamic and thus adding more facets to it. Having slow parts, loud parts, fast parts, silent parts, dramatic parts, melancholic parts, and so on, would have opened up to a much more rememberable atmosphere.

However the director decides to be one dynamic, and the result is a 90 minute long opera/film, that gets pretty boring halfway through because there's nothing unexpected to it.

And even still, I was packed watching the movie and wanted to see it concluded, aware of the obvious faults. The conclusion, however, was the worst of all. The movie feels the unnecessary need to include an action scene, destroying the tension, and eventually ends way too late, in an effort to make up for the bad ending. This terribly performed effort was the nail in the coffin, for what could've been a great movie.

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