The scariest thing about M3gan? Her style of playing the piano.

This weekend, I gave in to pulling all the meme-y marketing and took to the stage to watch the horror-comedy’s surprise hit M3gan. I enjoyed it overall – the jokes are funny, the jump scares are effective, and the robot-centric plot is a rather clever addition to a fresh new wave of AI angst. It’s not the most amazing or Scariest flick – Bloodstream should have stayed PG-13 – but the crunching tension and references to horror classics do their job well. However, for me, the film’s most chilling aspect doesn’t come from anything you might expect: the off-screen murders, the M3gan’s deranged face, and the pressures of capitalism. It actually stems from a 10-second trick scene that comes about halfway through the movie, in which the titular robot takes to a house piano. You may remember taking a look at it in the trailer:

To be clear, I don’t find this scene too intimidating for the piano melody itself (in the film, a powerful cover of Martika’s 1989 No. 1 hit “Toy Soldiers”), or for the general threat of the moment, a turning point in Maggie’s development. Instead, I’d like to back up and focus on something seemingly innocuous: the hands.

If I’m looking at these killer (mostly normal) robot hands, it’s because I’m in awe of the fact that they have quite the powerful hand position on a piano. As a former longtime piano student, this is something that always stands out to me during any live concert, video recording, or keystroking performance: hand position structure. Fellow pianists may remember all the lessons about placing your hand in a C-shape to even out the lengths of your fingers, keeping your knuckles bent and stationary without stretching your arms, keeping your elbows at the proper level, never allowing your knuckles to bend when I hit a new note, taking care to put yourself so that your hands are neither flat on the piano nor too high or crooked. It’s about being tough and subtle all at once, keeping your technique sharp while letting yourself play. It is definitely not easy. My teachers had me do endless Cherny and Hannon exercises that were meant to teach good posture. So it’s not a lesson you’ve ever forgotten, and chances are that if you were good in the ’80s, you won’t forget it either. Obviously, it’s also one of the many lessons that M3gan’s AI has internalized

Kneading hands on the piano
right Now this how do you do that.
Screenshot from YouTube/Universal Pictures

You might be thinking: so what? But what M3gan does there is far from commonplace within the cinematic piano canon. In fact, in far too many movies — some, unlike M3ganactually focus on the actors playing the piano – human pianists are awful, only Bad hand position. As a viewer whose piano system has faltered in recent years but still instinctively bends his hand before hitting a different set of keys (on my laptop), it makes me lose my mind. Yes, I realize that a lot of actors are not trained and capable musicians. No, I’m not saying anything about the scene from Big. Yes, I’ve read the trade post’s profile that delves into how a cast member gives crash piano lessons in search of accolades. No, I don’t think Bill Murray did a good job at it hard day—that Rachmaninoff appears So clunky.

The thing is: good hand placement is essential to even basic piano playing, forget about Van Cliburn’s level. Strong, curved and even flexible fingers are what get the best possible sounds from any piano note or note. However, if watching my movie is any indication, the killer robot puppet shows better style in a few seconds than a lot of human characters do in entire movie runtimes.

Do not believe me? I have been compiling an evidence file. First, let’s take a look at another beloved movie: Call me by your nameStarring The Talented Timothée Chalamet.

That’s really poor form, my man. Those flat fingers! Constant bouncing of hands and arms, an unnecessary and useless waste of physical energy! Those muscles show how tense they are! I find it hard to believe that a fictional character who ostensibly devotes so much time to her piano would look sloppy with her fingers, but hey, I’m not an Oscar-nominated actor.

Let’s move on to another Oscar-nominated performance in yet another Best Picture nominee: Ryan Gosling La La Land. His style here is not worst, exactly. I tend to give jazz pianists more room than space—think Art Tatum, early 1920sy— the legend of the horn who, though visually impaired and mostly self-taught, could swing the fastest, clearest, most amazing trills and tremolos without the ‘proper’. However, Ryan Gosling is not Art Tatum. You can tell how stiff his hands are, how forced he is to jump across the keys, and how imperfect his current readiness to land on the chords is. I mean, not to discredit the talented Mr. Gosling, who does indeed perform some impressive bits in the movie (as you know on the job), but his hobby comes across as brutal. He’s not the only jazz man in modern cinema — the way he plays the piano on Pixar spirit The animation wasn’t great either. But this is just the latest release in a long history of depicting dirty piano in clicks animation.

Another one from The Academy Files: The Controversial Biography of Freddie Mercury bohemian rhapsody. Rami Malek’s transformation into the late Queen’s captain was undeniably impressive, but it didn’t translate into a hand position. Now, I also tend to give rock pianists a lot of latitude; It’s hard to believe that Fats Domino, Jerry Lee Lewis, or Mercury himself could have had the impact they did if they were associated with the classic craft. Still, This is amazing What wins you best actor? All props due for getting trained to perform those immortal Mercury slides on your own, but man, you don’t really have to force your hands to the back of keys like that. It is not efficient or fast! It would have been much easier if you had modified the strumming technique with one touch.

Lest you believe this is a recent trend, let me direct you to a movie no less White House. I’d hate to do great singer Dolly Wilson like this: He wasn’t a pianist himself, and the keys you hear in the movie are overdubbed. But come on. He could have put more effort into the scenes where his hands are visible, rather than having his hands up and down on the vertical. I’m not sure I disagree with the YouTube commenter who deems this the “worst finger-lick in movie history.”

I can go on. Disrespect pays homage to Scott Joplin in his 1977 autobiography; The inconsistency of attitudes in the film that dares to name itself the piano. And sure enough, I’m going to shout out some cinematic piano moments with great technique, from appropriately themed films like AmadeusAnd shineAnd pianistAnd La Leggenda del Pianista Sull’oceano. It is not impossible to happen! But this has been a pox in English-language films for a long time, and with the January release M3gan, we kicked off the year 2023 with a group of famous actors being outdone by an Android device. How can we expect to keep AI out of the music industry if we can’t he claims to overcome it? I have a lot of concerns about how the already exhausted creative class will suffer from AI-powered conveniences. I have less sympathy for actors who can’t even be bothered to absorb rudimentary piano teachings. Make up those hands, humanity, lest M3gans come from the world You are.

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