Ten wedding movies worth watching
– by Regan Payne
The Royal nuptials are finally at hand. Soon we will have the answers to a succession of questions that should never have been asked in the first place (the CBC has reported that the young couple-to-be are even rehearsing how they will kiss, desiring, I suppose, to leave nothing to chance, in the event Kate catches a glare off Willie’s shiny dome and misses entirely).
What fun! I have not been this excited for a broadcast wedding since Celine Dion televised her nuptials to Santa.
The wedding sub-genre of cinema is interesting, if for no other reason in that, as often as the films are tied up neatly into some form of schmaltzy, patriarchic bow, filmmakers have shown the festivities in their far more unflattering realities. It’s a day one hopes will be a cherished shining moment that will fit snugly into our nostalgic patter to look back on with growing reverence each year, but I believe Mark Twain put it best when he said – I’m paraphrasing here – “Each year we age, we remember, more clearly, things that never happened.”
It should really be no surprise that at an event where the goal is to look good at all costs, and keep the crazy down, dysfunction rules the roost with a firm hand and loose cerebral cortex.
The Royals, at the extreme minimum, have tradition to fall back on – historically, the masses have clamored for information on the merging of dynasties. With only one dynasty arriving at the table this time around, people, as well as the press seem to be picking on Ms. Middleton for her peasantry as it were, her off-blue blood. Though Christopher Hitchens, writing in Slate, was valiant enough to make a blazing grand defense of Kate.
In a week of historic marriage, we offer 10 wedding (or wedding-like) films that stray from the appropriate storyline.
10. Margot at the Wedding (2007) – Noah Baumbach (The Squid and the Whale, Greenberg) tackles wedding bliss as only the Brooklynite can. Nicole Kidman stars as a Margot, who apprehensively decides to attend her sister’s wedding, only to ignite an anarchic firecracker with a never-ending wick. Jack Black shines as the loser husband-to-be.
9. Little Murders (1971) – Actor Alan Arkin directed this film, based on the play by Jules Feiffer, about a passive and unemotional photographer named Alfred (played by Elliot Gould) who marries Patsy, a type A, with answers for everything. The wedding is wonderfully officiated by Donald Sutherland in full hippie regalia.
8. The Wedding Banquet (1993) – Before Brokeback Mountain, Ang Lee directed another study of a gay relationship. In The Wedding Banquet, a young Taiwanese man, living in New York City, informs his demanding parents back home that he is married, only to find the parents hopping a flight across the Atlantic to play spoiler.
7. Late Marriage (2001) – If you ever wanted to witness the feeling many women experience of being the unwanted destroyer of a precious son’s existence – watch Late Marriage. This Israeli film painfully exposes the inner workings of twisted familial entitlement.
6. Muriel’s Wedding (1994) – Australia’s entry into the warped lengths people will go to fulfill an adult-fed, unrealistic childhood fantasy running completely out of control. Warning: must be able to stand ABBA music.
5. The Wedding (2004) – Forget Spencer Tracy or Steve Martin: this is the ultimate portrayal of the father of the bride. Marian Dziedziel stars as Wojner, a wealthy man attempting to marry off his daughter, involving bribes and gangsters, in smalltown Poland.
4. The Graduate (1967) – A film that seems to wrap up happily, only to leave you guessing with an exquisite final shot. Dustin Hoffman, in the role that launched his monster career, plays Benjamin Braddock, seduced by the wife of his father’s business partner, who then begins to fall for her daughter.
3. Kill Bill (2003) – Not a wedding film, per se, but rather the aftermath of the worst wedding a bride could ever imagine. A blender of Tarantino wit, spaghetti western mores, and kung-fu fighting.
2. Rachel Getting Married (2008) – Anne Hathaway stars as the family black sheep, fresh from rehab, returning home for her sister’s wedding.
1. A Wedding (1978) – One of Robert Altman’s less appreciated films, A Wedding examines, in wonderfully typical Altman fashion, the union of the lily-white Muffin to Italian bad boy Dino Corelli. Off-kilter and brutally honest, the film features Mia Farrow, Carol Burnett, and the legendary Italian cinema star Vittorio Gassman.