Best in Show: The Films of Christopher Guest and Company

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Overview

(Applause Books). Best in Show is the first in-depth look at the method behind film director and actor Christopher Guest's madness and genius. John Kenneth Muir focuses his attention on the acclaimed Guest-directed trilogy of what some call "mockumentaries": Waiting for Guffman , Best in Show and A Mighty Wind . In these films Guest has escorted rapt audiences into the purportedly real worlds of a small-town theatrical company, dog show competition, and folk music festival. Muir also details the events that lead to Rob Reiner's influential and

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Overview

(Applause Books). Best in Show is the first in-depth look at the method behind film director and actor Christopher Guest's madness and genius. John Kenneth Muir focuses his attention on the acclaimed Guest-directed trilogy of what some call "mockumentaries": Waiting for Guffman , Best in Show and A Mighty Wind . In these films Guest has escorted rapt audiences into the purportedly real worlds of a small-town theatrical company, dog show competition, and folk music festival. Muir also details the events that lead to Rob Reiner's influential and legendary This Is Spinal Tap , which Rolling Stone called the best rock and roll movie of all time, and in which Guest played the part of guitarist Nigel Tufnel. Much of Best in Show exemplifies the unique process by which Guest directs films. He employs a common repertory company, improvises scenes often without any rehearsal, and does not use any screenplay with dialogue, instead following a detailed outline often co-authored with his ace actor/writer Eugene Levy. Company members that have been interviewed for this book include Fred Willard, Harry Shearer, Bob Balaban and Michael Hitchcock. Guest's influences Saturday Night Live , National Lampoon as well as his more conventional comedies, such as The Big Picture and Almost Heroes , are studied. Best in Show is general enough to bring new fans to the table, yet detailed enough to satisfy the most in-the-know Guest fan and film student. A complete filmography with Guest's directing, acting and writing credits is included, as is the appendix, "You Know You're in a Christopher Guest Film When ..." Guest once commented, "I am drawn to people who have dreams that are slightly out of reach." Now, thanks to John Kenneth Muir, the fascinating world of Christopher Guest and company is substantially more within reach.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Master of the "mockumentaries" Waiting for Guffman (1997) and A Mighty Wind (2003), Guest is an original, and Muir, who has written books on the films of Kevin Smith, Sam Raimi and others, does a superb job of illuminating Guest's qualities as person, performer and director. Responsible for the definitive rock and roll spoof, 1984's This Is Spinal Tap, Guest emerges as an honest, affectionate satirist, claiming, "I am drawn to people who have dreams that are slightly out of reach." Muir points out his subject's talents as clarinet, mandolin and guitar player, and traces his career from off-Broadway appearances in Jules Feiffer's 1971 Little Murders and 1973's Lemmings, a show that also starred Chevy Chase, John Belushi and Stockard Channing. Guest, son of a CBS records executive and husband of actor Jamie Lee Curtis, was heavily influenced by his early idol, Peter Sellers. The book's knowledgeable study of Guest's filmmaking methods includes details of editing "eighty hours of film for a ninety-minute movie"; conducting handheld, relatively static interviews; and leaving "live background" noise on the soundtrack. The great value of reading about this quirky creator is absorbing his message, which applies to moviemakers and laymen alike: blaze your own path and have enough self-belief to buck the tide of conventional opinion. Photos. (Nov.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781557836090
  • Publisher: Hal Leonard Corporation
  • Publication date: 11/28/2004
  • Pages: 280
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.59 (d)

Table of Contents

One step further : an introduction to the films of Christopher Guest and company 1
1 A man of character(s) : This is spinal tap; The big picture; Attack of the 50 ft. woman; Almost heroes 13
2 The arcane art of improvisation : or a step-by-step guide to making an improvised movie 53
3 The elements are coming together, sir : Waiting for Guffman 87
4 Doin' it doggy style : Best in show 125
5 A kiss at the end of the rainbow : A mighty wind 153
Six months later : a conclusion to the films of Christopher Guest and company 187
App You know you're in a Christopher Guest film when ... 195
App The Christopher Guest filmography 199
App Full movie credits for other Christopher Guest films 205
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