On a midnight clear 2,000 years ago, three wise men enter a manger where a babe is wrapped in swaddling clothes. It is an infant called Brian…and the three wise men are in the wrong manger. For the rest of his life, Brian (Graham Chapman) finds himself regarded as something of a messiah — yet he’s always in the shadow of this other guy from Galilee. Brian is witness to the Sermon of the Mount, but his seat is in such a bad location that he can’t hear any of it (“Blessed are the cheesemakers?”). Ultimately, he is brought before Pontius Pilate and sentenced to crucifixion, which takes place at that crowded, nonexclusive execution site a few blocks shy of Calvary. Rather than utter the Last Six Words, Brian leads his fellow crucifixees in a spirited rendition of a British music-hall cheer-up song “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.” The whole Monty Python gang (Chapman, John Cleese, Michael Palin, Eric Idle, and Terry Gilliam) are on hand in multiple roles, playing such sacred characters as Stan Called Loretta, Biggus Dickus, Deadly Dirk, Casts the First Stone, and Intensely Dull Youth; also showing up are Goon Show veteran Spike Milligan and a Liverpool musician named George Harrison. Continue reading
Touted as having been based on a hitherto lost manuscript by Robert Louis Stevenson, writer/director Walerian Borowczyk’s take on the Strange Tale of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde reworks the material as a heady brew of sex, violence, philosophy and surrealistic drawing room farce.
Following a blue tinted title card showing that bastion of respectability and hypocrisy the Houses of Parliament, we emerge into the sort of shadowy, foggy street that you imagine Jack the Ripper must have stalked and a terrified girl. Someone is after her…
She tries to hide, but to no avail and the mysterious figure attacks, then flees in the direction of Henry Jekyll’s town house… Continue reading
It’s been 26 years since I last reviewed a Russ Meyer movie (“Vixen”). In 1969, I wrote the screenplay for Meyer’s “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls” (“simultaneously the best and worst movie ever made” – Michael Dare, Film Threat magazine). In the years since, I have passed on reviewing other Meyer films; there was an obvious conflict of interest.
But now, with the re-release of Meyer’s “Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!” (1965), perhaps the statute of limitations has expired.
Besides, why not a review from someone who has a conflict of interest? Meyer’s fans are vociferously partisan, and here is the movie that director John Waters (“Hairspray”) called “beyond a doubt, the best movie ever made. It is possibly better than any film that will be made in the future.” Completing the circle, Stephen Holden, in his recent review in the New York Times, credited Meyer with having invented John Waters, not to mention Madonna. Continue reading
Description: Mysterious Skin is a 2004 film concerning the effect of childhood sexual abuse on two boys from Hutchinson, Kansas. The film received extensive critical acclaim. The film is California filmmaker Gregg Araki’s eighth, debuting at the Venice Film Festival in 2004 although it was not more widely distributed until 2005. It is based on the 1996 novel of the same name by Scott Heim. Continue reading
Matteo Scuro is a retired Sicilian bureaucrat (responsible mainly for the writing of birth certificates), a widower with five children, all of whom live on the mainland and hold responsible jobs. He decides to surprise each with a visit and finds none as he imagined. The film is a veritable travelogue across contemporary Italy, as Matteo journeys to Napoli, Roma, Firenze, Milano, and Turino to search for each of his children; he even spends one night on the streets among the homeless. Scuro returns to Sicily, visits his wife’s grave, and reports with irony that “stanno tutti bene” (everybody’s fine).
An American comedy film directed by Otto Preminger, starring Jackie Gleason and Carol Channing, written by Doran William Cannon and released by Paramount Pictures on December 19, 1968. The screenplay satirizes late 1960s lifestyle and its creature comforts, technology, anti-technology, hippies, free love and then-prevalent use of the mind-altering drug LSD.
Along with top-billed Gleason and Channing, Skidoo also stars (alphabetically listed) Frankie Avalon, Fred Clark (who died on December 5, two weeks before the film’s release), Michael Constantine, Frank Gorshin, John Phillip Law, Peter Lawford, Burgess Meredith, George Raft, Cesar Romero, Mickey Rooney and Groucho Marx playing “God” (making, at age 77, his final film appearance). Singer-songwriter Nilsson, who wrote the score and receives credit as a member of the cast, appears in a few brief scenes with Fred Clark, as both portray prison tower guards swaying to Nilsson’s music while under the influence of LSD.
Dušan Makavejev’s anarchic 1974 comedy goes even further than his previous W.R., depicting more trangressions than the average viewer’s imagination could conjure up.
From Time Out London:
Potentially one of the most scandalous films ever made—except that it has been little seen outside France and has not aged well. Seemingly completely episodic, the ‘plot’ follows the adventures of a beauty queen (Laure), a certified virgin who escapes a disastrous honeymoon with the richest man in the world to join a group of carefree sensualists. The latter are the once-notorious Otto Muehl troupe, who delight in pissing and shitting as a public spectacle. This is cross-cut with the journey of the good ship SS Survival (which sports Karl Marx for a masthead) on the Seine. Laure herself sought legal suppression of certain shots which, in their blanked out form, ironically suggest even more sexual activity on her part. Sadly, this highly idiosyncratic melange of sex and politics, for all its liberating pretensions, only served to put Makavejev’s career back a good few steps. –David Thompson Continue reading