The Star Wars-ification of Star Trek continues; better than the others, but still not good enough. Patrice Leconte's "Monsieur Hire" is a tragedy about loneliness and erotomania, told about two solitary people who have nothing else in common. It tells a story of love and fierce pride, and places it on a bleak New Zealand coast where people live rudely in the rain and mud, struggling to maintain the appearance of the European society they've left behind. Spanish director Eugenio Mira has acknowledged his debt to the cymbal-clanging climax in Alfred Hitchcock's "The Man Who Knew Too Much". Not only was The Piano – the story of a mute woman and her daughter trying to find love within an arranged marriage in settler-era New Zealand – a fine piece of film making, it also marked a key moments in the emergence of the local film industry as a viable player in a global sense.
Winner the Best Lead Actress (Hunter), Best Supporting Actress (Paquin) and Best Screenplay at the 1994 Academy Awards. This is one of my favourite movies and it sets back in the 1850's with the story about a young, mute woman who arrives in New Zealand together with her daughter and a piano.
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Nominated for eight Academy Awards and finally winning three for Best Actress in a Leading Role (Holly Hunter), Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Anna Paquin) and Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen (Jane Campion), The Piano also won the Palme d'Or at the 1993 Cannes Film Festival.
Ada (Holly Hunter), mute since birth, her nine year old daughter (Anna Paquin), and her piano arrive to an arranged marriage in the remote bush of nineteenth century New Zealand. Of course this film would be nothing without a superb cast and as we've already mentioned Holly Hunter and Anna Paquin both took away Oscars for their superb performances. We must warn parents that while The Piano is a M rated movie here in Australia there are some scenes of full frontal nudity and some somewhat explicit sex scene so you may want to be warned.
There is only one English subtitle track on this disc, but it gets the job done with good pacing and accuracy to the on-screen dialogue. There are only a couple of extras on this disc which have been ported straight from the DVD. Audio commentary with Director Jane Campion and Producer Jan Chapman: This isn't the most lively of audio commentaries and to be honest I struggled to get through this track. The Piano isn't a movie for everyone - it is quite slow, is quite confronting sexually, but is superbly acted and directed. You will receive a weekly newsletter full of movie-related tidbits, articles, trailers, even the occasional streamable movie. Save for a few brief opening interludes aboard an airplane beset by turbulence and a sequence inside a limo, the entire enterprise takes place in a Chicago symphonic hall during a musical performance. But there is a sumptuous lurid sensibility lurking as well, from the sweeping camera choreography to the art-deco style fan of crimson amid gold and black that forms the stage backdrop. The three Oscars it netted, including Best Supporting Actress for an 11-year-old Anna Paquin, was a major spotlight for both homegrown talent and the country as a setting for production.
Indeed this movie became a hit movie in 1993 earning back many times its original production budget of $US7 million.
Of all her belongings her husband refuses to transport the piano and it is left behind on the beach.
It is intentionally devoid of any vibrant colours, but this also makes it quite unique and intriguing. They aren't the only ones to impress though with Sam Neill and Harvey Keitel also putting in performances of their lives.


Sure, it's slow in places, but the acting, cinematography and music all combine to make this a delightful picture.
While this is presented in High Definition we can't honestly say this is a great transfer, in fact it's pretty disappointing with high levels of grain, inconsistent black levels.
Now, I wouldn't be using this as a reference quality disc, but it certainly sounds better then the DVD release which only includes a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track. Unfortunately this isn't a great presentation on Blu-Ray, quite disappointing actually, and we'd struggle to recommend the upgrade to this disc.
They are only indicative of the movie and not sourced from the vastly superior Blu-Ray disc format.
They have been rowed ashore, along with Ada's piano, to meet a local bachelor named Stewart (Sam Neill), who has arranged to marry her. Think of it as a diabolical blend of Brian De Palma and Dario Argento by way of "The Phantom of the Opera". This attention was well deserved, as Jane Campion’s direction is deftly subtle and lyrical in its exploration of love and tragedy and the performances hit just the right notes. Unable to bear it’s certain destruction, Ada strikes a bargain with an illiterate tattooed neighbour (Hervey Keitel).
From the landing on the beach in New Zealand you'll be hooked and will only become more and more invested into the lives of these characters and their motivations. Also keep an eye out for Cliff Curtis (Collateral Damage, Die Hard 4.0, and Training Day) in his very first, but brief, movie role too. Not assisting would be the extremely low bitrate which tends to hover around the 15-18Mbps mark for the majority of the film (and we assume this is a single layer BD-25). There is also a lot of heavy, but also inconsistent levels of, grain throughout the film which can become quite distracting. If you were thinking of buying the movie though Blu-Ray is still preferred over the DVD, primarily due to the improved audio experience. Elijah Wood, sporting that same sort of wide-eyed woeful countenance that served him well as ring-bearer Frodo Baggins, is Tom Selznick, an anxious piano prodigy making a comeback backed by a full orchestra after a five-year absence. The way in which the cinematography highlights the beauty of our natural landscapes is the icing on the cake.
She may earn her piano back if she allows him to do certain things while she play’s – one black key for every lesson. Something you can't go past when watching this movie is the delightful music from Michael Nyman which is simply gorgeous. At times, particularly during scenes with water, the bitrate does peak quite a bit higher, but that's an exception rather then the rule.
Part of this could be done to the budget nature of the production (it only cost $US7 million to make which is cheap given the cast - remember Sam Neill had just come off Jurassic Park, and Harvey Keitel had been acclaimed for his work in Bugsy just before this filmed). The pressure is on after he famously choked during his last concert while attempting the notorious La Cinquette—better known as "the unplayable piece." That it was composed by his deceased mentor, whose haunting bearded visage glares from a photo and poster as Tom enters the auditorium and whose ominous customized Bosendorfer piano joins Tom onstage as a kind of ominous supporting character, makes matters all the creepier. The arrangement draws all three deeper and deeper into a complex emotional, sexual bond remarkable for its naive passion and frightening disregard for limits. While not a great transfer, we must point out that this is still an improvement over the DVD version. Stewart and his laborers, local Maori tribesmen, take one look at the piano crate and decide it is too much trouble to carry inland to the house, and so it stays there, on the beach, in the wind and rain.


