“ Genre: Music DVDs - World & Folk / Theatrical Release: 2003 / Actors: Jr. Ed Begley, Paul Dooley ... / DVD released 23 September, 2003 at Warner Home Video / Features of the DVD: Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Colour, Dolby, Dubbed, DVD-Video, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen „
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A Mighty Wind is a film about folk singers, there is no sex, no violence and the swearing is minimal, but it is a very adult film nonetheless.
This is a Christopher Guest Mockumentary in the same format as 'This is Spinal Tap' and 'Best In Show', it reunites a lot of his favourite actors in playing caricatures of real people, in this case the mockumentary focuses on three groups who were big in the 1960's and their preparations for a joint concert at the legendary 'Town Hall'.
Their show has been organised by Jonathan Steinbloom (Bob Balaban), the son of the legendary and much loved folk promoter Irving Steinbloom who has recently passed away. Jonathan asks some of Irvings greatest acts to take part in a concert remembering the great man and brings together Folksmen (Guest, Harry Shearer, Michael McKean), the boisterous and much changed New Main Street Singers and the undoubted stars of the show Mitch and Mickey (Eugene Levy and Catherine O'Hara), a couple estranged by their own complicated personal relationships with themselves and each other.
This mockumentary interviews all of the acts in their now real lives as they prepare for their reunion show, each band has different demons to slay, for Mitch and Mickey it is repairing their own damaged relationship, for the Folksmen, they have to contend with their own ability to over-analyse each other too much and thus forget what they are actually doing and for the New Main Street Singers it is melding a successful outfit from the pieces of the original band who are left.
Added into the mix are Fred Willard as a once famous quiz show host who promotes the concert, Ed Begley Jr as a strangely obsessed public television exec named Lars and a whole host of weird and wonderful others.
The film has a superb cast, Levy and O'Hara are strangely beautiful as the odd Mitch and Mickey, at times Levy takes his character too far into the realms of silliness, but overall when they sing a song about the meaning of a kiss, it actually feels real and that moment alone makes this film memorable. The New Main Street Singers and plastic and anodyne, throw in Jane Lynch in a supporting role and they are fun but support to Mitch and Mickey and the Folksmen who excel, with McKean, Guest and Harry Shearer playing a mixed up group of middle aged men, not quite sure of themselves even after all of these years.
In parts the film is very funny, I sat smiling throughout but only laughed out loud at one moment of slapstick, it is that kind of film, clever and very watchable, Fred Willard in particular was very funny as the over the top promoter with his ridiculous catchphrases. The actors make this what it is and it is at times very funny, at others quite sad and reflective as these people reflect on what their musics and their live meant to them when they were popular and what they now mean, whether this be a big home, or a stay in rehab, its thought provoking but always far enough from reality to seem real.
I enjoyed this film and found it watchable but feel glad I didn't buy it as it doesn't go anywhere or do too much other than simply be a fun 90 minutes. The folk music is well written and well performed, the acting for the most part is great, a good mix of the improvised and some well thought out lines, but overall it lacks something to push it any further. We rented this from Lovefilm and I'd recommend it to anyone who likes Best In Show although it isn't quite as funny, it has more pathos and reality too it, as always the film both endears its characters to us and makes them open to ridicule, as always its honest, mature and witty without being much more.
I do appreciate some other reviews see the intelligence of the script and the acting as 5 out of 5, but for me that would make this excellent and it wasn't, it was very good without really having something I could love about it, so it is a 4 from me.
'The Mighty Wind' is a 'mockumentary' made by the writers of 'This Is Spinal Tap', the famous fake documentary about a brainless rock band with a penchant for turning it up to eleven. This time around however the focus is on three struggling folk bands from yesteryear who all reunite to take part in a folk festival on public access TV. THe film basically an affectionate and frequently cringeworthy swipe at the american folk music industry; it's all hideous matching sweaters, dolled up bimbos, unruly beards and saccharine songs about The Lord, interspersed with surreal interview footage, in which it transpires that one of the female folk singers is an ex porn star and colour-worshipping cultist loon, whilst another utters the fantastic line "I came to realise that there was a history of abuse in my family, but that the abuse was primarily of a musical nature".
