Monty Python’s Life of Brian – 40 Years On…

When it comes to splitting Monty Python fans, you have a couple of choices. On one hand you have people who deem The Holy Grail the best of the movies, the other Life Of Brian (And that odd one who prefers Meaning Of Life. Yes, I am talking to you.) Well, I am here to settle all of that. If you haven’t guess already by the title this, then I am saying that Life Of Brain is better. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love The Holy Grail. In fact, if I were to personally pick between the two, I’d pick Grail every time. It’s silliness, the music, the comedy; it’s the winner of my heart. But sitting down, and actually critically examining the two then Life of Brian is the champion.

Life of Brian tells the story of Brian, a normal citizen of Judea. But Brian has been plagued all his life. After all, being born in the same place and the same time as Jesus (the barn next door none the less,) it’s hard to not have people confusing you with the Son of God. However, after a series of unfortunate events, Brian is soon believed to be the Messiah and is followed around by a group of religious fanatics. Pestered by the Romans, hounded by the believers and pestered by his mother, poor Brian can’t get a break as his life leads him up to a dramatic finale.

As with every Monty Python film, television show, or stage show, the comedic timing and deliver are impeccable. Every scene is full of lashings of farce. From the rude Roman names to correcting Latin graffiti; there is a slice of humour everywhere Brian turns. There is no denying that the comedy troupe excel in comedic timing and their hilarious characters. Each of the Monty Python crew play multiple characters within the movie and play them convincingly well.

That’s great but we are used to this. After all, they play multiple characters in their television series and they do in Grail. What raises Brian above it all is the satire. Not actually a satire on the story of Jesus itself it is cleverly a stab at the worshippers. In one poignant scene, Brian tells the populous that they must all think for themselves and they eerily repeat what he says. It’s a poke at people who put too much faith into their beliefs that causes them to be narrow minded. In one instance, they kill a man for even angry denying Brian as the Messiah. It’s weirdly accurate and scarily real.

Controversially, they caused a hell storm. But that’s the brilliance of Brian. Instead of people appreciating the satire, people would instead angrily boycott the film believing it to be blasphemous against Jesus.

If you don’t believe the sheer anger of religious leaders, watch the debate Michael Palin and John Cleese with Malcolm Muggeridge and Meryvn Stockwood, The Bishop of Southwark on BBC show Friday Night Saturday Morning.  After the opposition missed the opening 15 minutes  where they showed the clear separation of Jesus and Brian, the two men soon delved into jibes and name calling. Watch whilst the two comedians who are being accused give a well thought out and researched points are subjected to schoolchild taunting. It’s fascinating to watch.

I digress; much like Jesus, Life of Brian’s message was taken and misinterpreted by the mass. But cleverly they used it to their advantage. In Sweden they advertised it as the film “so funny, Norway had it banned.” Life of Brian is so much more than the quotes you pass your fellow geek friends and fathers (me and my Dad try to slip one in at least once a day.) It is a clever and historical (See “What did the Romans ever do for us,” moment,) movie that gets legions of fans yearly.

And bloody hilarious.

Happy 40th Monty Python’s Life of Brian. 

Under the Silver Lake – Review

When you craft a really impeccable first film, there is a lot of pressure to provide an equally great second film.

Some directors take this in their stride.  Jordan Peele, for example, after winning an Academy Award for Get Out, followed up with the horrifying Us. Barry Jenkins’ crafted the superb Moonlight then his next movie was the phenomenal If Beale Street Could Talk.

Some directors cannot rise to the greatness of the first film.

Under the Silver Lake, a sophomore release for It Follows director David Robert Mitchell, manages to straddle both – become a perplexing film that never full rises to the occasion but doesn’t entirely sink to the bottom either.

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Starring Andrew Garfield, Under The Silver Lake revolves around Sam – a nice but lazy guy who spends his time watching his neighbours in his flat on Silver Lake. When he falls for an attractive girl in his block, they spend a night together only for her to disappear the very next day. Soon he starts seeing clues everywhere. Following the signs seemingly left for him, Sam is about to uncover some fiendish plot that controls the whole city of Los Angeles…

David Robert Mitchell’s neo-noir fantasy is a sharply shot and colourful film that boasts some exquisite shots and beautiful colour-grading to match its weird storyline. Andrew Garfield gives his best performance as an increasingly erratic loser who plunges himself into the deep seedy underworld of Hollywood and its surrounding towns. His big doe eyes lend themselves well to Sam’s curiosity and Garfield manages the humour, the fear, and the lunacy quite well.

Music by Disasterpeace, though over-bearing in places, is also well-pitched in others.

There’s a fear in claiming a film is nonsensical because then commenters come out of the woodwork to proclaim that one doesn’t “get it” or are “too stupid to understand.” No – on the basic level Under the Silver Lake has a pretty standard plotline – girl goes missing, secret codes, cults, and the whole she-bang. The problem is that the movie just haphazardly adds elements that don’t gel with the film or add any sustenance to the proceedings. It is so indulgent and sniffs of desperation to be edgy and quirky – never quite feeling like both. The tonal shifts and inability to decide what it is trying to be is off-putting, making it dull in places.

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And yet…and yet… you can’t help but find yourself drawn into this messy spider’s web. Under the Silver Lake dives into the story head-first and that’s somewhat admirable. It’s film full of contention that’ll split people down the middle on every part here. From the misogyny of our lead character and the films numerous breast shots (is that a flaw of the character or the film?), to the weird supernatural phenomenons that crop up throughout, Under the Silver Lake will probably be discussed and chopped up for years to come .

The one thing about Under the Silver Lake is that it’s era-less aesthetic, capturing a different and unusual heart of Los Angeles made me reminisce about how good The Nice Guys were. So, so good.

Under the Silver Lake is in cinemas and available on MUBI now! 

Booksmart – Brand New Trailer!

Olivia Wilde is making her directorial debut with the fantastic Booksmart.

Starring Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever, it stars as two smart and hard-working girls who regret not having any fun whilst pursuing their academic careers. Now before graduation they aim to do all the things they’ve denied themselves.

This looks amazing and cannot stop laughing. The chemistry and jokes look brilliant and it has already been highly praised following it’s debut at SXSW Festival. What do you think?

Booksmart is out later this year! 

Midsommar – Brand New Trailer!

Ari Aster ruined your sleeping patterns and your life with the utterly brilliant and compulsive horror Midsommar. 

Starring Florence Pugh, Jack Reynor, and Will Poulter, the film revolves around a group of students who find themselves at a Scandinavian celebration – but all is not what you think.

The pastel colouring of this trailer makes it look more terrifying. We loved Hereditary so we are so ready for this seeming modern  What do you think?

Midsommar is out later this year! 

Talking Movies and Making Them Too