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Tag: thriller

The Girl On The Train (2016)

Hitchcockiana

The thing with Hitchcock is rather simple: he was a formalist and a control freak without much empathy. Show one a fully fleshed character in his entire oeuvre and one will show you a liar: they’re all puppets serving his vision. There are therefore two possible paths when copycating / paying hommage to him: the formal way, which Brian de Palma had some success with, although he was too much of a Catholic, giallo-raised Italian to do more than mimicking a repressed English Protestant; or the “inspirational” way, which equates to placing “real” people in Sir Alfred’s trademark tricky situations. And this simply can’t work, because the absurdity of the plot then takes centerstage and backfires on the characters, making them caricatures of “real” people. Exhibit 2016 is The Girl On The Train.

An awkward mix of The Lady Vanishes, Rear Window, Spellbound and Suspicion, the movie stars Emily Blunt (good, and blessed with an even better eyesight) as commuter Rachel, vicariously living a perfect life through Megan, a woman she watches on her way to and back from the city, who seems the embodiement of bliss with her blonde looks, big house and handsome husband. The day she glimpses Megan in the arms of another man sends her into a downward spiral of alcohol-fueled rage and further enhances her aptitude at stalking her ex-husband (Justin Theroux, bland) and his new wife, Anna, who gave him the child he always dreamed of after Rachel proved to be barren, rhubard rhubarb rhubarb. Are we twisted enough yet?

One fateful night Rachel has a few too many and wakes up in a confusion of blood, vomit and cryptic flashbacks from a convenient blackout. Megan has been killed and Rachel becomes The Wrong Man (well, woman in that instance), which at least has the advantage of bringing on Allison Jeanney as a surprisingly understanding cop (she must have read the script). Twists and turns ensue, until a finale which might surprise you if you have never seen a thriller before, but earns a few brownie points for a corkscrew murder – call it alcoholic justice.

Build as a 21st century TV series, with the action jumping backwards and forward via title cards, including ones introducing the female leads by their first name, The Girl On The Train is not bad at putting together in a bell jar a bunch of parasites unable to feed from each other, and that’s quite about it. Rachel the wacko tries “to remember when was the last time she had meaningful contact with anyone”, which sounds a rather quaint way to qualify her situation. Also, she’s an alcoholic for the exact time the script needs her to be, after which a brief AA meeting allows her to breeze through the programme’s 12 steps in order to ask herself meaningful questions of the “do you ever really know anyone else?” kind. Oh, rutabaga.

Don’t miss the ginger haired Red Herring or the analysed-by-numbers shrink scenes, shoehorned into what should have sticked to an unreliable witness tale of frustration and depression, or a dream, or a ghost story, or a split personnality case, or whatever else it actually is. That’s how bad it is. The Girl On The Train pilfers Hitchcock’s vocabulary but doesn’t have any grammar to put the words in a correct sentence; it is therefore a meaningless, useless exercice. Oh well, at least the last scene doesn’t show a train rushing into a tunnel; that would have been the cherry on the layer cake.

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Busanhaeng (Train to Busan – 2016)

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Working Class Zombi

The best zombi flick since Dawn of the Dead, Train to Busan reignites the proletarian potential of the walking dead by parachuting them without warning in a deliberately symbolic environment: a high speed train from Seoul to Busan, where the challenge is not to arrive in time, but alive. From the fifth minute on, it’s a 150′ very bleak joyride with no relief or plot gaps, full of of jaw-dropping scenes and images. It’s director Sang-ho Yeon’s first live action feature after five animes, it has broken all box office records in Korea and was screened, off the official selection, at the last Cannes Festival.

Korean movies have a history of violence, but it’s usually tempered by not-so-subtle humour or downright auteurism; what you feel watching this one is being hit at full speed by the flaming locomotive which makes a surprise appearance at some point: this is gut cinema, no pun intended.

So, zombis. We had more than enough of them in their myriad varieties, slow, fast, nazi, in love, alien or animal. All those predictable munchers gloomily forgot that zombi are by nature politic. George A. Romero set the template with Dawn of the Dead and its shopping mall besieged by herds of unwashed, greedy consumers – of manufactured goods or human flesh. Cinema owes to him to have elevated an otherwise empty voodoo doll into a powerful metaphor for the 99%. Romero, however, is far from having visual flair, he relies almost entirely on the strength of his concept. When vampires are sexual, decadent aristocrats and ghosts strictly personal affairs between who haunts and who’s haunted, zombi come with a specific meaning: they embody class struggle, and they manifest themselves “when there is no more place in hell”. They are the repressed sins of a crashing system, a parable of dog-eat-dog, greed gone mad.

