Frank – Outsider Art

Frank provoked something in me. It was one of those movie reaching me through unknown patterns and shaking things up slowly but intensely.

Screen Shot 2014-11-17 at 9.40.10Directed by Lenny Abrahamson and starring Michael Fassbender in the role of Frank, Maggie Gyllenhaal as Clara and Domhnall Gleeson interpreting Jon, the movie approaches some of the deep depths of music and its process of creation.

The movie starts by introducing us to Jon, a red headed artist in search of inspiration for his music compositions. As many artists, he picks up things he sees in the street and try to create something by combining them altogether.

Screen Shot 2014-11-17 at 9.19.27 Screen Shot 2014-11-17 at 9.20.50But, well, it doesn’t always work that way. Something is lacking, originality? Beauty? Depth? Hard to put a finger on it. Jon’s dream is to be known, to play in a band, be part of something as powerful as that.
Lucky for him, all day, weird signs announced a very close event that will happen and change the boring course of his life. Indeed, he assists to the drowning of a band’s keyboardist and got chosen to replace him.
His first experience will then be with total strangers composing very experimental music (which reminded me of the music played by Allison in Yes Man).

Screen Shot 2014-11-17 at 9.25.29Starting from that, we enter a total new world, where everything seems extremely sensitive, where every sound becomes source of inspiration, resource for creation, element of rawness and produces a very unique music, that isn’t made of artifices.
Actor, Domhnall Gleeson played to the perfection his role, along with Fassbender and Gyllenhaal, that are flabbergasting, and boasting incredible emotions. Jon, enter a band linked not only by the music, but by unbreakable bonds, or should I say, one bond embodied by Frank.

Abrahamson’s camera is an eye to an intense, full of musical tensions, closed and intimate space, where you could almost see thin electricity lines surrounding the characters, during their fusion for creation.

Screen Shot 2014-11-17 at 9.37.54The movie tackles the issue at the core of many contemporain debates; is music supposed to please the ones making it, or the ones who’ll hear it?

Once musiciens comply to others’ tastes they are fully under the control of their listeners and loose their personal touch, and give up on the emotion their music was supposed to convey; one of the most tremendous loss.
What is amazing, is the sensitiveness emanating from Fassbender, wearing that big head as a mask protecting from the surrounding world but also as a symbol to what kind of musician Frank is. He has a strong, overwhelming empathy and  is a mystery that isn’t supposed to be puzzled out.

The incomprehension but also the admiration Jon is bearing for Frank, is somehow destructive. Just like fans, he wants to see Frank naked, naked from his mask, but also naked from any mystery; that could dangerously lead to loosing all creativity and powerfulness.

Screen Shot 2014-11-17 at 9.48.20Maggie Gyllenhaal performance is outstanding, she played Clara is way that is very poignant. Her character is complex; protective but authoritarian, creative but castrator.

Screen Shot 2014-11-17 at 10.13.29What pinched my heart, and the point where Abrahamson’s movie conquered me was when Frank is showed as embodying the musician, embodying what’s going on many musician’s heads, that is bearing a double meaning. It is all in his head.
But then, when we learn in the beginning of the film that Frank was in psychiatric hospital along with his manager Don (Scoot McNairy), a question has to be asked; is Frank, under the mask really disfigured or is he just mentally ill?

And this is where the director’s played a little, with words and images. Where the complexity of music is well captured by the director and the actors; all the sensitivity that can be coming from mentally ill people, and again the metaphor is confusing. However, Frank – whether it is the movie or the character – is fucking poignant.

Screen Shot 2014-11-17 at 10.17.47 Screen Shot 2014-11-17 at 10.32.53


Behind The Candelabra – Father, brother, lover

20130917-123230.jpgSteven Soderbergh is an astonishing filmmaker. Each movie he made, was kind of unpredictable, as long as he’s experiencing every type of film (from Ocean’s Eleven to Magic Mike). And once again, I was surprised to know he was the one directing Behind The Candelabra, recalling the hidden love story between Liberace (Lee) and Scott, starting in 1977 and in a time where the pianist was not assuming his homosexuality. The paradox of the character is that, he gives a lot of importance to appearances, yet he disguised himself, just like drag queens do.

If Soderbergh is using the camera as a tool to remind the spectator of the atmosphere and colors of the 70’s/80’s, he’s also perfectly remodeling the extravagant costumes and luxury decors of Liberace era. Everything’s glamorous and fabulous, and it’s not even a little bit “too much”. The icing on the cake is surely the breathtaking performance of Michael Douglas as the glistening pianist, plus, this collaboration with Matt Damon as he’s young lover Scott Thorson. Who knew that those two manly actors could play convincing divas?
Glitter and fur, fancy jewelry and furniture, wig and plastic surgery Lee embodies the typical stereotype of the homosexual. However, he’s known, among only a small circle, as being gay and having a little preference for well built younger boys. Thus, when he met his Adonis, he directly get rid of his previous toy and gave Scott, the title of “protégé”.

Now, this is going further than just a love story. Because of the tough childhood of Scott (moving from a foster home to another), and the considerable age gap between the two men, Lee is seeing in his protégé, the son he never had and will never have, and wants to be in turn, the father Scott never really had. Therefore, he positioned himself as his father, brother and lover, and even think of adopting him. He wanted to be everything to him. This disturbed me a lot; it raised the question of incest, and to how far the the frustration of hiding his homosexuality, or at least the relationship his having with Thorson, might have led him to.
Starting from here, Scott entered a transformation process, under the commands and pressure of Lee, in order to look like him, and looks like he could be his son. The stake is Thorson’s identity. His old lover already owns him morally, and financially, now, it’s about physical ownership. Lee set his trademark on him and we realize that the extravaganza doesn’t limit itself to eccentric houses, and clothes, the extravaganza comes first, from the pianist virtuoso’s brain.

Little by little, as the years passed, Scott is feeling like he’s trapped in a cage, they don’t go out, they don’t see people, unless during Liberace concerts, and this one is getting bored of his winnings. He finds a new target, and Thorson will soon be experiencing what his predecessor lived. The same scheme is repeated.

The issue raised in the movie could be “how far would you go, for love?”. Scott, chose to completely dedicate himself to Lee, and accept everything from him. Now, when he’s put apart, no wonder he went mad. However his love lasts, and I believe Lee’s too.
If a lesson can be learn in this movie, is “do not push away the person who could do anything for you”, because at the end, he’ll be the only one there to not let you die alone.