Tag Archives: Christopher Guest

Film: This Is Spinal Tap

 

I'm sure that some parts of the movie were scripted, but the vast majority was improvised by the actors. Christopher Guest, Michael McKean, Harry Shearer, and Rob Reiner got writing credit. Uploaded by vulpeslibris.wordpress.com.

Wouldn’t it be amazing if the great David St. Hubbins, the amazing Nigel Tufnel, and the wonderful Derek Smalls appeared together in one film showcasing their groundbreaking band, Spinal Tap? And what if legendary director Marty DiBergi filmed a documentary to preserve the band’s journey for posterity? Well, it actually happened, and the resulting film became This Is Spinal Tap.

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The movie was “written” by actors Michael McKean, Harry Shearer, and Christopher Guest along with director Rob Reiner — a basic storyline had been constructed, but much of the dialogue was improvised. During the film, we get to hear some of Spinal Tap’s greatest hits, including “Tonight I’m Gonna Rock You Tonight,” “Big Bottom,” and “Stonehenge.” McKean, Shearer, and Guest played their own instruments and had perfect over-the-top British accents.

The parody was so well executed that several people came up to Rob Reiner after viewing the film and said they loved the film, but why didn’t he choose a more popular band for his documentary? Among the honors This Is Spinal Tap has earned are the number 29 spot on the American Film Institute’s “100 Years…100 Laughs. New York Times film critic Janet Maslin wrote, “It stays so wickedly close to the subject that it is very nearly indistinguishable from the real thing.”

Film: Best in Show

Christopher Guest, here as Harlan Pepper the man who breeds hounds and can name every nut, is the creative force behind this brilliant mockumentary. Uploaded by static.guim.co.uk.

Somehow, you always knew the world of professional dog shows had to be inhabited by some rare breeds, and I’m not talking about the animals. Ba da boom! In Christopher Guest’s wonderful mockumentary, the dogs are perfectly normal. It’s the people who are profoundly neurotic.

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Although Guest and the brilliant Eugene Levy share the writing credit, much of Best in Show is improvised by the talented ensemble cast who clearly love to work with Guest as director. Among the actors are Parker Posey, Catherine O’Hara, Levy, John Michael Higgins, Michael McKean, Jennifer Coolidge, Jane Lynch, Ed Begley, Jr., and Fred Willard.

The Mayfair Kennel Club Dog Show in Philadelphia is the destination of this menagerie of characters. One yuppie couple frets over the dog who gets paranoid whenever they’re intimate. A gay couple (Higgins and McKean) fuss over their shih tzu, and a woman with quite a libertine past (O’Hara) continues to run into former lovers, to the chagrin of her fiancĂ© (Levy). Willard is hilarious as the show’s broadcast announcer. But Guest saved the single best character for himself, as the country boy Harlan Pepper. Pepper not only has a great hound dog, but a fondness for nuts, as you can see in this first clip (sorry about the first ten seconds)…

Film: Little Shop of Horrors

Rick Moranis, Ellen Greene, Steve Martin, Bill Murray, John Candy, Christopher Guest, Jim Belushi - and some great music, too. Uploaded by centre.edu.

This listing is for the 1986 movie, adapted from the stage musical by writer Howard Ashman and composer Alan Menken, which was itself adapted from a 1960 black comedy by famous B-movie direct Roger Corman.

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It’s not the plot that scintillates in this movie, but the performances and the great music. The leads, played by Rick Moranis and Ellen Greene, are fine, but it’s the supporting cast and cameo roles that really stand out. Consider this cast: Bill Murray, Steve Martin (in a fabulous turn as the dentist), John Candy, Jim Belushi, and Christopher Guest – with Levi Stubbs of the Four Tops providing the voice of Audrey, the blood-addicted alien plant. No local theater or traveling Broadway production can match that lineup.

Ashman and Menken wrote some wonderful songs, making this soundtrack a great addition to your music library. Highlights include “Skid Row (Downtown),” “Somewhere That’s Green,” “Dentist,” “Feed Me,” and “Suddenly Seymour.”

If you haven’t seen the movie, don’t view it thinking you’re going to be watching a fun fantasy. It’s a dark story, a black comedy, and has been since the original 1960 film. And yet, it’s very funny, surprisingly humane, and filled with great music. I just have one piece of advice for you:

Whatever they offer you, don’t feed the plant…

Film: A Few Good Men

Jack Nicholson is wonderful as the arrogant Col. Jessup. Uploaded by i.cdn.turner.com.

Jack Nicholson is wonderful as the arrogant Col. Jessup. Uploaded by i.cdn.turner.com.

I’m a big fan of Aaron Sorkin’s writing. (You’ll eventually see a couple of his TV series in this list.) And A Few Good Men is, above all else, a wonderfully written film.

It starred Tom Cruise back when we liked him. And a wonderfully pompous Jack Nicholson. Even the minor parts were wonderfully cast, with Cuba Gooding, Jr., Kiefer Sutherland, Noah Wyle, Christopher Guest, and J.T. Walsh demonstrating why they would go on to be bigger stars.

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Uploaded by japattie.info.

A Few Good Men is essentially a courtroom drama that climaxes in the famous “I want the truth!” “You can’t handle the truth!” confrontation between Cruise and Nicholson. “You can’t handle the truth” was selected as the 29th greatest movie quote of all time by the American Film Institute. The AFI also ranked the movie as the fifth greatest courtroom drama ever.

Oh, one story that’s the kind of lore we love about movies. A defendent that Tom Cruise’s character Lt. Kaffee defends was Lance Corporal Harold Dawson, played by Wolfgang Bodison. But Bodison never tried out for the part – he was working as a location scout for the film. Director Rob Reiner thought he looked like a Marine, and suddenly Bodison had an acting career.