He Died with a Felafel in His Hand (2001)

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Released 19-Feb-2002

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Unknown Main Menu Audio & Animation
Dolby Digital Trailer-Rain
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2001
Running Time 102:43
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Richard Lowenstein
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Noah Taylor
Emily Hamilton
Romane Bohringer
Alex Menglett
Brett Stewart
Francis McMahon
Sophie Lee
Haskel Daniels
Case Soft Brackley-Transp
RPI $34.95 Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio Unknown Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes, heavy continuous smoking
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    There have been shorter epitaphs than: He Died With a Felafel in his Hand.

    He Died With a Felafel in His Hand is a strange movie. I haven't read the book (by John Birmingham) from which it is derived, but I get the feeling it is equally strange. Richard Lowenstein clearly involved himself heavily in this project - he has credits as writer, director, producer, and editor.

    The central character (definitely not "hero") is Daniel Kirkhope (Noah Taylor), a chain-smoking, emaciated, bestubbled loser who claims to be a writer, but seems to be suffering from a long-standing writer's block. He's living in a share-house in Brisbane with a collection of strange people, including a crazy European (Alex Menglet) who tees off on cane toads. This is the 47th share-house Daniel has lived in. Perhaps the only sane person in the house is Sammy (Emily Hamilton). We arrive in the house just before Anya (Romane Bohringer) arrives. Later we meet an insecure actress (Sophie Lee - probably having a ball with this part) in another share-house. These women in Daniel's life influence him more deeply than the strange men around him.

    This is not a mainstream movie. It may be an art film, but I don't think so, because it is both interesting and intriguing. It is difficult to describe, but perhaps the movie it most resembles is Pulp Fiction; it has the same level of coarse language, and a similar mild detachment from the mundane. The one difference is that this movie doesn't jump from one character to another - Daniel is involved in every scene.

    There are some delightful insights in this film - is the whole world an illusion created to stop us going insane? Is 13 an unlucky number because the patriarchy abolished the 13th lunar month to block the sacrifice of a king?

    There are references to Star Trek (including Deep Space Nine), Star Wars, Doctor Who - these are the stuff of a particular type of Australian male psyche - no wonder this guy has trouble understanding women. Oh, and it helps if you've seen a lot of films, including The Wizard of Oz, Apocalypse Now, and Cabaret. No, I won't explain that - you'll have to watch this film to understand.

    The back cover describes this film as hilarious. I disagree. It is amusing, it is absurd, it has wry moments of delicious irony, but there are no belly laughs. Well, maybe the confrontation between skinhead Nazis and pagans engaging in ritual sacrifice is rather broader humour, as is the tinned pineapple scene. 

    For a while, I thought Noah Taylor was just coasting through the film, with everything happening around him. Then there's a scene in the 49th share house where he finally gets worked up, and shows how good he is. He is doing an impressive job all the way through, but he makes it look really easy. Emily Hamilton is more obviously excellent, but she has more opportunity to show off.

    I look back over this, and I see that I've really not given you any idea of what this film is about. In an interesting irony, that is really quite appropriate, because you should approach this movie not really knowing what's going on - the dislocated feeling is part of the experience. And watch the credits - I rather liked the list of apologies.

    If you have an open mind, then you might well find this an interesting film.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    This movie is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced. I suspect the original theatrical ratio was 1.85:1, because a few of the credits are close to the edge of the picture, but that's very minor.

    The image is a little bit soft, but it is beautifully clear. There is gorgeous shadow detail (where the lighting allows it - there's quite a bit of dull lighting). There's absolutely no low-level noise.

    Colour varies from bright and intense to dull, depending on the lighting. The most intense colours are to be seen in the 49th share-house, and they are perfect. There are a couple of moments of over-saturation outside the 49th share-house, but that is clearly deliberate, emphasising the brilliant sunshine in Sydney in contrast to the rain in Melbourne.

    There is no significant aliasing, no moire, no MPEG errors, and only a few tiny film artefacts. This is a clean and attractive transfer, which you'd expect for such a recent film.

    The only subtitles are English for the Hearing Impaired. They are accurate, well-timed, and easy to read..

    The disc is single-sided and single layered. No layer change.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There is only one soundtrack: English Dolby Digital 5.1, recorded at the higher bit-rate of 448 kbps. 

    The dialogue is easy to understand, even the heavily accented lines. No audio sync problems were visible. Good stuff.

    The score is a mixture of songs, well-chosen instrumental music, and moments of deep silence. Part of the charm of this film is the well-constructed score.

    The soundtrack demonstrates excellent use of the surround environment - there are some awesome directional sound effects (especially the cane toads - you'll see, or rather, hear!). One of the best I've heard. The subwoofer is not called on heavily, because this soundtrack doesn't call for it; there are moments when the sub supports the deep bass, but that's really all.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu

    The menu is animated. It is subtle, just a ripple, but it is nice.

Theatrical Trailer (2:06)

    The trailer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced. It's good to see the trailer presented in the same quality as the film.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    There does not appear to be a Region 1 version of this disc yet. Indeed, it appears the Region 4 is the first version world-wide.

Summary

    He Died With A Felafel In His Hand is a strange, but enjoyable, film presented well on DVD.

    The video quality is excellent.

    The audio quality is reference.

    The extra is limited, but at least it is high quality.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Thursday, January 24, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDArcam DV88, using Component output
DisplaySony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE
SpeakersFront Left and Right: Krix Euphonix, Centre: Krix KDX-C Rears: Krix KDX-M, Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5

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