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Thursday, June 4, 2015

GRAND PIANO (2013)

It sounds like a fun little thriller: Talented, but traumatized, classical pianist has his comeback concert short-circuited when a mystery man threatens to shoot him mid-concerto if he plays a single wrong note! Alas, we’ll never know if this DRIVE meets PHANTOM OF THE OPERA mash-up could work since the execution from scripter Damien Chazelle & megger Eugenio Mira is pure amateur hour. (So too the film’s ‘original’ piano concerto by Victor Reyes, a wan pastiche of Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, Mantovani, Ferrante & Teicher.) Even if you go along with gaffes like no rehearsal, having the grand placed behind the orchestra or the unintentionally hilarious stadium-style public-address introductions (‘Ladies & Gentlemen! Please welcome tonight’s conductor!’), when’s the last time you saw a classical soloist playing off his music score? Didn’t that turn unfashionable with Liszt? Then again, not even Liszt could simultaneously send text via cell phone, converse on Blue-Tooth and be note perfect! Lucky John Cusack gets to (literally) phone-it-in as a dastardly off-screen voice. But the idiocies hardly abate for Wood, spiffy in his cummerbund, dashing off-stage for instructions in the middle of the first movement; or having our prick of a primo uomo conductor stop to deliver a not-so funny speech between the first & second movements. Heck, let's have intermission between the second & third movement since Wood is off someplace again. Obviously, no one involved in this thing has ever been to a classical concert . . . it’s likely they’ve never been to a movie.

SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: Is Elijah Wood aging into a youngish Brad Dourif?

WATCH THIS, NOT THAT: For a classical music thriller that doesn’t insult your intelligence, try John Brahm’s HANGOVER SQUARE/’45 with Bernard Herrmann’s stunning mini-concerto finale.

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