Life of Brian

A single-joke satire of organized religion, including Hollywood's, the 1979 Life of Brian is set in Jerusalem A.D. 33. Terry Jones's Sunday-school travesty follows the career of the unintentionally messianic Brian of Nazareth. It's a hearty burlesque in which the three wise men signal their presence with a discreet belch and lisping Pontius Pilate (Michael Palin) can't stop babbling about his "fwiend" Biggus Dickus. Graham Chapman is appropriately nonplussed in the Gene Wilder-ish role of Brian while, tricked out in fake beards, the rest of the gang (John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle) pop up as centurions, prophets, terrorists from the People's Front of Judea, and wiseass members of the rabble. The best lines are often overheard in the general tumult. Cries of "Oh Lord, I am afflicted by a bald patch" and "We'll nail some sense into him" follow Brian as he careens through the casbah, pursued by eager acolytes. The film is pegged to this week's Chapman profile, A Liar's Autobiography. (R) J. HOBERMAN

Sat., Nov. 3, 3 p.m.; Sun., Nov. 4, 3 p.m.; Tue., Nov. 6, 7 p.m., 2012

 
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