Hot Docs 2021: Our Review of ‘Cannon Arm and the Arcade Quest’

Posted in Festival Coverage, Hot Docs 2021, Movies by - May 09, 2021
Hot Docs 2021: Our Review of ‘Cannon Arm and the Arcade Quest’

Kim ‘Cannon Arm’ is a grandfather with a silvery mullet and a penchant for vintage arcade era video games, his favorite being 1983’s Gyruss. A mainstay at his home arcade, the Bip Bip Bar in Copenhagen, Kim has developed a loyal inner circle of friends that idolize his devotion to the game as well as his mastery of it. Some of those friends also hold world records on other games or have multiple “kill screen” achievements on the legendary Donkey Kong, a feat first brought to light by their idol Billy Mitchell – of King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters fame. Kim decides he wants to go for the unheard of, 100 hours of playtime straight through on only 1 quarter and rallies his friends to prepare for the attempt as the camera follows.

Bound to garner comparisons to the aforementioned King of Kong, Cannon Arm and the Arcade Quest is a vastly different film than its predecessor. Cannon Arm is very much focused on the community and would be family that has sprung up around Kim, a group of otherwise outsiders, oddballs, and outcasts that have found brotherhood and purpose through their passion. It’s a touching story filled with heartbreak and joy, all told through the hazy lens of a camera surrounded by neon, flashing cathode-ray machine terminals and 8-bit soundtracks of oft-forgotten days of yesteryear.

In many ways, Cannon Arm and the Arcade Quest feels like a forgotten film from decades ago. But in other ways, it’s utterly timeless. And while the group of friends may have lost a little bit of their blissful naivete once their hero Billy Mitchell is ousted as a cheat, the film never loses its charm throughout. So grab a chair, brew, and a toastie while you settle in for a highly enjoyable ride.

This post was written by
"Kirk Haviland is an entertainment industry veteran of over 20 years- starting very young in the exhibition/retail sector before moving into criticism, writing with many websites through the years and ultimately into festival work dealing in programming/presenting and acquisitions. He works tirelessly in the world of Canadian Independent Genre Film - but is also a keen viewer of cinema from all corners of the globe (with a big soft spot for Asian cinema!)
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