Single Name Title Double Bill

What's in a name? That which we call a rose  Frank. And Locke. Okay it's a tenuous enough idea for a double bill, but it's late and I'm tired. Actually, it's quite early and I'm wide awake. But I am lazy. Enough rambling. Here's the reviews.

In Frank (Lenny Abrahamson, 2014), Jon (Domhnall Gleeson) is an aspiring-but-rather-crap musician who is delighted to get a gig playing experimental music with an enigmatic and delightfully named band, The Soronprfbs. However, he is somewhat disconcerted by the fact that the lead singer, Frank (Michael Fassbender), is a man who wears a large papier-mâché head. All the time. Like this:

Remind you of anyone? Character called Frank? Large papier-mâché head? This is about real-life cult figure Frank Sidebottom, isn't it? Well, sort of. Jon Ronson, who spent some time in Sidebottom's band in the 80s, co-wrote the film and it is broadly based on his experiences during that time, although it deviates a lot from real-life facts, and also takes inspiration from other artists, such as Captain Beefheart and Daniel Johnston. Structure-wise, it simply adheres to the usual band-trying-to-make-it-big formula, as initially shaky rehearsals coalesce into something more accomplished, which brings some measure of success and fame, before in-fighting and pressure inevitably puts pay to the dream. The unique element here is Frank, charismatically played by Fassbender, despite being hidden by a fake head, whose character lends the film a surreal, off-beat sensibility and, ultimately, a poignancy. Like Frank, the film outwardly appears to have a bright, funny disposition, but soon starts to hint at a sadness hidden beneath. As such, it's hard to get a handle on entirely, veering from moments of broad comedy to more serious issues, which makes it a bit of an uneven affair. All in all, it's more of a Medium Play than a Fantastic Tale, but still worth a look for curiosity value. (A little joke for true Sidebottom fans there, folks). Also, watch out for the final song, an awful, but strangely addictive, earworm of a song, which has been stuck in my head for ages now. IIIIIiiiiiii Lllove youuuuuu waaaaaaaalllll!!

Locke (Steven Knight, 2014) is a film about Ivan Locke (Tom Hardy), a construction foreman and, in a slightly forced bit of nominative determinism, a control freak. However, one night a phone call prompts him to uncharacteristically set off on a road trip which will jeopardise his work, his family and his whole life. The whole film is set in real time, in and around Locke's car on his journey down the M6, as he makes a series of phone calls in an attempt to manage the situation he finds himself in. It's a structure which just about works, although there are certainly some cracks in the foundation showing by the end. As the only character on-screen, Hardy (sporting an impressive beard and a less impressive Welsh accent) drives the film along well enough, capturing Locke's torment through strained conversations and moments of simmering introspection. However, the dialogue with his father are less successful - these parts of the script are C5, rather than C6 (a little joke there for true concrete fans, folks) - and it's fair to say the concrete & the clay beneath its feet begin to crumble during these sequences. Elsewhere, some nice photography captures the loneliness of the long-distance driver, but it's never more than an interesting experiment, rather than a long-lasting and compelling construction.

Okay, that's enough name-calling. And remember, IIIIIiiiiiii Lllove youuuuuu waaaaaaaalllll!!

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