FANTASTIC FEST: Cannon Arm and the Arcade Quest (2021)

Kim Cannon Arm is a lover and collector of arcade cabinets. He’s also a legend in the world of competitive video games, as he and his friends at Copenhagen’s Bip Bip Bar are all masters at their own games — and unique life skills — while Kim excels at playing Konami’s Gyruss. He’s made it to 49 hours or more on a single quarter, but now, at 55 years old, he has set the goal of playing for a hundred straight hours with only quick breaks on a mattress in the corner. This is more than some kind of quest — it’s a meticulously planned mission aided and abetted by a cadre of true friends.

Director Mads Hedegaard says of the film, “Probably not everyone in the audience has an interest in video games or arcade games, but that’s okay, because you don’t need to – I don’t either. Ultimately, I feel that it has ended up as a film filled with warmth and subtle wit as well as the natural excitement that comes from all record attempts. Will our hero Kim Cannon Arm succeed in the challenge before him? The characters will hopefully over the course of the film emerge as actual people, who the audience will end up caring about, and perhaps also remind the audience that there is more to all of us than is apparent at first glance.”

The players, beyond Kim — who is a laboratory technician, a grandfather and has a beyond world-class mullet, include epistemological rationalist, Bach student and Donkey Kong player Carsten, poetry slam and Puzzle Bobble champ Dyst, data analyst and Donkey Kong champ Svavar, tech and musical wizard Emil, The Shed arcade owner Trier and Bip Bip Bar owner Chrisstoffer.

Yet this film is about more than just video games. It’s about who we are in the world, what we leave behind, quantum physics and pattern recognition and what friendship can do. I totally expected nothing from this film and was astounded by the energy and emotion that it imbued within me. What a treat!

As the director said, “The film is my little tribute to these people, who in their own quiet ways are larger than life. I hope that the audience will go and see the film with their friends, their significant other, or perhaps even with their mother, if they are in need of a life-affirming and touching experience. And I hope that people will leave the film feeling uplifted, with a bit of food for thought to talk more about, and a warm feeling in their stomach.”

Seriously — some of the most mind-opening and happiness-inducing cinema I’ve seen this year.

Cannon Arm and the Arcade Quest is playing Fantastic Fest this week. When it’s available to a larger audience, we’ll update this post.

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