Maggie Gyllenhaal, Michael Fassbender and Domhnall Gleeson (from left) in a scene from Frank (photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures)

Jon wants to get into music in the worst way. And that’s pretty much how he does it.

 The young Brit (Domhnall Gleeson) is sitting on a seaside bench when he sees EMS workers pull a man out of the surf. “Our keyboardist is trying to drown himself,” another onlooker tells him matter-of-factly. The stranger goes on to say that he’s worried the suicide attempt will endanger the gig their band has that very night.

 Sensing an opportunity, Jon blurts out that he plays the keyboard, and he’s immediately invited to sit in on the club date. Then, even though the gig goes disastrously, he quickly becomes a regular member of the band with an unpronounceable name and a frontman who wears a big, cartoonlike head.

 Thus begins Frank, a droll tale based, if ever so slightly, on a fictitious character who once appeared on British television.

 Directed by Lenny Abrahamson (What Richard Did), Frank is inspired by Frank Sidebottom, a satirical, fake-head-wearing character portrayed by comedian and musician Chris Sievey. In fact, the script was co-written by Jon Ronson, who layed in the late Sievey’s rock band.

 Unlike Sidebottom, however, the movie’s version of Frank (Michael Fassbender) is a transplanted American. He also seems shier about sharing his band’s talents— after leading the musicians to a secluded cabin in Ireland to make an album, he delays recording for close to a year while they hone their avant-garde sound.

 This seems fine with the band’s established members, who include fierce theremin player Clara (Maggie Gyllenhaal), manager Don (Scoot McNairy) and a pair of French musicians. But it tests the patience of Jon, who sees the band as a way to achieve the fame he’s been unable to earn with his own meager talent.

 Other than the genial Frank, the other band members see Jon as a dangerous outsider who’s more interested in commercial success than in artistic integrity.

Some viewers—probably those who like the film the most—appear to feel the same way.

 Personally, though, I’m more mixed about both Jon and the film he appears in.

He may have his own agenda, but the other band members appear to suffer from a lack of agenda. They’re too involved in their own eccentricities to do anything with the talent they have. Well, maybe that’s OK. Maybe that’s the point. By the end, I wasn’t really sure what the flick’s point was. But that’s not to say it was a complete waste.

 There are many subtly humorous moments, and the acting is consistently good. Gleeson (son of Calvary’s Brendan Gleeson) makes Jon likably hapless, and Gyllenhaal is scary as Clara. And though it seems a waste to hide Fassbender (Shame) under a fake head, he does make Frank mysteriously charismatic.

 If Frank speaks to you, you’ll find it sublimely profound. And even if it doesn’t, you’ll still find it entertainingly offbeat.

Rating: 3 stars (out of 5)
Frank, rated R, opens Sept. 4 at the Gateway Film Center in Columbus.




That was one expensive minute

A film lover recently sat through all two hours and 45 minutes of Boyhood at the Gateway Film Center, then bought a $1 parking voucher on her way to the South Campus Gateway garage.

 Because the voucher was good for only three hours, and because her car had been parked for slightly more than three hours, she expected to pay another $1 at the exit. Imagine her surprise when the ticket machine told her she owed another $3.75.

 An attendant explained that the parking garage had new evening rates: The first three hours still cost $3—or $1 with a voucher purchased at the theater’s box office. But patrons would no longer pay $1 for every hour or fraction of an hour over that, as they had in the past. If they stayed even one minute past the three-
hour mark, the attendant said, they would pay an extra $3.75.

 It seems that CampusParc—the private company Ohio State hired in 2012 to manage all campus-area parking lots and garages—is at it again. Though the 50-year contract officially limits rate hikes to 5.5 percent annually, a recent Columbus Dispatch story reported that CampusParc raised the cost of a faculty parking permit by 50 percent. And now it’s instituted a change that could mean an even bigger hike for South Campus Gateway filmgoers and bar-hoppers.

 Johnny DiLoretto, the Gateway Film Center’s director of operations, said the multiplex had argued against the rate hike but was powerless to stop it. After all, the center doesn’t own the garage, he noted.

 “They tell us that’s what they’re going to do, and we make as passionate a plea to them as possible not to (raise the rates) because obviously we don’t want our patrons to have to pay that,” DiLoretto said.

 He pointed out that most movies don’t run anywhere near three hours, so patrons can usually avoid the extra tariff. On the other hand, the film center and Liz Lessner’s restaurant group recently opened an eatery called the Torpedo Room on the premises, and they naturally want filmgoers to come early or stay late and try it

 The issue is moot for many Gateway patrons, DiLoretto said, as they bike, ride the bus or take other alternative forms of transportation. And even though the garage is convenient for those who do drive, it’s not the only parking option, he added. For instance, there are metered spaces on High Street, and free parking sometimes can be found on the crowded side streets.

 “I want people to know that they don’t have to park in the garage,” DiLoretto said. “However they want to get here is fine by us—as long as they come.”

 As of deadline, a CampusParc official had not responded to a request for comment on the new parking rates.

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