Sunday, January 4, 2009

Ron and Rachel Getting Married

From Drop Box

"If you like these people i'm sure you wouldn't mind watching them for two hours. But me ... i was bored as shit."
-Prof. Ron F., writer of Transformers: The Movie (1986) and 10 episodes of "Chico and the Man", on Rachel Getting Married

Being prone to hyperbole (but also lacking a general understanding of what i actually mean when i say things) i like claiming - in my defense of such movies like Paranoid Park and The New World- that "I like boring movies." This isn't necessarily true. (Though i must divulge i stole this admission from an interview with Abbias Kiourastami i once saw. Hey, i'm unoriginal, too!) I don't find these films boring. My mind wanders in them but its usually a very productive wandering motivated by whats happening on screen. Its an active participation in the film. Hooray for movies!

Ron is great guy. He's capable of being quite funny, in spite of his sitcom-y punchline-heavy style of teaching. I appreciate him as an old soul of TV's (and Hollywood's) past. He's a bit sexist ("what do you tell a woman with two black eyes? (beat) Nothing! You already told her twice! Haha! ... I'm sorry. That's inappropriate.") I almost wish i would have taken him freshman year when his opening expletive chant ("Everybody say it together ... Shit! Piss! Fuck! Ass! Damn!") would've have been seen as wildly inappropriate and incredibly freeing. "College Rules!" i would've told my wide-eyed blythian self. Senior year Sprawls simply lets out a slight chuckle. "Oh, Ron," i smile politely, "your attempts at irreverence and hipness are amusing."

Ron didn't like any of the characters in Rachel Getting Married. And therefore, he didn't like the film. He's a strong believer in the likable protagonists of classical Hollywood movies, as seen in the films he screened in class: Cary Grant in North by Northwest, Jimmy Stewart in Rear Window, Jack Lemmon in The Apartment, Roy Scheider in Jaws. Anne Hathaway plays one of the most abrasive characters of the 21st century. Selfish, narcissistic, embarrassing. She induces many a cringe. Its a sad performance. I saw myself in her on a couple of occasions, making the cringe all the more unbearable. She's a very weak, very human character.

But its her father, played by Bill Irwin, who has the most amiable role in the film. His struggles to keep the family together, with a hopeful smile, are hard fought and often heartbreaking. Irwin's character (and his performance) is a bright light in the gloomy family and my favorite part of the movie.

Unlikable characters do not equal a bad film. They're all very flawed and real. The lows they experience (most of them self-inflicted) are low and the highs (brought about by the whole of the family) are grand. And i didn't see a better movie depicting the dichotomy of life all last year. Modern American life in a two hour block. Featuring the lead singer of TV on the Radio!

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