Tag Archives: The Final Member

Failed Critics Podcast: Using 10% of our brain’s capacity

run for your wifeThe King is dead retired, long live the King, King and Queen!

With the James-era officially ending with our previous podcast, we begin anew with two new release reviews. We did consider making you wait nine years for us to get back together, inspired by Robert Rodriguez & Frank Miller’s Sin City: A Dame To Kill For, but we just couldn’t wait that long to tell you about it. We also found time to review Luc Besson’s latest sci-fi thriller Lucy – and we didn’t need to reach 100% brain capacity in order to do it either.

The team also find time to talk about a selection of films shown at last weekend’s FrightFest (including The Den, All Cheerleaders Die and Doc of the Dead), Icelandic penis museum documentary The Final Member, utterly terrible Disney movie Condorman and the, er, dire Danny Dyer movie Run For Your Wife.

Join us next week for more reviews and less Danny Dyer chat (probably?)

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GFF13: Diary of a Failed Critic 22/02/13

gfflogoIt’s been a long, but brilliant week at the Glasgow Film Festival, and it was with great sadness that I embarked on my last day here. It started with the world première  of Staande! Debout!, a Belgian/Finish film about the after-effects of an autoworkers strike that paralysed Belgium in 1997. It’s a fictional account (but based on the very real experiences of the striking workers) of Felix, an old man who never got over the closure of the car plant where he worked. When his best friend dies, Felix decides to gather his surviving comrades to honour him. It’s an emotionally stark and desolate film, complimented by shots of a decaying industrial town in provincial Belgium. But also a powerful exploration of the human cost of capitalism, and a reminder that figures on a balance sheet are individual people, with their own hopes, fears, and varying levels of resilience.

The afternoon presented me with A Late Quartet, the fictional feature debut of Yaron Zilberman. Starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, Christopher Walken, and Catherine Keener, it tells the story of a string quartet’s struggles to stay together in the face of Parkinson’s disease, infidelity, and competitiveness. Sadly, it’s a rather boring and navel-gazing glimpse into the world of ‘rich white people’s problems’. Eastenders for the upper-middle-classes. Imogen Poots impresses as the daughter of Robert and Julliet Gelbart (Hoffman and Keener), and Christopher Walken is surprisingly not playing Christopher Walken for once. Overall though, the pace is flat, the characters are self-obsessed and uninteresting, and I couldn’t wait for it to end.

Before I head home to work on a film of my own (and who knows, maybe I’ll be back here next year in a slightly different capacity), I’m going to sign off with a few awards. I’m thinking of calling them the Glasgees…

Best Performance

There have been a number of great performances this week; Imogen Poots in The Look of Love; Ann Dowd in the otherwise pretty nasty Compliance, Soren Malling in A Hijacking; and Jack Black’s career-best turn in Bernie. A special mention should go to the cast of Cloud Atlas, who do an incredible job charging through multiple eras, races, and even genders. For me though, I have to give the award to Theo Green in Breakfast with Curtis. A non-professional actor, who puts in the kind of performance you might see in a Ken Loach film, but a happy one.

Best Documentary

Although Indie Game: The Movie and The Day that Lasted 21 Years were both excellent films, The Final Member is the one documentary that really caught my imagination. A incredibly story, told by fantastic characters, with a wonderful soundtrack. This will be a firm festival favourite in the coming months.

Best Foreign-Language Film

The Thieves came mighty close to winning this, but it just felt a little too Hollywood. A Highjacking however, is the type of film Hollywood would never make, and that’s a real shame. It’s an incredibly tense film about the hijacking of a Danish freighter by Somali pirates, and the increasingly fraught negotiations between Peter (CEO of the shipping company) and the hijacker’s translater and negotiator. A battle of wills and wits commences, and caught in the middle is the ship’s cook Mikkel. Brilliant.

Best Film

It has to be Cloud Atlas, with its bold, brave, and breathtaking take on David Mitchell’s ‘unfilmable’ novel. You have to admire the film’s incredible ambition, and if you’re in the mood to forgive its sense of self-importance, and some ridiculous make-up jobs, you will be knocked over by a juggernaut of a movie. An absolute must-see.