The central protagonists are 'Mitch and Mickey', a man and woman folk duo who suffered an acrimonious split many yaers ago after which Mitch had a full-scale mental breakdown from which he has never recovered, the romantic tension between the two checked by Mitch's spaced out and wildly eccentric manner as he floats around in a daze, and the members of spinal tap all put in a turn as the impressively uncool folk trio 'The Folksmen" as well.
With solid perfoemances, amusing characters and some fantastic one-liners, A Mighty Wind is a throughly entertaining and understated comedy that does a great job of sending up the world of folk, just as This is Spinal Tap did before it for the world of rock. Next time around can we have a mocumentary about the world of black metal please?
A Mighty Wind comes from the same creative genius that gave us This is Spinal Tap however this time the focus is about three folk bands who are trying to revitalise their career by taking part in a festival.
Similar to Spinal Tap this is also shot as a fake documentary with the focus on three different bands The Main Street Singers, The Folksmen and Mitch and Mickey all of which can be seen as paraodies of some of the 60's folk bands like The Seekers and Simon and Garfunkel. Just like Best in Class the film is not scripted instead there is an outline given to the actors and then they improvise around it, this helps give it the stunted feel of a documentary where people say the strangest things and there are then really uncomfortable silences.
The Main Street Singers who have now addd New to their title ust to emphasise their similarity to the New Seekers even though the band has no original members left in it, there is a sickly sweet style of music while Mitch and Mickey are a Sonny and Cher style duo who have since gone very different ways in life. The film focuses on bringing the groups together and the various issues and baggage they all have.
This is a funny film, maybe not quite as good as the excellent Tap or Best in Class but still a very funny film with an understated form of humour and some great jokes. The dialogue is sharp and witty and it is a total send up of the hippy sort of folk scene from the sixties bought into the present day. In all it is a classic spoof film from a talented team with some great acting performences. Some of the situations are absurd and the story from the Folksman about their record label forgetting to punch a hole in the centre of their album is just classic.
Eugene Levy who you will recognise as Jims dad from the American Pie movie is outstanding as the unbalanced Mitch who has been let out of a mental home while Fred Willard is also excellent as Mike LaFontaine the total nut case who is the manager of the 'New Main Street Singers'.
I did really enjoy this film, it is an excellent parody and very funny indeed and I heartily recommnd it.
Where were you when musical impresario Irving Steinbloom died? Were you aware that this veritable giant of the music industry had passed away? Had you considered the psychological impact this would have had on his former proteges?
Anyone with a passing interest in film must have seen the Rock'n'Roll 'mockumentary' 'This is Spinal Tap' at least once in their lives. Director Christopher Guest (who is also the lucky so-and-so who is married to Jamie Lee Curtis) went on to make the well-received 'Best in Show', and eventually went on to make a 'mockumentary' on the 1960s folk-music scene, which was entitled 'A Mighty Wind'.
When I say folk music I don't mean the stuff that is played on Radio Two on a Wednesday night, I mean the pseudo-folk personified by artists such as Peter, Paul and Mary and Simon and Garfunkel.. Picture that in your head and read on...
As I mentioned earlier, musical manager Irving Steinbloom has died, and his son wants to televise a concert in honour of his father, featuring the acts that became famous in that era.
Three acts are featured:- The Folksmen, a trio who play classic folk (Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Harry Shearer), The New Main Street Singers, a 'neuftet' with brilliant white smiles and dodgy pasts, and Mitch and Mickey, once the sweethearts of folk music who had an acrimonious break-up (Catherine O'Hara and Eugene Levy).
This is not slapstick. It is very clever comedy and does make me laugh on several levels. The documentary style works very well, and makes you wonder how these people actually manage to be sensible most of the time. Mitch is brilliantly portrayed by Levy, as a man who is obviously undergoing a very long recovery from a severe mental breakdown.
Catherine O'Hara is funny, playing a woman who was once the darling of folk, but is now married to a man who sells catheters.
The one real thing is that this music is so plausible! Dreadful in parts, but very plausible. In fact, Mitch and Mickey's song 'A Kiss at the end of the Rainbow', was actually nominated for the Best Song Oscar!
The DVD and its Extras
If you can lay your hands on the DVD, it also contains well-crafted extras to perpetuate the mythology of these acts. There is the full concert from the end of the film, as it woudl have been seen on American TV, along with archive television appearances from all the acts.