The movie central character and one of its heroes is Seok Woo, an investment banker who, in the first five minutes, acts like a jerk with a subordinate, his estranged wife and his daughter, to whom he bought a third Wii station to buy her patience facing his emotional absence. He’s the product of predatory finance and that’s makes him a survivor. His painful, bloody awakening to empathy is at the movie core. Actor Yoo Gong is tall, slender and handsome. He starts as a robot and comes to deliver a richly nuanced range of emotions, some of them rather cruel, like the repressed satisfaction smile he has when everyone dies in the next car. That’s one problem solved, see.

But one, for quick, strong and smart he or she is, can’t hope to remain aloof in viscerally cannibalistic environment, when third class goons not only hate the gut of the first class passengers, but literally jump at their jugular. Sacrifices have to be made, and sacrifice is the underlying theme of the movie. Almost no one will survive, after some heroic gestures and some repulsive behaviours. There is one tense scene, in which the small group of “heroes” is blocked between two cars, one full of zombis and the other of “uncontaminated” humans. Both camps act the same, with gregarious rage fueled, in the “human” case, by the villain of the piece, who’s the CEO of a transport company. He’s the cunning predator, manipulating public opinion like the government is seen to do in a short, revelatory TV insert. Who cares who has to die, if he can makes it to Busan.

Driven by a crazy captain of industry, the ghost train rushes towards a dead end, an apt translation to the screen of our current state of affairs. The heroes all have a moment of dignity, even the evil boss. What Train to Busan achieves is much more than grim social commentary intersected by short, sudden bouts of gory massacre. Its characters are all but dumb, resourceful to the point of ingeniousness. Tchekhov would have gloated with mirth: everything which is introduced in the first act is used, one way or another, be it a cellphone, a luggage rack or the corporate drones’ ties. The way the epidemic propagates is treated with respect for logic, sight and sound being essential factors to live or die. And there is this short, terrific cut on zero gravity zombis floating like carnivorous fish in their derailing tank, maybe the strongest image of the way one feels in 2016, when dealing with an utterly inscrutable economic and political situation.

The last scene is Korean to the extreme with its evocation of the demilitarised zone between North and the South. “It’s so dark on the other side”, a sniper says, while aiming his rifle to the survivors. You bet it is.

It seems American and French studios are trying to outbid each other for the rights to a remake. Korea uses Alstom trains so we might be screened “Train to Perpignan” at some point in the future. This is nonsense. This movie is perfect as it is, let it be seen as such. Viewing essential.

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Jason Bourne (2016)

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The Bourne Paternity

Whatever bias had the prophets of decline who wrote bad reviews of this movie, or whatever movie they might have seen instead, they were wrong. When had been a quadrilogy that consistently good? The Bourne Identity reinvented a genre, The Bourne Supremacy relegated James Bond in the English Heritage theme park hé so deservingly belongs to, The Bourne Ultimatum cemented the Bourne action franchise as the best and most earnest ever. Jason Bourne completes the cycle but is a different movie altogether: there is nothing to prove anymore, yet the character unflinchingly, unsmilingly played by Matt Damon is missing a crucial part of his own existence. He got the How, the When and the Who. What he has left to do is to understand the Why. Would this Why only be a filial quest, it would be a run-of-the-mill American story. But this time around, the backdrop of Jason Bourne’s formidable action scenes is societal. Chaotic. And this chaos is impeccably filmed by Paul Greengrass.

Jason Bourne is the genie nobody can force back into the bottle, whatever charm or violence is used against him, not before he understand what’s going on. He’s “pulled out of retirement” by Niki Parsons (Julia Stiles, aging gracefully), that is, if taking part in a fight club on the Armenian/Greek border is your idea of retirement. Bourne needs violence, he is violence, bubbling under Matt Damon’s preppy charm. Anyone behaving like that has a death wish, and this fourth opus is by far the darkest and meanest of the franchise. The action scene in Athens starts during a protest against the IMF and Greece’s creditors on Syntagma Square and after twenty breathless minutes it ends on affliction. Bourne’s death wish once again turns against what he holds dearest: deflecting death is a reflex for him, or rather to the killing machine the CIA has trained him to be.

