Sunday, May 31, 2009

Bella... Do you know what happened to you?

You fell down two flights of stairs....

... and through a window!

Ryan Getting Happy

Taurus Horoscope for 5/30/09: Today's the day to revive tht blog you've been ignoring! Try writing about something you love, like a movie you have just seen. It's therapeutic!

So here we go.

There’s a moment in Jonathan Demme’s Rachel Getting Married in which, after Rachel’s wedding, the enormous cavalcade of multiracial guests convene under a bejewled tent dressed in such a variety of garb ranging from traditional Indian saris to Hawaiian shirts to tuxedos, thrusting and grinding in pure ecstasy to the beats of rave music blaring in the background, eyes closed and hands in the air, reminiscent of the infamous orgy scene from the stellar Matrix:Reloaded (note: sarcasm).

It is in the moment that, for the first time in the hour and 31 minutes of this movie, I thought, “Wow. This is not a typical wedding.”

It was in this realization that I recognized how unconventional every little thing in this move is, from the best man humping the shit out of the soon-to-be maid of honor to the electric guitar cover of “Here Comes the Bride” to the presence of Tamyra Gray (whyyy?); and yet, I bought it all.

I think it is in the realism that this movie soars. Anne Hathaway, playing Kym, the sister of the title character, is FUCKED up… like, homegirl is straight JACKED. And yet, Hathaway’s absolutely incredible acting (Best female performance of last year, IMO) forces – scratch that- compels, even challenges the audience to feel compassion for her. In the aforementioned humping-the-shit out (in?) scene, one would expect Kym to be reeking of desperation (this violent act appears mere seconds after Kym exits an AA meeting, where she met Kieran, the humper); this was not the case. In the post-ejaculatory bliss, Kym bathes in not defeat but rather, success. It is the first (maybe the only?) time we see her confident.

Fast -forward about 25 minutes: Kym is at another AA meeting; it is her turn to share. He tells the story of when one day, while high as a kite, she (SPOILER!) accidentally kills her baby brother by driving her car over a bridge and drowning him. She ends her confession with:

And I struggle with God so much, because I can't forgive myself. And I don't really want to right now. I can live with it, but I can't forgive myself. And sometimes I don't want to believe in a God that could forgive me. But I do want to be sober. I'm alive and I'm present and there's nothing controlling me. If I hurt someone, I hurt someone. I can apologize, and they can forgive me... or not. But I can change. And I just wanted to share that and say congratulations that God makes you look up, I'm so happy for you, but if he doesn't, come here. That's all. Thank you.

I’m sorry, that is just brilliant writing.

But in the wrong hands, it could have fallen flat. Hathaway fucking soars. The pain in her eyes delivers more agony than the words she says. She could have been silent the whole movie and still been better than Kate Winslet in The Reader (don’t shoot me just yet). Lets just say homegirl has come a long way since Genovia (lol I almost typed Anatevka).

LOOK AT HER GO. Damnnnn.

Not to say that isn’t as good when she does speak. She elevates already pristine writing to pure emotional, heart-stringing gold. Even in scenes where emotion wouldn’t necessarily be expected (see: cake cutting scene) the tears flow, and whatever’s going on elsewhere, the dialogue, the facial expression, whatever, we feel either the immense, genuine pain of this addict or the relief from finding pure joy in something so simple, so real. Homegirl is fucked up, yet she gains our sympathy. When she tells about how she lies in rehab, we don’t necessarily forgive it but we accept it.


When she says, “You don’t get to sit around for the rest of my life deciding what I’m supposed to be like.” Ugh.

And Hathaway is not alone: she is in the company of 3 other amazing performers, Bill Irwin playing the heart and soul of the movie, Kym and Rachel’s loving father, who perfectly balances love for his children with the struggle (refusal?) of accepting that Kym is not quite as sane as is older daughter; Rosemarie DeWitt, as the title character, who simultaneously loves and hates her sister and both loves and hates to love and hate her (whoahhh, whaat?). The range of feelings she not only voluntarily chooses to express to her sister but also the ones that she not so subtly represses reveal how much DeWitt understands this character, and what incredible control she has over her. Finally, Debra Winger is just incredible in the slapping scene. ‘Nuff said.

But outside of all this jargon that really makes no sense, the movie is just feel good, whether intentionally or not. The problem I have with most character studies are their desire to wrap things all up in this tidy little package, forcing their characters to move this way or that and luring them to arrive at neat, tidy endings with little or nothing gained (see: The Wrestler). Rachel Getting Married has no interest in forcing convenience. The awkward moments are AWKWARD. The touching moments are TOUCHING. The painful moments are damn PAINFUL. And yet, it never once felt forced. Skanky Brazilian ladies danced through a crowded wedding party as a tearful Kym released a lighted lantern-boat into a swimming pool and it didn’t feel unusual. The family is obviously dysfunctional but the dysfunction came so naturally that it took me awhile to realize that this family is in fact different than my own.

And that is why I liked the movie so much. Because it felt so real. It harmonized pain and joy so effortlessly. And if this family can find joy through all their ridiculousness, why can’t mine? This movie is full of freaks but we not only enjoy being their company but absolutely love it. And that “Heaven” line was just adorable.



In other news:
1. I’m sorry I haven’t updated this.
2. I will try my best to update this more.
3. I am finally home from Italy, and as much as I love and miss it, it is so good to be home.
4. Matt Doyle Bye Bye Birdie Whaaaaaaa?