Staying In Tune with the Needs of Others
Review by Ross Anthony

What an oddly beautiful film, this one is. Anyone who’s ever tried to tune a guitar (by ear) knows the processes. It’s something most people need A LOT of practice doing. But, in the end, there’s something very beautiful, like spiritually beautiful, in the learning. Perhaps that’s why poets and songwriters often speak of getting “in tune.” But a guitar has only 6-strings (usually). You might feel smart knowing a piano has 88 keys, but guess how many strings need to be tuned? (over 200) That’ll take a while. I know. I’ve tried it, on a whim, and ‘cause I was broke at that time. Tuning a piano is a splendid challenge. Add to that, the ability to repair and massage the action to the likings of the impossible-to-please soloist and you’ve got fodder for a lot of stress and a great documentary.

Pianomania isn’t about the nuts and bolts (though it comes up incidentally, or should I say, accidentally). It’s about the careful, high tension, high wire tuning act, the technician must traverse while satisfying an artist just enough to continue the show or recording without sacrificing sanity. It’s a dance laden with a quiet dignified redicoulousness.

I recall the complaint of a friend of mine who was hired to play trumpet for a difficult conductor. “It must smell of goat!” the conductor insisted. It is with this tickling kilter that Pianomania progresses. What fun! But, the filmmakers use the opportunity to include many artistic, sometimes even modernly so, cinematic visuals amidst the music and negotiative dance. Again, this isn’t so much a film about instrument repair or even music for that matter. It’s about navigating that surreal dodgy path toward perfection. … or at least a lesson in how to survive with your brains in tact while practicing your craft at the impossible direciton of others.

I loved it. But, (or should I say “question”?) my only critisism is that it should have been a short -- 80 minutes max.

-- Books by Author/Illustrator Ross Anthony --

  • Pianomania. Copyright © 2011.
  • A film by Lilian Franck and Robert Cibis. Distributed by First Run Features.

Grade..........................A- (3/4)

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Copyright © 1998-2022 Ross Anthony, Author - Speaker - Solo World Circumnavigator In addition to reviewing films and interviewing celebs at, traveling the world, composing great music, motivational speaking, Mr. Anthony also runs his own publishing company in the Los Angeles area. While traversing the circumference of the planet writing books and shooting documentaries, Mr. Anthony has taught, presented for, worked &/or played with locals in over 30 countries & 100 cities (Nairobi to Nagasaki). He's bungee-jumped from a bridge near Victoria Falls, wrestled with lions in Zimbabwe, crashed a Vespa off a high mountain road in Taiwan, and ridden a dirt bike across the States (Washington State to Washington DC). To get signed books ("Rodney Appleseed" to "Jinshirou") or schedule Ross to speak check out: or call 1-800-767-7186. Go into the world and inspire the people you meet with your love, kindness, and whatever it is you're really good at. Check out books by Ross Anthony. Rand() functions, Pho chicken soup, rollerblading, and frozen yogurt (w/ blueberries) also rock! (Btw, rand is short for random. It can also stand for "Really Awkward Nutty Dinosaurs" -- which is quite rand, isn't it?) Being alive is the miracle. Special thanks to Ken Kocanda, HAL, Jodie Keszek, Don Haderlein, Mom and Pops, my family, R. Foss, and many others by Ross Anthony. Galati-FE also deserves a shout out. And thanks to all of you for your interest and optimism. Enjoy great films, read stirring novels, grow.

Last Modified: Thursday, 28-Jul-2011 09:37:29 PDT