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This week:
Rachel Getting Married

Filthy says:
"It's pretty damn whiny."

Jonathan Demme's Rachel Getting Married bored the crap right out my ass. I saw it without wearing a watch because mine gave me a rash on my wrist. Then the rash started to ooze, so I to put the Timex on eBay. Seeing a really fucking tedious movie about New England WASPS and having no idea how much longer it lasts is hell. Except, in hell someone is also rubbing your nuts with sandpaper. Even if you're a girl. Satan gives everyone balls.

Rachel Geting Married is a bad New Yorker short story come to life. Now, I have a real soft spot for the The New Yorker. I think it's a fucking brilliant magazine and the only one in the world worth its purchase price. There are millions of words in every issue, and most of them are correct. The magazine is famous for its fiction, but the fiction mostly sucks ass when it's not written by Junot Diaz or Leonard Michaels. Some of it is slightly exotic stories of middle-class misery in India, Africa or Japan. The New Yorker's stock in trade, though, is boring-ass stories of New England WASPS very slowly discovering--through some vague, revelatory minor action--that they are in suburban malaise. Boo-fucking-hoo.

No group of people is more over-represented in American literature than New England WASPS. Maybe that's because those assholes go to fancy East-coast colleges and take a lot of short-story writing classes. Maybe it's because a shitload of pretentious college kids want to be J.D. Salinger, and when they miss the mark they land here. Probably, though, it's because New England WASPS are the most self-involved pricks in the world. They think they're problems are special and unique, that people give a shit whether they're happy or not.

I sure don't. Which is the problem with Rachel Getting Married. I never gave a shit because no matter how well acted it is, it's nothing new and it's sort of self-pitying. Jonathan Demme bases the story during the fancy wedding weekend of a vaguely wealthy (they always are) family in Connecticut. Kym (Anne Hathaway) is a recovering addict and sister to the bride (Rosemarie DeWitt). She's let out of rehab for the weekend and comes home to a house full of tense people and a doting father (Bill Irwin) scared shitless that she is going to snort the wedding cake or mainline the lambchops. Backstory reveals that her family once had a boy child. In one of Hathaway's drug-addled hazes many years before, she crashed a car and killed him. This left a melancholy haze over the entire family, and Hathaway with enough guilt to fill a temple.

Hathaway fucks up the weekend and the extremely fragile peace that her father, mother (debra Winger) and sister have made with the lost child. She is self-centered and thinks everyone else should be as absorbed by her sobriety as she is. When her sister announces that she's pregnant, Hathaway is mad that the declaration interrupts an argument she's having. She doesn't get stoned, but the movie suggests that we're supposed to worry she might. Hell, I would have been thrilled if she did. It would have given her something to do. Which, I'm pretty sure, is exactly why people get stoned. The movie ends with the lame vagueness of awful New Yorker short stories that think profundity means leaving the characters staring off into the distance with uncertainty. It's a high-brow cliche, only pulled off well by Raymond Carver.

Rachel Getting Married is full of really swell acting in search of something interesting to do. Really, the acting, outside of Irwin, who opens and closes his mouth like a Muppet, is outstanding. Hathaway is going Oscar Commando here. She's dreaming of some glad for the mantle and tries to look as awful as she can; cutting her own hair, wearing no makeup; and acting ugly. And she's good. The camera is dedicated to the actors, letting them live out every thespian's wet dream of close-ups, talky dialog, small motions and nervous insecurity. But powerful acting is like green vegetables. A little goes a long way. After a while, all the drama feels like it's for the sake of the people making the movie, not the audience's.

The movie is shot cinema verite style, I think on video. The intent is to make it feel authentic. The camera wanders through the big colonial house, across the yard, past the pool and into the wedding tent. We're supposed to be a guest at the party. The problem is, weddings suck ass, and the intimate details of them suck lower intestine. Holy crap, if there is a more pointless, overblown event in anyone's life I don't know what it is. They are usually a big jerk-off fest for the bride, fueled by a million glossy magazines and someone else's checkbook. Something to do for a few months, planning a big-ass event that everyone will pretend is fun, but nobody enjoys much unless there's an open bar. Spending two hours at my own sisters' weddings was painful enough. Having to sit through this one and not getting the hooch is pure torture. Partly because I didn't like the people.

Demme seems to be proud of his "eclectic" wedding, with Robyn Hitchcock playing music, mutli-cultural participants, Indian decorations, and an all-night dance party that really feels like it takes all fucking night. To me it's all overblown and pretentious. Demme must be in love with the idea that real life is full of tedium. There is a ten minute scene where two men see who can better fill a dishwasher. It wouldn't be interesting if your dad and brother-in-law did it, and it's no more interesting here. A rehearsal dinner takes for-fucking-ever. There are speeches upon speeches, most of which add nothing to the story except the idea that the guests aren't very original people. Music is supposed to be an important part of this family, but I never understood why. And the drawn-out displays of it feel like riding in the car of some asshole who tells everyone how "into" music he is.

It made me wish I had a watch. And it reminded how well the New Yorker tells the same story in its fiction as it does in its one-panel comics. It's just that one way is quick, concise and not so in love with itself the way Rachel Getting Married is. Man, if the economy gets any worse, we're all gonna have to pitch in and help each other out. I sure as hell ain't lending a hand for New England WASPs, though. All they've ever done is take my time. Two Fingers.

Want to tell Filthy Something?



Clay Smith of The Insider

Nights in Rodanthe is "Richard Gere and Diane Lane are a romantic duo made in movie heaven!"

Filthy's Reading
Stephen Colbert - I am America and So Can You

Listening to
X - Los Angeles


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