Happy April 1st, everyone! As per the relative randomness popping up on the internet, I’m officially declaring it Monty Python Day. Please enjoy the random-intelligent-nonsense that is the Life of Brian.

(If my Latin class was like this, I might have memorized my declensions earlier…)

 

Centurion:
What’s this thing? "ROMANES EUNT DOMUS"? "People called Romans they go the house?"
Brian:
It… it says "Romans go home".
Centurion:
No it doesn’t. What’s Latin for "Roman"?

Brian hesitates

Centurion:
Come on, come on!
Brian:
(uncertain) "ROMANUS".
Centurion:
Goes like?
Brian:
"-ANUS".
Centurion:
Vocative plural of "-ANUS" is?
Brian:
"-ANI".
Centurion:
(takes paintbrush from Brian and paints over) "RO-MA-NI". "EUNT"? What is "EUNT"?
Brian:
"Go".
Centurion:
Conjugate the verb "to go"!
Brian:
"IRE"; "EO", "IS", "IT", "IMUS", "ITIS", "EUNT".
Centurion:
So "EUNT" is …?
Brian:
Third person plural present indicative, "they go".
Centurion:
But "Romans, go home!" is an order, so you must use the …?

He lifts Brian by his short hairs

Brian:
The … imperative.
Centurion:
Which is?
Brian:
Um, oh, oh, "I", "I"!
Centurion:
How many Romans? (pulls harder)
Brian:
Plural, plural! "ITE".

Centurion strikes over "EUNT" and paints "ITE" on the wall

Centurion:
"I-TE". "DOMUS"? Nominative? "Go home", this is motion towards, isn’t it, boy?
Brian:
(very anxious) Dative?

Centurion draws his sword and holds it to Brian’s throat

Brian:
Ahh! No, ablative, ablative, sir. No, the, accusative, accusative, ah, DOMUM, sir.
Centurion:
Except that "DOMUS" takes the …?
Brian:
… the locative, sir!
Centurion:
Which is?
Brian:
"DOMUM".
Centurion:
(satisfied) "DOMUM"…

He strikes out "DOMUS" and writes "DOMUM"

Centurion:
…"-MUM". Understand?
Brian:
Yes sir.
Centurion:
Now write it down a hundred times.
Brian:
Yes sir, thank you sir, hail Caesar, sir.
Centurion:
(saluting) Hail Caesar. If it’s not done by sunrise, I’ll cut your balls off.
Brian:
(very relieved) Oh thank you sir, thank you sir, hail Caesar and everything, sir!
***

Now for [something completely different!] those of you who are not of a “delicate” constitution:

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These days, it takes more than a smile to get me in a movie theater. I am far from the days when I worked at a theater and saw every movie released on 2003 just because, well, it was free (and the following year was shot for movie rentals – I’d already seen them all!). Don’t get me wrong, I love movies, but I go for the visual spectacle, the thrill of the big-screen. I have no problem watching an romantic comedy or indie film at home; not much is lost. But for some movies, like Lord of the Rings (my first real big-screen love), home-viewing just doesn’t cut it.

However, for this New Year’s Eve, I decided to head out and see Up in the Air, and I was pleasantly surprised, though I did walk in expecting a good movie to begin with. The movie begins with credits – which I always love, it sets the mood – that feature sweeping birds-eye shots from airplanes that manage to make the American landscape look, well, interesting. (Though I’m still not sure what those big circle-fields were for…)

Now, I’m not a big George Clooney fan – he’s not on my “list” if you know what I mean – but whenever I see him in a movie I remember how likeable he is as an actor. His character, who could have come off colder if played by another actor, is actually quite appealing, despite the fact that he’s pretty much the nightmare for any commitment-wanting woman on the planet. But you just can’t hate him, which makes the big surprise at the end (which I won’t give away) rather heartbreaking. 

