Co-writer Jon Ronson did play in Chris Sieveys aka Frank Sidebottoms support group, the Oh Blimey Big Band. According to a Guardian article, the dialogue at the beach, when Jon is being hired as replacement for the keyboarder is quite concurrent with how Ronson got into the Oh Blimey Big Band, then by a phone call containing same phrases such as "I play keyboards" - "can you play C, F and G?" - "you're in". Ronson's first gig with the band was indeed at a bar, as was Jon's in the movie. See more »
During the rehearsal at Vetno, the song prominently features the sound of an electric guitar, yet nobody is playing one. See more »
Greetings again from the darkness. Most movies fit pretty easily into a genre: drama, comedy, action, etc. This latest from film festival favorite Lenny Abrahamson is tough to classify. It begins with silly and funny inner-dialogue from an aspiring musician/songwriter (Domhnall Gleeson), transitions into a dark dramady with complex characters and dialogue, and finishes as a bleak statement on mental illness and the music business.
That's more than I would typically disclose, but some have described the film as an outright comedy and I find that unconcsionable. If you are expecting a laugh riot, you will not only be disappointed, but are likely to miss the unique perspective provided.
The screenplay is written by "The Men Who Stare at Goats" collaborators Jon Ronson and Peter Straughan. Clearly inspired by the late British comedian and musician Chris Sievey (and his character Frank Sidebottom), Mr. Ronson's work with Mr. Sievey is the driving force. It's also the reason Gleeson's character is emphasized over Michael Fassbender's titular character who dons the paper mache head for the bulk of the movie. This script decision probably keeps the film from being truly great.
The exceptional and attention-grabbing first 15 minutes set up a movie that dissolves into an exploration of the creative process within mental illness ... Franks states numerous times that he has a certificate (certifiable). There is also an ongoing battle between art and commerce, as waged by Maggie Gyllenhaal's character and that of Gleeson. Social Media power is on full display as this avant-garde performance art band gathers a huge following prior to ever really producing any music.
Without seeing Frank's facial expressions, we witness his transformation from mystic/guru to an unstable and socially uncomfortable dude striving for likability, but unsure what the term really means. Must artists suffer for their art? Why does society latch onto the newest social media gimmick? What is creative success and why are so many afraid of it? The film begs these and other unanswerable questions. Certainly interesting, but definitely not 90 minutes of laughter.
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