Frank is an eccentric musician who refuses to be seen without the giant paper mache cartoon head he wears. As he embarks on a pursuit of fame and fortune, he enlists an aspiring artist named Jon to join his band Soronprfbs. Joined by Frank's short-tempered theremin player Clara and his manager Don, the band move to Ireland where they set out to record their debut album. Jon goes about getting the band's videos all over the internet, in a bid to land the most serious gig of their lives: South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas. But tension starts to arise as Frank's relentlessly mysterious persona gets increasingly more annoying, and he himself appears to be starting to lose his own head.
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While this comedy-drama is sometimes wilfully absurd, it's also exhilarating cinema, telling its story with conflicting amounts of warm emotion and prickly abrasiveness. Irish filmmaker Lenny Abrahamson (What Richard Did) is known for keeping his audience on its toes, shifting moods and navigating sharp plot turns. And while it takes a while to get into the rhythms of this movie, it ultimately wins us over entirely.
Loosely based on the true story of English musician Chris Sievey (aka Frank Sidebottom), the film centres on the art-punk band Soronprfbs, which is fronted by Frank (Michael Fassbender), who wears a gigantic papier-mache head both on and off stage. While touring in Britain, he recruits the nerdy aspiring musician Jon (Domhnall Gleeson) to join the band for a gig in Ireland and then stick around to write and record the next album. This means that Jon must figure out how to relate to the bandmates, all of whom seem to have serious issues. Frank's girlfriend is the freaky noisemaker Clara (Maggie Gyllenhaal), and there's also hapless manager Don (Scoot McNairy) and opinionated but aloof musicians Baraque and Nana (Francois Civil and Carla Azar).
Abrahamson lets the film play out in the same utterly bonkers style as Soronprfbs' chaotic songs: veering from subtle harmony to soaring emotion to pure chaos. And through it all there's a remarkably resonant centre as we take this journey alongside Jon, who is played by Gleeson like the obnoxious little brother we can't help but love. Meanwhile, Fassbender delivers a remarkably soulful performance from within that big head, using his voice and body to add layers of intriguing depth. And Gyllenhaal continually surprises by undermining her intensely scary character with unexpected expressions of raw feeling.
Continue reading: Frank Review
As with many ensemble flicks, Jam has some good stories and some bad, some good actors and some poor ones. There's a couple dealing with overwork and considering whether to have a baby, a woman on the way to her wedding, and a lesbian couple, one of whom is nine months pregnant. One vehicle is stolen, and at least one angst-ridden teen can be found in the mix. In fact, everyone is pretty angry... though no one seems to overly mind being stuck on the road for hours on end.
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The title refers to -- among other things -- the loggerhead turtles that lay their eggs at the funky little beach resort of Kure Beach. Mark (Kip Pardue) is a twentysomething backpacker who has come to watch the turtles and sleep on the beach (in 1999), but when the cops roust him, he's saved by local gay motel owner George (Michael Kelly), who offers him a spare room. Mark, who's been on the road for a while and has seen a few things, assumes this is a sex-for-rent deal and he's willing to pay the price, but George assures him that's not what he had in mind.
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Surprisingly, Ryan proves that she's a real actress here. The rest of the cast (including Tony Roberts and Lori Laughlin) pretty much sleepwalk through this mess of a sequel, sidesteppin the terrible special effects, awful fright sequences (it's rated PG, for God's sake!), and pathetic use of stuff jutting into the camera to create that oh-so-popular 3-D effect. (3-D moments include a fly that gets in your face and a Frisbee flying toward the camera.)
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The story is sad and pathetic, unbelievable for more than a second to anyone with less than 45% alcohol in his or her blood stream. Lori Heuring "stars" as a mental hospital patient who, on the recommendation of her doctor, is released so she can work at the aforementioned resort for the summer -- in order to see how far she's coming along with her adjustment back into the world. Here she encounters all manner of nut-job rich kids, provoking the question of who's more insane, her or the people she is serving as a cabana girl?
Continue reading: The In Crowd Review
Designed for maximum sexploitation while still coming in under the PG-13 mark, "The In Crowd" is a movie about back-stabbing, barely legal country club hotties with WonderBra wardrobes and soap opera lives.
It has membrane-thin plot about a sultry teenage psych ward out-patient (Lori Heuring) who gets a job at a Hamptons resort and falls in with the manipulative queen bee of the trust fund pack. It stars an assemblage interchangeable daytime drama cast-offs who meow their way through one-dimensional roles that don't require talent so much as shampoo commercial hair and firm, round breasts.
The primary mission of this vaguely deliberate festival of fresh-faced actress indignity seems to be crowbarring into the narrative as many cheap peeks at naked boobs as possible. See-through bras and wet white shirts are abundant. On a couple occasions, the movie grinds to a halt for a quick glimpse of bare nipple. And just for good measure, there's a little girl-girl action thrown in.
Continue reading: The In Crowd Review
'Smalls Change (Meditations Upon Ageing)' arrives in April.
The two awards have made for a great 72nd birthday present for the country music icon.
Frank is an eccentric musician who refuses to be seen without the giant paper mache...
While this comedy-drama is sometimes wilfully absurd, it's also exhilarating cinema, telling its story with...
Designed for maximum sexploitation while still coming in under the PG-13 mark, "The In Crowd"...