Spanish director Eugenio Mira combines slick filmmaking with a dark and nasty plot as this fast-paced thriller unfolds almost in real time. So even if the premise doesn't quite stand up to scrutiny, it's packed with characters and twists that keep the audience glued to the screen as the mystery charges inexorably forward. Suspense comes in some gruesome surprises along the way, as well as in the actors' urgent performances.
The film opens as Tom (Elijah Wood) heads to Chicago for his first piano performance in five years, organised by his movie-star wife Emma (Kerry Bishe). She's even flown in the custom piano owned by Tom's late mentor, whose fortune mysteriously vanished after he died (cue an ominous chord!). Despite enormous pressure from the press and his fans, Tom is quietly confident about his long-awaited return to the stage. An old friend (Don McManus) is conducting tonight, and his assistant (Alex Winter) has everything under control. Then just as he begins to play Tom sees words in red ink on his score: "Play one note wrong and you die!" Using an earpiece and a laser gunsight, an angry fan (John Cusack) leads Tom on a wild cat-and-mouse game right through the performance.
Yes, the idea is pretty preposterous, and not just because Tom can play outrageously complicated pieces note-perfect while a maniac shouts in his ear. Tom even manages to make phone calls and send text messages while playing, darting off-stage to crank up suspense along the way. The main threat is against his wife, whose demanding friend (Tamsin Egerton) and her browbeaten husband (Allen Leech) also get involved in the mayhem, which no one else in the theatre seems to notice until the over-the-top finale. But through all of this, Mira directs with a Hitchcockian grip on the suspense, deploying gallows humour, sweeping camerawork, dramatic music and complex long takes tighten the screws.
Continue reading: Grand Piano Review
Kerry Bishe - Writers Guild Awards (WGA) - Los Angeles, California, United States - Sunday 17th February 2013
When the Iranian Revolution protests began to take place in 1979, their main target was the US embassy in Tehran. It didn't take long for an army of militant Islamic extremists to infiltrate the building and seize 52 American citizens as hostages with only six victims managing to escape and take refuge inside the Canadian ambassador's home. It is decided that the six escapees must be found and smuggled out of Tehran before they are killed. Tony Mendez is a CIA officer specialising in covert government operations who is enlisted by the government to conceive a plan of exfiltration. His plan involves him and his team travelling to Iran under the guise of a film crew preparing to shoot a pretend movie called 'Argo'. However, as is expected, not everyone is confident in this less than risk free operation.
'Argo' is loosely based on a true story depicted in the real Tony Mendez' account of the events that took place during the hostage crisis as well as an article written in Wired in 2007 called 'How the CIA Used a Fake Sci-Fi Flick to Rescue Americans from Tehran' by Joshuah Bearman. It has been directed and starred in by Ben Affleck ('Good Will Hunting', 'Pearl Harbor') and written by Chris Terrio ('Heights') and will be released in US theaters on October 12th 2012.
Starring: Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin, John Goodman, Victor Garber, Tate Donovan, Scoot McNairy, Rory Cochrane, Christopher Denham, Kerry Bishe, Kyle Chandler, Chris Messina, Zeljko Ivanek & Titus Welliver.
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