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Friday 25 April 2014, 16:48

Mark Kermode Mark Kermode

There’s an extraordinary new film out based on the cult character Frank Sidebottom. Here’s my first reaction to it.

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    Comment number 1.

    My first thought would be a comparison with the Serge Gainsbourg biopic: Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life. But should be a rather interesting watch.

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    Comment number 2.

    I have seen this trailer endlessly for the last few weeks and at the end it says "directed by Lenny Abrahamson" and i kept thinking where i knew that name from?. Then it hit me he was the director of 'What Richard Did' which couldn't more different from 'Frank', although having just learnt it's a biopic, this could be slightly more conventional than the trailer makes out. Plus it appears that this movie is going to get a pretty wide distribution, so at least we won't all have to wait for the DVD.

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    Comment number 3.

    I was hoping your word would be 'brilliant!'. As it isn't, I'm guessing it misses the mark (no pun intended). Plus the trailer clips don't make me smile. Could your predilection for this genre of music be affecting your judgement these days? You did go overboard on that Undertones film...

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    Comment number 4.

    Likewise, was hoping your one word was going to be a good one - but it's pretty clear this film has little to do with the real Frank Sidebottom story. Shame really. As a gentleman of a certain age, it would have been great to see a hero of my youth, albeit belatedly, reach a larger audience. Maybe it might encourage a few to discover a real original one-off.

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    Comment number 5.

    Whilst I was admittedly still a child in the 80's, Frank Sidebottom is an image I will never quite forget; maybe it was the enormous comical head that made it somewhat appealing, or later in the 90's when I could more fundamentally grasp the idea that this was a creation which straddled the fine line between absurd comedic genius and genuine fame-hungry wannabe. I remember someone once said that Frank Sidebottom could in the same night have the same audience singing and chanting along, as well as booing and heckling. Frank Sidebottom is, and probably always was meant to be, a complex persona; both someone to aspire to, and be genuinely terrified of.

    I know the movie has nothing to do with any of that though; a sad thought, but hardly a surprise. I'm at least hoping for a wilfully weird romp; something that's not afraid of being both high-brow satire whilst stooping down to the sublimely ridiculous. The reviews I've seen so far have all had their criticisms of the film, so I know I'm not going to get perfection.

    But they've more often than not been rather positive overall; so perhaps "Blimey!" isn't the doom and gloom we're expecting; that said, Dr. K, as someone who was 'there', perhaps you'll have a far better insight into it than I...

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    Comment number 6.

    Frank Sidebottom. What the hell was that all about? As a kid it just left me dumbfounded, but having now heard Mark and seen the film’s trailer (twice), I still don’t know what the hell is going on. I thought a quick peek on the Internet might resolve it, but judging from this clip the only question it seems to answer is why Tony Slattery started taking naughty drugs.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w8KQhbWDeI8

    Maybe Michael Fassbender has the answer? Michael Fassbender? Blimey!

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    Comment number 7.

    Not sure whether the point of this one was to preview your review of Frank, or name drop Jonathan Richman (and mention, however tenuously, that you shared a stage), both would be valid motivations.

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    Comment number 8.

    Fisher King@24

    I understand that writer, Jon Ronson, had no intention of recounting the Frank Sidebottom story as a any kind of conventional biopic, that was never his intention. However, those interested in that 'story' need look no further than than his new book, FRANK the story that inspired the movie. It's essentially Ronson's take on the Chris/Frank phenomenon and a humorous account of his time as the keyboard player in Frank's Oh Blimey Big Band. At only 80 pages -yes, 80! it's a one sitting read, but worthwhile one for both the uninitiated and those who can remember only too well the crazed brilliance of Chris/Frank.

    On an unrelated topic, I wound up watching the new US blu ray release of Sorcerer (1977) last night. For those who may be interested but have not yet seen it, I can confirm it's a thing of beauty, a stunning 4K restoration that brings this incredible film back to life. It really is like seeing it again -for the first time! Recommended to anyone interested in classic 70's cinema -they quite literally don't make them like this anymore.

    Again, unrelated… but for any fans of the late, great Ken Russell….

    http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/400700733271?ssPageName=STRK:MESELX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1555.l2649

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    Comment number 9.

    Much obliged, Arch Stanton, just read the book. A wonderful read - maybe I'll give the film a chance...

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    Comment number 10.

    It is terrifying, Mark, how little your physical appearance has changed since that old photo. You do know 1955 is over, right ;)?

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    Comment number 11.

    This has me very excited, since it's the first I've heard of it. Whether it's the "real" Frank's story or not, it still looks a good watch, and if it is, I may just forgive you for The Borderlands, Kermie. I mean, let's face it, does Michael Fassbender do crap? I don't think so. Saying that, I would never have guessed it was him under the head, but when you hear the voice, it's unmistakably everyone's favourite Deutsch-Ulster boy. Looking forward to it.

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    Comment number 12.

    As a man of a "certain" age, I really should know who Frank Sidebottom is.....but I don't. I don't ever recall seeing him during my childhood and couldn't tell you what he sounds like. Having seen the trailer I am intrigued by the film (although why have a major star in the lead if he's never seen?) and also assumed Frank Sidebottom was American, (which I now know is wrong). Interestingly your reaction was "blimey" and not "blimey Charlie" so I cant work out if that is a good or a bad thing

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    Comment number 13.

    So blimey good or blimey bad? Because really in certain contexts that can go either way.

    I'm a bit to young to really care that this isn't a "true" film version of the Frank Sidebottom story. To me this seems to be an amalgamation of real life eccentric musicians to tell its own story about music and the creative process. I am looking forward to it, although I do think it's either going to be off-beat and darkly hilarious or just really off-putting and annoying.

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    Comment number 14.

    Just to let you know the name Domhnall is pronounced 'Donal'

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    Comment number 15.

    Really looking forward to seeing Frank on friday. Having heard what others have said, and knowing the background to the movie - a fictionalised version of Jon Ronson's memories of his experiences with Frank and the Oh Blimey band - and having read his stoey that inspired the film, I can't wait to see it. I think some people have missed the point a little, expecting The Frank Sidebottom Story, which this isn't.
    However, I do know that a comprehensive, fan-funded documentary on Frank Sidebottom a Chris Sievey, 'Being Frank' (www.BeingFrankmovie.com/) will be out later this year. Perhaps they'll find that more satisfying.

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    Comment number 16.

    I saw 'Frank' Sunday and whilst the trailer sells this movie as an anarchic knock-about comedy, it was different to what i was expecting, which is always a good thing. And i keeping with the theme of one word responses and in consideration of those who haven't seen it yet, i'll just say this "Crumb"

 

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