Wednesday, June 11, 2003


A Mighty Wind, to my surprise, turned up at the local podunk googolplex this past week, drifting alone among the six theatres showing Matrix Reloaded, the four showing X2, the three superimposing Matrix Reloaded and X2 over each other, and the converted supply closet just off the concession stand still showing The Master of Disguise. ("It's still finding its audience," the manager insisted with a tremor in his voice, before throwing his hand over his mouth and fleeing to a dark corner.) For those not in the know or not entirely certain where the know is, in fact, located, this is the third "mockumentary" helmed by Christopher Guest (an actor/comedian with an impressive 30+ year resume but probably best known as the sweetly idiotic lead guitarist of the fictional heavy metal band whose amps go to eleven) and improvised by a large-ish ensemble from an outline devised by Guest and Eugene Levy (an actor/comedian with a similarly impressive 30+ year resume but probably best known as the father so understanding that he wasn't particularly disturbed to walk in on his teenage son fornicating with pastry). And like their previous pair, Wind focuses its satirical sights on an odd but recognizable portion of the American subculture - Waiting for Guffman (1997) dealt with Midwestern civic pride and community theater, Best in Show (2000) with the competitive world of canine enthusiasts, and this one comes almost full circle to the music-biz lampoonery of the most celebrated of all mockumentaries, This Is Spinal Tap (1984) [co-starring and co-created by Guest; directed by Rob Reiner] with its look at a gaggle of quaintly irrelevant sixties music veterans - only this time, instead of the slackened spandex of aging heavy metallurgists, it's the moth-eaten crewnecks of the once-mighty folk scene that provides the fabric for Guest and Levy's comic tapestry. Now, I don't get out to the movies much these days; financial, time and familial constraints have mostly conspired to make it so, though I'd be lying if I were to claim that the thin gruel ladled out by the dream factory (the stuff that makes it to the area cinemas in particular) was terribly appetizing to me in the first place. (This opens me up to accusations of snobbery, I know, in much the same way that my taste in music inspires snorts of derision on the part of certain parties of my acquaintance - rather than digress myself into a defensive cul-de-sac, I'll say only that I've been pleasantly surprised by some aspects of some of the mainstream pics I've seen recently [the darker, black-comic aspects of Spielberg's Minority Report, Ralph Fiennes rendering his serial killer the most sympathetic character in Red Dragon, etc.], even if the films in question wind up retreating into predictability and false emotionalism by the end, and that most independent films are just as bereft of imagination and innovation as their higher-priced brethren.) That said, it's fair to say that the arrival of this picture qualified as something akin to An Event.

(More later. Really. I mean it. I think.)

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