A brief sequence reunites Bourne and Berlin (one could almost see the “Welcome Back Jason” banners) on the Alexanderplatz, during another protest, before he’s off to London for another gripping action scene. Four parallel courses of action take place simultaneously, and following them is effortless. Spatial logic is respected, instant decisions are made for better or worse and one can relate to each of them. The sequence is a model of suspense and clarity. It includes another chassé-croisé with the new girl on the CIA block (Alicia Vikander, icy), on whom her boss (Tommy Lee Jones, what else to say?) is pulling rank. Tommy Lee Jones is the only one who smiles during the movie, and this smile is of the professional courtesy kind. It’s scary and rather horrid.

By that point in the movie one was struck how much the language of espionnage emulates the dialect of finance. There are assets, insurance policies, accounts to be closed. Jason Bourne is the human factor, the spanner in the works of a monstrous machine churning profitability at the global scope. Jason Bourne is that good old Schumpeter, creatively destroying everything on his way. He gets back to the USA, where the final showdown has to take place. You know what they say, “what happens in Vegas remains in Vegas”? Well, there was no better place to end this franchise. Gambling, mad money, secrecy, with the contemporary seasoning of an IT mogul being treated like a rock star during a business convention turned assassination attempt. Jason Bourne has an idea or two behind its phenomenal action, not far of those treated in Money Monster, as bitter as it is relentless (weirdly, both movies have Icelandic hackers).

The mandatory car chase is mayhem on The Strip, a massive car pile-up ending in the desecration of the Riviera casino. The brutality of the scene exceeds its vicious Moscow companion piece in The Bourne Supremacy. By understanding the Why, Bourne has gotten rid of his death wish, but he’s still a merciless instrument of retribution and death. A last, ill-advised attempt is made to bring the elite killer back into the CIA’s lap. But he’s no longer that, he’s just him by then.

One saw some positive reviews modulating their praise by “Please, no more!”. Of course there won’t be more Bourne. The man has ridden alone in the sunset like the lonesome cowboy he is. But please, pretty please, more of that stuff, for this is the right one.

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Bastille Day (2016)

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B-Day

Yes, it’s formulaic, an odd couple of underdogs facing a vast conspiracy, the lonely American saving France. Yes its marketing in this country was severely hampered by the mad truck terrorist attack in Nice on July the 14th, which in ricochet delayed screening in some other countries. It should have been a hit in UK, considering the portrait it paints of contemporary Paris, a city only a few inches above Baghdad in terms of safety, riddled as it is by larceny, fundamentalism, riots and corruption. Oh, and naked women in the streets. Bastille Day nevertheless achieves quite a good deal in the packed, dense, urban thriller genre.

The setup goes like follows: a terrorist group intends to plunge Paris into chaos by manipulating traditional and electronic media. Their first strike is to have a mule dropping a bomb at the headquarters of the “French Nationalist Party”, but the girl gets cold feet when the building is not empty as expected. Her bag with the bomb inside is stolen by a pickpocket (Richard Madden), who discards it in a trash can, killing four people and making him the prime suspect in the process. As the pickpocket is a US citizen, the Paris branch of the CIA tasks free electron Sean Briar (Idriss Elba) to find him before the French Police does, in an increasingly tense situation as the terrorists follow up with their plan, triggering a city-wide state of unrest.

Bastille Day‘s screenplay is not bad, including three twists that can hardly considered as novel but serve a logical progression of the intrigue. The third twist actually resonates in our time and age; it is the third time in a row that street protest is connected to mad finance, as was the case in Money Monster and Jason Bourne, even though in this case the latter is not the cause of the former. The three main characters (including José Garcia as the Head of French Intelligence) are competently written and well acted. But what Bastille Day has that places him a notch above other thrillers in the same vein is the force of nature also known at Idriss Elba.

