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All the wrong notes and not necessarily in the right order..
All the wrong notes and not necessarily in the right order..
Star – Elijah Wood
Genre – Drama
Run Time – 90 minutes
Certificate – 18
Country – USA
Awards – 5 Wins & 12 Nominations
Amazon – £3.33 DVD £5.99 Blue Ray
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The silliest film I have seen this year has to be Grand Piano, way out in front. That’s not to say it’s bad or anything but certainly has more plot holes than the old weathered road called Screenwriter Terrace just off Author Street. Sometimes you do wonder how directors get away with it. I suppose if you have the money and tax breaks and the stars in place you do get way with it.
The star in question is Elijah Wood, the big eyed dude from the Lord of the Rings trilogy. His shortass film career is not exactly racing on post Hobbity fun. You could say that of other cute franchise hoars like Robert Patterson (Twilight) and Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter). Because of your type casting you have to take what’s offered thereafter and for Elijah Wood it’s this bonkers piano movie. The highlight of the cast was the reappearance of Alex ‘Bill S Preston’ Winter of Bill & Ted fame, whose career fell off the edge of the world after that 1991 movie. Bogus! Freaked (1993) was his last feature film lead. Again, same problem as our franchise boys. Admittedly he is not as cute as the other two. In fact he used to work in Milton Keynes for a film production company of his as things went that bad.
• Elijah Wood as Tom Selznick
• John Cusack as Clem
• Kerry Bishé as Emma Selznick
• Alice Ella as Emma's singing voice
• Tamsin Egerton as Ashley
• Allen Leech as Wayne
• Don McManus as Norman
• Alex Winter as Usher
The word ‘leg’ in the phrase ‘break a leg’ refers to one of the curtain supports. It means you get called out for so many bows due to the audience cheering that the leg breaks.
Tom Selznick (Elijah Wood) was an up-and-coming concert pianist until he developed stage fright while attempting to play a complex piece called "La Cinquette", unplayable for some. Five years on and he is in Chicago for the big comeback. He plans to dedicate the return to the memory of his late mentor, pianist and composer Patrick Godureaux (who composed "La Cinquette"). Godureaux drew huge media coverage after his death due to the strange disappearance of his fortune.
Tom's beautifully wife and international singer Emma (Kerry Bishé) has encouraged her husband to return to the stage and all concerned and very nervous as his limo nears the concert hall. His friend Norman (Don McManus) and conductor for the evening offers Tom assurance that he will perform brilliantly as he is handed his sheet music as the lights go down.
Tom approaches the stage in his penguin suit and sits on the stool as the lights go up again. It’s showtime. Within the sheet music he finds the manuscript to "La Cinquette" and discards it. What’s that doing there? But during the concert as his fingers race over the keyboard like the River Dance and flicks up to the music he finds a note written on his sheet music that reads "Play one wrong note and you DIE". It has to be a prank so he crashes on until the turning of the music reveals more notes, this time threatening Emma and his life with a sniper rifle. It becomes very real when a red laser dot tracks his movement on stage.
Disturbed, Tom flees the stage to the mumbled shock of the audience. He returns to his dressing room, where he is expected by a beeping text on his phone, instructing him to locate and wear an earpiece, allowing communication with the would-be assassin concealed in the theatre somewhere. Tom has to return to the stage or his wife will be shot, the hidden shooter demonstrating the stealth and range of his silenced rifle by firing a shot into the floor to Tom's left on stage; no one else noticing, of course. Clearly it’s a very real threat to Tom and his wife.
Desperate - as you would be - Tom stealthy uses his cell phone to contact his friend Wayne (Allen Leech) who is seated in the audience. Wayne leaves the concert hall in embarrassment to take the surprise call from the performer on stage. Not a good idea. The sniper makes it quite clear what Tom has to do to stay alive and it involves the pianist attempting ‘La Cinquette’ once again and playing it flawlessly right now, right here.
