Mighty Wind (A)
R4 - Australia - Warner Home Video
Review written by and copyright: Noor Razzak (29th August 2004).
The Film

Christopher Guest and company have been making humorous mockumentaries for 20 years starting with the 1984 rock 'n' roll satire This is Spinal Tap directed by Rob Reiner this film following a British band Spinal Tap during their tour of the U.S. quickly became a cult phenomenon. Despite the success it wasn't until 1996's Waiting for Guffman that the comedy group returned to their mockumentary roots. Receiving praise from both critics and the fans of the genre Guest along with his team of talented comedians followed up Waiting for Guffman with Best in Show a film about dog show enthusiasts and finally this film A Mighty Wind which after it's release has garnered the group a multitude of awards and also including an Academy Award nomination for best music, original song.
In A Mighty Wind director Christopher Guest reunites with the team from Best in Show and Waiting for Guffman to tell the story (co-written by Eugene Levy) of 60's era folk musicians, who inspired by the death of their former manager, get back on stage for one concert in New York's Town Hall.
Eugene Levy and Catherine O'Hara are Mitch and Micky, once the sweethearts of folk music until their bitter separation; Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Harry Shearer are classic folk trio The Folksmen, and Parker Posey, John Michael Higgins and Jane Lynch anchor a colour-coordinated, harmonising group, The New Main Street Singers. Joining the musicians are talented comedians Bob Balaban, Ed Begley Jr., Jennifer Coolidge and Fred Willard among others who all work to revive folk music in this unique comedy.
If you're a fan of Guest then you are no doubt aware of his unique comedic sensibilities, combining satire with a goofy oddball make fun approach to the topics he chooses to feature, A Mighty Wind is no different in style than the groups previous efforts. During the course of the film we get to meet weird and wonderful characters that populate the folk music industry and at the same time we see Guest and the comedians poke fun at the genre.
A Mighty Wind is full of wonderfully snappy performances from the ensemble, and after several films together their chemistry and comic timing has been perfected to a tee. Additionally the film includes a series of entertaining songs that feature often hilarious lyrics and are so catchy you'll find yourself singing them after you've watched the film.
Some people may not find this brand of humour funny, in fact these films require somewhat of an acquired comedic taste, if you've already seen and loved This is Spinal Tap, Waiting for Guffman and Best in Show then you'll certainly appreciate this latest offering. If you've never delved into mockumentary films, or for that matter offbeat subtle humour (ala the BBC's The Office) then perhaps a rental first, just to get your feet wet.

Video

Although the packaging states this film is presented at a 1.85:1 ratio, after measurement the film transfer is actually presented in a widescreen ratio of 1.78:1, this anamorphic image is basically flawless. The image in reasonably sharp, colours are vibrant and show no signs of bleeding, additionally black levels are deep and shadow detail is impeccable. Warner Brothers have given this film a beautiful presentation on DVD.

Audio

This DVD only includes an English Dolby Digital 5.1 surround track. Apart from the musical performances this is essentially a dialogue driven film so the 5.1 surround channels are not always utilized. However the dialogue is always clear, and e musical moments in the film are well represented here with good separation and are mixed at a decent level that is not too overpowering but is at all time clear and audible, there are some minor background surrounds such as the movement of equipment, directional singing voices, and other general background noises employed throughout this track that may be limited in scope but are serviceable none the less.
This DVD also features subtitles in Arabic, English and Hebrew.

Extras

The first extra we have is an audio commentary by writer/director Christopher Guest and co-writer Eugene Levy, the two discuss the development of the film, the origin of the different folk groups. One interesting topic of note is that the Folksmen where actually created about 20 years ago and opened for Spinal Tap at a show. The two talk about the challenges in having to make up the history of the characters and the groups and also discuss the casting decisions. Although the track has some quiet moments, its still an interesting commentary that explains a lot about the history and development of the project.

