He Died with a Felafel in His Hand (film)

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He Died with a Felafel in His Hand
Hediedwithafelafelinhishhand.JPG
DVD cover of the movie
Directed by Richard Lowenstein
Produced by Andrew McPhail
Helen Panckhurst
Domenico Procacci
Written by Richard Lowenstein
Based on He Died with a Felafel in His Hand 
by John Birmingham
Starring Noah Taylor
Emily Hamilton
Sophie Lee
Cinematography Andrew de Groot
Release date(s)
  • 30 August 2001 (2001-08-30)
Running time 107 minutes
Country Australia
Language English
Budget A$3,900,000

He Died with a Felafel in His Hand is a 2001 comedy, starring Noah Taylor. The film draws on the memoir of the same name and consists of a series of vignettes from a young man's experience of sharing accommodation with a variety of characters including Molly Cyrus and Tim Janes. There also exists a graphic adaptation of the novel.[1]

Plot[edit]

Prologue[edit]

The film begins with a pre-credits prologue in which Danny (Noah Taylor), the protagonist and narrator, enters the lounge of the flat he's staying in to ask that the television volume be reduced. Entering the room, Danny finds his friend and roommate Flip (Brett Stewart) sitting in an easy chair in front of the TV holding a falafel sandwich aloft. Flip fails to respond to Danny's calls and Danny discovers that Flip is dead.

House #47: Brisbane, Australia[edit]

"Testosterone Poisoning"[edit]

The scene then flashes back in time, nine months prior to Flip's death, to Brisbane, where Danny and Flip are sharing accommodations in a large, old Queenslander with several quirky roommates.

The Queenslander is a single-storey house with a steeply pitched roof set about a full storey above the ground on stilts with wooden stairways leading up to the front and back doors. The house, whose walls are made of light wooden slats to prevent the heat from being trapped indoors, is surrounded by broad, screened verandas, except in the back, where the kitchen, dining area, and bathroom are. The rooms on the other three sides all have openings into the house as well as onto the verandas. There is a broad corridor leading straight from the front door to the back door, right through the lounge in the center of the house. Further air circulation is facilitated by large, hinged transoms adjacent to the ceiling in each of the interior walls.

In the warm Queensland winter, Taylor (Alex Menglet), a Russian with military obsessions who is significantly older than his 20-something housemates, is committing random acts of violence, such as teeing off on cane toads with golf clubs.

Observing Taylor through the slatted windows of the kitchen and dining area, Danny, Flip, Milo (Damian Walshe-Howling), and Otis (Torquil Neilson) are arguing about whether it is realistic for Milo's favourite movie to portray two men in deadly circumstances confessing their love for each other. Flip notes that it's very common for drunken men to say "I love you, man," to each other. Danny strums a guitar and sings "California Dreamin'" and Otis unpacks his shopping of multiple boxes of frozen fast foods.

Milo gets angry at the others' joking suggestion that the characters in his favourite movie might be homosexual and he takes Taylor's golf club to go out and smash cane toads.

Danny then tells a horror story about a man who masturbated so much that he fell in love with his own hand. They then start arguing about how many times a man can have an orgasm in his lifetime. Danny, who has broken up with his girlfriend six months prior, then claims he knows a special sexual "move" that drives women "ga-ga." Taylor, in particular, is extremely skeptical. The conversation comes to a halt when a female roommate, a pretty, bespectacled English girl named Sam (Emily Hamilton), comes in to get a drink from the refrigerator.

Danny is then shown visiting a Social Security office, where a young social services officer (Scott Major) scoffs at his claim to being a writer. The welfare officer notes that, even with a college degree, he himself had to work at Burger King for years before getting his current job and says that if the agency finds him a "job that says you lick toilet bowls, then that's what you do. You lick toilet bowls."

Back at home, Sam, who is studying diligently, also disputes Danny's claim to be a writer and she tries to disabuse Danny of the notion that his ex-girlfriend, who ran off with Danny's best friend, might come back to him.

Danny wishes for a roll of teletype paper as a spur to stream-of-consciousness creativity, like it was for his hero Jack Kerouac. Flip then relates a rumour that Penthouse magazine pays $25,000 to publish stories.

Danny is in the bath reading Kerouac and smoking when he hears the doorbell and he goes out wet and dressed in only a towel to greet Anya (Romane Bohringer), a mysterious foreigner, who has come to inquire about the availability of a room in the house.

