Hi Film Fans! So, last night we were treated to another fantastic evening in Streatham, courtesy of Comrade Susan, who delighted us with the brilliant 2014 film Frank. Being perhaps the only film we have seen to have been released in the same year as shown on MNFC, it had already become a favourite of a few of the dictators, and on the wish-list of many more. The film centres on Jon (Domhnall Gleeson), who is a struggling musician who ends up joining a band called “Soronprfbs” as their replacement keyboardist. Their lead singer is the eccentric and creative Frank (Michael Fassbender), who wears a papermache head, never taking it off to eat, sleep, or as we find out, shower.
The film is based somewhat loosely on Frank Sidebottom, an aspiring pop star from Timperley near Manchester, and the alter ego of British comedian Chris Sievey. He worked primarily in the mid-late 1980s with many comedians including Mark Radcliffe, Caroline Aherne, and also Jon Ronson, appearing on Radio 1, on Granda TV, and eventually even having his own TV shows. He died in 2010.
It was Jon Ronson (author of The Men Who Stare At Goats, The Psychopath Test) who wrote a memoir of his time in Frank Sidebottom’s band, later adapting it into the screenplay for Frank. It is interesting to see how little the film has in common with the real Frank Sidebottom (looking at the above link for Sidebottom’s TV s show demonstrates this clearly). But unlike the inaccuracies of other biopics, this incongruity seems purposeful and in it’s own right, one of the themes of the film. In particular, the underlying commentary about poor duplicates and copies.
This article in Sight and Sound looks at this thematically, along with other aspects that were touched upon in the post-film chin-stroking, and thus proving MNFC definitely know their stuff in their filmic analyses. It’s definitely worth a read if you are interested in finding out more. Not only are the issues of poor duplication considered, but also commerce versus art, and the tensions between the marginal and the mainstream. Anyone who has walked down the high street in Shoreditch would be acutely aware of the failures of all these battles in conflicting ideas. And further to this, we also discussed the effect of commercial success on an artist, the pressures that musicians find themselves under, and the meaninglessness of “likes” and clicks on YouTube being a measure of such success. As we have discussed in other recent Tuesday Reviews, there are also reflections on mental illness how this relates to creativity or eccentricity. Frank touches effortlessly on all these subjects and more, withheld within a fantastic story framework and great character performances.
Michael Fassbender (who somehow managed to make Frank’s face seep with different emotions) and stoney-faced Maggie Gyllenhaal were in particular excellent, as was Mad-Eye Moody’s son (Domhnall Gleeson) who we reckon is going to hit the big time thanks to MNFC and the Tuesday Review, and less so his appearance next year in Star Wars Episode VII. On the promotional trail of Frank the cast appeared on US TV show The Colbert Report and performed as Soronprfbs, a clip of which can be seen here. All the music from the film was recorded by the cast, including MNFC favourite the Theremin, and good new folks, the album is available on iTunes.
Lastly, a thread that ran throughout the film was Jon’s use of social media, and his twitter followers were increasing exponentially throughout. Now, I am most certainly no expert in Twitter, having only just started my twatting in earnest, under the guidance of Comrade Lisa. I’m still not really getting it… but if anyone from cyberspace wants to help me out, then come follow @DrJonLove. Shameless promotion over!
Until the next time, take care one and all, and see you at Comrade Adam’s on October 20th.
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