Monty Python's Life of Brian (1979)
I don't think you need me to evaluate Life of Brian. It's a Monty
Python film. Everyone knows who they are and has formed an opinion
about them. This particular effort is rated in the top 150 films of
all time at IMDb and has received 98% positive reviews according to
Rotten Tomatoes. No less an authority on British film than the august
BBC declared it, "A beautiful film, a perfect comedy,
and a gentle triumph of silliness over pomposity, self-importance, and
intolerance - Life of Brian could be the best British comedy ever."
As a quick
refresher, it's about a guy who was born in the next stable down from
Christ. From the very beginning of his life, people seemed to get him
confused with his famous neighbor. First it was the Magi, who followed
the star to Brian's stable, only to realize that star navigation is
somewhat less precise than GPS, and the real Messiah was just one door
down. That would not be the last time people tried to worship him. Brian lived in a time that was obsessed with the Messiah.
Various people in that time were convinced that they were the Messiah
- from Herod to Caligula to Livia, the wife of Augustus. It was not
only the famous who felt themselves chosen. Many minor claimants, sane
and mad alike, joined the messianic frenzy that gripped the age. This
film pictures the people of that time as being aware of the Messiah's
presence, but not his identity, thus shopping around from soap box to
soap box trying to find the authentic redeemer among the pretenders.
At one time, Brian seemed to be the flavor of the month.
'Nuff said. It's a comedy classic, and it has been re-issued in
the Criterion Collection with two full-length commentaries, which
between them include all of the living Pythons! I think I'll offer some personal reminiscences.
I lived in the United States when this film
was released, and I remember well the controversy. I liked it of
course, but one had to be very careful about admitting that because
religious people opposed it vociferously. Catholic groups protested
the film and wanted attendance to be considered a sin. Fundies
virtually shut it out of the Bible Belt states, forcing theater
operators to avoid it or to close it early. The same sorts of protests
worked against Life of Brian in the U.K., where a group called
Festival of Light successfully lobbied many towns and shires to ban
the film. The people who protested it, as usual, had no idea what they
were talking about. The film does not concern itself at all with
Christ or Christianity. Christ is only mentioned once, when an
overflow crowd struggles to hear The Sermon on the Mount from a great
distance. "Did he say blessed are the cheesemakers?" The film does not
ridicule Christianity at all. Brian just happens to have lived in the
same time and place as Jesus, and that time is ridiculed. Of course
the controversy also fueled the curiosity of a different segment of
the population, and the box office was $19 million in the United
States alone, a minor hit by 1979 standards. It took in about as much
as Norma Rae or The Rose, for example, and that achievement seems even
more impressive when one considers the competition. It came out the
same weekend as Apocalypse Now.
The film went on to cult status in the States,
but no more than that. It has never been one of those cultural
touchstones with universal recognition. It has admirers among
intellectuals and Python fans, but it's never been the kind of film
that Jay Leno could quote from and everyone would immediately get the
Years after its release, I moved to Europe,
and eventually lived in several different countries there, where I
found out that this film is viewed very differently on the continent.
Virtually every educated European has seen the film, can recognize the
famous quotes, and can sing along with "Always Look on the Bright Side
of Life," the cheery finale sung by an unlikely chorus of crucified
men. Life of Brian IS a cultural touchstone in Western Europe. I would
guess that this film is as familiar to Western European adolescents as
Star Wars is to Americans the same age.
I am back in the United States now, but
there's something about Western Europe's affection for this movie that
continues to give that region a special spot in my heart.
Sue Jones-Davies is a rather famous
Welsh folk singer who is still performing in films and concerts,
although now with her clothes on. Here's the
Flannel Pajamas (2006)
Third party videos:
- Alexandra Moen in Tripping
Over, a TV mini-series produced jointly by the UK and Australia. (Zipped
.avi - HDTV!)
- Michelle Pfeiffer in Into the
Night. Dude, this is about as good as it gets in the world of
celebrity nudity. (Zipped
.avi) It is a very dumb movie, but great fun and I really
like it. I would like it even without Pfeiffer nekkid, but
that's a helluva bonus. (Movie
House review of Into the Night.) John Landis has seven
pretty damned good comedy films on his resume, but his last one,
Susan's Plan, was a bit of a dud. Note on the list below that
the last one came out 18 years ago. He has some more currently
in development, including one in post-production.
