Movie Review – Monty Python’s Life of Brian

Monty Python’s Life of Brian (1979)
Written by Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin
Directed by Terry Jones

Throughout my life, I have attempted to sit down with the work of the Monty Python troupe and develop an appreciation. Every time I walk away with a bad taste in my mouth. That’s not helped by the apparent ignorance of many of its living members, John Cleese chief among them. It has led me to believe there really is nothing revolutionary or ultimately insightful about the comedy they were doing. In fact, they were just their generation’s continuation of a type of elitist comedic sensibilities that’s always had strong roots in the United Kingdom. So I sat down to watch Life of Brian, hoping that this, a satire of the life of Jesus, would be the thing that convinced me to enjoy them. Unfortunately, it did not play out that way.

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TV Review – The Best of Star Trek Part Three

Amok Time (S02E01)
Original air date: September 15, 1967
Written by Theodore Sturgeon
Directed by Joseph Pevney

By the end of Star Trek Season One, the audience had come to a realization: Spock was fucking cool. Another person also realized this, Leonard Nimoy. The actor realized his role as Spock held just as much importance in each episode as William Shatner’s Captain Kirk and demanded a pay increase. He got it. Desilu Studios, who produced Star Trek, did hire a backup actor just in case Nimoy walked. Amok Time features that actor Lawrence Montaigne as Stonn. This is also the season two premiere and the first & only episode of the original series to bring the crew to Vulcan. We dig deep into their culture as Spock experiences a critical time in every Vulcan’s life: Pon farr.

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My Favorite Spring Movies

Carrie (1976)
Written by Lawrence D. Cohen
Directed by Brian De Palma

This qualifies on my spring list for it being centered around the big finale at the prom. It isn’t cheery, which is what you might expect for a spring-themed film, but wait until you see the rest of the pictures on this list. Carrie stands out to me because it’s a movie about an experience idealized by a segment of the public (high school) and shows it as the horrific thing it has always been for marginalized people. Where I grew up, high school and especially the associated sports have created an elite class of teenagers while the non-white kids and queer teens are pushed further and further to the edges. Carrie’s home life stands out to me here, with a mother devoted to her religious beliefs. Carrie’s mother is clearly a reactionary but, through dialogue, seems to have been bullied. This woman chose to throw herself into a system of belief that resulted in every culture she was terrified of. It’s only through Carrie’s…well, breakthrough that she manages to break the system that beats her down daily. One could argue Carrie goes through a process of renewal, much like the planet during spring.
Read my full review here

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Comic Book Review – Shazam: The World’s Mightiest Mortal Volume One

Shazam!: The World’s Mightiest Mortal Volume One (2019)
Reprints Shazam! #1-18
Written by Denny O’Neil, Elliot S! Maggin, and E. Nelson Bridwell
Art by C.C. Beck, Dave Cockrum, Bob Oksner, Vince Colletta, Kurt Schaffenberger, Dick Giordano, Pat Broderick, and Tex Blaisdell

Once upon a time, there was a superhero named Captain Marvel (not that one) who was the most popular comic book character of his time. He was so popular, in fact, that DC Comics sued Cap’s publisher, Fawcett because they believed the similarities between him and Superman were so much that the character infringed on the Man of Steel. So Captain Marvel faded into obscurity in the 1950s, but not before a few other things happened.

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Movie Review – The Outwaters

The Outwaters (2023)
Written & Directed by Robbie Banfitch

Every few years, I am told in the film press that a new found footage movie will revitalize the genre and that this one is “actually good.” I take them at their word, watch the film, and end up underwhelmed every damn time. I loved the idea of The Blair Witch Project more than the final product, and every similar movie that has followed since has had the same problems. I watched Paranormal Activity, The Curse of Deborah Logan, The Last Exorcism, the Blair Witch reboot by Adam Wingard, and many more. In January 2023, I began seeing the buzz around The Outwaters, with reviews telling me this was a good found footage horror movie that would change people’s opinions. I kept an open mind. I watched it. And damn, if it didn’t repeat so many of the same mistakes all these other movies have.

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Movie Review – Young Frankenstein

Young Frankenstein (1974)
Written by Gene Wilder & Mel Brooks
Directed by Mel Brooks

Comedy films aren’t really known for their cinematography. Typically they are notable for set pieces or dialogue, which does make sense. Comedy is an intricately constructed thing when done right. However, Mel Brooks and Gene Wilder didn’t just want to make another comedy. They specifically wanted to make a comedy and an authentic tribute to a film from their childhoods that they loved. The result is one of the best-looking comedies ever made with a mix of techniques found in the 1930s and what would have been more contemporary blocking from the 1970s. Young Frankenstein may be the best comedy ever because it nails the visuals and is still uproariously funny.

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Patron Pick – Parenthood

This special reward is available to Patreon patrons who pledge at the $10 or $20 monthly levels. Each month those patrons will pick a film for me to review. If they choose, they also get to include some of their thoughts about the movie. This Pick comes from Bekah Lindstrom.

Parenthood (1989)
Written by Lowell Ganz, Babaloo Mandel, and Ron Howard
Directed by Ron Howard

Parenthood has been a film with some solid legs, managing to be adapted into a television series twice on NBC (1990 and 2010), with the latter staying on the air for six seasons. It emerged from the collaboration between director Ron Howard, producer Brian Grazer, and writers Babaloo Mandel and Lowell Ganz. Between the four of them, they have 17 children and took their experiences as parents as inspiration. The result is an ensemble film that touches on various aspects of parenting with children featured at every age, from infant to adult, with multiple themes and topics touched upon with a runtime that peaks at just over two hours.

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Movie Review – The Out-of-Towners

The Out-of-Towners (1970)
Written by Neil Simon
Directed by Arthur Hiller

Sometimes you watch a film that makes you feel seen. While watching The Out-of-Towners, my wife and I turned to each other about 15 minutes into the picture and laughed with full recognition. The two people on screen were way too much like ourselves, making this one of the best comedy experiences we’ve had in a long time. It takes a lot of security in oneself to admit that you have some awful, neurotic traits, but I’ve come to a point in my life where I have to be able to laugh at my flaws and do my best to improve in the ways that I can. However, it is hilarious to watch these characters, completely absurd people, in the middle of a simple yet infuriating situation that is still relatable fifty-three years later.

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Movie Review – The Graduate

The Graduate (1967)
Written by Calder Willingham & Buck Henry
Directed by Mike Nichols

It’s incredible how some movies have remained as relevant as they were when they were first released. The Graduate is a movie straight out of the ennui of 1960s youth culture, but it’s far more nuanced than that. Roger Ebert’s reading of the film on its original release was to empathize with its protagonist. Thirty years later, he retracted many of his comments to say how his sympathies had shifted to the older woman he has a tryst with, how she is the character the audience is meant to feel heartbreak for. The Graduate is a movie with no heroes or villains, simply people existing, making choices, and never truly knowing if the choices they make are the right ones or not.

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