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LOUIS AND FRANK

USA, 1998 (MIFF 1998, International Panorama)

Director: Alexandre Rockwell

Alexandre Rockwell excels at well constructed, intelligent comedy, typically made with unusual but highly successful casting choices. Louis & Frank is a comedy about two very different cousins who performed together in a Doo Wop group in their youth. A lot of water has gone under the bridge since their salad days of blissful crooning: Louis has a family and his own removal business, Frank moved to Sicily to live with his mother and studied to be a beautician! Frank steps back into his cousin's life, convinced that the time is right to relaunch their singing career and all hell breaks loose.

The cautious Louis is driven to despair by Frank's unbridled optimism. Frank is convinced that the 'Bitchin' DiBuffonis', as they will be named, will be an international singing sensation and introduces Louis to totally eccentric impresario Lenny Star Springer (screen legend Tony Curtis in a fabulous turn), who also enjoys part-time employment as an undercover cop. The result in an hysterical trip through the more bizarre New York nightlife. From bowling alleys in New Jersey to transvestite bars in the West Village where an unkempt Steve Buscemi is engaged in a very strange workout.

As was the case with In the Soup, Louis & Frank places real, vulnerable human beings in surreal circumstances. The comedy arises when extreme personalities come into contact with stability and feel obliged to turn the situation inside out to dazzling comic effect. Buscemi, even in a smaller part, is his usual hyperactive, twitchy, irrepressible self. Tony Curtis is flamboyant, flaky and fantastic! Guaranteed laughs with a touching poignancy stirred in and Rockwell's penchant for scrutinising the character traits of individuals left by the side of life's highway. Charming and very amusing.

Alexandre Rockwell was born in Boston in 1956. His feature debut Lenz (1981) and the subsequent Hero (1983) were both international festival hits. The latter won the Jury Prize at Sundance Film Festival. Rockwell has made numerous shorts and enjoyed both critical and audience praise for his comedy In the Soup (1992) and the episode he contributed to the omnibus Four Rooms (1995).

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