October 19th, 2023
MOVIE: MISTER ORGAN
STARRING: MICHAEL ORGAN, DAVID FARRIER
DIRECTED BY: DAVID FARRIER
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 3 ½ STARS (Out of 4)
There are a lot of jerks in the world but director and journalist David Farrier may have discovered the biggest jerk ever. Mister Organ is not the type of documentary you expect. In fact, it is amazing that it exists, not because he’s doing anything exactly different, but because it captures a certain kind of person we see in 2023. What started as a piece on an antiques store in New Zealand that was blackmailing people into paying for parking, would slowly morph into a documentary about a man named Michael Organ and his vicious, almost sadistic ways of treating people. Mister Organ is unlike any documentary you will ever see.
David Farrier is a journalist who digs into obscure and interesting corners of the world. His last documentary Tickled led him down a path of underground tickle competition sites, where people would tickle one another for pleasure and pain, all in the hopes of some kind of “victory”. With Mister Organ, he goes the other way, as he was doing a report for The Guardian about an antique shop, where the owner Jillian Bashford-Evans would send a man named Michael Organ to find cars parked in a parking lot by their shop, clamp them (a version of a boot) and then force the person to pay $750 just to get their car back. The problem of course is that it’s illegal to do that to people, sounds like extortion, and the story became such a topic that the New Zealand government had to address it. What followed for Farrier was more, as he received legal threats from a lawyer with the last name Organ. Not Michael Organ. Someone else…or so he thought.
What’s so unique about Farrier’s direction is an approach that feels like a freedom to see where the story goes. It’s smart because nothing could prepare him. He digs into the legal threat, but he keeps finding that this is not a lawyer, instead, it’s Michael Organ representing himself. Farrier then begins to meet others who have been hit with legal threats from Organ, some turn out to be former friends, and former roommates, with each one explaining the vindictive, narcissistic, and compulsive liar that is Michael Organ. As the stories from others with firsthand accounts begin to scare Farrier, he becomes ensnared in a vicious legal case from Jillian and Michael Organ, claiming Farrier stole their storefront sign, even though it was torn in half, and discarded as garbage on the ground. It’s after this case that Michael and Jillian are willing to sit down and talk with David and it becomes an increasingly maddening experience.
You might say, well maybe this person is just misunderstood or maybe Farrier stuck his nose where he shouldn’t have. What becomes quite evident is that as much as Organ could say he didn’t seek the attention, he certainly has a history of never letting a story die. As the story rolls on we learn that Organ stole a boat from a former roommate for spite, continues to claim that he was a relative of royalty and therefore a prince, and never did the clamping in the first place (Farrier has him blatantly on camera doing it). When David wants to distance himself, quickly realizing a documentary on this person can only be unhealthy, it is then when Organ wants to speak on the phone and meet for coffee. It’s all mind games and being wrapped up in this web is more tangled than a rolled up fish net.
The question becomes about what was learned for Farrier in making Mister Organ. It may seem as simple as just being about a man so toxic that it’s entertaining. What it feels like to me is a fascinating study of the kinds of humans out there in the world. It’s a reality television-style existence. A person addicted to confrontation and benefitting from a world that turns people into the scorpion or the frog. By the end, it is evident who Farrier has become but when you spend any time with Mister Organ we all become dead frogs. A snake is a better comparison. This is someone who sucks the life out of you, but it makes for a hell of an interesting documentary. Mister Organ is fantastic.
MISTER ORGAN IS NOW PLAYING IN SELECT THEATERS AND AVAILABLE DIGITALLY TO RENT ON SATURDAY NOVEMBER 11TH, 2023.
3 ½ STARS
Written by: Leo Brady