Self and Fake Self Two movies came out recently in New York/LA that I liked a lot and highly recommend. Not only did they make me laugh, but they also stayed with me long after I left the theater.
The first movie I saw is called Frank. It's a about a young guy named Jon (played by Domhnall Gleeson) who joins a rock band with a lead singer who wears a giant cartoon head all the time. The lead singer, Frank, is played by Michael Fassbender who spends most of the movie under the head. All jokes about actors and their big heads aside, he actually does create a character inside the head.
The film follows the band as they rehearse and record their new album in a vacation cabin in Ireland while Jon secretly posts their process on Twitter. Then the film jumps to the US desert where the band gets slot at South by Southwest. Frank starts off a broad satire about wacky creative people trying to make art, but as the film progresses it becomes a meditation on the conflict between creativity and the drive for success. It also does not shy away from mental illness and how one can overcome it through art.
How are we all Frank? Have we ever presented a big pretty head with a smile on it to the world to make ourselves feel safer? Are our true selves the masks we wear? Do our masks give us the power to create what we need to create? How are we all Jon? How often have we sat in our rooms and tried to write something while dreaming of some big success even though we have no idea what that big success would be or if we even wanted in the first place?
The last song in the movie has the chorus, I love you all. Isn't it curious that one of most positive statements one could make is sung by someone who would rather be anonymous.
I was originally going to write a two sentence movie review of Frank. I was going to say, this film is for anyone who has ever felt like a freak for being creative. Or something like that.
The second movie I saw is called The Trip to Italy and stars Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon as fictional Steve and Rob on a trip through Italy with the purpose of eating food and writing articles about it. They also pay homage to Byron, the romantic poets, and Alanis Morissette, but most of the movie's fun comes from fictional Steve and Rob sitting across from each other and doing impressions. Even though I got tired of Rob doing Pacino for the third time, his Hugh Grant is hilarious. They also both do Michael Caine.
There's a lot of playing in the movie---a sequel to The Trip and a feature film version of a TV series. It is a delight to see adults of a certain age (late 40s) play around. We're not watching real Steve and Rob. There is a definite story being played out, and the fictional selves do things that most folks would not want filmed in real life. They also come off as a bit full of themselves, but I'm okay with that since they're funny.
Still, I enjoyed hanging out with fictional Steve and Rob in Italy. I could sit in the hot Italian sun with them and not worry about sunscreen, and I could laugh at their riff on Batman and the post-humous BAFTA award. I hope they take many more trips as their fake selves.