The rants and raves of a teenage cinephile who is just a little bit obsessed with Catherine O'Hara and Hayao Miyazaki.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Catherine O'Hara Filmography: A Mighty Wind (2003)

Ah, finally, we've come again to a Christopher Guest movie. Unlike most, Guest actually realizes how talented Catherine O'Hara is and utilizes her so well in every one of her movies. "A Mighty Wind" is a hilarious mockumentary about three different folk groups who are coming together to play a memorial concert in honor of the man that gave them all their start. The film follows each of the three groups as they reunite, rehearse and get ready for the big night.

Catherine O'Hara plays Mickey Crabbe, formerly of the sweetheart folk duo "Mitch and Mickey", along with her past lover Mitch Cohen (Eugene Levy). During their prime, the duo was famous for their song "A Kiss at the End of the Rainbow", which always ended with a kiss that left audiences swooning. However, Mickey is now married, after a horrible dispute that left their duo broken and Mitch an emotional trainwreck.

Overall, "A Mighty Wind" is a wonderful and endearing, not to mention hysterical little movie. I used to consider it one of Guest's lesser works, but after recently rewatching it with a friend (and my mom, who is awesome) I realized how truly funny and wonderful it actually is. As to be expected from Christopher Guest, there are some fantastic performances that make this film shine - for example, Jane Lynch and John Michael Higgins, who play the color-worshipping frontliners for the sugar coated folk group "The New Main Street Singers", are simply hilarious. I consider this to be easily Jane Lynch's greatest role.

BUT! We're here for Catherine O'Hara and, truthfully, this is probably one of her greatest roles as well. Unlike the other characters, Mickey is much more real, human, and disillusioned. O'Hara knows that Mickey is truly the emotional core of the film and she doesn't turn her into a caricature whatsoever (unlike Eugene Levy, who is funny but completely devoid of emotion). Instead, O'Hara truly becomes Mickey, and in her soft spoken words and the way she looks at the camera, we feel a truly pining individual who longs for the glory days but knows they can never be.

And then, there is the one running plot point that solidifies the brilliance of her performance - "The Kiss at the End of the Rainbow". During the final performance, the way that O'Hara shows the longing for that one kiss during the song is just a gorgeous display of true emotion. Not to mention, the fact that O'Hara sings the song beautifully. Her chemistry with Eugene Levy is quite convincing - even though Eugene is making it hard to believe that they'd ever love each other, O'Hara works past it and makes Mitch and Mickey one of the cutest screen couples of the decade.

I must mention one other admirable thing about this performance - for the majority of the film, O'Hara is by herself, talking in interview format. She rarely interacts with other characters besides Levy, and even when she does it's short in comparison to her interviews. I feel like this sort of solo work is so much harder to pull off, since she can't work off of anyone, and let's not forget that it's a lot of improv. Her ability to be so real and convey everything that she does all by herself is such an accomplishment.

Wow, so I really went crazy singing her praises but like I said this is easily one of O'Hara's best performances. Another snub for her at the Oscars! (Though she did get to sing "A Kiss at the End of the Rainbow" at them - yay!). Oh, and the movie has so much to recommend besides just her. Jane Lynch is amazing, the rest of the cast (especially Parker Posey's one tiny interview) is wonderful, and the music is great. It may not be Guest's funniest, but it is probably his most lovable.

The Movie: 8/10
Catherine: 10/10
Best in Show: Of course, Catherine, though this is also Jane Lynch's finest hour.

1 comment:

  1. Nice Best in Show plug :D
    I like that you mention 'snubbed at the Oscars' because it's so obvious that films like these don't get politicized in Hollywood - and of course we all know that the nominee list of movies is all about who knows who - anyways. I remember this movie as yet another on the pile of improv guest films, like 'Spinal Tap' and 'Best of Show', and it's the kind of movie that I'm glad exists - the good old Second City TV crew gettin' together and making an ad lib production. It doesn't always work, but with Guest, it does, just like this one did.


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