Frank (2014)

If you take something like The Life Aquatic and make it slightly less artsy and marginally more real, you would have the world where Frank was filmed. The movie has Michael Fassbender, but in a way where you would recognize him for most of the movie. Yes, he plays the titular Frank, and the movie is supposed to be about him, but he's not really the focal point of the story... kind of.

Domhnall Gleeson plays a guy who witnesses a different guy going nuts and wandering into the sea. He finds out that this person going nuts will result in a band being without a keyboard player. As a man who knows his way around a keyboard and thinks of himself as a songwriter, Domhnall volunteers. Heavily restrained hilarity ensues, as he finds that his more folk-pop tendencies are drowned out by the group's experimental music style. This style is generated by Fassbender, and the most curious thing about him is his unwillingness to ever take his papier-mâché head off.

Domhnall's decision (without group approval) to tweet about their progress developing the perfect songs for their perfect performance that never seems to be coming results in a small but loyal following. The performances and the development of music becomes their lives, as they sequester themselves in a cabin in the middle of nowhere (where there is still decent internet service). The music is described by Domhnall, who is submerged in the process, as new and insightful, but the listeners in the audience will struggle to see the inherent beauty in it.

Added to the struggle to make music is the struggle between members of the group and their very different visions of what the music should sound like, what the band should do, and what the world should be like. Most notable is the friction between Domhnall and Maggie Gyllenhaal. Maggie plays an exceptionally dominant woman who dislikes Domhnall from the moment he joins the band. The reason that the band doesn't tear itself apart is because of Frank's supernatural ability to deal with people and manipulate them passively.

I don't normally like movies that are shot in this very surreal way like The Royal Tenenbaums or pretty much any Wes Anderson movie. This one certainly had a better mixture of reality and the kind of stylized world that Wes loves and I don't really care for. This was probably more like the Bill Murray film Lost in Translation, but it definitely had an artistic kind of out-there vibe the whole time without making the characters into complete caricatures (although they weren't complex).

Acting was very good
Direction was good
Art direction was very good
Story was good
Dialog was very good

Bottom Line: An out-there dark comedy that manages to appeal to the masses while also kind of being a cult film.



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