So last night I was watching friggin some blooper show on CBS and made the good decision to go down the street to see a movie. I had two choices for the 10:00 flick. Either 25th Hour or The Pianist. I was in a bit of a lowkey mood so it seemed like The Pianist was the right move. The only thing I knew about the flick was it was about a jewish pianist during the WWII in Poland. And that in the previews they pronounce 'Pianist'... Pee-An-Ist. Not Pee-In-Ist. I bet cause they think Pee-In-Ist sounds too much like Pee-Nis. Penis. One of those marketing decisions to avoid people busting out penis jokes all over the holocaust movie.
I get to the movie just as the awful 'space age' graphics told us all how we need to Visit the Refreshment Stand! and Don't Smoke! Not sure who makes these graphics but every time they come out with a new one it looks like it's already five years old. Anyway, the PiANist starts up and I settle into my chair a little upset that I had no time to stock up on food or drink. Also the seats in this theater are old school stiff. But whatever. To make a long story short. Dude in the movie is like the best piANst in all of Poland and when the Nazi circus comes to town his life flips. Slowly his freedom, rights, family, life and humanity are stripped away and we watch it all get taken piece by piece.The problem I had with this movie is I felt I watched it from a distance. I expected myself to feel immersed in the film but instead I just watched a movie. Surprisingly I wasn't hit hard by what I was seeing. It does have the feeling of awe that not too too long ago all of this actually really happened. That this level modern civilized inhumanity actually went down. And I watched trying to imagine what it must have been like. How did it feel? What were the Nazis thinking? How could the nazi soldiers detatch themselves from their own personal reality and guilt? But although I thought about alot of this stuff.. I wanted to feel it. And that's where this movie fails.
Granted when a woman gets shot in the head for asking a harmless question I got jolted back in my chair. And when the nazis came stomping down the street I did get the 'uh oh...' But I found this movie to be a too polished and theatrical. And from the beginning I found the editing choppy. From scene to scene it would be like bam. We're here. Bam. Now were here. It felt like it was making sure all the bases were covered. And in that precision some of the human aspect was lacking. Also, the star dude was like in every single frickin scene. Which I guess makes sense as they named the movie after him but he got a bit tiring.
The movie also handled its product placement poorly. One scene shows the PiANist hiding out from the nazis in a secret apartment- and he's playing Playstation 2, eating doritos and drinking Slice. This was unrealistic. Especially because he was playing with the sound on and when you're hiding from nazis you'd never play with the sound on.
Three Good Things About The Movie
- There was an incredible shot of the piAnist wandering through a destroyed
city which was visually stunning.
- Overview of the nazi's systematic plan against the jews- organizationally, psychologically, and spiritually was tragically impressive to see.
- The piANists performance toward the end and the circumstances around the performance had strength and impact.
Three Bad Things About the Movie
- I found the music (other than the piano playing) to be intrusive. As he
staggered through rubble they played this sad sack stray dog theme was annoying.
- I had some trouble latching onto any other characters. They often seemed to blend.
- The nazis drank Tequiza which I found to be distracting product placement and frankly confusing as to why the Tequiza people thought this would be beneficial.
Anyway, this movie made me think. The story itself is amazing. The movie was solid but the story carried the movie. The idea that this brilliant pianist was just one life that survived the nazis... and thinking about what was lost makes this movie big. This flick delivered as any high-end historical drama might. When you're dealing within the context of the holocaust I just expect to be hit a little harder rather than respecting the drama and storyline from a distance. I had to fill in some of the emotional blanks by tapping into my reserve of feelings about the holocaust- rather than them being yanked out me and then splashed back in my face... as I would have preferred.