And that’s it. I would like to thank everyone at Glasgow Film Festival (particularly Kirstin Innes, Laura Doherty, and Hannah Cosgrove), and of course our coverage sponsors Brewdog Glasgow. See you back here in 2014!

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The Failed Critics coverage of Glasgow Film Festival was sponsored by Brewdog Bar Glasgow – providing award-winning beers and brilliant food in one of Glasgow’s friendliest bars. Cheers for all the beer & burgers.

GFF13: The Final Member

Tom Mitchell, and his plans for Elmo's final resting place
Tom Mitchell, and his plans for Elmo’s final resting place

There are generally two types of theatrical documentary. One involves months, even years, of meticulous research, planning, interviews and fact-checking. The other type often feels like all the film-maker needed to do was turn up, start filming, and let the characters tell the story. The Final Member is firmly in the second camp, but is taken to another level by some beautiful photography, a wonderful soundtrack, and a tension-building finale to rival the best Hollywood thriller.

Siggi Hjartarson runs the world’s first and only Penis Museum, in Iceland. His collection started in the 1970s with a joke gift of a bull’s decapitated member from a friend (odd, but certainly more original than a ‘grow your own girlfriend’ kit and some chocolate boobs). Over the years his collection grew, and he now has thousands of specimens of mammalian penises. Just one thing is missing from his House of Glans though; a Homo sapiens penis.

Believe it or not, two men have chosen to volunteer their phallus to the museum. 93-year-old Pall Arason is Siggi’s preferred candidate; a famous Icelandic adventurer who claims to have slept with 300 women “not counting prostitutes”. Pall’s rival is 60-year-old Tom Mitchell of the USA, a man who introduces himself “I’m Tom Mitchell, and I’m an American”. Pall’s fame in Iceland would make him the ideal candidate, but his advancing years may potentially cause too much shrinkage, and Tom is prepared to go to great lengths, including offering to donate his penis while he is still alive, in an effort to beat off the competition from Pall and ensure his Yankee Doodle Dandy becomes “the most famous penis in the world”.

Siggi’s frustration with Tom’s overzealous communications and ideas for how best to display his penis lead to some of the film’s most wonderful moments. The absurdity of the situation finally dawns on Siggi when he receives word that Tom has commissioned his own display cabinet for Elmo. That’s right, Tom has named his penis Elmo, but don’t worry, it was “long before the Muppet appeared”. Siggi is furious at the eroding of his authority, and issues Tom with a ‘take it or leave it’ offer and heads off to translate a book by a Spanish monk into Icelandic.
Honestly.

The real star of the show is Pall Arason though. His brief appearances in the film are a wonderful portrayal of the type of eccentric character you fear the 21st century will no longer produce. In the absence of a documentary of Pall’s life, we’ll have to make do with archive footage of his appearance on a UK television show (unnamed, but it surely must either be The Word or Eurotrash), where a poor researcher is charged with making a plaster cast of Pall’s penis. The ensuing cock-up is comedy gold that left me laughing out loud in spite of myself. Sometimes the simplest things please the simplest minds.

In spite of my remarks in the opening paragraph, I know how much hard work went into making this documentary. To use a football analogy, the best kind of referee is one that you don’t notice during the match. In film terms, the greatest success of The Final Member is that you don’t notice the artifice of the film-maker encroaching into a compelling story.
The Final Member is destined to become a festival hit, and you can be one of the first to see it at the Glasgow Film Festival on Friday 15th and Saturday 16th February. 

Tickets are available here.

Glasgow Film Festival preview

stoker

This Thursday (14th February) sees the start of the ninth annual Glasgow Film Festival. Growing in size and stature every year, the 2013 festival is the biggest yet, with over 360 events, 57 UK premieres, and 6 world premieres.

