Eugenio Mira

The Fantastic Corpse

Why Watch? Chances are that you played the Rotating Corpse game at one point in your life, especially if you were brutally subjected to a creative writing class. The rules are simple — multiple artists create a single piece of art without knowing what the other artists contributed. It’s how you get an elephant with a flame thrower for a trunk, or a story about a man who bakes a pie, flies to the moon and kidnaps a princess. It’s often less about the disjointed final result and more about the challenge of the restraint, but a crew at Fantastic Fest decided to have some fun with it, and the result is a short film experiment that works far better than the ABCs of Death toss-up. This particular monster was cobbled together over five days by Oren Carmi (Goldberg & Eisenberg), Nacho Vigalondo (Timecrimes), James Ward Byrkit (Coherence), Matthew Johnson (The Dirties) and Eugenio Mira (Agnosia, Grand Piano) and features two actors who are put through the ringer in true No Hay Banda fashion. Although the central location of an empty Alamo Drafthouse movie theater seems to have restrained the restraint (some common themes and ideas persevere despite the presumed ignorance of the filmmakers), it’s a fun curiosity with syrupy sarcasm and a doctor’s dose of stagey violence.

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Grand Piano tells that same old story we’ve all experienced at one point or another. Mid-performance, a concert pianist finds a death threat written in his sheet music, and plays cat-and-mouse with a vicious sniper while dazzling his way through a number of orchestral pieces. Same old, same old. Okay, maybe Grand Piano isn’t what you’d call “boilerplate.” Maybe it’s something very, very strange, and made far stranger with Spanish dubbing and a late-trailer reveal that John Cusack is the one pointing a gun at the noggin of Elijah Wood‘s concert pianist. But this trailer never lacks for excitement, and absence of English doesn’t mean much. The situation Wood finds himself in is weirdly specific enough that the goings-on of the trailer are always crystal clear. Go ahead and watch below.

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Have you ever thought that the horrors and anxieties of childhood piano recitals have just never been appropriately captured on film? Ever thought that Speed would have been better if Keanu Reeves had to keep playing “Chopsticks” rather than keep driving a bus? Then Grand Piano is definitely the movie for you. Written by The Last Exorcism 2 scribe Damien Chazelle and to be helmed by Spanish director Eugenio Mira, Grand Piano tells the tale of a formerly famous concert pianist who hasn’t performed in front of people for five years due to crippling stage fright. When he finally does work up the nerve to perform in front of people again, he sits down to his piano to find that a note has been left on his music sheet by a vile terrorist. You see, if he doesn’t play the most perfect concert that he’s ever played in his life, both he and his wife will be killed!

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Joana Prats is the daughter of a genius in magnification technology in 19th century Spain. Her father owns a company that has just developed the world’s most powerful hand-sized sniper scope. Dr. Prats knowing the danger of releasing such technology has kept the formula a secret and vowed not to put the scope into production. When the man passes he leaves the company in monetary trouble and in the hands of his right-hand man, the same man promised his daughter’s hand in marriage. The company being without many options has to desperately attempt to attain the secret of the formula to the undeveloped scope and they believe Joana may have the key.

The only problem is that Joana has a peculiar condition called Agnosia – an affliction in which she has an inability to accurately recognize familiar faces and locations. The people in desperate need of the formula derive an elaborate scheme to use this condition to their advantage in the hopes of tricking Joana into divulging the information. That is, if she even knows it.

In the six year history of Fantastic Fest there is probably not a more well-represented country, or filmmaker community, than the Spanish. They’re consistently some of the most complex and well-made pictures each and every year. So, needless to say, Agnosia which is the latest film from first year Fantastic Fest alumnus Eugenio Mira and scripted by the co-screenwriter of The Devil’s Backbone was one of the most highly anticipated of this year’s lineup.

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published: 11.21.2014
D
published: 11.21.2014
B+
published: 11.19.2014
C+
published: 11.19.2014
B-, C


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