Animation Features Live Action Movies

Monty Python’s
Life Of Brian

Director – Terry Jones – 1979 – UK – Cert. 12a – 93m


An absurdist comedy about of Brian, Jesus Christ’s next-door neighbour, who falls in with left-wing activists, develops a religious following and ends up crucified – back out in UK cinemas in Glorious Standard Definition on Friday, April 7th

Like The Last Temptation Of Christ (Martin Scorsese, 1988), a Biblical epic made by a New Yorker who tries to bring first century Palestine to life on the screen by filling it with actors who speak as if they’re on the streets he knows, so too Monty Python’s Life Of Brian, made by the Monty Python team, nurtured first by Oxbridge student drama society culture then by British radio and television, attempts a comic equivalent of the Christian Gospel narrative by filling it with characters possessing such quintessentially English names as Brian and Reg and sporting English accents. For the Pythons and their audience, this strategy works because of its familiarity from Britain’s hugely popular Monty Python’s Flying Circus television show, made for the BBC. It’s what everyone attending the film in the UK expected.

The Monty Python team (Terry Jones, Terry Gilliam, John Cleese, Graham Chapman, Eric Idle & Michael Palin) all wrote the film between them and take on multiple acting roles, with Jones also directing, animator Gilliam also taking on production design, and Chapman, who had studied medicine, also taking on the role of set medic.… Read the rest

Features Live Action Movies


Director – Andrew Levitas – 2020 – US – Cert. 15 – 114m


A dramatisation of celebrated photographer W. Eugene Smith’s investigation of Japan’s Minamata environmental atrocity in 1971 – out in cinemas and on digital from Friday, August 13th

This feels like a Hollywood actor-led project with laudable aims which comes unstuck somewhere in the execution. That said, there’s still much to admire.

Minamata is the name of a Japanese coastal town which became synonymous with Mercury poisoning caused by the Chisso chemicals factory in the 1950s and ‘60s.

Following a celebrated career as a war photographer in WW2, W. Eugene Smith photographed the series Country Doctor for Life magazine, now recognised as a landmark in the medium of the photo-essay. In the early 1970s, he and his Japanese-American wife Aileen were introduced to the town of Minamata and its dark secret, and collaborated on a photographic book about it. When we meet him in 1971, played by Johnny Depp (from such films as Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, 2005; Sleepy Hollow, 1999; Edward Scissorhands, 1990, all Tim Burton) he has his own darkroom in a New York loft and has clearly seen better days as he is constantly on the whisky and amphetamines.… Read the rest

Movies Music

On Bach,
Bill Nelson
and spiritual outlook

Published to coincide with the Bandcamp download release of Bill Nelson’s album And We Fell Into A Dream.

A year or so back I was fortunate enough to attend a fascinating discussion group at Tottenham Quakers. The brief was ‘A piece of music, writing, art or other inspiration which reflects your spiritual outlook’ – please bring something along that you are happy to talk about or just bring yourself along! So we had a small stone used as an aid to bereavement – actually the only physical object anyone brought along, everything else was one way or another mediated through various pieces or recording, translation or delivery technology – three pieces of music and one set of extracts from the Gospels, chiefly the story of the woman caught in adultery.

The latter was, for its presenter, a way of showing how spot on some of Jesus’ comments and actions were in regard to the human condition, whether or not you bought into the wider package of Christianity.

Two of the three pieces of music were sourced from movies, at least that was how those who brought them had discovered them.

Bach chamber piece ‘Double Concerto D Minor for Violins Second movement – Largo Ma Non Tanto’ from Children Of A Lesser God (Randa Haines, 1986), incidentally an adaptation of a stage play, was for its teacher character the most beautiful thing he had ever heard which he wanted to share with a student.… Read the rest