- (7.80) -
The Blues Brothers (1980)
- (7.50) -
Animal House (1978)
- (7.39) -
An American Werewolf in London (1981)
- (7.30) -
Trading Places (1983)
- (6.60) -
Coming to America (1988)
- (6.30) -
Into the Night (1985/I)
- (6.30) -
The Kentucky Fried Movie (1977)
LIMBAUGH CLAIMS FDR FAKED POLIO
K Fed getting Body slammed on the WWE
A Script Review for Tony Scott's remake of The
Borat premieres new 'moviefilm'
- "It was a parade of peasant villagers
pulling carts of meat, women carrying bails of
wheat, scantily clad prostitutes, dirty
children with shovels propped over their
shoulders, men ladling out cups of horse urine
(fake, we hope) and two men dressed in
crotch-hugging shoulder strap thongs that held
court for the world premiere of Borat:
Cultural Learnings of America for Make
Benefit. At the end: a beat-up station wagon
from which emerged Borat."
"Top Ten Questions To Ask Yourself Before Voting
The R-rated trailer for Flannel Pajamas, a
relationship drama which played at Sundance.
Julianne Nicholson's bum is seen in the trailer.
(She also did full-frontal nudity in the movie.)
Borat goes to an etiquette coach, then tries to
apply her advice.
New book takes humbug out of famous quotations
"Queen Elizabeth has 10 times the lifespan of
workers and lays up to 2,000 eggs a day"
Lovable, even-tempered supermodel Naomi Campbell
has been arrested in London - on suspicion of
Doctors, nurses and health visitors in
Lancashire could be banned from wearing novelty
socks to work.
- I have stopped wearing novelty socks to
visit the dying because I figure I can cause
more commotion by wearing them to the funeral.
Especially when I wear shorts. Besides, the
bedridden don't really get a very good look at
one's socks, so I wear novelty ties instead.
Fan site for the short-lived late-70s television
series "Salvage 1."
- Submitter wrote: "On a passing thought, I
hit the internet for some information on this
show that I vaguely remembered watching as a
young child and found this mindblowing,
multimedia stash of goodies. Ah, the internet:
where your fleeting thought is another's
GOP’S NEW AD CAMPAIGN: HAVE YOU ‘RIDDEN’ A FORD,
Mozilla - Firefox 2.0 is now officially ready
"Heather Mills McCartney Denies Hurricane Name
"This clever Halloween cake recipe, that
frightfully resembles a well used kitty litter
Hillary's Opponent Denies Calling Her 'Ugly '--
Reporter Stands By Story
- Hillary denied having any plastic surgery.
Her spokesman said she just suddenly stopped
being ugly in middle age, by magic.
ROTTEN TOMATOES: Movies Opening this week
- Saw 3 - 3000 screens - no advance reviews.
- Catch a Fire - 71% positive reviews -1300
- Note: 71% does not equal 71%. For a
lowbrow comedy, 71% means sheer genius,
because critics underrate them. There's
Something About Mary, maybe the greatest
lowbrow comedy ever made, scores only 60%
from the A-list critics at Rotten Tomatoes.
- On the other hand, 71% is a mediocre
(possibly even poor) score for a political
thriller with sincere liberal values because
that is a genre which is always overrated by
critics. The Interpreter, a below-average
thriller which is sometimes laughably bad,
got 66% positive reviews from the same
- The point is, I guess, that you should
be circumspect about the 71% for Catch a
Fire. Critics will praise this sort of
sincere, well-meaning film and give it a
positive review if there is even the tiniest
- Running With Scissors - 600 screens - 24%
positive reviews. General consensus - "a waste
of time, money, and talent." Steve Rhodes
called it, "Not just merely bad; painfully
The Weekend Warrior's predictions for the Oct
27-29 box office.
- The only new release in wide distribution
is Saw 3, and it is expected to win the box
office by a mile, with more than the next four
films added together. Saw 2 opened on the
exact same weekend last week, and 3 is
expected to perform about the same as 2.
- Surprisingly, Warrior is expecting the
group total to drop down to "even with the
comparable group last year," coming after two
weeks with increases greater than 25%.
- Catch a Fire, the serious South African
political drama, is expected to earn only a
tepid response in a tepid roll-out.
The trailer for Farce of the Penguins - Bob
Saget's take on the "nature film with
anthropomorphic penguin" genre. Looks like fun.
Just about anyone who's ever been funny is doing
a voice, and Samuel L is narrating.
Three clips from The Return, Buffy's new
"New McCaskill for Missouri TV ad featuring
actor Michael J. Fox talking about Claire
McCaskill and stem cell research" (This is
the ad about which Limbaugh was talking when he
accused Michael J Fox of exaggerating or faking
An oldie but goodie. Your cursor removes their
Yellow asterisk: funny (maybe). White asterisk: expanded format.
