Soaring back in time with the ‘Monty Python’s Flying Circus’


Recent reports have forecast a spate of new Bible-themed film projects, from Russell Crowe’s just-wrapped “Noah” to a Cain-and-Abel retelling that Will Smith might direct. (Oh, we could be seeing a Moses epic by Steven Spielberg, too.) For a look at navigating the territory – especially the protests – those involved in the filmmaking might want to check out the BBC docudrama “Holy Flying Circus” (2011), about the outcry Monty Python faced with the release of “Life of Brian” in 1979. Some may recall that goofing on the life and Roman Judean times of Christ — er, rather, Brian Cohen — didn’t sit well with British religious conservatives. Their censorship campaign ultimately led to an awkward TV talk show debate between a Church of England bishop and Python troupers Michael Palin and John Cleese. (The two are played here by terrifically subtle Charles Edwards and castmate Darren Boyd, two of the film’s collection of Python dead ringers.) While “HFC” conveys the worry that crept over Palin as the controversy escalated, the film generally strives to recount the episode with all the surrealist absurdity of, well, Monty Python. Cleese breaks the fourth wall to tell us he’s not unlikable, he’s just playing Basil Fawlty. Palin’s wife is Terry Jones in drag. Palin confabs with the Almighty. Consider it a look on the bright side of an artistically taxing episode. Extras: Featurette on the Terry Gilliam-inspired title sequence. (Acorn Media, Blu-ray/DVD comobo, $34.99)



San Francisco chef Jason Segel (inset) proposes, charmingly, to academic-track girlfriend Emily Blunt, only to have their plans tweaked when she gets a career opportunity in wintry, cuisine-challenged Michigan. The setup is likable rom-com from the Apatow school – Segel has a morning-after peekaboo moment that rates with his “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” exhibitionism – and the tidy ending is a matching bookend. But all that happens in between feels like something out of a different movie, a strained-relationship portrait that’s mostly a downer. Venison humor? Frostbite gags? Nah. Extras: Unrated footage; cast and crew commentary. (Universal, $29.98; Blu-ray, $34.98)



In last season’s smartest new procedural, Jim Caviezel (inset) is an ex-CIA op pre-empting crimes predicted by “Lost” vet Michael Emerson’s omnipotent surveillance tool. But the most interesting person in the whole enterprise might be series creator Jonathan Nolan, who co-scripted the last two “Batman” installments with brother Christopher (and who also wrote the short story that gave rise to “Memento”). Spinning off one of his pet sociopolitical motifs from “The Dark Knight,” Nolan continues to chew on Patriot Act invasion-of-privacy issues here. Get his unfiltered views on this theme and others in commentary. (Warner, $59.98; Blu-ray, $69.97)




Queen’s video aesthetics were never as groundbreaking as their high-range vocal harmonics or Freddie Mercury’s (inset) stud club image. Still, we get some memorable clips. “Bohemian Rhapsody” brings their definitive “Queen II” cover portrait to life, Marlene Dietrich lighting and all. “We Are the Champions” features Mercury in that early-career unitard. “Radio Ga Ga” samples Fritz Lang’s “Metropolis.” The band dons ’60s drag for “I Want to Break Free.” (Indeed.) And Mercury’s eagerly displayed chest rug competes with that mustache for glorious, hairy supremacy throughout. Extras: Commentary by guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor. (Eagle Vision, $19.98; available now)