Monty Python

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Benedict Cumberbatch

What is Casting Couch? Today it’s a casting column that’s debunking a couple of rumors that will probably come true anyway. Absolutely Anything is a project that’s long been on comedy nerds’ radars, not only because it’s being directed by Monty Python member Terry Jones, but also because the film will see Jones re-teaming with the other members of his legendary comedy troupe to do voiceover work. According to The Wrap, filming is looking to get underway on this one soon, Gemma Arterton has joined the cast, and Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock) is currently negotiating to come on board, as well. The story is about a bumbling but magical school teacher, something that Cumberbatch would likely knock out of the park; which is one more positive that will help you forget Robin Williams is also going to be doing his voiceover thing here.

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Being funny is never easy, especially when you’re being funny about unfunny things. As far as dark humor goes, death is actually a rather simple topic to cover. However once you start getting into the meaning of death, or mass genocide, or the afterlife, that’s when things start getting a little tricky. Sometimes you have to stop worrying about offending the people who won’t get it and start worrying about entertaining the people who will. So here are some movies that, no matter what your feelings on them are, managed to successfully make a mockery out of something quite serious.

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A Liar

Everybody knows the name Monty Python, but most people can’t name the individual members of the legendary British comedians. For the record they’re John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin and Graham Chapman. And yes, I forgot Terry Jones at first, too. Like most comedy troupes formed in 1960s England, Monty Python isn’t as whole as they once were. No, don’t go Googling to see if Terry Jones is still alive. He is. I checked. But Graham Chapman is not. He died twenty three years ago from throat cancer, but audio recordings he made in 1986 meant to be narration for his autobiography have been put to celebratory use in the new, factually loose, humorous but sadness tinged animated film, A Liar’s Autobiography. Three directors, multiple animators and several members of Python came together to create this loving tribute to a very special dead man. (It focuses on his life before he died of course.) Check below for four more images from the new film, and be sure to tune into EPIX on November 2nd for the film’s premiere.

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We all love Monty Python (if you don’t, just pretend you know what I’m talking about and keep going). And by that standard, anything with the name in the title must be gloriously brilliant. It’s going to break comedic ground by its ability to comment on the highest level of societal discussion. At the same time, it’s going to be the silliest piece of nonsense you’ve ever found yourself gut-splitting, on the floor, laughing at — while crying, as well. A Liar’s Autobiography: The Untrue Story of Monty Python’s Graham Chapman, however, is not a Monty Python film. It is an act of self-indulgent nostalgia by a group of men who love their colleague. In 1986, three years before his death from cancer, Graham Chapman decided to conduct an experiment by taping an audio book that would serve as a fictional telling of his life. It seems that filmmakers Bill Jones, Jeff Simpson and Ben Timlett got ahold of these tapes and thought it would be a grand idea to rally a few of the Python gang together to fill in some gaps and turn it into this odd animated feature.

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Monty Python

While they’re probably most famous for their television show (unless you worship Monty Python and the Holy Grail more (and unless you worship Life of Brian more)), the group made up of Eric Idle, Graham Chapman, Michael Palin, John Cleese, Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam was arguably the most influential and revolutionary comedy group of the 20th century. Fortunately, all of them continue to work in a ton of different entertainment and educational fields, except for Chapman who became incredibly lazy after his death. They only made 2 narrative features together, but both made a massive impact, creating a kind of cultural shibboleth for people that got it and people that didn’t. They’ve influenced countless other comedians and made a mark by blending absurdity with thoughtfulness and intelligence hiding behind people in duck costumes. So here’s a bit of free film school (for fans and filmmakers alike) from the friends of Gwen Dibbley.

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A Liar

The trailer for A Liar’s Autobiography: The Untrue Story of Monty Python’s Graham Chapman is a lifetime of insanity squeezed into 2 minutes. It helps that the story seems to take a Python-like look at Monty Python, but the main absurdity comes from 17 different animation styles from 14 different animation houses. There isn’t a coherent-looking bit in the bunch, which might be what Chapman would have wanted, or it might just be a mess. Excuse me. A bloody mess. At any rate, it looks like a must-see for Python fans. Where else could you get this level of intimacy? Everyone from the group but Eric Idle was involved in doing voice over work for it and, assumably, providing insight. The main thrust comes from Chapman’s own writing, though, distilled into what looks like an R-rated retelling of a life that might just have a few embellishments. The big question is, of course:  What will his ashes think of this? Check out the trailer for yourself:

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Merch Hunter - Large

The merch world has been ablaze recently with talk of the annual Toy Fair, which as ever has teased some fantastic products set for release within the next year or so, with big news coming for the Amazing Spider-man and Avengers lines, and a lot of frankly mind-boggling non-movie related toys that seem to come from a totally different planet than the simple blocks and cars I used to play with in the Time Before Beard. As usual, here are the finest merchandise discoveries of the week, two of which come directly from the Toy Fair, as well as the usual T-shirt of the week, inspired by the increasingly exciting upcoming release of Prometheus, which I will hopefully be seeing at Cannes for FSR if all goes to plan (and it’s actually there). Booby traps negotiated, angry native tribes dodged, I emerged blinking into the light, victorious and mucky with the treasures that you should all go and buy. Keep the industry alive. Bally-ho! Assemble! And other such rallying calls.