The commentary from Guest and Levy is also enlightening and entertaining.
The Final Verdict
Well, this film may not appeal to all, I admit that. However if you fancy watching something which is very subtley funny with a few laugh out loud moments, then please do give it a go.
It is underrated and always makes me chuckle
Harry Shearer, Christopher Guest and Michael McKean are still best known for their brilliant spoof rockumentary This Is Spinal Tap almost 20 years later theyre back but this time as a folk band form the 60s trying to re-launch their career.
In the same way that Spinal Tap pretended to be a documentary about the Rock band Spinal Tap A mighty wind follows in a documentary style the setting up and performance of a folk reunion concert featuring top folk band from the 60s 'The Main Street Singers', 'The Folksmen' and 'Mitch and Mickey' as a tribute for legendary folk impresario Irving Steinbloom.
Of course as in Spinal Tap all the characters and bands are fictitious but if you are not careful you could be taken in to believing it. In spinal tap the band was a parody of all the hair metal bands of the time and in the same way the bands in A Mighty Wind show more than a passing resemblance to the folk bands of the 60s; The Seekers, Peter, Paul and Mary, The Kingston Trio, Sonny and Cher, Leonard Cohen, Simon and Garfunkel as well as many others can all be glimpsed at various points. The film is largely improvised with the actor just being given the details of a scene to then play in character. This produced the realistic style of talking to camera that is seen in straight documentaries. The jokes are subtle and sometimes sneak up on you as a seemingly straight interview the kind of you have seen countless times on various music documentaries suddenly veers off in to the absurd but always done perfectly seriously by the actors.
The film follows in classic documentary style the attempts of the neurotic Jonathon Steinbloom loving son of the late folk music promoter Irving Steinbloom to organise a tribute concert for his father featuring the folk bands that he brought to prominence in the 60s folk music boom. Three very different bands are tracked down, The Main Street Singers (now called the New Main Street Singers) are still performing but feature no original members who specialise in happy-clappy, sickly sweet folk music, The Folksmen are more from the political end of the folk world and although they have not played together in years are the one band to have had a chart hit and finally the folk duo Mitch and Mickey. Mitch Cohen had been the serious singer songwriter who teamed up with his then girlfriend Mickey Crabbe to form the lovey-dovey Mitch and Mickey. These days however Mitch has serious mental problems and under strict medication while Mickey is happily married to a surgical appliance sales man with a love of model trains getting everyone back together and making sure they perform on the night is not a easy task
THE CAST, PEFORMANCES AND MUSIC
Harry Shearer .... Mark Shubb
Michael McKean .... Jerry Palter
Christopher Guest .... Alan Barrows
Eugene Levy .... Mitch Cohen
Catherine O'Hara .... Mickey Crabbe
Bob Balaban .... Jonathan Steinbloom
Jane Lynch .... Laurie Bohner
John Michael Higgins .... Terry Bohner
Fred Willard .... Mike LaFontaine
Ed Begley Jr. .... Lars Olfen
This is a very intelligent and beautifully observed film. The laughs are not belly laughs and there is no slapstick humour, the only soundtrack is the music the bands perform and the documentary feel is extremely accurate. I found the recounting of the bands histories in old footage flash back was extremely convincing at the same time as being obviously a spoof. The sickly sweet image of the Main Street singers is contrasted with the fact that they are believers in a weird deity based on the power of colours and partaking in strange rituals as well as one of the members being an ex porn star again you feel this might not be a farfetched as all that seeing some of the real life groups from that period!
Another great moment is the Folksmen telling us of their early days in the business and their first record deal. The record label was a very small amateurish set up so much so that they forgot to punch the whole in the centre of the vinyl records still the music was good if you good make a whole yourself and play it!
Individual performances including some excellent cameos are universally excellent. Shearer, McKean and Guest once again take to their band member roles effortlessly and you can almost imagine that The Folksmen could be an older and mellowed out version of Spinal Tap! Eugene Levy better known as the dad in the American Pies movies is outstanding as the unbalanced Mitch once the star of the folk scene but now a rambling and vulnerable individual who has to be released form a mental home to perform. There are great cameos from Ed Begley Jr as the TV executive who sets up the show and Michael Hitchcock the stressed out manager of the Town Hall venue where the concert is being performed. Fred Willard is also excellent as Mike LaFontaine the smarmy and slightly deranged ex TV host and now manager of the New Main Street Singers.
