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USA 2003
Directed by
Christopher Guest
91 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bruce Paterson
3.5 stars

Mighty Wind, A

Synopsis: A documentary-style take on the events behind a folk music concert at New York's Town Hall that revives thirty-year old music from some of the (then) biggest names in the business.

Christopher Guest has explored some rather peculiar sub-cultures. This is Spinal Tap followed the antics of a cerebrally-challenged rock band as they bellowed out lyrics to songs like 'Big Bottom' and 'Sex Farm'. Best in Show revealed just how far people will go to get a medal slung around their dog's neck. Waiting for Guffman highlighted one small community with more courage than theatrical talent, but who were determined to put on the pageant of their lives. And now, A Mighty Wind. These films may be absurd, but they also offer some real insights into human nature and its obsessions.
Whilst Spinal Tap savagely satirized the excesses of '80s rock, Wind is a near tribute to the folk music that, despite its potential dagginess, can still move the heart and feet to neglected rhythms. Some familiar and very funnyTap-style moments are revisited - the over-the-top album covers, debates over stage sets, sexual and creative tensions between the musicians, and unreliable band managers.
Wind finds added variety by following three groups rather than one. The Folksmen reminisce about how they knew something was up when their record label started releasing their albums without a hole in the middle. They also have a surprise in store. Mitch and Mickey were the hot young duo with a trademark kiss at the end of their hottest number. Decades later, Mitch has recently been discharged from the psychiatric hospital (some think too early) to find Mickey married to a catheter salesman. The big question is, will they kiss again when reviving their big hit? And finally, The (New) Main Street Singers, a tribute band led by Terry Boner and his wife Laurie. Laurie recounts how she originally starred in small movies, becoming successful due to her talent in areas other girls couldn't match, before finding true love with Boner. Terry confesses he has idolised the group since he found they helped him escape from a childhood of terrible abuse, most of it musical. Together, they have revitalised the music, and started their own two-person cult based on the vibratory power of colours.

These three acts are balanced on the management side by the comic delights of a public relations duo (who are so connected it's like they have one brain between them), an obsessive-compulsive concert organiser, and a harried theatre manager. And in the wash-up, the future possibilities revealed for the three bands have pretty good "documentary"-potential in their own right.

It may not have rock debauchery or canine-obsessed intrigue but A Mighty Wind delivers enough moments of gentle comic genius to leave you with a smile.




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