Wednesday, October 22, 2008


A holodeck program of a dysfunctional family wedding celebration (w safety protocols disabled).
trailer | website

Drug addict and raw nerve pincher Kym checks herself out of rehab in time to participate in her sister Rachel's wedding. Sequestered away from her family for months, her reunion with them leads to everyone falling into apparently well-worn paths of aggravating and button-pushing behavior that only family can inflict upon one another. Good times!

Over the course of three days leading up to the wedding, we're introduced to Kym and Rachel's divorced parents, the ghost of a younger brother, Rachel's musical husband-to-be, Sidney, and his family, and the best friends-turned-maid of honor and best man. Encounters between all of the above reveal to us bits and pieces of the sisters' history and relationships with the rest of their family.

In content, sadly, most of what we learn is pretty miserable, but laced with a few powerful select moments of catharsis, connection, and hope. While I honestly don't remember the details of the narrative of the movie, THE ANNIVERSARY PARTY came to mind as a similarly flavored movie experience—massive dysfunction on parade with a stellar cast.

In execution, the portrayal of the extended and extending family and their interrelationships is painfully good. The film's shot in what I guess people call "documentary style," from handheld cameras. I think I've become so used to this style that I don't think of it as anything special any more and didn't think about the camera work while watching the film. The cameras move with and among the characters at an intimate scale, allowing you to be another wedding guest in celebration, or a fly on the wall in the uncomfortable thick of things, complementing the performances and enhancing the storytelling of the film. The miserable is made all the rougher, true, but the moments of revelation and joy are just a bit more touching.

Having groom Sidney be some kind of player in the musical world allows for the world of RACHEL GETS MARRIED to be scored by some very creative and talented musicians.

All the performances are solid, but I've gotta say that Anne Hathaway as the prickly Kym is amazing, bouncing from alienated outsider to attention seeker, from favored daughter to resentful suspect, from righteous victim to guilt-ridden screw-up... working thru so many levels of turmoil and conflict involving her addiction, her resulting crimes, her recovery, and her role in her family, on screen before your eyes. A true hot mess.

If you're looking for some family melodrama, a HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS, but, y'know, without the laughs, or perhaps looking to experience the Kobayashi Maru of quirky weddings, definitely check this out.

"Straight, but not narrow!" A brilliantly crafted documentary on the battle for recognition of gay marriage in Massachusetts.
website | schedule
This doc is put together so frickin well! Definitely one-sided in its presentation of the issue of gay marriage (hint: pro), sure, but its construction—from interviews, "embedded" footage, and news coverage—of the story of the battle for its recognition in Massachusetts is frickin impressive.

The film builds a compelling metastory, and made me thankful that I'm as ignorant as I am of local politics. If I'd followed events more closely at the time, the unfolding narrative of the film would not have held as much suspense or as many surprises for me. =)

Interviews with gay and straight individuals, their families, lawyers, activists, and politicians on both sides of the issue do a remarkable job of presenting the argument for and against gay marriage, and raising awareness of the conflict as a 21st century civil rights issue. Speeches by state representatives point up comparisons with the civil rights struggle of the 60s in both negative and positive lights. The film covers approximately 36 months of legislation and campaigning in Massachusetts. Once same-sex marriages were made legal in the state in 2003, an amendment was proposed to define marriage in Massachusetts as being exclusively between a man and a woman. For the amendment to pass, or not, it would take two state constitutional conventions and a state election between them, and the film deftly follows the process from start to finish. Never before has the importance of the right to marry been made so clear to me, as well as the dangers inherent in the limitation of civil rights by constitutional amendment and popular vote.

The film is playing in limited release right now (see the website for cities and dates), so grab some friends and catch it if you can! Now playing in the Boston area at the Kendall Square cinema in Cambridge.

* October 22m 2008. Caught this comment from Ellen Degeneres off of Huffington Post today. She was discussing Palin's stance on gay marriage, that it should be banned in an amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Degeneres has also opposed proposition 8 on the California ballot, which seeks to define marriage in the state as exclusively between a man and a woman...
DeGeneres also responded to critics of gay marriage by joking, "I don't know what people are scared of. Maybe they think that their children will be influenced. And I gotta say I was raised by two heterosexuals. I was surrounded by heterosexual, just everywhere I looked — heterosexuals. And they did not influence.... I mean I dabbled in high school, who didn't? Everyone dabbled, ya know?"
Keep on keepin on~

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