Frank (2014)

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Released 15-Oct-2014

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Black Comedy Interviews-Cast & Crew-Interviews with Cast and Crew (60.36)
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Behind the Scenes (10.09)
Additional Footage-Lipstick Ringo (.37)
Additional Footage-Frank Rocks Melbourne (1.33)
Theatrical Trailer-(1.36)
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2014
Running Time 91:00
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Lenny Abrahamson
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Michael Fassbender
Domhnall Gleeson
Scoot McNairy
Maggie Gyllenhaal
François Civil
Carla Azar
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI ? Music Stephen Rennick


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     The line between creative genius and insanity is explored in Frank an offbeat black comedy/drama from Irish director Lenny Abrahamson. It is destined to become a cult classic and veers between being quirkily amusing and the downright disturbing.

     The Frank of the title is played by Michael Fassbender in a role that cements the actor’s reputation for unusual and challenging performances. He spends the movie ensconced beneath a fibreglass head; perfectly coifed hair, wide staring blue eyes and a slit of a mouth as his mode of communicating with the world. It is no mere affectation. He wears the mask 24 hours a day and doesn't take it off to shower. Yet, typically for great actors like Fassbender, he is able to communicate volumes simply with his body and a slight turn of the large impassive head.

     Bored office worker Jon (Domhnall Gleeson of About Time fame) is a mediocre talent with dreams of stardom who composes songs as he walks down the street. Trouble is, they are not very good. Walking along the coastline of his seaside town he sees a drama in progress - a man trying to drown himself in the ocean. It turns out that he is the keyboard player for avant-garde rock band Soronprfbs who are performing in his town. Jon tells band manager Don (Scoot McNairy) that he can play keyboards and is immediately drafted in for the band's evening performance. The fact that he doesn't know their songs is no problem. He just needs to know a few keys.

     The band's performance is a disaster. Yet when Jon gets a call from Don telling him that the band needs his services for "something really big" that is happening in Ireland Jon jumped at the chance for stardom and squeezes into the minibus with the other band members.

     It turns out that the band are putting an album together. For the highly idiosyncratic Frank this involves not just hours of rehearsal and studio work but a good deal of time making field recordings of stray nature sounds and coming up with odd musical notations. When the band runs out of money Jon offers his nest egg to extend the time for preparation of the band's masterpiece. He believes that they will accept him and his growing talent. They won't.

     Clara (Maggie Gyllenhaal) is a frankly terrifying woman who is in love with Frank and his avant-garde style, with her feature instrument being the theremin, a much loved electronic instrument from 1950s UFO movies. Guitarist Baraque (François Civil) speaks only in French and openly shows distain for Jon. Drummer Nana (Carla Azar), a real avant-garde and rock drummer who has worked with Jack White, finds him contemptible. His only companion seems to be Don, who was previously the keyboard player for the band.

     And then there's Frank who is poised somewhere between genius musician and cult leader. The band members adore him and follow him endlessly. For them, it seems, it is the process of creation that is everything and not necessarily the finished result. Jon's failure to understand this leads to a darker final third of the movie as his constant blogging gets the band a slot at the SXSW Festival in Texas.

     Frank is an exceptional film that does not pander to its audience. The early laughs as we first meet the absurd world of the band are complicated as the film progresses and we understand that these people, in particular Frank, are deeply damaged.

     The character, in particular the head, is based on Frank Sidebottom, an identity assumed by 1980s musician and performer Chris Sievey who had a similar love for sometime shambolic performances. Jon Ronson, who wrote the film, was a member of Sievey's band and it is informed by his spirit though the story itself is fictional.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Frank was shot on high-definition digital video and is transferred to DVD at the original 2.35:1 aspect ratio. It is 16×9 enhanced.

     The film never tries to be particularly attractive. This is the grungy world of rock 'n' roll after all. The Irish locations are green though the cottage where the band put together their music is full of browns and yellows and looks suitably drab.

     The flesh tones, including those on Frank's large head, are accurate. The colours are stable. There are no subtitles.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     The DVD of Frank features an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack running at 448Kbs.

     Though this is a film about making music there is actually not that much music in it. The band is usually just playing with sounds, working with their complex genius, rather than performing full length works. The songs and soundtrack are by Stephen Rennick. The curious anthem for the film I Love You All is a strangely compelling composition. The actors performed the music and were even featured on the Colbert report, including Fassbender in Frank mask, performing the song.

     The dialogue is clear and mostly easy to understand although it can be quite difficult to catch what Frank is saying underneath the mask.

     There isn't really a great deal for the surround sound to do and the subwoofer really only comes in with the drums.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

     The DVD of Frank contains almost 2 hours of extras.

Interviews with Cast and Crew

     It is difficult to imagine a more extensive and lengthy series of interviews. These include everybody from the key cast members and members of the production team. There are a series of questions about their character in the film or their approach to making it. Not many people will sit through such a lengthy series of interviews but fans of a particular performance can fast forward through.

Behind the Scenes

     This is more in the nature of an unscripted video diary. The camera person is present for the preparation of some scenes from the film. This is more interesting from a technical viewpoint as to how the crew worked on location. It is also interesting to see that Michael Fassbender spent his time off camera without the Frank mask on - I am sure if Daniel Day-Lewis did the part he would have worn it for two months straight!

Lipstick Ringo

     A short scene with Frank showing off his most commercial song ever.

Frank Rocks Melbourne

     In Melbourne and Sydney Madman Entertainment arranged for musos to wear the head and wander around promoting the film and singing songs.

Theatrical trailer

    The trailer for the film.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

  

     The major competition for this DVD would have to be the Blu-ray version released in the UK - the US release isn't slated until December. Strangely this has a selection of different extras including audio commentaries. Fans will buy this version.

Summary

     Frank is a quirky and complex experience worth watching a couple of times. The ending is spine chilling and emotional whereas some of the absurd comedy is sharply funny.

     The DVD is of good quality but a Blu-ray should be released as the film deserves it, despite a poor box office showing.

     The extras are interesting and worth a watch.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Trevor Darge (read my bio)
Thursday, October 30, 2014
Review Equipment
DVDCambridge 650BD (All Regions), using HDMI output
DisplaySony VPL-VW80 Projector on 110" Screen. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationPioneer SC-LX 81 7.1
SpeakersAaron ATS-5 7.1

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