Elsewhere by Graham Reid

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Wide angle reviews, interviews and opinion by writer Graham Reid

monty python

The contents of this page relate to monty python.

SALVADOR DALI, HIS MUSEUM IN FIGUERES: The Disneyland of the disturbed

SALVADOR DALI, HIS MUSEUM IN FIGUERES: The Disneyland of the disturbed

Of all the monuments a man has built to himself few, if any, are more bizarre than the grand conceit Salvador Dali designed in a burned-out theatre in his birthplace of Figueres. A little more than an hour north of Barcelona by local bus, Figueres is a modest, not especially interesting town of some 35,000 people. But it is the...

THE GENIUS OF JERRY LEWIS: All fall down

THE GENIUS OF JERRY LEWIS: All fall down

Jerry Lewis is in his early 80s so it’s hardly surprising people don’t talk about him much anymore. His last decent movie appearance was in The King of Comedy in 83 as the arrogant television talkshow host Jerry Langford stalked by Robert DeNiro’s deluded Rupert Pupkin. Lewis was terrific, oozing oily indifference. The last...

WILD CARDS by JOHN DUNMORE, REVIEWED: Mad, bad and dangerous

WILD CARDS by JOHN DUNMORE, REVIEWED: Mad, bad and dangerous

Subtitled “eccentric characters from New Zealand’s past” this collection of short biographical articles by Dunmore -- Professor Emeritus of French at Massey, Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2001 -- is considerably more insightful than it looks. To his more than two dozen, diverse subjects -- from ambitious or...

STEVE COOGAN INTERVIEWED (2004): Ah-haa!

STEVE COOGAN INTERVIEWED (2004): Ah-haa!

We cringed when British actor Steve Coogan was appalling television, then radio, host Alan Partridge in the British television series Knowing Me, Knowing You and I'm Alan Partridge. There were few more uncomfortable television characters than this gauche, insecure and obnoxious British television talk show host whose Abba-themed show...

ROGER CORMAN INTERVIEWED (2006): It's a gas. gas, gas-s-s-s

ROGER CORMAN INTERVIEWED (2006): It's a gas. gas, gas-s-s-s

Roger Corman is the King of the B Grade Movie. He has directed and/or produced hundreds of films, claims he shot his cult classic Little Shop of Horrors (1960) in two days and one night, and usually brought in a movie in less than 10 days. He would often shoot sequences for two films simultaneously to save on costs and actors would also work in...

MONTY PYTHON'S LIFE OF BRIAN, 30 YEARS ON (2009): Still a bit of a naughty boy

MONTY PYTHON'S LIFE OF BRIAN, 30 YEARS ON (2009): Still a bit of a naughty boy

It seems only yesterday that Mel Gibson’s The Passion of The Christ was being debated for its uncompromising brutality. I wonder if those who bought it on DVD watch it often? And will they watch it 30 years time? Gibson has a sense of humour -- he made Braveheart after all -- so maybe he would get a laugh out of the irreverently...

THE POPE VOTE: Angels and Demons, black smoke, white smoke

THE POPE VOTE: Angels and Demons, black smoke, white smoke

Dan Brown's Vatican-based thriller Angels and Demons typically raises lots of questions: notably why would you buy the book now when you can just go see the movie? But to give Brown his due, he writes a cracking story which in the film fairly belts along -- and has as its backdrop the arcane mysteries of a Papal Conclave, the time when old...

CORNER GAS (Madman DVD): A whole lot of nothing

CORNER GAS (Madman DVD): A whole lot of nothing

It is a peculiar thing that Corner Gas -- a wry, understated and very droll Canadian comedy series -- isn't screened on New Zealand television. It has many similarities in its humour to that of Flight of the Conchords, not the least in its gentle wit, the slightly confused and often naive characters, and the similarity between what Canadians...

Flight of the Conchords: I Told You I Was Freaky (SubPop/Rhythmethod)

Flight of the Conchords: I Told You I Was Freaky (SubPop/Rhythmethod)

In retrospect, one of the funniest incidents in the Flight of the Conchords' second television series was when the nice but naive New Zealand prime minister Brian turned up and seemed out of his depth, and desperate to be liked. Who knew that the actual PM John Key would later turn up on Letterman looking alarmingly like Brian? But the...

