Grand Piano

Sarah Polley in

A big new chunk of movies gets added to Netflix every month—which is awesome—but with the constant glut of new content, how are you supposed to know which movies are worth your time and which are just going to force you to hit stop after twenty minutes? This column will give you a place to start. I had to hit stop on a lot of bad movies in order to get this list together, so you owe me. Without further ado, here are 18 good movies to stream that were recently added to Netflix’s Watch-It-Right-This-Second service and should keep you entertained from start to finish. As always, click on the films’ titles in order to be taken to their Netflix page, where you can add them to your My List. Pick of the Month: Stories We Tell (2012) Stories We Tell is a documentary from director Sarah Polley that’s largely about Sarah Polley. Or, it’s about her origins, at least. Okay, a lot of it is about her mom, and how it came to be that Polley’s parentage became a point of contention among her older siblings. Is her dad really her dad, or might it have been this other guy? What kind of a life did her mother lead for this to even be a question? How does Polley herself feel about the ambiguity, and how would her relationship with her father change if she found out they weren’t biologically linked? This movie attacks the situation from a lot of angles, […]

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Kino Lorber

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon. Back in Crime Richard Kemp (Jean-Hugues Anglade) is a burnt out detective investigating a murder that seems strangely familiar when he’s knocked into a river and left for dead. Instead of dying though he resurfaces to discover he’s traveled back in time by two decades to the beginning of a series of unsolved killings. He attempts to work the case with his future knowledge even as his unaware younger self stumbles along, but he inadvertently makes himself a suspect. This French film’s actual (and preferable) title is The Other Life of Richard Kemp, and that’s the key to the its strength. The murder mystery is just a part of the story as the true focus is Kemp’s opportunity to craft a better, other life for himself with the benefit of hindsight. The killer’s reveal is actually the film’s weakest element while the character work and humanity on display are damn good. [DVD extras: None]

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Lego Movie

I, Frankenstein sure was something, eh? Why that movie wasn’t a bigger hit is beyond comprehension, but like most works of unheralded beauty, it will stand the test of time. January 2014 will forever be known as the month that didn’t recognize a good thing when it was sitting there in a cineplex the whole damn time. The same might be said for this February, with Jason Reitman’s Labor Day tanking alongside its Frankensteinian brethren. Which is a shame. Reitman’s movie is actually rather memorable. The film, albeit quite flawed, is refreshingly sincere, romantic, and is without any irony. While the last day of January didn’t do it any favors with poor reviews and a low audience turnout, make sure to see its beautiful cinematography and Josh Brolin‘s performance before it leaves theaters. And after you finally get around to Labor Day, make sure to checkout these five February releases as well:

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ff grand piano

So you’re a famous pianist, and the world is your oyster. You have an A-list movie star wife who should be out of your league, but talent goes far and you made quite an impression. All those years studying with that world famous maestro are paying off in spades and nothing can go wrong, right? Sure you fat fingered some ivories during a concert last time you played. No big deal, c’est la vie, right? Wrong. For Tom Selznick (Elijah Wood) the flub was too much of a blow to his psyche. That was the day the house lights dimmed on his professional career. Seclusion came calling and who was he to ignore the call? FIVE YEARS LATER Tom is back! Lured out of retirement he agrees to play a concert honoring his mentor. His wife thinks it is a great idea. His conductor friend thinks it is a great idea. The public thinks it is a great idea. Most importantly, a greedy sniper thinks it is a grand idea. And so Grand Piano begins.

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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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published: 12.19.2014
A-
published: 12.18.2014
C-
published: 12.17.2014
B+


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