dir: Richard Lowenstein
He died with a review of He Died With a Felafel in His Hand in his hand…
I always intended to write a review that started thusly, and now I’ve finally achieved that lofty ambition. I am a simple man, after all, with simple tastes and simpler pleasures. It doesn’t take much to amuse me, but it takes much to maintain my interest for more than a few minutes at a time.
He Died With a Felafel in his Hand is one of those classic books, like Trainspotting, like the Bible, that’s more of a collection of stories than a story with a single protagonist and a clear narrative, which, in the hands of cinema geniuses, is transformed into a story with a protagonist and a clear narrative. The book, by John Birmingham, is a funny collection of the kinds of nightmare Australian sharehouse experiences which should (but probably won’t) close the book on writing about such stuff for future generations.
The film takes some of the material and transforms it into a story about an aimless young chap called Danny (Noah Taylor), who lives in a number of sharehouses, and has a bunch of hangers-on and ridiculous experiences. The story starts in Queensland, moves to Melbourne, then finishes in Sydney.
One of the opening scenes is of someone taking a swing at a cane toad with a golf club. With the sound of the impact, and then the splat, we pretty much know this flick is going to try desperately hard to be ‘out there’.
The other part of the opening is a scene where someone sits with a felafel held rigidly in their hand, presumably dead whilst watching the ABC program Rage. Golden Brown by The Stranglers blares at top volume as Danny loudly asks him to turn the volume down, before realising that the felafel-clasper is dead.
The story then jumps back several months to Queensland, and the protagonist’s 47th share house. Housemates argue about the latent homosexuality in Reservoir Dogs in between bucket bongs. New potential housemates turn up out of the blue to take up residence in cupboards. Menacing debt collectors menace the residents over the non-payment of rent. One housemate is a giant bean bag of a man, who spends all his time sitting in a bean bag sternly operating the remote control to the television. Another lives in a tent in the lounge room, whilst another seems to be trapped mentally in Apocalypse Now. Danny’s friend Sammy (Emily Hamilton) seems like the only sane person in the entire house, but that’s only because she has glasses on and reads a textbook most of the time.