MONTY PYTHON: ALMOST THE TRUTH, THE LAWYER'S CUT (Eagle Rock DVD): This is all getting far too silly

MONTY PYTHON: ALMOST THE TRUTH, THE LAWYER'S CUT (Eagle Rock DVD): This is all getting far too silly

If you thought the last word on the Pythons had been the DVD box sets, the CD reissue of their albums and their Autobiography modelled on the Beatles' Anthology book, then . . . Yes, here at seven and a half hours with all the living Pythons interviewed and reflective -- plus relevant clips, period footage (the Goons) and commentary from...

THE ESSENTIAL SPIKE MILLIGAN complied by ALEXANDER GAMES

THE ESSENTIAL SPIKE MILLIGAN complied by ALEXANDER GAMES

On New Zealand's national Poetry Day in 2004 a television news team buttonholed people on the street and asked them to recite a piece of poetry. One guy did an impromptu local variant of Spike Milligan's Silly Old Baboon. By coincidence, that very day a letter writer to the New Zealand Herald expressed outrage about the artist et.al...

THE WILD WOMEN OF WONGO a film by JAMES L. WALCOTT (1958) (Triton DVD)

THE WILD WOMEN OF WONGO a film by JAMES L. WALCOTT (1958) (Triton DVD)

Everyone is allowed their guilty secrets when it comes to bad movies: I have an unnatural affection for Zardoz (Sean Connery in the future somewhere) and The Long Ships (in which Sidney Poitier seems to swim from somewhere Moorish to the land of the Vikings). These are stupid but fun and allow you plenty of couchtime to add up the continuity...

IMMODESTY BLAIZE presents BURLESQUE UNDRESSED (EMI DVD)

IMMODESTY BLAIZE presents BURLESQUE UNDRESSED (EMI DVD)

Well, if you can have an Olympic event on the parallel bars, why not on a vertical bar -- especially when many thousands of people across the world are dedicated to it. So why not pole dancing as demonstation sport at the next Olympics leading to official recognition as sport thereafter? Well, here is why not. Pole dancing is, like, just...

Stan Freberg: The Old Payola Roll Blues (1960)

Stan Freberg: The Old Payola Roll Blues (1960)

While British commentators congratulate their culture on its history of comedy and satire (Peter Sellers, Spike Milligan, David Frost, Peter Cook, Monty Python et al) they conspiciously fail to note that America had a similar, but often darker and more biting, tradition. Stan Freberg was -- although at the time of this writing he is still...

ANVIL! THE STORY OF ANVIL, a film by SACHA GERVASI

ANVIL! THE STORY OF ANVIL, a film by SACHA GERVASI

The story of this rock documentary -- or "rockumentary, if you will" -- is so soaked in parallels to the fictional Spinal Tap that you cannot help notice and mention it. But let's not because at heart here there is another and better story than a real life version of a parody. Anvil is a great story of love and faith: the love of...

National Lampoon: I'm A Woman (1975)

National Lampoon: I'm A Woman (1975)

Before they got into movies like Animal House and the Vacation series (with Chevy Chase), National Lampoon was a satirical magazine which also delivered a very funny sideline in records such as Lemmings (which skewered Woodstock). One of their funniest album, but hard to find unfortunately as it doesn't appear to be on CD reissue anywhere,...

Age of Consent: Fight Back Rap (1983)

Age of Consent: Fight Back Rap (1983)

Who said the gay power movement lacked humour? Quite the opposite in fact, and humour is a powerful weapon. This one-off appeared on the Harvey Kubernick-curated double album English as a Second Language in 1983 on Freeway Records, another in his series of recordings of poets and spoken word artists from LA which included people like Jeffrey...

