Tuesday, September 02, 2014

"Frank": The puppet head isn't the point; the young songwriter has to join "the group" to make it

How much do you need to belong to “the group” to advance as a musical artist and composer? Jon Burroughs (Domhnall Gleeson) is an amateur rock musician and aspiring songwriter living on the dank Irish coast.  He even talks about songs in specific keys, like A Minor.  One day, he witnesses police rescue another singer from an attempted suicide on the beach, runs into the band, and gets invited to show up at the club that night for the tryout as replacement. 
He finds out that he’s “in”, but then has to ride out to a commune in the hills.  He has no idea that he has to give up his regular job and live there, sleeping in a bunk, until the album is made (that takes almost a year).  But he adjusts, tantalized by the group’s iconic leader, “Frank” (Michael Fassbender), who always wears this ceramic bobblehead, that makes it difficult to eat.  Always!
Now Jon, a smooth young man, handles his situation with great personal charisma.  After another of the group commits suicide (and the group builds  a ceremonial pyre of his remains) Jom takes it upon himslf to get Frank out of his shell, literally.
The group eventually travels to the SXSW jam in Austin, Texas, and the film picks up pace.  Both Frank and Jon get hit by cars, for one thing,, but survive.  But we eventually find out the secret beneath the mask.
I thought that the concept of what makes a song popular or appealing was bizarre, most of all with Frank’s own music.  Indiewire has a blog posting on the music here.

The film, directed by Lenny Arahamson, reminds me of “The Mask” (Chuck Russell) with Jim Carrey, back in 1994.


The official site is here (Magnolia and Film 4).  I saw this film at a holiday showing Labor Day at the Alamo Drafhouse in Ashburn, VA.  That theater is fanatical about no cell phone use.  

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