He Died with a Falafel in His Hand (2001)

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Directed by: Richard Lowenstein

What a cool fucking soundtrack this film has, opening with the timeless ‘Golden Brown’ by The Stranglers, peppered with a regular scattering of Nick Cave. It’s almost too cool for its own good. Judging by the soundtrack alone ‘He Died with a Felafel in His Hand’ feels like it might’ve been a cult film for a certain age group of Australians in the early noughties, just how ‘Human Traffic’ became such a significant film for me and my friends. Nowadays people know Danny Dyer as the landlord of the Queen Vic, I still remember him fondly as Moff.

Noah Taylor (a recognizable character actor you see in many quirky films) plays Danny, a struggling writer who lives in a ramshackle shared house with a group of oddballs and weirdos.  Adapted from the book ‘He Died with a Felafel in His Hand’ the film  version resonates with anyone who has had the misfortune to live in a shared house with a group of people that they have nothing in common with.

Falafel is split into three acts, or shall we say three houses. Act one begins, as all the acts do, with Danny strumming ‘California Dreamin’’ on his guitar. We see his fellow housemates having a discussion about the homoerotic undertones of ‘Reservoir Dogs’. Danny lives with Flip, the pale junkie, who moonbathes (tries to catch the rays of the full moon at night), Taylor, a military fixated tough guy, and Milo and Otis, two lads. The testosterone fuelled atmosphere is broken by an English lass named Sam, the lone voice of common sense. There are also other folk who dwell in the property.

Danny has a serious case of writers block, and sits empty minded in front of his typewriter, dreaming of writing something publishable. As a writer he seems oblivious to the rich material that keeps him up at night.

Act one changes pace when an enigmatic existential Frenchwoman named Anya arrives. We then meet the other people in the house. A fat man seemingly growing into his sofa chair named Jabba and a bank clerk who lives in a tent, alongside another late arrival, a lost looking Japanese backpacker. Anya revels in the power of seduction, and all the blokes try and get her into bed. After Anya moves into a house which is literally falling apart, athe film goes into ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’ territory as events get more and more surreal with Pagan rituals and Nazi skinhead invaders.

The second act sags majorly, Danny moves in with a socialist; Taylor and Flip turn up, then Sam. It features an out of the blue suicide attempt which mirrors a similar scene from another 2001 film, Wes Anderson’s ‘The Royal Tenenbaums’; and a point blank murder involving a dodgy cop. The dramatically shocking moments seem a bit shoehorned in and after taking the time to introduce us to an interesting bunch of folk we end up in bizarre melodrama.

Act three is especially manic and more akin to act one. Danny moves in with a narcissistic struggling actor, a repressed homosexual fella and another chap who appears to be vaguely Scandinavian. Oh, and Taylor’s there as well. Then a few more of his former housemates drop by, like Sam and Anya, who at this point in the movie have a thing going on. Flip turns up, and goes out for a Falafel; I don’t need to tell you what happens after that.

Certainly ‘He Died with a Falafel in His Hand’ is a film of its time, it hasn’t aged all that well. Noah Taylor is pretty ok in the leading role, but you can see why he hasn’t gone on to star in many films because he just kinda flits around, raising his eyebrows, looking generally bemused about the world.

– RJW

6/10

He Died with a Falafel in his Hand on IMDB

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The Eternal Return of Antonis

 

BRINKVISION RELEASES THE DARK COMEDY FILM ‘THE ETERNAL RETURN OF ANTONIS ON VOD AND DVD FEBRUARY 17th

‘THE ETERNAL RETURN OF ANTONIS’

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“5 STARS! SUPERB… PHENOMENAL PERFORMANCE” – Indiewire

 

“DARK AND ARTFUL SATIRE… STRIKING AND HEARTBREAKING” – Cinevue

 

“CHARMING, FUNNY AND DRAMATIC” – Flix

 

BrinkVision releases the critically acclamied dark comedy film, ‘The Eternal Return of Antonis’ starring Christos Stergioglou (Father from Oscar nominated ‘Dogtooth’) who stages his own kidnapping to gain sympathy and attention from a world that is slowly forgetting him. ‘The Eternal Return of Antonis’ is a thought provoking, humorous masterpiece that has screened at Toronto, Berlinale, Milano, and many more festivals worldwide. The Eternal Return of Antonis on VOD and DVD February 17th!

