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Fantastic Fest Review: THE FINAL MEMBER And The Phallocentric Legacy

Film Crit Hulk reviews "the penis movie."

Fantastic Fest Review: THE FINAL MEMBER And The Phallocentric Legacy

"Hulk, are you going to see the penis movie?"

THE QUESTION ABOUNDED LAST NIGHT. THE GREAT THING ABOUT FILM FESTIVALS IS THAT YOU CAN KNOW LITERALLY NOTHING ABOUT THE MOVIE YOU ARE ABOUT TO WALK INTO OR ONLY HAVE SOME VAGUE IDEA OF ITS MERIT (AND AT FANTASTIC FEST YOU KNOW THERE IS A GOOD CHANCE IT IS GOING TO BE PRETTY WEIRD) AND THEN THE MOVIE BECOMES DIFFERENT FROM BEING JUST "THE _____ MOVIE"... IT CAN BECOME SOMETHING SO MUCH MORE.

THIS NAIVE WAY TO WANDER INTO A MOVIE CAN ACTUALLY BE IDEAL, ESPECIALLY FOR A MOVIE THAT COULD SEEM AS SILLY AND INNOCUOUS AS BEING LABELED "THE PENIS MOVIE" BY A CROWD OF DELIGHTED CINEPHILES (IN RETROSPECT HULK PREFERS THE TERM "COCK DOC"). THE TRUTH IS THAT THE FINAL MEMBER IS NOT EXCLUSIVELY A MOVIE ABOUT SOME STRANGE PENIS COLLECTOR, BUT AN ADEPT LOOK AT THE UNIQUE WAYS THAT THREE MEN DEAL WITH THE CENTRAL EXISTENTIAL QUESTIONS OF LIFE. THE FILM ISN'T REALLY ABOUT PENISES, IT'S ABOUT DEATH, LEGACY AND OBSESSION.

... PENISES ARE JUST THE VEHICLE.

WHICH IS FITTING REALLY. PHALLOCENTRICISM HAS BEEN AT THE HEART OF AS MUCH "HIGH-MINDED" ART (HA) AS IT IS HAS BANAL FORMS OF TOILET HUMOR. HEMINGWAY ENGAGED THE CONCEPT CONSTANTLY AND FOR MANY OF THE SAME REASONS THE SUBJECTS OF THIS DOCUMENTARY DO AS WELL... BUT IN THIS FILM WE HAVE SOMETHING PERHAPS A LITTLE LESS SELF AWARE. OUR MAIN SUBJECT, SIGGI HJARTARSON, IS AN OLDER ICELANDIC MAN WHO HAS BEEN COLLECTING VARIOUS PENISES FROM THE ANIMAL KINGDOM FOR NEARLY FORTY YEARS. HE HAS EVEN OPENED A MUSEUM TO HOUSE THEM ALL, WHICH INADVERTENTLY TURNED IT INTO HIS LIFE'S WORK AND PROFESSION. HE BRINGS A SENSE OF SCIENTIFIC WONDER AND DELIGHT TO THE PROCEEDINGS, BUT HE HAS BEEN DESPERATELY TRYING TO FIND THE JEWEL IN HIS CROWN TO COMPLETE HIS COLLECTION: A PRESERVED SPECIMEN OF A HUMAN PENIS. KNOW THIS: HE IS THE MOST NORMAL PERSON IN THE DOCUMENTARY.

BECAUSE WHAT THIS QUEST ACTUALLY UNLEASHES IS THE INTEREST OF TWO CENTRAL DONORS, WHO COULD NOT BE MORE INTERESTING. THE FIRST IS A FORMER ICELANDIC ADVENTURER NOW IN HIS NINETIES, WHOSE VIRILE NATURE IS AS OUTWARD AS YOU COULD IMAGINE. HE IS THAT CLASSIC ALPHA MALE FIGURE AND IS NOW CONTEMPLATING HIS FAILING HEALTH AND LEGACY BEYOND FAME. THE OTHER IS POTENTIAL DONOR IS AN AMERICAN MAN NAMED WHO WITH UNBLINKING CERTAINTY WANTS HIS PENIS TO BE THE MOST FAMOUS PENIS IN THE WORLD. HE REFERS TO IT AS "ELMO" AND DIVES HEADLONG INTO WATERS OF EXHIBITION.

THE VARIOUS STEPS THESE MEN TAKE IN TRYING TO BE THE FIRST DONOR RANGE FROM SILLY TO DOWNRIGHT TERRIFYING, BUT EVERY SCENE JUST PULLS BACK THE CURTAIN ON THE PSYCHOLOGY OF THESE GENTLEMEN, REVEALING SO MUCH ABOUT THE PRESERVATION OF A MASCULINITY THEY CLEARLY HOLD DEAR. BOTH MEN HAVE LOST VIRILITY IN A WAY THAT IS SIGNIFICANT. BOTH MEN FACE THE PROSPECTS OF EMASCULATION AND CAN'T SEEM TO PROCESS THE CONSEQUENCES. SO BOTH STARE AT THE ONCOMING SPECTER OF DEATH AND HOPE TO CONQUER IT THROUGH THE MOST OBVIOUS WAY THEIR ID WILL ALLOW THEM: COCK PRESERVATION.

IT IS THE KIND OF DOCUMENTARY - SOLIDLY FUNNY, CONSISTENTLY ENTERTAINING, AND OCCASIONALLY BEAUTIFUL - THAT ACTUALLY ROOTS ITS STRONGEST ASPECT IN THE THEMATIC IMPLICATIONS OF ITS SUBJECT.  THE FINAL MEMBER ISN'T ACTUALLY A FILM ABOUT PENISES, BUT A FILM ABOUT THE WAY WE CLING TO YOUTH AND LEGACY IN THE FACE OF LOSS. A FILM ABOUT THE WAY WE CONFRONT THE AGE OLD QUESTIONS OF EXISTENTIALISM. AND UNLIKE THE GREAT PHALLOCENTRIC AUTHORS OF OUR TIME, OUR SUBJECTS TAKE IT A LITTLE MORE... LITERALLY.

<3 HULK

Film Crit Hulk's photo About the Author: FILM CRIT HULK WAS CREATED IN A CHAOTIC LAB EXPERIMENT INVOLVING GAMMA RADIATION, TELEPODS, AND THE GHOST OF PAULINE KAEL. NOW HULK HAVE DEEP AND ABIDING LOVE CINEMA.
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