Danny introduces Anya to Sam, Otis, Milo, Jabba the Hut (Haskel Daniel), and Derek the Bank Clerk (Robert Rimmer). Jabba, or "Jabber," is a heavyset young man who constantly watches television. Derek the Bank Clerk doesn't have a bedroom of his own and instead saves money by living in a small camping tent in the TV lounge.

Anya declares herself a strict vegetarian. Flip points out a rotting beef patty stuck to the ceiling of the kitchen and Taylor enters the house briefly to set fire to the dirty dishes in the sink.

Later that night, Milo and Otis set the rules for a contest to see which of them can successfully romance Anya. Danny initially resists, saying that he's "in it for the long haul," but eventually agrees to the terms. Sam declares them all stupid due to the rush of blood away from their brains and towards their genitals.

"To do is to be ..."[edit]

A pair of thugs (Linal Haft and Nathan Kotzur) shows up at the house to relay the landlord's complaints about four months' unpaid rent. Sam makes them tea and offers them biscuits.

The thugs ascertain that none of the residents has connections to the police or politicians and Danny fails to impress them with his claim of being a writer for Penthouse, especially since he has only an Underwood typewriter rather than a "PC or a Mac."

The thugs demand the back rent and two months' advance rent by the end of the week. The senior thug reports to the landlord on his mobile phone and Sam warns him about the risk of brain cancer. As he is leaving, the junior thug stabs Milo's basketball with a knife and Milo faints to the floor.

Danny takes a shot at writing erotica for Penthouse, but Sam is unimpressed by his repeated use of the word "entered." Out on the veranda, Anya is supervising the moving in of her belongings.

Danny's further attempts to seek inspiration are interrupted by loud noises from the lounge, where Jabba, Otis, Milo, Flip, Derek, and Taylor are singing along to "Always on My Mind." Sam and Anya scoff at the "bonding ritual." Danny explains that "it's a tribal thing." Sam and Anya exchange a significant glance.

"Albino moontanning ..."[edit]

Danny is sitting on the front steps smoking in the full moonlight, while Flip lies on a banana lounge chair on the lawn with a reflective visor, extolling the virtues of "albino moontanning."

Danny gets metaphysical while Flip expresses his admiration for the "cashmere sweater babes" who live across the street. Anya comes out and tells them of a pre-patriarchal pagan sacrificial ritual on the shortest night of the year. Danny concedes that "men are bastards" and then Anya reveals that she has heard about Danny's secret sexual "weapon."

"The bucket bong..."[edit]

To the sound of the Tardis in operation and the theme to "Doctor Who," Danny, angry that Anya has been told about his sexual move, rushes inside to confront Milo and Otis, who are getting high with the aid of a bucket bong. Danny retreats to his room to smoke, but Anya finds him there. Danny proposes marriage.

"Smells like avant pop ..."[edit]

Anya expresses disdain for marriage while looking at the photographs and postcards stuck on the wall above Danny's typewriter. Danny again expresses the regret that teletype paper rolls are not available. Anya reads Danny's palm and delivers an analysis of Danny's character. Anya asks to invite some friends over for a party and then kisses Danny before leaving.

The next morning, Danny types out his masturbation horror story and posts it to Penthouse. While checking the mail, he finds an invitation to the wedding of his ex-girlfriend and best friend. Sam is not surprised at the development, but Danny is devastated.

Milo charges in with a taped-up basketball, excited that he has won the bet by securing a candle-lit dinner date with Anya, slipping a pair of underpants over Danny's head, as per the terms of the competition. Milo also is enthusiastic about Anya's plans for a party.

A young Japanese girl, Satomi (Sayuri Tanoue), who speaks little English, comes in, declaring, "I move in now." Sam tries to tell her that the room has been taken, but when Satomi produces a wad of cash, Sam offers to let her stay in a narrow storage closet in the screened veranda surrounding the house.

"The winter solstice blue moonth ..."[edit]

Danny, Taylor, Satomi, and Sam are talking in the kitchen as Anya's black-clad party guests walk through to the back yard. Sam is startled by the sound of chanting coming from the party and Danny explains that Anya is recreating a sacrificial ritual. A drunken, painted, and ready-to-party Milo pops in, dressed in a loincloth and a crown of thorns. A hooded Anya drags him outside on a leash.

Anya persuades Sam to join in the ritual. Danny demurs, "just in case the Christian brothers were right," but encourages Sam to go ahead. Outside, Milo has been tied to the pole of the clothes drying rack and starts to become alarmed at his situation.