 

Synopsis:

Antonis Paraskevas is a man incapable of life away from the media spotlight. A famous television personality whose star is waning, Antonis decides to stage his own kidnapping to gain sympathy and attention from a world that is slowly forgetting him. He hides out in an abandoned seaside hotel to wallow in self-pity, awaiting just the right moment to spring back to life and into the public eye. At first, he fights off the boredom with unsuccessful molecular cooking and karaoke singing, but eventually the walls close in, and Antonis starts going off the rails. The harsh realities of the current Greek economic situation and contemporary societal alienation serve as the backdrop to this dark and artful satire on fame in the modern world.

 

Trailer:

CLICK HERE TO BUY THE MOVIE

 

Housebound (2014)

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Directed by: Gerard Johnstone

When I was younger ‘Neighbours’ was my soap opera of choice. Mainly because it coincided with my arrival home from school, winding down after double Maths and Food Technology with a cuppa and a few party rings. Aside from Kylie and Jason few actresses and actors had successfully escaped Erinsborough until probably the last five years. You had the ‘lifers’ like Lou Carpenter and Karl & Susan who would serve decades in soap land purgatory; and characters like Paul Robinson and Harold Bishop, who would escape Ramsey Street or even get killed off and yet somehow find a way to return.

When an actor or actress moved on to pastures from ‘Neighbours’ new they either found themselves as average at best pop stars and one hit wonders (Delta Goodrem or Natalie Imbruglia) or they moved on to appearing on second tier UK soaps like ‘Emmerdale’ (Anne Charleston aka Madge Bishop) or Sky One’s ridiculous Football Soap / Drama ‘Dream Team’ (Stefan Dennis aka Paul Robinson).

In recent year’s Australian soap stars, and arguably Australian actors in general, have blossomed in Hollywood, Margot Robbie is the most obvious example, here is an actress who has from drinking milkshake at Lassiters to sipping cocktails with DiCaprio. Perhaps more acting talent will follow Robbie over to the States; on the evidence of ‘Housebound’ perhaps the next actress from ‘Neighbours’ to make it to the big screen might well be Morgana O’Reilly.

‘Housebound’ is a darkly comic New Zealand based horror. O’Reilly plays Kylie, a troublesome twenty-something, who after an attempted raid on a cash machine is hit hard by the sledgehammer of New Zealand law and justice. Kate is fitted with an electronic tag and placed under house arrest. She is forced to live back home with her motor mouthed Mother Miriam (Rima Te Wiata), and Miriam’s long suffering partner.

The family home carries some dark secrets within its walls. At night Kylie hears noises and after overhearing her Mother call in to a talk radio station she is reminded that the house is haunted. The director gives us few clues as to what lurks within the house, but at first it seems like a malevolent spirit lurks in the residence. The clever build to the big reveal is innovatively presented and keeps us guessing.

In essence, the story in ‘Housebound’ is held together by Kylie and Miriam’s fractured Mother daughter relationship. Kylie lazes around the house drinking beer and eating all the food. Miriam’s patience is tested to the point when she is unable to sit down and watch her beloved ‘Coronation Street’. There are numerous exchanges between Kylie and Miriam which are adorably hilarious, and the tension carries that deep down they both care about each other, only they’re equally afraid to say it. Kylie regresses to sulky teen mode, and Miriam tries to avoid biting her tongue in half. In the end they fight for their lives and come together at the right time, as Kylie needs someone who believes that she is telling the truth, and that person turns out to be her Mother.

Though perhaps a tad overlong (not fitting in with my own personal criteria that a horror should never go beyond a ninety minute running time) ‘Housebound’ is an original story which provides enough twists, turns and near misses to keep us hooked for a surprisingly gory finale. This is certainly a horror film worth checking out.

– RJW

7/10

Housebound on IMDB

Eating Raoul (1982)

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Directed by: Paul Bartel

Frigging Peter Biskind, I was reading his second book, the one about Sundance and the Weinsteins and early on he rattles off a few indie titles that surpassed all expectations and made a profit at the box office. I’ve scribbled down a list, a few films that I’m curious to watch based on title alone, and I plan to watch them all, beginning with ‘Eating Raoul’.

The meaning behind ‘Eating Raoul’ is given away in the opening sequence. Set in Hollywood, the relationship between sex and hunger is reflected in everyday life; from vice on the streets to provocative advertising, the barrier between sex and food has dissolved. People’s minds have become warped; they are sexual predators soliciting sex wherever they go. We are told this is the story of Hollywood today.

We meet the Bland’s, a couple called Paul (Paul Bartel) and Mary (Mary Woronov). Paul is a wine expert, who gets the boot from his off license job for daring to have taste. He dresses like a Harvard intellectual and appears very stuffy, living up to his surname. Mary, his beautiful wife is a nurse who toils away at the local hospital. The couple live a sex free life existence, and sleep in separate beds. They are frequently disturbed by the Swingers parties that take place in their apartment complex and long to escape their sordid surroundings by opening up their own restaurant.

Money trouble forces them to act in desperate ways and when a live action version of Quagmire from ‘Family Guy’ comes around and tries to force himself upon Mary, Paul smacks him over the head with a frying pan and kills him. After showing a miniscule amount of concern they sift through the man’s wallet and discover he’s got a lot of dosh. After disposing of the body the couple decide that the only way they can quickly earn money is to lure Swingers to their apartment and bump them off. They seek advice from a single Mother who by night goes under the alias Doris the Dominatrix, she educates them about the Swingers lifestyle.

Paul and Mary have great success murdering Swingers who have fantasies that veer from the Oedipal to something involving a Nazi officer and a milkmaid. The situation is complicated when a Chicano red blooded locksmith named Raoul who discovers what they are up to and wants a slice of the lucrative pie. The couple work alongside Raoul after he saves Mary from getting raped by a randy Hippie played by Ed Begley Jr.

‘Eating Raoul’ is a true indie success story, as Bartel scraped together all the cash to finance the movie, shooting it whenever he had enough money to do so. All in all the whole thing took a couple of years to film. Despite this, each scene flows quite nicely, there is a good sense of continuity. Bartel is able to present the awkward relationship between middle class old fashioned American values and the sexually free hedonistic Hollywood lifestyle. The Bland’s don’t fit in with their environment, and this causes tension, a tension which grows from their own repressions, and leads to them committing acts of murder without being overly concerned with the consequences.

The murder is cartoonish, beginning with a gang member who gets shot in the off licence by Paul’s boss to the Hippie who gets strangled by his own love beads by Raoul. The film tries to show how Hollywood has made light of murder on screen, with people getting bumped off without any feeling, but it does so in a way akin to ‘The Ladykillers’ or more recently Tim Burton’s ‘Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street’. The uneasy, hard to swallow parts of the film tend to involve Mary, as men with uncontrollable sexual urges force themselves upon her in alarmingly regular ‘Carry On’ meets Benny Hill fashion. The word ‘rape’ is casually thrown around during these moments, and I think the director was deliberately highlighting this point – In Hollywood women are still treated like meat.

‘Eating Raoul’ is a dark comedy with a little bit of charm, it is similar to a John Waters flick, with quirky extreme personalities who jar with Mr and Mrs Normal. It is a subversive satire that lacks strong performances. The characters like everything else in the film are deliberately presented in a way that causes us not to be take them seriously, because they are too two dimensional. The sexually frustrated banker, the creepy Hippie, the uptight suburban couple; it is really only Mary who has any depth to her character, but even she conforms to the bored housewife stereotype who jumps on the first hunk who shows her a hint of interest.

– RJW
5/10

Eating Raoul at IMDB
Buy Eating Raoul [1982] [DVD]