VIFF Film Review: A Liar’s Autobiography: The Untrue Story of Monty Python’s Graham Chapman


October 7. Just one review today.

A Liar’s Autobiography: The Untrue Story of Monty Python’s Graham Chapman. (Animation, UK, 85 minutes, directors Bill Jones, Jeff Simpson and Ben Timlett). Two warnings. First, if you don’t know who Graham Chapman was, stop reading this right now. Second, know that this film is the work of three directors, five screenwriters and fifteen animation studios. The good bits are very good, the bad bits are just silly. And some are naughty.  The section on Chapman’s experience as a bookish adolescent spending a rain-soaked summer holiday with his parents on the coast of Yorkshire reminded my of my own experience as a bookish adolescent spending a chilly summer holiday on the coast of Lancashire. But that’s just my preference. The high points for the rest of you will be the Queen Mother’s willingness to share her secret supply of gin with the undergraduates at a Cambridge garden party. And John Clease’s famous eulogy of Chapman (co-author of the famous dead parrot sketch): “. . . bereft of life . . . [Chapman] was a freeloading bastard.” Don’t expect a reprise of your favourite sketches. Sorry. Yes, I know this review is prolix and unfocussed, but so is the film. Don’t complain to me. Come on. Stop it. I didn’t expect the Spanish Inquisition.

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About aharmlessdrudge

Way back during the late Bronze age -- actually it was the 1950s -- all of us in high school had to take a vocational test to determine our interests and, supposedly, our future careers. I cannot remember the outcome, but I do recall one question that gave me pause. "If you were to win a Nobel prize, would it be in literature or in physics?" I hesitated over the question: although I enjoyed mathematics and science more than English class, I did have a couple of unfinished (and very bad) novels hidden away at home. I cannot remember what I chose back then, but the dilemma followed me to university, where I switched from mathematics to English and -- after a five-year stint in journalism -- back to mathematics. I recently retired as a professor of statistics. Retirement. What a good chance to revive my literary ambitions. I have finished a novel -- more about that in good time -- and a rubble of drafts of articles about mathematics and statistics is taking up space on my hard disk.
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