A wrecking ball with a golden heart, Elba bludgeons into the story like the unstoppable force he so convincingly embodies. In a Vertigo-inspired, vertigo-inducing roof top chase as in more intimate scenes in which he conveys credible menace as well as the occasional sparkle of humour, he’s impossible to doubt, impossible to resist. He even manages to fool French policemen into thinking he’s one of them by piping “Oui, je arrive”. So cute. He’s also very affable to ordinary people he come across during his investigation, most of them African French in suburbs or the Barbès area. The fact that Elba is black himself allows him a connection which cleverly bridges the cultural gap his American origin could entail (he tells the fable he’s a refugee from Belize, only to tersely state later on that he was born in Connecticut). But it is his sweetness which gets him through his investigation pitfalls, that and of course and the brute force he’s able to summon at will. “Pinky pumps?” offers the pickpocket when they close a deal, and Elba’s reaction makes that extraordinary desirable, even though you’re quite sure he would tear up your little finger without blinking.

Yes there are some “This is Paris, vin rouge, Louis Vuitton” dialogue, no the prime suspect never shaves his beard even though his picture is on every screen, yes the final confrontation is a bit of a letdown. But for his Anonymous, typically contemporary sacrifice during the National Reserve bravura scene, and some delectable use of the French vernacular (“Abrutis de merde!” being a personal favourite), Bastille Day is quite good. The lingering question, however, remains why make this kind of fiction in the first place if a brush with crude reality makes you chicken out of its release? How long will politically correct circumnavigate violence, when it had so abrasively eroded race, sex, work and ethics? The answer to that question, if there is one, certainly doesn’t lie with Bastille Day, but one is grateful to the movie to ask it, even involuntarily.

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London Has Fallen (2016)

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Welcome to Bordelistan

It starts with a bang (very distinguishable India standing for the Philippines drone massacre) and after the mandatory “Two years later” card proceeds to a 40′ gleeful mayhem in which no less than six Heads of States are dispatched through a bloody carnage leaving the center of London eviscerated. After that it becomes a regular thriller for its remaining hour, albeit a violent one, its hero brutally played by Gerard Butler, not known for his lightness of touch. Accordingly, it starts and ends on very unpleasant notes. But let’s separate the grain from the chaff first.

More deserving a deconstructing recap than an analytic review, London Has Fallen is competently made by Iranian-born Babak Najafi, after some shorts, two episodes of Banshee and two feature films, first of which he directed in Sweden. Its premise is clever, if not novel: after the British Prime Minister dies “mysteriously”, leaders of the Free World congregate at the St Paul cathedral memorial service held for his State funeral. This is a nightmare scenario for logistics and security services alike. It’s also about to become a nightmare, period.

To enjoy this movie, suspension of disbelief is of the essence. You will have to accept that the London police force has been infiltrated by the personal militia of a vengeful arm dealer mourning his daughter. You will have to take at face value that even the Royal Guard has been infiltrated. You will have to be fatalist about the fact the “the most protected event on Earth” therefore becomes a fish-in-a-barrel shooting party. Your reaction will probably be “Why don’t they just blow up St Paul Cathedral once everyone is inside?”. Well, I’ll tell you why: it would be less fun.

The best moments of the movie are the Heads of State’s dispatch. Apart from the President of the United States (Aaron Eckhart) and the Canadian Prime Minister, no one seems in a hurry to attend church. The German Chancellor (even more poorly dressed than Angela Merkel) is gazing at the changing of the Royal Guard, the French president procrastinates on a Riva Bella motorboat stationed on the Thames river, the Italian Prime Minister treats his 30yo mistress (one guesses) to a private visit of Westminster Abbey, while the Japanese Prime Minister… is stuck in traffic with only one driver and no security.

After all are dead but POTUS, thanks to Butler, an exfiltration turns really bad, killing Angela Bassett in the process, which is inexcusable. The two last men standing will have to find a way to avoid that the president is decapitated online for the whole world to see, an exploit they achieve by killing dozens of terrorists and exchanging one-liners. “I was wondering when you would get out of the closet” says his Head of Security to the President. What are they, f*** buddies?

It ends with what seems to be an inflection in Hollywood policy about terrorism. It is unpalatable, to say the least, to show the US military in full knowledge there will be collateral civilian casualties to yet another drone strike, especially so when the Vice President ordering it is played by Morgan Freeman, aka God. No doubt it has, and will, happened. But that it appears as just retaliation in such a movie makes one wonders if the neo-cons who left the White House have found shelter in the Dream Factory.

