Screening Room: ‘The Adventures of Baron Munchausen’

Have you ever seen The Adventures of Baron Munchausen? Whatever the answer, the new Criterion edition provides ample reason to watch it now, whether for the first or fifth time.

My article about the film, and its place in Terry Gilliam’s career, is at PopMatters:

It is not surprising that Terry Gilliam’s film career went up in flames—not just once but on multiple occasions, and not just in flames but in great roaring bonfires that consumed reams of industry trade gossip, millions of dollars, and years of people’s lives. As Monty Python’s animator of lewdly monstrous grotesqueries and generally non-verbal performer, Gilliam was hardly the troupe’s chief troublemaker (that would be Graham Chapman, busier hellraising ala Keith Moon than trying to make films). But Gillian did have an easily detectable rebel streak that signaled poor receptiveness to fussy things like schedules and budgets…

Here is the trailer:

Screening Room: ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail’

holygrail1Back in 1975, Monty Python was just starting to get a name for themselves outside of the UK. That was the year their first proper film landed in theaters, and comedy just wasn’t the same after that. Killer rabbits and all.

My review of the 40th anniversary DVD / Blu-ray release of Monty Python and the Holy Grail is at PopMatters:

Shot by a ramshackle Dadaist comedy troupe over a chaotic and fairly drunken month in Scotland in 1974, right around the time that their Flying Circus TV show was coming to an end, and funded primarily by having some rock star friends of the troupe (Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin) throw in a few thousand pounds each, the film should have been one of those debacles where everybody wishes they had just packed it up and retired instead. Among the extras on the anniversary edition—including outtakes and some newly unearthed animations by Terry Gilliam—is an on-the-set BBC piece where Gilliam seems more chuckle-headed college joker than co-director, John Cleese barely able to contain his irritation with being directed and all the last-minute rewrites, and set mechanics so primitive they could be out-done by an early Doctor Who episode…

Here’s the original trailer: