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The Piano (1993)

Jane Campion’s The Piano is one of my favorite movies of all time. I regretted not having reviewed this for the LAMBs in the Director’s Chair with her and Kathryn Bigelow a couple of months ago. The movie won Oscars for Best Actress, Supporting Actress and Original Screenplay. Watching the film again made me marvel at the subtle poetry displayed onscreen.

Ada McGrath (Hunter) is a mute that has not spoken since she was six years old. She is set to be married to Alisdair Stewart (Sam Neill) who she had never seen. She has to move across the sea to New Zealand with her daughter, Flora (Anna Paquin) in tow. The boat she is traveling in is packed with crates of clothes, household items and her cherished piano.

When the ladies arrive on the beach, they have to wait for Mr. Stewart to come and take them to their new home. They had to camp out on the beach overnight until Stewart came with a party of Māori tribe members with his guide, George Baines (Harvey Keitel). Stewart learns right then and there that Ada is mute and only her daughter could interpret the words that she says in sign language.

Stewart wants to take everything on the beach, except for the piano because it would have been too much of a burden to carry. Ada insists on taking the piano with them. It is her only prized possession. It is her way of communicating what she is feeling to the world. Eventually, she realizes that she has to leave the piano behind for the time being.

The marriage is not joyous. There is not love there at all. Ada does not show any affection to Stewart. It really bothers him. When Stewart leaves for a quick trip, Ada and Flora come knocking on the door of Baines to ask to go get the piano. In exchange for getting her piano back into her possession, Baines asks her to teach him how to play. The catch is that he doesn’t want to play, he wants to see Ada plays. Their lessons become increasingly awkward as Baines slowly seduces her.

This movie is beautiful to watch. It’s very moody with the blue wash, the torrential rain and the wonderful score by Michael Nyman. The acting in this movie make it what it is. You think that you are not going to like the love story that is happening, but you are strangely drawn to it. The piano plays a major part of why I love this movie. I have this theory that when a person plays a piano, they win an Oscar. Think about it. Adrien Brody is The Pianist, Jaime Foxx in Ray, Ellen Bustryn in Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, Geoffrey Rush in Shine, the list goes on.

The one thing that bothers me about this movie is the Sam Neill character. I know that he is supposed to be the other guy, but I wish I could have how did he fall in love with Ada to make him do some of the things he did in the movie.

Judgment: A beautiful movie to watch and marvel.

Rating: 8.5/10

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Daybreakers (2010)

Immortality is the miracle, we are blessed.

— Charles Bromley

I wasn’t that interested in seeing Daybreakers, because of the back story. The movie was supposed to come out in 2009, but it sat on the self until it was released early last month. I guess, somebody wanted to cash in on the vampire mania that is sweeping the nation. I thought that the movie was different take on the vampire genre with a social allegory.

Taking place in 2019, ten years after a virus mutation turned most of the world into vampires. The humans are an endangered species. Five percent of the world populations are human. There is not enough blood to feed off the human. Vampires are starving and turning into subsiders, Nosferatu-like creatures that live underground. They turn to the head of Bromley Marks, Charles Bromley (Sam Neill) to farm the last remaining humans.

With a month of actual blood left, Bromley turns to the top hematologist at the company, Edward Dalton (Ethan Hawke) to find a blood substitute to help the vampires from starving. He has been working with his partner, Christopher (Vince Colosimo) to desperately find a solution with disastrous consequences.

On a drive home that night, Edward gets into an accident where he learns that the people in other car are human. When the accident happens, the cops try to apprehend the humans, but Ed feeling sorry for the humans, protect them and let them escape.

Ed’s little brother, Frankie (Michael Dorman) comes home to celebrate Ed’s 35th birthday for the tenth time. Frankie is military enforcer for Bromley Marks to round up any humans to be harvested. He brings home a carafe of pure human blood for Ed. Ed doesn’t want it. He is reluctant to drink human blood.

The next day, Ed’s security system goes off when Audrey (Claudia Karvan), the human that met at the accident scene, offers him to meet her at a place in broad daylight to find a way to stop the blood shortage.

Driving around in blacked out windows, Ed meets Audrey at the meeting place which in another a huge tree. Audrey introduces Ed to Lionel “Elvis” Cormac (Willem Dafoe), who used to be a vampire. Ed thinks that this is impossible, but when Lionel tells him his story. The trio try to find a way to harness a way to cure the vampirism.

I thought that this movie was a fascinating take mass consumption, overpopulation, and dwindling food supply. Is this a great movie? No. I had some people with the vamps smoking cigarettes. They are dead. How could they inhale the smoke? Why would the first vampire test subject be strapped to a heart monitoring system? No heartbeat. Why were the doctors in scrubs? It’s not like they are going to catch cooties.

Judgment: An enjoyable film that doesn’t have anything to do with sparkling skinned vamps.

Rating: ***1/2

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