Two films viewed today…
#140 / 365 – ‘Life of Brian’ (1979) – 94 mins
IMDb Challenge #85 / 250 – Ranked #164 – Via DVD Collection
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.
After sending up the legend of King Arthur in ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail’ (1975), (which I’m immensely looking forward to enjoying yet again when I reach its ranking of #73 on the IMDb), those Pythons of John Cleese, Eric Idle, Michael Palin, Terry Gilliam, Graham Chapman, and Terry Jones zoned in their next target for humorous ridicule – religion. Monty Python’s Life of Brian is sure to offend many a defender of politically correct humor, luckily I don’t care for any of that and can therefore say I found this takeoff to be highly and equally amusing as The Holy Grail.
Whilst The Holy Grail does have more quotable dialogue in its script, the jokes here are equally memorable as they come at you like a speeding bullet – Brian’s Mother: “He’s not the Messiah. He’s a very naughty boy!” or the moment when the ever growing band of newly converted disciples decide to worship an incensed Brian by following the ‘shoe’ Brian: “What? Well, what sort of chance does that give me? All right! I am the Messiah!…Now, fuck off!”.
Then to finish off that brilliant end credit music ‘Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life’ – timeless and pure class these pythons are a very British institute.
#141 / 365 – ‘The Wrestler’ (2008) – 109 mins
IMDb Challenge #86 / 250 – Ranked #157 – Via iTunes
Back in the late ’80s, Randy “The Ram” Robinson (Mickey Rourke) was a headlining professional wrestler. Now, twenty years later, he ekes out a living performing for handfuls of die-hard wrestling fans in high school gyms and community centers around New Jersey. Estranged from his daughter (Evan Rachel Wood) and unable to sustain any real relationships, Randy lives for the thrill of the show and the adoration of his fans. However, a heart attack forces him into retirement. As his sense of identity starts to slip away, he begins to evaluate the state of his life – trying to reconnect with his daughter, and strikes up a blossoming romance with stripper Cassidy (Marisa Tomei). Yet all this cannot compare to the allure of the ring and passion for his art, which threatens to pull Randy “The Ram” back into his world of wrestling.
I watched Mickey Rourke’s formidable comeback performance for the first time, only late last year and thought then at the time, this brutal but honest human drama from extraordinary director Darren Aronofsky (‘The Fountain’, ‘Black Swan’) wasn’t desperately original and was all a bit too formulaic. The second time around that same outcome is still there, but at the same time The Wrestler is a tremendously moving film.
Along with Rourke central standout performance, it’s also worth noting Marisa Tomei delivering a very fine Oscar nominated performance as aging stripper Cassidy.