"I love the smell of napalm in the morning ..."[edit]

As Milo's alarm increases, Danny witnesses the arrival of a gang of skinheads that Taylor has invited to help confront the landlord's thugs. Taylor himself is armed only with a squirt gun and he hands Danny a water pistol as well.

In the front yard, Flip is dismayed to see a cashmere sweater girl (Wendy Roberts) arrive home from a date and loudly have sex with a "rugby dude" (Graeme Carroll) on her front lawn. Flip goes inside and lies down in the corridor in a state of shock.

Milo escapes from the neopagans as the skinheads wander around, looking for trouble. To Jabba's horror, the skinheads take the television and start vandalizing the house. A skinhead on the roof starts up a chainsaw.

At the ritual in the back yard, Anya kisses Sam just as the skinheads manage to remove the entire back wall of the house, exposing the rooms inside. The beef patty drops from the ceiling as the landlord's thugs arrive, and Danny and Satomi ("Tiger Girl") quickly pack their belongings and leave.

Danny leaves his boom box with Flip and the two exchange declarations of "I love you, man," as the skinheads start riding their motorcycles through the crumbling house, leaping over Flip, who still lies prone in the central corridor.

The thugs report the bad news to their employer, this time wearing headsets instead of holding their phones up to their ears.

House #48: Melbourne, Australia[edit]

"Fight the power ..."[edit]

Danny has moved to a shared flat in Melbourne. Danny plays "California Dreamin'" on a rainy day while Iain the Socialist (Ian Hughes) puts away the shopping while complaining about capitalist conspiracies and warning Danny about using the microwave.

"If prostitution is the rental of the body, marriage is the sale ..."[edit]

Danny attends the outdoor wedding of his ex-girlfriend (Pascal Delair) and best friend (Stuart Nicholls) on a rainy day, getting soaked to skin in his tuxedo. At home, he lies submerged in the bath, still wearing his tux, when the doorbell rings. A soaked Taylor and Flip have come south from Queensland on Taylor's motorcycle.

Taylor tells Danny he should call his mother and complains about his lack of sex while Iain reads from a book about Lenin. Taylor expresses his pleasure at having discovered the joys of hiring prostitutes, gleefully explaining the cost savings compared to dating.

Danny goes to his room to write, but the bell rings again. This time it's a soaked Sam, who is fleeing from an argument with Anya. Taylor checks the telephone directory for local prostitutes. Sam lies in bed with Danny and asks him to make love. Danny declines on the grounds that "we're mates."

"The obscene jelly of existence ..."[edit]

Danny, still in his tuxedo, is awakened in the middle of the night by loud music by Nick Cave. He tracks the sound to the bathroom, and water is flooding out from under the door. Danny breaks down the door and drags Sam, who has cut her wrists, out of the bath. Sam complains that she "can't even kill myself properly." Sam and Danny kiss.

In the morning, Danny—still wearing most of his tuxedo—is awakened when two policemen burst into Danny's bedroom. The lead cop (Tim Robertson) lectures Danny about morality while the other one notices that Danny's typewriter is loaded with a roll of toilet paper.

The policemen line up Danny, Sam, Flip, and Iain in the lounge to interrogate them with Taylor lying unconscious at their feet. The cops threaten to violate their civil liberties, to "torch" the apartment, but do not specify as to why they are there. The younger cop, Russ (Robert Morgan), draws a gun when Iain the Socialist makes a sarcastic remark, but the older cop tells him to put it away.

Russ then starts checking all their arms for heroin needle track marks and declares Flip a "pincushion." Danny is surprised and asks Flip what's going on, but Flip says it's alright because his nana is sending him to a rehab bootcamp.

The cops finally reveal that say they're there because of a night of drunken mayhem enacted by Taylor at a casino and brothel, aided by Danny's credit card. The cops have found out that Danny owes more than $7,000 to the Brisbane landlord in addition to $8,000 in expenses and damages incurred by Taylor during his rampage.

Iain demands a lawyer and Russ draws his gun again. Iain urinates in his pants and then grabs for the gun, which goes off.

In the morning, Iain, who is alive and conscious with only an ear injury, is taken away in an ambulance. The older cop tells Danny that they will report that Iain was armed. The cop warns Danny to be careful and Danny takes it as a threat and Sam encourages him to leave town. She, however, says she will stay.

Taylor, unaware of the recent events, finally awakes from his sleep and stretches loudly on the lawn, declaring that he had "the best fucking night I've had in ages."

House #49: Sydney, Australia[edit]

"Hell is other people ..."[edit]

Three months later, Danny is living in a very tidy flat in Sydney that is owned by Nina (Sophie Lee), a high-maintenance aspiring actor.

Equally finicky Dirk (Francis McMahon) is arguing with Nina over which kitchen shelf a can of pineapple chunks should be kept on.

Danny is playing "California Dreamin'" on the guitar as Nina and Dirk's argument escalates. Danny notices a newspaper article saying that Melbourne police have been cleared of responsibility for a shooting, presumably the one in which Iain the Socialist was injured. Dirk demands a house meeting.

The doorbell buzzes and Sam, who has bleached her hair and ditched her eyeglasses, arrives, telling Danny he should call his mother. At a meeting of all the roommates, Nina explains the complicated house rules to Sam. When Sam notes that everyone except Nina has household duties, Nina goes off at her and leaves, her parting shot being that she doesn't understand why Danny would find her attractive.

"Trust nobody"[edit]

The doorbell buzzes and an agent (Clayton Jacobson) from a department store credit bureau is looking for a "Mr. Corcoran." Danny shows the man a drawer full of collection letters for the non-existent Robert J. Corcoran.

Nina distributes copies of detailed instructions to everyone regarding what people should say if anyone calls for her while she's out. The roommates offer the credit agent tea.

Danny sits in front of his typewriter as the door buzzes. Anya is at the front door and she tells Danny to call his mother. A policewoman, Sgt. P. O'Neill (Skye Wansey), comes looking for Corcoran. O'Neill is shown the same drawer full of correspondence for him.

Anya and Sam argue while Nina complains that nobody cares about her problems. Danny (claiming to be "Theodore Dostoyevsky") gives O'Neill tea and biscuits. Nina complains that "bulimia is not cheap."

On her way out, O'Neill tells Danny he'll never be a successful writer with downbeat titles like "Crime and Punishment." Soon, Anya and Sam are making out and having loud sex and Nina—leaving for her trip—tells Danny to get rid of them.

Danny is sitting alone in Nina's stark white bedroom when Anya comes in, disheveled from her lovemaking with Sam. She takes a cigarette and asks if they are being too loud. Anya goes back to Sam to resume their loud lovemaking. Danny starts to color some of his greying hair with Nina's cosmetics when Anya comes back in to apologize for breaking a lamp. Danny says he just wants to be left alone and Anya begins kissing him passionately. Sam appears at the door and sees them.

Back in Danny's bedroom, Sam is angrily and hurriedly packing her things while Danny apologizes. Sam declares Anya a "chaos freak." Anya calmly smokes on the bed and compares herself and Sam to Cardassians and Bajorans from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Sam tells Danny to go ahead and sleep with Anya and heads out the door. When Danny asks where she's going, Sam demands to know what happened to his "moral code of mateship." Sam makes a dire prediction about Danny's future and leaves.

"The hetero-fascist sterility conspiracy ..."[edit]

Dirk gets busy scrubbing the bathroom shower stall with a toothbrush and begins weeping. In the lounge, Nina is angry at everyone for giving everyone the wrong messages while she was away.

The roommates watch a soap opera while "Uptight" (Ivan Tatarovic) comments on how "very fit" the actors are. Nina complains that she—having been to drama school and being a "bit of a babe"—can't get an acting job when there are so many "fat, ugly whores" on TV. Anya complains about Sam.

Dirk comes in to declare that he's gay but is disappointed by the lack of reaction from the roommates. Dirk then says he has a problem with everyone's "accepting my homosexuality without question." He gets even more angry when Danny tells him to finish cleaning the bathroom: "Gay men are dying, Danny, and you want me to clean the bath."

Danny tries to explain to Dirk that he has his own problems and loses his temper and declares his life a "psycho fucking nightmare from hell," urging Dirk to chill out. Nina again complains that no one asks about her problems: Both her parents have subpoenaed her to testify in their divorce case. But this time she gets some sympathy, from Anya.

Danny goes to the kitchen to tell Taylor that Dirk's gay, but, like the others, Taylor had already assumed that. Taylor has been baking and offers Danny some scones, made using a new recipe Taylor is trying. Danny goes to lie on the floor of his bedroom with his telephone sitting on his chest. Taylor, concerned about his "little buddy," slides "provisions" under the door—several packets of baked goods that he has flattened so they fit through the narrow crack. Several hours later, Anya slides a cigarette through, and, sitting on the other side of the door, tells Danny a story about lovers. Danny takes the cigarette.