THE NEW STATESMAN written by LAURENCE MARKS AND MAURICE GRAN (Shock DVD)

THE NEW STATESMAN written by LAURENCE MARKS AND MAURICE GRAN (Shock DVD)

Although as dated in its own way as Mind Your Language (the British sitcom which milked racial stereotypes for humour), The New Statesman still has something to recommend it to contemporary audiences. Filmed in the Thatcher era (a character playing Thatcher appears in the series), it broadly satirised the greed and ruthlessness of that...

CORNER GAS; SEASON THREE (Madman DVD)

CORNER GAS; SEASON THREE (Madman DVD)

Does Canada make the most consistently interesting but largely unseen television programmes? Possibly: any country which can give the world The Beachcombers (filmed in quaint Gibsons and sold to 50 countries in the Seventies) and also the very droll Corner Gas (sold to considerably fewer) gets my vote as a nation which has found its points...

Groucho Marx: Churchill, Chicago critics (1972)

Groucho Marx: Churchill, Chicago critics (1972)

The great Groucho has been so often copied (Alan Alda, Welcome Back Kotter etc) and parodied down the decades we forget how irreverent he was in his day. By the time of this recording however he was an old man and just five years away from his death at 86. Yet remarkably he undertook this stand-up show at Carnegie Hall and other venues where...

Mel Brooks: To Be Or Not To Be; The Hitler Rap (1984)

Mel Brooks: To Be Or Not To Be; The Hitler Rap (1984)

Very few people -- and arguably only Jewish comedians? -- can get away with making fun of Hitler and the Nazis. Mel Brooks has been relentless in his ridicule which some find tasteless and others say is a necessary corrective. Whichever way you cut it, it is dark humour which Brooks makes seem genuinely funny. By way of comparison, is...

LE DONK AND SCOR-ZAY-ZEE, a film by SHANE MEADOWS (Madman DVD)

LE DONK AND SCOR-ZAY-ZEE, a film by SHANE MEADOWS (Madman DVD)

Many rock musicians don't need much help to appear stupid. (The court calls Nikki Sixx.) But there has been a long line of films and television shows which parody or poke fun at musicians and their apparent lack of smarts, or even a sense of reality. Bad News, The Rutles, the classic Spinal Tap, Hunting Venus, Fear of a Black Hat (which...

Ronnie Ronalde: If I Were a Blackbird (1950)

Ronnie Ronalde: If I Were a Blackbird (1950)

Roger Whittaker does it, and so does Bryan Ferry when he sings John Lennon's Jealous Guy. They whistle on stage, which isn't the easiest thing to do -- least of all if, as with Roxy Music playing in Auckland earlier this year, it's a breezy night and the wind is in your face. Whistling was once a commonplace and every now and again in the...

THE BARGAIN BUY: Flight of the Conchords: I Told You I Was Freaky (Sub Pop)

THE BARGAIN BUY: Flight of the Conchords: I Told You I Was Freaky (Sub Pop)

Writing parody songs is harder than it seems -- one Neil Young is possible but then try for Neil Diamond, the Bee Gees, Hendrix etc. Yet the Flight of the Conchords accomplish it with what seems an effortlessness, which just shows how smart they are. This album was given a major review at Elsewhere on release (here) so we needn't go over the...

Stan Freberg: Rock Island Line (1956)

Stan Freberg: Rock Island Line (1956)

Because a parody only works if you know the original it might be useful to check out the video clip here (kinda cute in its own way) before playing American comedian Freberg's poke at it. The original of Rock Island Line was by Leadbelly in the Thirties but Donegan's version of 1955 was emblematic of the skiffle era in Britain where young...

ROGER CORMAN PRESENTS SHARKTOPUS, directed by DECLAN O'BRIEN (Anchor Bay DVD)

ROGER CORMAN PRESENTS SHARKTOPUS, directed by DECLAN O'BRIEN (Anchor Bay DVD)

Some years ago in this interview the master of B-grade flicks Roger Corman admitted that these days he often just thought up the title and let other directors flesh out the actual film. Hence Dinocroc. And of course, Dinocroc 2. Which also explains this amusingly low budget affair ("Half-shark. Half-octopus. All killer") in...

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