One more aspect of the film that is worth mentioning is the music. Yes it is very cheesy and very cliché but it is a brilliant parody of the folk genre as is the way that the songs are performed. Some great Spoof ballad such as Old Joe's Place, Never Did No Wanderin', Potato's In The Paddy Wagon, Blood On The Coal, Just That Kinda Day and the song that gave us the title A Mighty Wind! a soundtrack CD is available.
The music and lyrics are down to Cristopher Guest who has managed once again to perfectly catch the essence and pay tribute of the musical genre (just as he did with rock in Spinal Tap) whilst at the same time gently subverting the music and producing a very clever comic parody.
You feel just like in Spinal Tap that this film would get even better on more viewings as more subtle jokes would surface each time. An interest in folk music is not essential and knowledge of the artist that are being parodies is also not needed most people are familiar enough with the warbling sounds of the classic folk performers to get the joke.
Surprisingly the DVD version is no longer available to buy in the UK although a rental version is still on release and at the moment the soundtrack is only available on CD in the US.
The DVD features include a choice of audio sound track either in English or French both using Dolby Digital 5.1. Subtitles are also available in English, Spanish and French. The quality of the picture and sound is excellent. The scene selection option and chapter selection is adequate and the menu navigation is easy to use.
There are a fair amount of special features included on the DVD the best of which is a commentary option by Christopher Guest and Eugene Levy, which is at times amusing and insightful. Very often these additional commentaries are not worth having and it sounds like the commentators have been forced to cobble something together in order to pad out the DVD features but in this case the information and comments are informative and add something to the overall enjoyment of the film once the film has been seen on its own.
A lot of additional scenes have also been included on the DVD and these are interesting to view but none would actually I feel have added anything to the film as it stands although a couple of unused songs in particular one The Good Book by the New Main Street Singers is worth seeing.
The spoof element of the film carries on to the DVD features as a TV broadcast of the concert has been included. This was a special sequence that was filmed on TV cameras to give and authentic feel to the concert broadcast and is just another example of the attention to detail that the makers of the film have used even when thinking of the DVD release.
Further TV appearances by the groups featured in the film are included in a Vintage TV appearances section, which does include some fuller versions of exerts used in the film.
Finally the musical biographies of the each of the spoof groups in also included.
The DVD package is good and is worth seeing, it will add to your overall enjoyment of the film.
Overall A Mighty Wind is a very intelligent docu/film parody that will amuse you give you some great laughs and may even get your feet tapping? (maybe not..).
Thanks for reading and rating this review!
© Mauri 2005
Christopher Guest follows up his hilarious mockumentary BEST IN SHOW with this parody of the folk music industry. Three well-known folk groups come together for a reunion concert in New York City, singing brilliantly funny songs and producing uniquely bizarre laughs along the way. The Folksmen are an all-male trio consisting of an upright bass, a banjo, a guitar, and a whole lot of melody. Hilarious scenes of the group rehearsing casually in the kitchen, while reflecting on bygone days, are some of the most candidly funny moments in the film. Fake archival photos of the band, combined with the names of their hit songs--Hitchin', Singin', Ramblin', Wishin', and Pickin'--generate wonderfully dry jokes. When not peering in on the Folksmen, the film spends time getting to know Mitch and Mickey, a popular duo and a great folk love story. Mitch and Mickey talk openly about the emotional torment of their breakup, though it is clearly difficult for them. However, back together again, they manage to rehearse--and perform--their famous love song that requires a dramatic kiss in the middle. Last but not least are The New Main Street Singers, a raucous group of nine--a neuftette--that wear matching outfits and sing upbeat songs. Some of the more bizarre personalities in the film come out of this group, bringing a tone to this folk odyssey that recalls moments from Guest's BEST IN SHOW and WAITING FOR GUFFMAN. A hollerin' good time, A MIGHTY WIND is yet another comic masterpiece from Guest, whose films resonate with viewers long after they're through, and easily lend themselves to repeat viewings.