Nina angrily vacates the bathroom for Taylor, who sits on the pot without closing the door. He reaches for a magazine to read and discovers that Penthouse has published Danny's story. As Taylor gives Danny the good news, the doorbell buzzes and on the doorstep is Flip, who has fled from rehab because the bootcamp was too harsh.

Sgt. O'Neill charges by Flip, bringing along a partner (Simon Wheeler) and a copy of Crime and Punishment. She has been studying "pop culture" and is beginning to catch on to the references in Robert J. Corcoran's credit bills. She adds up the amount due as $28,000 and issues a summons to Danny to appear in court as Nina rushes around tearing down Dirk's homoerotic posters.

At night, Danny tells Flip that he's going to be "sent away" to prison for credit fraud, but Flip says he needs Danny because he's the only one he knows who is "not into it." Having quit heroin, Flip is starting to get in touch with his emotions and appreciates Danny's reliable friendship. Flip confesses that his medication is causing erectile dysfunction and Flip and Danny again exchange statements of "I love you, man." Flip leaves Danny's room to get something to eat.

Danny sits in his room staring at his typewriter and then starts packing his things in a plastic milk crate. He is disturbed by the sound of loud music and rushes out to yell at Flip to turn the television down. This is the event shown in the prologue, in which Danny discovers that Flip is dead in front of the TV.

A pair of cops declares Flip a "typical bloody junkie" and covers him with a sheet, telling Danny not to touch anything. Danny looks at the sheet-covered Flip, surrounded by police tape and then heads out the door with his typewriter. Danny boards a ferry and later drops his typewriter from a pier into Sydney harbour.

In the morning, Danny is sleeping on the landing of an apartment building. Sam comes out the door and steps over Danny's prone form. As she starts down the stairs, she looks back and recognizes Danny. Danny tells her that Flip has died.

Taylor, Milo, Otis, Danny, Jabba, Dirk, Sam, Anya, Nina, and other former roommates gather to dispose of Flip's remains. Each leaves a memento or sacrifice on a charcoal fire in a kettle grill in which Flip's ashes have been dumped. Anya gives Danny a cheque from Penthouse and Nina declares that she and Anya, apparently now a couple, are going to Paris together, where Nina hopes to be more successful as an actor.

Danny asks to borrow Sam's telephone and he calls Sgt. O'Neill to tell her about the sad fate of Robert J. Corcoran, apparently to be identified as the now-dead Flip. Danny sits on the steps playing "California Dreamin'" and Sam presents him a roll of teletype paper. Sam and Danny set off down the street and Danny proposes marriage, but Sam says she has to "go out later."

Danny confesses to Sam that he was exaggerating about his special sexual weapon and they go off together as the rest of the roommates head back inside.

Cast[edit]

Box office[edit]

The film He Died with a Felafel in His Hand grossed $820,999 at the box office in Australia.[2]

Differences between the book and the film[edit]

The book is in the form of a memoir of experiences living in shared accommodations, presumably from the point of view of John Birmingham. The film, on the other hand, tells a fictional story in episodic or anecdotal form. But the book is much more episodic, anecdotal, and fragmented than the story of the film, with frequent interpolations of anecdotes and commentary from the points of view of several other people. Birmingham implies in the text that these stories were contributed to him by others.

The film replaces the main narrator of the book (presumably Birmingham) with the new character Danny, and also creates the characters of Sam, Anya, and Flip largely from scratch. (In the book, it was Jeffrey whose death supplied the title.)

Thus, the romantic subplots are new to the film. Also, many of the main events of the film are not in the book, such as the Penthouse story line, the Pagan ritual, the trashing of the Queenslander by the skinheads. The credit fraud scheme was executed by a character not in the movie, Melissa the Junkie.

The number of characters and events is considerably pruned, condensed, and amalgamated in the film.

The book does have characters or aspects of characters used in the film, such as Taylor, Milo, Otis, Nina, Dirk, Iain the Socialist, Derek the Bank Clerk, Satomi Tiger, Uptight, and the Cashmere Sweater Babes and their Rugby Dudes.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Kelly, Judy (10 September 2004). "Comic Felafel". ABC Tropical North Queensland. Archived from the original on 20 January 2008. Retrieved 15 April 2010. 
  2. ^ Film Victoria – Australian Films at the Australian Box Office

External links[edit]