Blue asterisk: not mine. No asterisk: it probably sucks.
The L Word Season 3 Episodes 9 through 12 (2005)
Mojave Moon (1996) is a romantic comedy featuring a not quite famous
Angelina Jolie. Danny Aiello is everyman, recently divorced, and living in LA.
He is having breakfast with friends in a diner, when Angelina Jolie comes in
and picks him up. It is obvious to everyone, possibly even Aiello, that she
wants something from him. He does what any of us would do, however. He goes
along with her. When she asks him to drive her to Mojave, he agrees. They
arrive at her trailer, to find her mother, Ann Archer, and her mother's
current psychotic boyfriend, Michael Biehn. It turns out that Angelina's
ulterior motive was to bring home a new boyfriend for her mother. Angelina
goes to a local gin mill, and calls to announce that she is going to marry her
biker boyfriend, Jack Noseworthy. Aiello leaves, but has a flat on the way out
of town, and finds Noseworthy seemingly dead in his trunk. What follows is a
series of misadventures that have him questioning why he ever got involved.
Angelina Jolie, who was above the radar horizon, but not yet on the
superstar list, showed breasts in a shower scene, and is seen in a bra and
IMDb readers say 5.3, which is probably about right. There seems to be a
great deal of confusion over what genre this is. To answer the question, you
must analyze the curve of excitement, something like diagramming sentences in
English class. Jolie takes Aiello to her mother, the two have a rocky few days
and nearly split, then end up together. In other words, boy meets girl, boy
loses girl, boy finds girl, equals romantic comedy. Along the way, a lot of
offbeat and over the top things happen. Voila, offbeat romantic comedy. But is
it any good? Well, the acting is top notch from each player, but I am not sure
they played off of each other that well. The characters are interesting and
well-developed, and some of them are sympathetic. The desert location is
beautiful, and well-photographed. Somehow, the film didn't entirely work, and
I am not 100% sure why, but I suspect it had to do with pacing problems and
lack of interaction among characters, both of which could have been solved
with additional rehearsal time. I will call this a C- as a near miss.
TODAY'S THEME: Caps from various B-movies
& other strippers
... topless from "Maniac Cop 2", a Larry Lohen - William
BONUS. Don't miss the haunting, poignant Maniac Cop
rap theme song:
him with an Uzi
but he'll show up in your jacuzzi"
Camille Cooper in the bath from Wes Craven's
(Nightmare on Elm street - like) "Shocker"
Cheryl M. Lynn nudity from "Thunder Run," a fun
flick with trucks and explosives
Kristy Swanson sexy - from "Dead Silence", a
boring (made for tv) police drama
Katherine Armstrong nudity - from "Ambition" ,
an unwatchable Lou Diamond Philips "thriller"
Cecilia Peck in the bath - also from "Ambition"
Margot Kidder doing a strip routine - from the
mafia (spoof?) "Mob Story"
Morgan Fairchild displaying cleavage - from the
sensitive, heart-wrenching "Phantom of the Mall 2 - Eric's Revenge"
Maureen Kedes topless - from "Fair Trade," a
chicks 'n' guns adventure
Lisa Rinna sexy - also from "Fair Trade"
Linda Evans partial nudity from the old murky
cop flick and MST3000 favorite, "Mitchell"
Unknown from the Sonny Chiba film "Steetfighter"
Notes and collages
Mary Kay Place in The Big Chill
Another Lawrence Kasdan film, "The Big Chill" is set as a reunion of college
friends after the suicide funeral of one of them; the underlying theme is the
contrast between idealism and realism in terms of living a life as a person gets
older: a splendid film well worth the watching (if one is old enough to
personally appreciate the ironies layered in the story.)
This scene with Mary Kay Place is a private moment as she wonders if she will
ever have children...
....oh, and great pokie action.... (I'm a guy; what would you expect me to
Robin Tunney in Supernova
This scene is one of the obligatory breast scenes added to a large budget bad
film; lucky us. I wish I could say something complimentary about the film "Supernova;"
unfortunately right after I watched the film my brain went into erase mode. As
for Robin Tunney, I could watch her all day long (in a non-stalker-like way of
Janina Gavankar is seen here in
Cup of My Blood. She is the spokesperson for a glitzy but rather silly new
search engine at www.msdewey.com
Edwige Fenech looking even
better than usual in Giovannona ....
Jennifer Garner. Mrs Affleck
shows some plumber's crack on Alias.