I think entertainingly preposterous is the best way to describe this bonkers film and all good fun, if you are prepared to stay with it as it gets sillier and sillier, but when the twist comes and the reason for this film you not only scream ‘why the hell didn’t you hit the piano with a f***ing sledge hammer to reveal that prize! And why not hit the script writers with it at the same time! It had potential early on but way too many of those plot holes for a comfortable ride. For instance, why not text his wife to meet him in the dressing room, jump in a cab and shoot off?
I think the problem here is you have a good 30 minute Twilight episode at best and so you can’t sustain the absurdity of the situation for 90 minutes. I think this is why 12 of those credited 90 minutes are the end credits. The director is always looking towards incredulity and distraction to get them out of cul-de-sac or two after the grand set up.
All 5ft 7 Elijah Wood doesn’t command a great deal of authority on screen but tries his hardest to keep it going and crank up the tension some but he never quite convinces. How could you? You really don’t care if the sniper does take out his wife and him. A bit more comedy was needed around that. As we have to wait for the last absurd scenes to see the villain and the nonsense twist then the whole film is on his little shoulders. All the other actors here you have never heard of and may as well be wearing the red jersey in Star Trek.
If it pops up on telly and you have had a glass or two and you like Frodo then by all means but don’t rent this or Q it up on your movie package as its not worth the effort. Its kind of fun to see how the director is going to get out of the quicksand he is clearly in but just too silly and obtuse for words.
Imdb.com – 5.9 /10.0 (13,245votes)
Rottentomatos.com – 78% critic’s approval
Metacritic.com – 61% critic’s approval
Not that many, surprisingly…
-Behind the Scenes: The wrong notes-
Little White Lines –‘The filmmaking virtuosity is admirable, but in the end it's more flat than sharp’.
LA Times –‘Not all the right notes are hit in "Grand Piano," but for an elegantly schizoid B movie, it's more B-sharp than B-flat’
Total Film –‘More concept that complete movie, despite serious style from the director and the cast's considerable conviction. Sadly, there's no masking the plot's piano-sized holes’.
Screen Times –‘Excessive in its simplicity, yet simplistic in its excess, 'Grand Piano' is a sharp thriller that knows exactly what it is and what it wants to do -- like any good concert, the goal is to entertain, and it succeeds fairly well’.
Movie Talk –‘It's ridiculously far-fetched, and classical concertgoers will wince at the script's willful blunders, but flamboyant camerawork and a delicious streak of dark humor make it ridiculously enjoyable, too’.
This has to be on of the few jewels in Southampton's rusting crown.
I really miss cinemas being the picture palaces that they once were. Over the course of the end of the twentieth century, the cinema fell from grace, and eventually became the just out of town multiplexes (what a stupid word) that they are now, rather than something, usually a little architecturally exquisite, that used to grace the High Streets of our towns and cities.
Now this cinema is no exception in that it is just out of town, and nowhere near a high street. It is architecturally exquisite, resembling something maritime.
In fact it is on the quay of a marina (Ocean Village), which is also a housing estate, although an upper market housing estate, mainly occupied as second homes for those with yachts berthed in the adjacent marina.
I like Harbour Lights for a number of reasons. It is small and intimate. You will get the big blockbusters, however you will also get the 'art house' films and the other stuff that just ain't going to find its way into the ABCs, Odeons and Gaumonts.
But I rarely use it as a cinema! On the odd occasion when I visit Southampton, I find Ocean Village a pleasant place to have a stroll, and I will often pop into the bar at Harbour Lights for a coffee or even a beer if I am feeling adventurous.
I find the bar comfortable and relaxing, with big plush comfy chair. There is a bit of a clique from the local 'housing estate' and the local University's media courses, so if you don't fit in you will at least get a better class of insult.
The staff tend to be young and studenty. This is great if you want to be laid back and friendly, but when you actually want to get served at the bar by someone who does know the difference between lager and bitter, maybe this ain't the place for you. The bar staff can be a little too laid back, which results in you having to make sure you get the right order and the right change.
You could best describe this cinema as 'pleasant' and free of the 'in yer face' commercial feel of the big boys.
Give it a try!