(Just a single rule: mix-tape-style, no more than one film per director. You know, because otherwise the whole thing would be pointless.)
(#23) Life of Brian
Comedy • dir. Terry Jones • 1979 • UK
Michael Palin’s Diaries 1969 – 1979: The Python Years and Diaries 1980 – 1988: Halfway to Hollywood amount to twenty years’ worth of a ripping good read. Palin, universally known as ‘the nice Python’ is also, it turns out, a prodigious chronicler of his life. Even though these published diaries are hundreds of pages long, they still only consist of cherry-picked selections: for the most part, Palin out and about, rather than kicking back at home. But, hey, what a life! Getting ready to go Around the World in 80 Days. Off to see George Harrison at Friar Park. Flying concord to New York, to guest-host SNL (again). Lunch with Alan Bennett. Dinner with Laurence Olivier. Drinks with Peter Cook. Truly, never a dull moment.
And always, of course, one way or another: that barnstorming, rabble-rousing, one-of-a-kind force of nature, Monty Python. Sure we all know they were a big deal. But, really, how often do we stop to measure just how big of a big deal? Me, I don’t think I had the first clue until I started living in America. They dug so deep into pop culture over here, you can still feel the after-shocks. It’s like they took out shares on the idea of being funny – still causing Americans to line up and say “I love that Monty Python sense of humor,” even forty years after Flying Circus first aired on PBS. What is there left to add? Throughout the 70s – and often afterwards too – they simply were that good. That fucking funny. All six Pythons offered something special, and together they were even better than the sum of their parts. Who else in comedy has mined more effectively that perfect sweet-spot between silly and smart? (One of countless examples: “He’s not the messiah. He’s a very naughty boy.”)