It says something that Stewart cares so little for his new bride that he does not want her to have the piano she has brought all the way from Scotland - even though it is her means of communication. Instead, there are breaks between movements, allowing him to race backstage to his dressing room or down the stairs to the bowels of the hall. A suspenseful intermission occurs right before he is forced to fulfill a request by the fiend in his ear to perform, yes, the unplayable piece.
One day she goes down to the beach to play the piano, and the music is heard by Baines (Harvey Keitel), a roughhewn neighbor who has affected Maori tattoos on his face. It's a pleasant and effective surprise that the original composition heard on the soundtrack (written by Spain's Victor Reyes) actually fits that imposing description.
He is a former whaler who lives alone, and he likes the music of the piano - so much that he trades Stewart land for the piano."That is MY piano - MINE!!" Ada scribbles on a note she hands to Stewart. But he certainly brings a commitment to the difficulties involved in the role—including believably playing the piano—and a jolt of panicky energy.
Baines invites her over to play, and thus begins his singleminded seduction, as he offers to trade her the piano for intimacy.
John Cusack is an inspired choice as the puppet master pulling Tom's strings, his voice tinged with both danger and smugness.
It brings to mind the star's grouchy assassin from the under-appreciated dark comedy "Grosse Pointe Blank" in the best way possible.Not that there aren't a few discordant moments onscreen, including how certain details about the reason behind this elaborate stunt are explained with dialogue that is sometimes hard to catch and lead to a revelation that is ultimately a letdown. Some of the acting also comes close to amateurish over-mugging, particularly Alex Winter of "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure" fame as Cusack's flunky and Tamsin Egerton as Emma's vapid friend who incessantly gripes about her gratis seat.
Five for raising her skirt.Jane Campion, who wrote and directed "The Piano," does not handle this situation as a man might. But by the time the rafters threaten to come crashing down, it is easy to appreciate the grandly ambitious attempt at old-school filmmaking that Mira has somehow pulled off, even if his conclusion is less satisfying than the build-up.
She understands better the eroticism of slowness and restraint, and the power that Ada gains by pretending to care nothing for Baines. When sloppy improvising and slapdash production values are common in movies these days, someone who manages to be this stylishly ambitious and clever deserves to take a bow. The outcome of her story is much more subtle and surprising than Baines' crude original offer might predict.Campion has never made an uninteresting or unchallenging film (her credits include "Sweetie," about a family ruled by a self-destructive sister, and "An Angel at My Table" (the autobiography of writer Janet Frame, wrongly confined for schizophrenia). Her original screenplay for "The Piano" has elements of the Gothic in it, of that Victorian sensibility that masks eroticism with fear, mystery and exotic places.
Hunter's Ada is pale, grim and hatchetfaced at first, although she is capable of warming.Keitel's Baines is not what he first seems, but has unexpected reserves of tenderness and imagination. And the performance by Paquin, as the daughter, is one of the most extraordinary examples of a child's acting in movie history. She probably has more lines than anyone else in the film, and is as complex, too - able to invent lies without stopping for a breath, and filled with enough anger of her own that she tattles just to see what will happen.Stuart Dryburgh's cinematography is not simply suited to the story, but enhances it.
Look at his cold grays and browns as he paints the desolate coast, and then the warm interiors that glow when they are finally needed.



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