Next up we have a series of 15 additional scenes. These scenes also include an optional commentary by Guest and Levy explaining the reasons these where cut from the final version of the film. You have the ability to Play All or select them individually. The scenes include:
- The Press Conference: this scene includes all the participants of the tribute concert holding a press conference and also fielding questions about rap music.
- Corn Wine: a deleted song rehearsal with the Folksmen at their reunion BBQ.
- Killington Hill: a deleted song rehearsal with Mitch and Mickey.
- The Good Book Song: a deleted performance of the song by the New Main Street Singers.
- Piccolo: a scene with Mickey's husband at the party honouring Irvin Steinbloom before the concert.
- Backstage Pitch: Here Mike LaFontaine (Fred Willard) pitches some new song lyrics and himself to do some intro segments at the concert to Jonathan Steinbloom (Bob Balaban).
- North Dakota: The founder of the Main Street Singers talks to Elliot Steinbloom (Don Lake) who left New York for North Dakota to escape from folk music.
- Folksmen Interview: a segment where the group discuss their album titles.
- The Bohners Meet Their Fans: Two fans seek their autographs in the hotel lobby.
- XYZ: The New Main Street Singers serenade the newest member of the group.
- Wally and the Balloon Guy: the two chat about the whether they’ve tried helium and then they do.
- Blues-A-Roo: Jerry Palter (Michael McKean) talks to an elderly black man about blues music and the blues website Blues-A-Roo.org.
- The Catheter Song: an extended scene with Mickey at the Medical Convention singing at the Sure-Flo stand.
- When You're Next To Me "Rehearsal": Mitch and Mickey rehearsing their second song for the concert.
- When You're Next To Me "Concert Footage": the second song performance.

Once you've gone through the additional scenes you'll find the next extra TV Appearances. Here we have four appearances two from the Folksmen and two from Mitch and Mickey. Each appearance includes an optional commentary by Guest and Levy about the scenes and where they fit into folk history. You can view the appearances with a Play All function or select them individually. The appearances include:
- In The Groove 1968 Children of the Sun: shows a Folksmen performance in, which is the only time they went electric.
- Hoot-Nite 1965 Old Joe's Place: another Folksmen performance from the band, this was shown in the film briefly but here you get the entire clip.
- Lee Aikman's Folk Hour 1966 A Kiss At The End Of The Rainbow: this Mitch and Mickey performance appears briefly in the film, here you get the entire clip from the show.
- Dick Beyman - Private Eye: a scene from an old 1970's TV show in, which Mitch and Mickey make a cameo guest appearance on.

Following that we have the PBN TV Broadcast of the Concert included here are the full performance clips shot for the concert, you can view each performance separately or with a Play All function. Additionally each clip includes optional commentary by Guest and Levy. The concert clips include:
- Never did no Wanderin'
- Potato in the Paddy Wagon
- Old Joe's Place
- Barnyard Symphony
- A Kiss at the end of the Rainbow
- A Mighty Wind

Finally we also have the original theatrical trailer, a TV spot for the soundtrack plus a cast and crew listing.

If you look hard enough you'll also find a hidden easter egg, when you're in the special features menu highlight the commentary and press right, you'll see that one of the guitar strings is now highlighted in red. Press enter and you'll gain access to a submenu, which includes two video clips and two newspaper articles. The first clip entitled Crew Pounds on Hotel Wall shows a scene reference that shows you the scene with Mitch at his hotel room and the couple next door are making ferocious love and pounding on the walls. Then you get to see how that pounding was created by watching the crew on the other side pound the walls. The second video clip is entitled Practice Shoot with Editors here we see the editors practice scenes to get a editing reference since there was so much footage shot. Both these clips include commentary by Guest and Levy explaining each one. The two newspaper articles are the actual newspaper clips as seen in the film, the first entitled Folk Musician Pummelled is the Metro section where Mitch is in hospital after fighting with the heckler at Mitch's first performance. The second newspaper clip is from the Daily Variety entitled WHAT HAPPENED? Dumped? and is the piece about the failed show.

Overall

A Mighty Wind continues with the mockumentary tradition started by this talented group 20 years ago with This is Spinal Tap the film demonstrates a silly make fun attitude made funnier by the weird and wonderful characters. Warner's DVD include a pristine transfer with adequate 5.1 sound. The extras included are great, the only omission that I would have liked to see included is a making-of, aside from this it's a great DVD.

The Film: B+ Video: A+ Audio: B+ Extras: A Overall: A

 


DVD Compare is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and the Amazon Europe S.a.r.l. Associates Programme, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.co.uk, amazon.com, amazon.ca, amazon.fr, and amazon.de.