The great thing about the GFF is that, as well as being able to watch highly anticipated films from the likes of Joss Whedon (with his lo-fi take on Shakespeare’s anti-rom-com Much Ado About Nothing), Michael Winterbottom (The Look of Love, starring Steve Coogan as porn baron Paul Raymond), and Chan-wook Park (with his first English-language film, Stoker), film fans can also watch cinematic classics in entirely different surroundings (including Jaws on a boat, and The Passion of Joan of Arc in Glasgow Cathedral with live accompaniment).

As well as film, the festival features live musical performances, Q&As with the stars and creators of TV shows like A Game of Thrones and Fresh Meat, and even a live review of the new Aliens: Colonial Marines video-game (followed by a 70mm screening of Aliens on the big screen.

While most films and events are priced at a very reasonable £8.50, there are also a number of free events including the opening of the latest BFI Mediatheque on Friday 22nd February at Bridgeton Library.

Failed Critics will be in Glasgow during the festival to report back on the films not to miss, as well as exploring the cinematic history of this wonderful city. We’ll also be recording a special edition of the Failed Critics Podcast, and maybe even getting a special guest or two on to talk to us*.

*By special, we mean Dave MacFarlane from Bornoffside.net and Paul Fisher from TheWriteClub.co.uk. They’re special, in a way.

For those of you lucky enough to be in Glasgow next week, here are our picks of the festival:

The Final Member
Destined to become one of the surprise hits of this, and many other film festivals; The Final Member is one of those documentaries where it seems all the film-makers need do is show up and point their camera at the subject. Siggy Hjartarson is the curator of the world’s only Penis Museum, in Iceland, and although he has thousands of mammalian specimens he is missing one vital object. A human penis. Believe it or not, the race is on between a 95-year-old Icelandic explorer/womaniser and an younger American who is prepared to go to great lengths (if you think that pun is bad, wait until our full review) to make his penis famous.

The Final Member is showing on Friday 15th February at 3pm, and on Saturday 16th February at 7pm.

Breakfast with Curtis
If you fancy watching a film made by a unique writing/directing talent, filmed in the director’s house over a few weeks and starring their friends, well, you could try and blag a ticket to one of the sold-out screenings of Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing, or you could watch Laura Colella’s heart-warming Breakfast with Curtis.

Five years after an incident that caused a seemingly irreparable rift with his neighbours, online bookseller and care-free bohemian Syd asks their 14-year-old son Curtis for help recording a video blog. What follows is a beautiful coming-of age film about one of those seminal summers where rifts are healed, old secrets emerge, and boys finally become men.

Breakfast with Curtis is showing on Saturday 16th February at 5.20pm, and Tuesday 19th February at 7pm.

Stoker
The first English-language film from Chan-wook Park (Oldboy, Sympathy for Lady Vengeance) is the art-house equivalent of a new Star Wars film. One of the most unique directors working in film today presents a twisted midnight-black tale about young India Stoker’s (Mia Wasikowska) infatuation with the creepy uncle (Matthew Goode) who comes to stay after the death of her father. Nicole Kidman continues her career renaissance (you can also see her in The Paperboy at Glasgow Film Festival) as India’s fragile mother.

This is one film where we have no idea what to expect, but except to be entertained.

Stoker is showing on Saturday 16th February at 8.30pm, and Sunday 17th February at 4.30pm.

GFF13 Surprise Film
The surprise film has become a staple of the festival circuit in recent years, and Glasgow Film Festival usually delivers in spades. Recent choices for this slot have included David Lynch’s Inland Empire, and last-year’s mumblecore delight Jeff, Who Lives At Home. We’ll be recording our GFF Podcast Special directly after this screening with our instant reactions.

The only disappointment will be from those who miss out on a ticket for a screening that will almost certainly sell out.

The GFF 13 Surprise Film is showing on Wednesday 20th February at 8.30pm.

A Hijacking
Scandinavian drama has never been held in higher esteem than it is right now, and The Hijacking is another example of the excellent film-making coming out of Denmark. This is a taut and ultra-realistic film about the hijacking of the Danish cargo ship by Somali pirates, and the ensuing stand-off and negotiations.

A Hijacking is showing on Wednesday 20th February at 8.45pm, and Thursday 21st February at 4pm.

A full list of films, including online booking facilities, is available on the Glasgow Film Festival website