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He Died with a Felafel in his Hand

Richard Lowenstein

He Died with a Felafel in his Hand
This adaptation of John Birmingham's cult novel initially prepares you for the worst. Beginning in a decrepit, shared Brisbane house, it follows the usual failed writer/slacker (Noah Taylor) as he fixates on tedious undergraduate obsessions like the existentialists, the beats and Hunter Thompson. And his roomies are the usual collection of freakish failures that populate the world of the pop-cult obsessed, failing to sketch them beyond caricatures and chortling smugly over their one cliché personality traits. But as Taylor ricochets from house to house dodging back rent, credit card debt and the cops at every turn it becomes clear that the film has more on its mind than Kevin Smith self-regard. Felafel is about people who are trying to outrun their lives and the experience will be familiar to whoever shared a house for longer than they really ought to have. Aesthetically, it's a little slack and the cast never quite jells the way it ought to, though Romaine Bohringer is hilarious as a French bisexual who barely registers emotion. But with all of its false starts, missed cues and tonal slumps it's the one Gen-X artefact that is genuinely introspective rather than denying the nature of its problems. And while there's more than a little male bias in the whole thing — the female characters are there to provide crises for the male protagonist — you have to give it credit for its modicum of self-awareness. Extras include a commentary with director Richard Lowenstein and DP Andrew De Groot that's fanatically tech-obsessed, biographies of the director and actors, and an astonishingly lame short called Time Out, in which two adults play kindergarteners being punished for naughtiness. (Mongrel Media)

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