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A l’intérieur (Inside – 2007)

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The Boy is Mine

Biblically simple, Inside has only five short expository scenes before The Woman is unleashed to attack The Mother, in a way Jean Eustache had never dreamed of – or have nightmares about when writing La Maman et la Putain. The Mother had a car accident in which she loses her husband, but the baby she’s pregnant with is fine, confirms her obstetrician; she meets an ominous nurse, then her estranged mother on the hospital parking lot. Her boss confirms she’s a a great photographer. Fast forward to almost delivery time, in a suburban home incongruously bearing a 666 address – no French house has such a number, but it displays some ambition from the film makers to transcend their national market. And so they do, in the best French horror movie of its decade.

These initial scenes establish that Alysson Paradis (Vanessa’s younger sister) is unable to act; fortunately what will be required of her in the rest of the movie is to scream, to crawl and be terrorised by The Woman, quite splendidly played by Beatrice Dalle, tapping deep into her inner witch. The Woman wants The Mother’s baby, see, and nothing will stop her to rip it off her womb. There goes a tightly paced, gory thriller not quite any other.

Inside, as its title indicates, is claustrophobic to the point of slapstick. The Mother hardly leaves the bathroom she has found refuge in, mostly being successful in keeping the Woman, well, outside. Various intruders unwillingly come to her rescue – her boss, her mother, a police team featuring a petty thief they have previously arrested – that The Woman dispatches by way of a firearm, a knife, a knitting needle or her weapon of choice, scissors. Big ones. Not that she doesn’t go through hell herself in the process.

The Mother is a survivor because she carries life; The Woman has nothing to lose she hadn’t already. Both will inflict pain on the other, until the brilliant – and utterly logic, for once – finale, playing like an atrocious fairy tale. Inside is “mad, bad, and dangerous to know”, to quote Mary Shelley about Lord Byron. It’s definitely no date movie, or if it is, one of you puppies is definitely sick. Highly recommended.

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Mortelle Randonnée (Deadly Circuit – 1983)

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Capital in Czechoslovakia, four letters.

The closest you can get to Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass in French is by watching Mortelle Randonnée. It’s a haunted classic a stellar noir and a fatherhood fable rolled into one. You thought you got that one right, Hollywood? Let’s take a trip down memory lane, thirty three years ago.

The movie is Shakespearian but mundane. It includes the best giallo murder not filmed by Argento. It does not end well. It is devastating, devastatingly so.

The original material is a pulp novel by Marc Boehm, titled The Ice Maiden. Hollywood remade it with Ashley Judd and Ewan McGregor as The Eye of the Beholder (1999, obviously losing the paternal dimension. The movie is about what you see and what to refuse to see; what you chose to see instead. Scopophilia and fantasy, spectacle and dream.

Main character The Eye (Michel Serrault, formidable), is tasked by his bitchy boss, the fantastically named Mme Schmidt-Boulanger (Genevieve Page, a monument to French diction) to follow and report on the heir of a Belgian shoe-making dynasty. He soon discovers said heir has been victim of a praying mantis (Isabelle Adjani), whose neuroses reflect his: she’s lost her father and him his daughter. Only at the end of the movie those two will come across and both will die, one symbolically. A feel-good movie it is not, even though it ends on a soothing note.

The Eye is jaded by a job too easy for his capacities. One look, just one look, case closed. But the Ice Maiden proves to be a tough nut to crack, leading him off track, across Europe and within himself. His opening monologue is anything but a conventional voice-over. It deceptively sets The Eye as a man in need. He’s not. It’s all crosswords for him, enigmas piled on riddles. He’s looking for meaning. He won’t find any, or only of the darkest kind. A quantum of solace, too.

It starts in Paris by a carousel and drifts from there, under the pretense of PI work. If you speak French, the movie is delectable from start to finish : it was the last one to benefit from the work of dialog-writer Michel Audiard, father of director Jacques Audiard and author of some of the most cultish sentences in French cinema. It’s the French version of screwball comedy, both elegantly written and playfully delivered. Actors here do not miss a syllable or a comma for effect. It’s clockwork, respectfully served by director Claude Miller.

The Virgo, symbol of the sweetness of things is revealed as a Capricorn, symbol of winter. In the novel horoscopes played an important role and so do they in the movie. Lucie (the light), as she is first introduced, bumping on The Eye by a carrousel, has no plan. She is adrift, as he is. The eye has to travel, so he will follow her, fuming but enthralled.

