Sunday, 11 May 2014

Frank review – a weird, wonderful movie that dances to a different beat

If you've ever wondered what would happen if you transplanted the method of Captain Beefheart and the madness of Daniel Johnston into the gigantic papier-mache head of Frank Sidebottom (and frankly, who hasn't?) then this surreally comic – and yet poignant – oddity has the answers. Investing the frame of Chris Sievey's madcap creation with the tortured soul of avant garde rock, Frank manages to get beneath the mask and the skin of its eponymous antihero in a manner that bridges the gap between absurdist laughter and all-too-tender tears. The result is something weird, wonderful, and utterly unique – a cracked classic which takes its place alongside the Barbie-doll animation Superstar and the conjoined twins mockumentary Brothers of the Head in the pantheon of genuinely unexpected pop movies.
The roots of Frank lie in a newspaper article by Jon Ronson detailing his time as keyboard player in Frank Sidebottom's Oh Blimey Big Band. As with The Men Who Stare at Goats, Ronson's real-life reportage provided the springboard for a screenplay (co-written with Peter Straughan) which spins fantastical tall tales from stranger-than-fiction fact. To be clear: this is not the Frank Sidebottom story, in the same way that Todd Haynes'sI'm Not There was not a Bob Dylan biopic. Rather, it inhabits an alternative universe in which mimicry and tribute (the film is dedicated to Sievey) form their own kind of strangely sincere (un)truth; in which characters try on one another's clothes, haircuts, and heads while striving to be somebody else; and in which it's not entirely unusual for someone to be sexually attracted to mannequinsREAD MORE

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