This movie doesn’t have a “happy ending” per-se, but it does make a fairly effective point about life and the different ways of living it. There’s a big “follow your bliss” thing going on here, though it’s a bit hidden at times. The themes of freedom, humanity, and compassion are played out in a way that is unique compared to what else I’ve seen recently – Avatar, for example, was a visual spectacle which I recommend that everyone should see, but the story itself is not all that unique, and the ending is predictable. It makes you think, but maybe not so much about the issues – we’ve seen them before. Up in the Air, of course, isn’t saying anything new, exactly, but it leaves an nice aftertaste.

I must also say that Anna Kendrick is fascinating to watch. I’ve been a fan of hers since her first witty little quips in Twilight, and she doesn’t disappoint here. In fact, the casting for this movie was on point; even the numerous unknown actors portraying fired employees do a wonderful job of illustrating what is means to be an employee in today’s bleak economy.

The dialogue is also very entertaining, poignant without being overwhelming, and hilarious enough to balance the reality of the film. (I will forever remember the advice Clooney’s character gives for getting through the airport faster.) The same witty-banter between characters we saw in Juno is here, but toned down a bit with less of those silly catch-phrases (i.e. there’s no “your eggo is preggo”). It has language but not enough that it moves into Judd Apatow territory, which would be all wrong here.

This movie is, at heart, a character-driven piece that refreshingly captures a bit of struggle to negotiate life in the 21st century. Isn’t that nice?

Today I would like to remind you of a classic example of British humor, which I personally feel kicks the proverbial ass of American humor. I’ve decided to add my little comments in brackets, because, well, it’s my blog and I’d like to prove just how clever Monty Python writing actually is. Clever, well-researched writing – what a concept…

1st soldier with a keen interest in birds: Who goes there?
King Arthur: It is I, Arthur, son of Uther Pendragon, from the castle of Camelot. King of the Britons, defeater of the Saxons, Sovereign of all England!
1st soldier with a keen interest in birds: Pull the other one! [Maybe if he wasn’t riding a coconut it would be more convincing]
King Arthur: I am, and this is my trusty servant Patsy. [FYI, Patsy is both masculine and feminine , it comes from Martha (what?!) and Patrick, which means “nobleman.” Ironic, no?] We have ridden the length and breadth [Old English for width] of the land in search of knights who will join me in my court at Camelot. I must speak with your lord and master.
1st soldier with a keen interest in birds: What? Ridden on a horse?
King Arthur: Yes!
1st soldier with a keen interest in birds: You’re using coconuts!
King Arthur: What?
1st soldier with a keen interest in birds: You’ve got two empty halves of coconut and you’re bangin’ ’em together.
King Arthur: So? We have ridden since the snows of winter covered this land, through the kingdom of Mercia, [Mercia was one of the kingdoms of the Anglo-Saxon Heptarchy, that was centered on the River Trent in the region now known as the English Midlands} through…
1st soldier with a keen interest in birds: Where’d you get the coconuts?
King Arthur: We found them.
1st soldier with a keen interest in birds: Found them? In Mercia? The coconut’s tropical!
King Arthur: What do you mean?
1st soldier with a keen interest in birds: Well, this is a temperate zone
King Arthur: The swallow may fly south with the sun or the house martin [A migratory passerine bird]  or the plover may seek warmer climes in winter, yet these are not strangers to our land?
1st soldier with a keen interest in birds: Are you suggesting coconuts migrate?
King Arthur: Not at all. They could be carried.
1st soldier with a keen interest in birds: What? A swallow carrying a coconut?
King Arthur: It could grip it by the husk!
1st soldier with a keen interest in birds: It’s not a question of where he grips it! It’s a simple question of weight ratios! A five ounce bird could not carry a one pound coconut.
King Arthur: Well, it doesn’t matter. Will you go and tell your master that Arthur from the Court of Camelot is here?
1st soldier with a keen interest in birds: Listen. In order to maintain air-speed velocity, a swallow needs to beat its wings forty-three times every second, right?
King Arthur: Please!
1st soldier with a keen interest in birds: Am I right? [Yes.]

Ah, the classic combination of silliness, science, and Arthurian literature. Heaven.

 

P.S. Don’t google “coconuts” or “swallows.” Bad things happen.