She fucks men and kill them singing La Paloma (the dove), another virginal deceit from a witch. There is a lot of blood on the first murder scene. The Eye decides to let it slide and they embark on a not-so-merry-go-round. She’s now Eve, another maiden. She reaches the peak of her trade: “A mink! Emeralds! What a nice companion you are!” she enthused before killing a second guy she was engaged under a third name. She’s a child, she has no ethics or guilt. She’s a go-getter, whatever it takes.

Guilt is on The Eye’s side after he kills a blind man (ha!), the Ice Maiden’s true love (Sami Frey, dashing). It’s a sacrifice he will regret to exert and try to cope with, to no avail. It’s a zero sum game, a lost-lost. But still they go, relentlessly, from a daylight version of Malcom McLaren’s Madam Butterfly video set in Baden Baden to Rome, where the sacrifice takes place.

The way it spirals downward from there is too painful to tell. A very dark comedy, Mortelle Randonnée is as venomously funny as it is tragic. It leaves a strong, bitter after-taste. One has watched this movie repeatedly and can’t get tired of it. It’s a tantalising object, much too dark to be watched but through the looking glass, and it’s impossible to forget. Impossible to un-see.

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He Never Died (2015)

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Raging Cain

Plagued by a grindhouse title and your bottom-of-the barrel Netflix expectations, He Never Died has everything against it: a vague promise of cannibalism, second rate actors, and an opening scene during which the director instructed the sound engineer to go full blast “weird”. Fortunately, if one is attuned to language, the title is set in the past, which we discover at the end is quite immemorial; this is not your run-of-the-mill Jason Statham flick, situated in the present, or Heaven forbid, an even more grindhouse fare (with bloody letters and an exclamation mark!) that a post-modern writer-director would have spin to a lazy studio exec.

He Never Died is a good movie. Not only he never did, but he never does and will never do. He’s one of this cursed characters, unable to escape his fate, because this fate has been sealed shut for eternity. Whatever he tries to appease a vengeful God is bound to fail, even though the man with a funny hat can enjoy his haphazard treat.

Quite everything is delightful in this movie, from the mute, no-nonsense hero to the lovely scenes he manages to extract – with minimal effort – from his female co-stars, a rather conventional daughter and a glorious diner waitress. All men involved meet their prompt demise, because they are scum, the main villain having the worst encounter possible, condensed in just one, terrifying syllable.

Could have we done without the Biblical reference? Maybe. Does it make the movie in any way less enjoyable? Hell no. Watch it.

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Grand Piano (2013)

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Va Piano, Va Insano

After playing a dwarf with gigantic feet in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Elijah Wood plays a short piano concert player with gigantic hands in this playful Hitchcock rehashing. Please suspend your disbelief and imagine

  • Elijah Wood as a concertist, playing  Rachmaripoffs with virtuosity while being threatened through an ear piece by:
  • A mostly invisible John Cusack as the motormouth vilain who wants the McGuffin,
  • the movie’s high concept:

Imagine the concert hall scene of Sir Alfred’s The Man Who Knew Too Much, with suspense based on one cymbal crash covering a gunshot (why, since the Ambassador will die and wreak havoc? No idea.) expanded to a whole movie. Yes, ladies and gentlemen of the audience, apart from a useless prologue at the airport, this movie is a classical concert with a conceptual twist.

And oh boy, what a twist. The pianist comes and goes in and out of stage, courtesy of a peculiar programme placing an intermission between movements of a same concerto. Please note that this is a two movement concerto, with loooong orchestral passages, which comes as a convenient choice when you have do stop doing your piano stuff to pay a visit to the boiler room.

The villain wants a specific sequence of notes for the McGuffin, but does all to prevent the hero to play it right, so obsessed he is by killing his wife (Kerry Bishé), some actress/singer/something who mesmerises the classical audience by singing a torch song from her VIP box, a loooong scene just before pianist and villain fall right on the priceless Bösendorfer. Also the orchestra director does some kind of a stand-up routine, which might strike one as a little odd in front of a connoisseur classical audience. They lap it up nonetheless.

What does one forget to mention of such a classical rollercoaster ride? Oh, “La Cinquette”, an unplayable piece flawlessly played by Elijah Wood’s giant-fingered hand double, a piano equivalent of the blue inflated lady’s number in Luc Besson’s The Fith Element. Understand “painful to watch and even more painful to listen to, but unmissable”. And a half hearted Argento murder in a room full of mirrors. Half a point for the editing of that one.

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