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A lot of thought went into what quotes from Monty Python and the Holy Grail would be used for this intro. In the end, though, it was decided that you all probably know this film by heart, anyway. If you don’t, what are you doing right now? Get to memorizing. When you’re done, though, be sure to come back for this special, little treat we have in store for you on this week’s Commentary Commentary. Monty Python and the Holy Grail had not one, but two directors to it, Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones. The rest of Monty Python did their own commentary track, but it’s separate. Something about a death threat or something. Anyway, this week we’re listening to Gilliam and Jones, the directing team behind this comedy classic, some would even consider it among the greatest comedies of all time. What could they possibly have to say that this film doesn’t say already? Let’s find out. We may even find out what the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow is, but I’m not holding my breath. Right. Off you go.

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Merch Hunter - Large

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, so you might have expected something here dedicated to the merchandise of romantic films. But until you can get an official When Harry Met Sally orgasm sandwich, there’s very little overlap in terms of those films and the collectible world. Unless we’re talking Twilight. And I can assure you right now, we bloody well aren’t talking Twilight. So instead, this week’s column is once again dedicated to the finest things in collecting life, including a further addition to the Mr. Potato Head film co-licensed products. You can’t see it, but I can assure you that the excitement radiating from my every orifice is tangible. There’s also even more Lego – almost a weekly addition to this column you’ll note, but a wholly justified one in this case – and a book that would make Crime & Punishment blush for being so rubbish. It might also be the most expensive book I have ever recommended people buy, but who cares really – the only way out of recession is through frivolous, short-sighted spending. Probably.

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Monty Python

Monty Python veteran Terry Jones has co-written (with Gavin Scott) and will direct a Sci-Fi farce called Absolutely Anything that has been said might be the cause of a mini-Monty Python reunion. Unfortunately, all of the members of the Python crew are no longer with us, but news from Variety says that Jones’ new film is now looking like it will, in fact, manage to get back together at least most of the surviving members. In addition to his own involvement, Jones has already signed up John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, and Michael Palin, and he’s currently negotiating with Eric Idle.

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Attack the Block Chuck Taylor

What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly movie news column that has a bit of a fashion sense, a sometimes sexy side and perhaps even a creepy streak. It will use and abuse all of these facets of its game in tonight’s edition. This one, as they say, is a must-read. We begin tonight with an image of custom Attack the Block themed shoes made by Toni Taylor-Salisbury, whom you may know as Mrs. Junkfood Cinema. The lovely Kayla Kromer tweeted them earlier this evening, as yet another example of Mrs. Salisbury’s amazing work in the realm of geek footwear. You can check out her other work over on her Etsy store. Do it now. Then come back, because there’s more news.

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a powerful nightly look at the highs and lows of the seedy underbelly of the film industry. Usually stuff that involves references to Michael Bay, videos starring plastic figurines and swooning over Monty Python. All of these things are represented in tonight’s very special entry… Believe. That’s what the audiences at the Los Angeles Film Festival did this weekend, as they elected Attack the Block as their Audience Award Winner. The aliens v. hoodlums flick continues to gain steam, even outside the more comfortable genre audiences it’s faced thus far. Winning at SXSW, where the fan base is there in force, is one thing. Winning at LAFF is another big step toward finding mainstream success.

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What is Movie News After Dark? This is a question that I am almost never asked, but I will answer it for you anyway. Movie News After Dark is FSR’s newest late-night secretion, a column dedicated to all of the news stories that slip past our daytime editorial staff and make it into my curiously chubby RSS ‘flagged’ box. It will (but is not guaranteed to) include relevant movie news, links to insightful commentary and other film-related shenanigans. I may also throw in a link to something TV-related here or there. It will also serve as my place of record for being both charming and sharp-witted, but most likely I will be neither of the two. I write this stuff late at night, what do you expect?

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It’s been decades since the Pythons have been on the screen together, and even getting them all into the same room for an event has been a Herculean feat, but the group may come back together for Absolutely Anything – a movie written and directed by their very own Mr. Creosote, Terry Jones. John Oliver, comedian and writer for The Daily Show, is on tap to star in the film that sounds like the typical lunacy and lucidity of Jones. Apparently it features, “aliens, a goofy Brit, a talking dog and buckets of silliness.” It’s safe to assume that “buckets of silliness” is code for the buckets that contain Graham Chapman’s ashes.

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python-header

It seems fitting that I was just spending the afternoon the other day watching several hours of behind the scenes features on my Blu-ray copy of Monty Python’s Life of Brian, as news from the Python camp today is that the gang is getting back together to celebrate their 40th Anniversary later this year.

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DVDs I Bought This Week!

Do not be alarmed — Neil is not taking over the DVDs I Bought This Week column, just filling in for a week to give Brian’s mounting debt a week off.

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Eli Roth is saying that his upcoming project Trailer Trash is going to be much like Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Yet, based on Roth’s past projects and general lack of directorial vision, we have a feeling that it will end up playing out more like the straight-to-DVD horror flick Flight of the Living Dead, it will just be less entertaining.

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published: 12.19.2014
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published: 12.18.2014
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published: 12.17.2014
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