Christopher Guest’s mockumentary may mark the death knell for the genre as
ineiiilth the wmd
it comes full circle. Which is something of a shame. Words: Paul Dale
1 all seemed so different in [98-1 when Matti DiBergi offered up his documentary of the rock group Spinal Tap to the world. David St. l-lubbins. Nigel Tufnel and Derek Smalls. the main members of the hand.
proved remarkably good company. Their lack of self
awareness. common sense or even just plain old fashioned intelligence carried DiBergi's masterwork into the realms of high farce. Which was great because DiBergi was actually the real life director Rob Reiner. the son of the brilliant comedy film actor/director (‘arl Reiner (The Jerk). Reiner Jr was 37 years old when he
made This is Spinal Tap and right at the beginning of
his directorial career. He was therefore still given to pissing around with his theatrical buddies while making short improvisational films. Somehow Reiner and his minor league set of Hollywood players (Michael McKean. Christopher (iuest and Harry Shearer) managed to stumble across a format that left the rest of world in convolutions of laughter and pleasure. And so it was that This is Spinal Tap was born. the one and only spoof rockumentary masterpiece. Ifonly it had finished there.
There had. of course. rockumentaries before: from Val (iuest’s (‘liff Richard vehicle lit‘presso Bongo to liric ldle‘s fictional homage
strangely familiar band fiiinii A PIECE OF THAT REALITY PIE, BUT HE up embarrassments that TO SPEND TIME WITH THESE FILTHY GIRLS AND BOYS
Liverpool called The Rut/es. But these films had an oddly linglish sentiment to them. they really didn‘t travel well: everyone seemed to get the Spinal Tap joke.
The spoof spin-off machine began grinding within a decade: The (‘omic Strip's Bad News Tour. hip hop community riffs (‘84 and Fear of a Black Hat. art house pictures even began to take their cue from this re—found genre. from Kaurismaki's Leningrad Cowboys (io America to llaynes’ Superstar and in theatre Herlli'ig and the Angry Inr'h. All this time the original pioneers of the genre were pursuing very different types of projects.
Then in the l‘)‘)()s things began to become a little strange: Reiner"s perfect folly had been deeply influenced by Penelope Spheeris’ l‘)8() film The
been (kind of) spoof
Decline of the ll'estern ('ivilization. Sphceris' film had detailed the LA punk rock scene of the late 7()s and
early 80s. not by parodying or celebrating the music of
Black Flag. (ierms. (‘atholic Discipline and ('ircle Jerks. but simply by setting her wide-eyed lens on this line of messed up delinquents. The result was frighteningly funny. Reiner wanted a piece of that reality pie. but he really didn't want to spend time with these lilthy girls and boys. The result was This is Spinal 721/). but by the early 90s McKean. Shearer. Reiner and most importantly (itlesl began to feel like it was time to cash in on the copyrighted format they had fallen on. So The Return of Spinal Tap followed in l‘)‘)2. llaiting For (hittinan (a parody of the theatrical community) in l‘)‘)8. Best in Show (dog shows) in 2000 and now A
Mighty Wind. It has of course been a campaign of
Their latest effort A .IIighty Wind. at let's-get-this- damn-folk-music-showcase—on-the-road mockumentary is a case in point. The set up is the same as (iuest and Reiner“s previous spoofs. Basically a bunch of cliques are shoved into a competitive situation together and a fly on the wall crew catch all their human tragedy and comedy. The only trouble is somewhere in the last decade and a half this acerbic. talented group of comedians. actors and writers seems to have lost their bloodlust. The vicious asides. observation and close
illustrated Spinal Tap arc strangely absent: folk music is clearly a passion of either writer litigene l.evy or director (iuest. so bile gives way to sentiment more often than it should. Half way through their new film. you begin to realise that everything is going to be OK. and this mockumentary begins to resemble the one thing it never should: a celebration of a culture. Vitriol after all may belong to the young.
A Mighty Wind is on general release from Fri 16 Jan.
Film editor Paul Dale chooses some fresh roasted chestnuts to munch on for the coming year?
He‘s a pretty boy. in fact he's almost too pretty. Gael Garcia Bernal. the boy actor who came of age having sex with his best friend in Y tu mama tambie’n (2001) is going to be everywhere this year. In May he is set to appear in Pedro AlmodOvar‘s new feature film Bad Education. Unsurprisingly AlmodOvar's new film follows the lives of two boys who contend with sexual and psychological torment in lhelQBOs in a rural Catholic boarding school. In the1980s. they reunite when one of them attempts to expose the paedophilia in their old school. In August Bernal is set to star in the Walter Central Station Salles' adaptation of Che Guevara's The Motorcycle Diaries. Bernal also has fOur films that are awaiting release and one Goal! about a poor bOy East Los Angeles wannabe soccer star that has just been announced. Hasn‘t the little street urchin done well?
Also towards the end of the year look out for the new film from Fernando City of God Meirelles' The Constant Gardener. an adaptation of a John Le Carre novel starring Ralph Fiennes of all people. mmm curious and Curiouser.
The no brainer movie of the year has to be Todd Old School Phillips‘ big screen versron of Starsky and Hutch starring Owen Wilson as Hutch and Ben Stiller as Starsky (and who else but Snoop Dogg as you know who). Phillips is already in talks to remake The Six Million Dollar Man in 2005. Also look out for the brilliant Korean filmmaker Chan wook Park’s new film Oldboy. Park was the man behind one of the finest Asian Extreme films Metro Tartan released last year Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance. Oldb0y has no release date as yet.
ii 1’? Jan .V‘Lii‘f. THE LIST 25