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Uncle Frank

Starring: Frank and Tillie Pour
Directed by: Matthew Ginsburg

Not Rated

Congratulations to Frank and the gang for being the first acquired film at the Tribeca International Film Festival this year! -Blunt Review


Witty, gritty, and not to be missed!

Uncle Frank's film brochure is so deceivingly sublime that perhaps a less knowledgeable viewer would think it primitive; it's simply an embroidered nametag with the film's namesake stitched to a blue work shirt. While, in fact, it is brilliantly apropos. See the man uncle Frank too at first appears to be primitive and plain. Just a blue-collar "nobody." Until his film maker nephew Matthew Ginsburg captures a bit of uncle Frank's soul along with his exuberant charisma on his handy cam and manages to expose about an hour and a half of some of the most touching, intriguing frames seen in a documentary to date.

Ginsburg, followed his octogenarian uncle around filming Frank just being Frank. Ah but thanks to Frank's vivacious passion for life, and the little joys he points out that are all around us if we just stop and pay attention, you'll be riveted to the screen.

Uncle Frank, aka Frank Pour, lives in Rome, New York with his wife of 39 years, Tillie. He is turning 84 when we meet him. His health is pretty good, his spirit full of piss n' vinegar.

Frank and Tillie worked at the same local company until it closed down. Now their golden years are not filled with expensive Caribbean cruises or include a swanky condo to warm the bones during winter. As Frank's factory produced nametag hinted, these are regular Americans, barely scraping by for all their years of loyalty and there are more of them then we care to admit. Don't get depressed though, that's not the point of this visceral peek into truth...this wonderfully warm American snapshot.

Since retiring Frank's picked up playing a portable organ and is using his self-taught piano stylings to entertain the "old folks" at the local retirement homes. He brings a smile and a tune to their lives. He plays the retirement circuit to elderly fans that get giddy as schoolgirls as he tickles the keys. These sad solemn places where we store the elders light up when Frank and his organ stroll into the gathering area. Dancing and general hootenanny fills the place. For a little while troubles are forgotten, pains and aches subside as youthful smiles return to the residents' faces — of course some of the folks just sleep through Frank's catchy tunes, but they too, through the snoring and drooling, look a tad more content for his being there. He's a local hero.

Frank reminds us of the simple things that please the soul; the kind of stuff no amount of money could buy. Like how a sunny day in the week means Frank and Tillie's tiny living room will be kaleidoscopic with beautiful rainbows dancing around the walls and ceilings
(a phenomenon produced from crystal knick-knacks the couple has collected through their union). Or how a volunteer, like musician Frank, is rewarded for their time with another person's priceless smile and inestimable joy.

The documentary is so personal, we are even privy as uncle Frank hears his continuing pains are indeed cancer. Of course he can only think of what will become of dear aunt Tillie without him "who'll look after the place for her? Mow the lawn?" By this time we, the audience, felt as a part of Frank's family as his nephew Matthew. We begin to squirm in our seats and feel that uncomfortable tightening of the throat that anyone feels when hearing bad news about someone particularly dear. Sniff...Snort!

Relax, Frank's not out of the ball game yet. He'll figure a way around time and tide…. Though, his national retirement home tour may have to be postponed.

In the end Uncle Frank is a real slice of life that reminds the viewer to never neglect those subtle bits of joy all around us. And, to stop and smell the two for a dollar hot dogs life has to offer once and a while, 'cause next week they may be a buck each. Enjoy!

Snack Recommendation: Chipped beef on toast.

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