Frank

August 27, 2014

frank-michael-fassbender

 

The tricky thing about any film about a fictional band is expressing talent without actually having the years of hard work and, well, talent that goes into a truly exceptional band. Harder still, in the case of Frank, is crafting something believable about an avant-garde pop group based on some of the most idiosyncratic and unique artists of our time. Drawing most obviously from the alternative comedian Frank Sidebottom, but also liberally from Captain Beefheart and Daniel Johnston to flesh out the story, journalist Jon Ronson (whom played in Sidebottom’s band briefly) and co-writer Peter Straughan use an approach that is at times cloyingly obvious until it becomes genuinely surprising. It is a traditional rock band film in a lot of ways, but as Soronprfbs (the fictional band) are in no way traditional, it becomes a freeing exploration of this kind of oddball band destined for cult status by contrasting the way this story would normally go with the way it actually does. It is, in a fashion, using the subversion of the genre to understand the art it depicts. Read the rest of this entry »

Advertisements

Almost ten years ago, some friends and I began a tradition we called the Sunday Morning Movie.  The idea was to wake up, roll out of bed, and drive down to Blockbuster first thing (we didn’t wake up very early) and rent the biggest new release of the week that didn’t look very good or that we had no real desire to see.  This was partly to justify watching crap films that I didn’t want to admit that I actually did want to see (cool special effects actioners or soppy rom-coms, for instance) and partly because we thought it might be worth keeping up with popular culture. The hope was to find a decent little gem amongst the dreck, and to our surprise there were quite a few. When I moved overseas I continued this tradition with new friends, though at some point it got out of hand.  I found myself watching three terrible movies in one afternoon, and at some point the number of bad movies I was watching overtook the number of good ones.  That, combined with falling interest and a number of other factors led to the discontinuation of the program, though it was revived from to time over the intervening years.  As I find myself back in the US with nothing else to do on a Sunday, I’ve decided to resurrect the practice when feasible.  Due to money concerns, you might notice that the films tend to be whatever happened to be on HBO, so if the rule of finding recent films doesn’t quite fit anymore, I hope the spirit of the venture remains in tact.

I’ve always felt that Richard Curtis’ Love Actually was the result of his conception of about ten vague romantic comedy stories that he couldn’t be bothered to flesh out.  By combining them into one film of loosely-connected stories he bypassed all the trouble of creating convincing, three-dimensional characters to get to the basics of the filmed concept of love.  Despite it really being a series of sketches, it largely works because of the impressive array of actors assembled who managed to infuse their caricatures with some degree of recognizable humanity.  In some cases, even the stories gave off the faint whiff of emotional honesty that came very close to what some might consider “moving”.  Pirate Radio moves Curtis out of his rom-com safe zone into more straightforward comedy, and though it still features a large ensemble of characters, they’re all (literally) in the same boat. Read the rest of this entry »