Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Phallophilia on-screen again in Jonah Bekhor and Zach Math's documentary, THE FINAL MEMBER

Making a just-about perfect double bill with Unhung Hero, the new documentary THE FINAL MEMBER breaks further ground concerning the male-of-the-species' penis obsession. The three men we meet here seem obsessed something fierce with the male member -- an activity I admit that I myself have been rather interested in down the decades, as are, I suspect, many gay and bi-sexual men. But whatever interest we may have with cocks and balls surely pales next to that of these three guys.

The two filmmakers who directed the doc -- Jonah Bekhor and Zach Math (shown above, with Mr. Math on the left) -- are Canadians who, when they first heard about and then followed up on this story of the world's first penis museum, found in Iceland, actually relocated to that tiny country in order to facilitate their film-making. It's a bit difficult to imagine that they ended up with what they expected from their endeavors, going in. But who knows? Perhaps they were aware from the upshot how obsessed all the parties actually were.

Those parties would include the man, Sigurður Hjartarson (above), who put together the penile venue -- the Icelandic Phallological Museum, the world's only one devoted exclusively to the penis -- that holds a sample member from so many of the world's mammal species and displays them all. All, that is, except for the penis of one of us homo sapiens. To that end, the museum's founder, now in his 70s, is literally beating the bushes to find a possible donor for the cause.

Which brings us to the other two obsessive gentlemen: Páll Arason (above), an ex-adventurer/cocksman said to have had his way with more Icelandic (and maybe other nationalities) women than any other Icelandic man. Arason has agreed to donate his member to the museum upon his death. Except that, even in the best of days, his penis measured but five inches. Now that he is in his dotage, it is shrinking (as all of ours seem to, eventually), and so may not measure up to standard.

The movie takes a funny side trip here into penis-size folklore, and we hear the tale of a woman who insisted that Iceland come up with a minimum acceptable penis size because, as you can see from the drawing above, her hubby simply did not measure up.

Then our curator hears from a man in America, Tom Mitchell, who is also interested in donating his penis to the museum. It's a big one: seven inches and very thick. Tom calls his cock Elmo, and it is clearly his most prized possession. So prized that he begins setting rules and gilding the lily, as it were. (Ever seen a cock with a red, white and blue tattoo on its head? You will.)

All this is, on one level, crazy as hell. But as these are human beings, their desires and craziness are funny and sad and faintly ridiculous. Even though someone in this movie (Hjartarson maybe?) early on notes that, regarding the penis, "Anything that mustn't be talked about must be talked about." Fair enough, but obsession or no, one can't help but ask, Is this the measure of a man?  For Arason and especially for Mitchell, I guess the answer is yes.

Does Hjartarson get his final member? Surprise ensues and the suspense builds, and eventually we learn the outcome. Meanwhile, don't miss the comic-book adventures of Elmo, shown during the end credits. These are a hoot, and for the most part, so is this movie.

From Drafthouse Films and running a thankfully short 72 minutes, The Final Member opens around the country this Friday, April 18 -- in Austin, Dallas, Houston, New York, Phoenix, Seattle and Yonkers, with more cities to follow in the weeks to come. To see all currently scheduled playdates, click here and scroll down.

No comments: