Last night we went to see “Frank” – a recent release, but already on hardly any of the mainstream cinemas.
It’s too weird, presumably.
My wife and I went to see it at the Watermans Arts centre in Brentford. A very good place, and you get get some excellent Indian food beforehand if you want. AND you can take your drinks into the cinema. Civilised.
How would I describe the film? Well, there’s this young lad, Jon, from a seaside town, with aspirations to make pop songs; he bumps into a strange band, called soronprfbs, whose keyboard player is trying to drown himself in the sea; he gets roped into the band and ends up spending a year in Ireland with them, mostly not recording their album, but mucking around with sounds and arguing; the band’s main man, Frank, spends his life wearing a large papier mache head and acting very strangely; the lad Jon records loads of what they are doing and puts it on Youtube, building up a following; they get a gig at SXSW in Texas, fall apart as a band, and Frank freaks out at the point of delivery. Jon tries to pull Frank’s head off. Frank runs off. Jon tries to find him. Finds him, without head, sad and disconnected back in family home. Band regroups by chance and creates an impromptu song called “I Love You All”, which, back in the real world, has actually become a hit.
The Irish section is the central part of the film. There are all sorts of strange developments, building and then disintegrating relationships between the characters. But there is also a musical battle which seemed to me to be inspired by what we know of Captain Beefheart.
There is actually a sadness about the film as Frank is rediscovered in his family home after everything has fallen apart. He seems lost, oblivious. But then there is redemption with that song. I thought he was singing “I love you wall” at first. As he stared at the wall. It seemed in keeping with the film.
There doesn’t seem to be an official version of the song on Youtube, so this is the best available. Strange song and strange it isn’t being promoted. In keeping with the film, I guess.
Michael Fassbender plays Frank. It’s a great performance, mostly with the weird head on, but poignant when the head comes off at the end.
It’s one of those films which will become an art house classic. Generations of students will love it. You can make of it it what you will. There is so much room for interpretation. For me, it is about how music is the ultimate form of expression, but in being so, something that some artists can’t actually cope with. So they crack, doing the thing they live for.
“Frank” is described in most of the reviews I’ve read as a comedy. And it it has its funny moments. But actually I’d call it a tragedy. A small tragedy. But with a wider import.
If you’ve not seen it, give it a go when it comes out on DVD or on-line. You might just love it.
Where do you stand on the original Frank Sidebottom?
Nowhere, to be honest. I knew the name but have no recollection of ever having seen or heard him. Bit of a Northern speciality?
Yes, was wondering if he was mainly a Northern thing.
Will look it up. Seems loosely like ‘Almost Famous’?
Not seen that film, but can appreciate the connection.
Odd song. I would not be surprised if people did not go to see it because of the mache head.
You’re right. When I looked to see where it was on a few weeks after release, only one mainstream cinema in London was showing it. But it will be a slow burner and a staple of the art houses for years to come.