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A Mighty Wind - Preview & US reaction



Preview by: Jack Foley

THEY’VE already delighted us the likes of This Is Spinal Tap and Best in Show, so now the hilariously talented team behind those comic gems have returned with A Mighty Wind, which will be showing at the London Film Festival on November 3.

Described as a film which does for folk what This is Spinal Tap did for heavy metal, A Mighty Wind begins with the death of folk music colossus, Irving Steinbloom, an event which provokes his son, Jonathan, to seek out some of his father’s favourite artists and hold a memorial concert in his honour. So, for one night only, the crowd at New York’s City Hall are promised three of folk’s finest forgotten acts.

There’s The Folksmen, whose records sounded great in the 60s, if you managed to punch the hole the record company forgot to put in the middle of them; The New Main Street Singers, a colourful new generation troupe with an ambitious (if deluded) manager, peddling their slick sounds at amusement parks and on cruises; and Mitch and Mickey, a duo whose songs epitomised young love for a generation of folkies, but whose tragic story has involved a marriage break-up, a mental breakdown and some disturbing solo albums...

The London Film Festival website states: ‘Another terrifically observed comedy from the creators of Waiting for Guffman and Best in Show, it’s almost a disappointment that these bands are not the real thing they purport to be on screen’.

The screening on 3 November will be subtitled and audio described for people with sensory impairments and it will be followed by a masterclass with Christopher Guest, the actor, writer and director.

The film has already opened in America, to positive acclaim, and is due for a UK release in January next year - a date which prompted one of its stars, Eugene Levy, to refer to it more as ‘more of a small burp’, by the time it arrives. He had been talking at the London press conference for American Pie: The Wedding.

US reaction

Critics in America have already hailed the latest piece of work from Guest and co as a great comedy which, while not as out and out funny as some previous efforts, is also a little more heartfelt.

Leading the way is Rolling Stone, which wrote that ‘the sheer exuberance of A Mighty Wind, directed with mirth and mischief by Christopher Guest, who devised the story with Eugene Levy and let the cast improv the rest, had me begging for more’.

The New York Times, meanwhile, stated that it ‘almost makes you believe that Mitch and Mickey were real, which is an impressive stunt. More than that, it makes you almost wish that they were, which is something of a miracle’.

While Variety felt that ‘while the mockumentary formula is showing signs of strain, the gifted repertory company again creates an amusing gallery of incisively observed characters, riffing off each other with enjoyment levels that frequently prove contagious’.

Hollywood Reporter, meanwhile, opined that ‘while it doesn't quite reach the blissfully inspired heights of Best in Show or Waiting for Guffman, Christopher Guest's latest nevertheless makes a worthy addition to his canon of brilliantly improvised mockumentaries’.

The Detroit News, still on a positive note, wrote that ‘while Guest never forgets to laugh, he never forgets to love either, embracing the very subject he is simultaneously throttling’, while the New York Post declared that ‘in this hilarious, pitch-perfect comedy, Guest and his longtime collaborator, co-writer and star Eugene Levy, have the quaint, golly-gee enthusiasm of folkies and their music in the cross-hairs’.

The Globe and Mail wrote that ‘the character actors are all superb, deftly weaving back and forth over the line between sympathetic human characters and eccentric caricatures, so laughter and sympathy are indistinguishable’.

While Entertainment Weekly concludes this round-up by stating that it is ‘a movie that re-creates its object of satire with such pitch-perfect flair that it all but erases the line between derision and love’.

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