Plague/Schmague: Episode 3 of Pop Art-Monty Python and the Holy Grail/The Seventh Seal

What better time to discuss two films that take place during a plague?

For Pop Art, I ask my guest to chose a film from pop culture and I will then chose a corresponding film from the more arty side of cinema.

For this episode, my guest Jay Cluitt chose the brilliant comedy Monty Python and the Holy Grail and I, in turn, chose the great Ingmar Bergman’s art house hit The Seventh Seal. And in this episode we answer such questions as: Who is the best Monty Pythoner; which movie has the best insult scenes; how does an acting troupe survive in a plague; where have all the existentialists gone; and what is the connection between Bergman and Twister?

Find it at


And check out my first two episodes: Raiders of the Lost Ark/The Treasure of the Sierra Madre and Goldfinger/The Spy Who Came in From the Cold.



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rev 1The first third of High-Rise, the new movie based on the J.G. Ballard novel (he also gave us the autobiographical Empire of the Sun and the unautobiographical, we hope, Crash—no, not that Crash, Ballard gave us the one where people get turned on by auto accidents), has a nice quirky, what-the-hell sort of quality to its writing (Amy Jump, of Kill List and Sightseers) and directing (Ben Wheatley of ditto); they both seem to be having a great deal of fun, if nothing else.
Laing, a 30-something who likes to fall asleep on his balcony in the nude, moves into one of five of a set of state of the art apartment complexes that reach to the skies like the fingers of a hand. As he interacts with his neighbors, the conversation is realistic, yet off just a little. The actions of the characters are also realistic, yet off just a little. It almost feels like a kitchen sink version of a Monty Python sketch.
I more than suspect the whole thing is supposed to be allegorical with the high-rise an encapsulation of all the classes in England. Well, not quite, perhaps. The middle class live on the lower floors and the upper class live much higher, but the lower class seems restricted to a single building superintendent. While such dystopian allegories as Metropolis and Snowpiercer have no apparent middle class, High-Rise seems strangely void of a lower one. Continue reading