This is the official documentary about maverick Manchester comedian Frank Sidebottom, and the life and art of his creator Chris Sievey, lending an ear to those who knew the man beneath the mask.
Sidebottom was an unshakable presence in English popular culture from 1984 until his creator’s death in 2010. Speaking and singing in a nasal Lancastrian accent, he traded in a class of outsider art that skirted the line between quaint and sinister.
The early part of the film offers an engrossing study of the creative fecundity that gathered around Manchester in the post-punk years. Sievey was a furious Beatles fan who alternated the construction of weird fanzine-like material with the writing of punchy, power-pop songs for The Freshies.
Steve Sullivan’s film unearths a fascinating haul of archive footage. Sievey and his long-suffering, still-tolerant wife seem to have lived a happy – if mad – life in the early days.
John Cooper Clarke and Mark Radcliffe turn up with amusing reminiscences of those times. But the most striking sections are those that claw away some of the Sidebottom lore.
An essential watch for both fans and for newcomers to Frankology.
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