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Fantastic Fest 2012: Capone calls the great doc THE FINAL MEMBER phallologically fantabulous!!!

Hey everyone. Capone in Austin for Fantastic Fest 2012.

This movie gives a whole new meaning to the term "feature length." Oh, how men love their penises. And now thanks to the great new documentary THE FINAL MEMBER, I know that when I say "their penises," I actually mean the collective male genitalia off all species, like the collection featured in the Icelandic Phallological Museum, curated by a fascinating man named Siggi Hjartarson. His collection features the single largest gathering of mammalian penises the world has ever seen, ranging from an enormous section of sperm whale junk to the nearly microscopic offerings of the common hamster. In fact, the one thing missing from Siggi's museum (established in 1974) is an example of a human penis, but he is determined to change that before he turns over the museum to his son or dies.

Once word got out that the museum was short a male member, a few volunteers stepped forward as potential donors. The first was the legendary (as least in Iceland) adventurer Pall Arason, who was as well known for being a ladies' man as he was for his opening up new areas of what would be considered today to be extreme tourism in Iceland. Siggi likes the idea of having a fellow countryman featured in his collection, but Arason is well into his 80s, and shrinkage is an issue. According to our curator, the display items but be of "legal length," or five inches.

The other possible donor is Tom Mitchell, a well-endowed middle-aged Californian, who is more obsessed with his penis than most male porn stars. He dresses it up in costumes and calls it "Elmo" (he claims the nickname came before the muppet). Aside from their country of original, the other big difference between Tom and Pall is that Tom wants to donate his organ before he dies…so he can actually see it on display…and he wants to borrow the specimen back in the museum's off season…and he's tattooed stars and stripes on the head of his penis so international visitors know where it came from…and he's designed a special display case for Elmo that includes a mirror on the floor of the case so people can see the underside of his embalmed penis more clearly…because he's insane…

Siggi is torn since the specimen he wants might be too small, and the one that would look best is attached to a crazy person who sends him several emails a day about how the penis will be presented, what the best method of displaying it fully aroused is, and how to get it from the U.S. to Iceland once it has been chopped off like so much pork loin. And while a description of the film may sound silly, it's actually an impressive, sensitive film, full of mostly intentional humor, with just a slight undercurrent of ick! and ew!

Directors Jonah Bekhor and Zach Math treat their subject and his passion with a great deal of respect without a trace of mockery. As a result, the Canadian production allows us to get wrapped up in his day-to-day drama and his life's work. You will grow to love the penis as Siggi does, and without irony. THE FINAL MEMBER is actually one of the best docs I've seen all year, partly because it immerses us into a world that has never been visited before and forces us to confront our own hang-ups about the penis--both the word and the object. Grab hold and pull yourself into Siggi's world.

-- Steve Prokopy
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