Friday, June 3, 2011

The Return of the "Movies" List

Posted By on Fri, Jun 3, 2011 at 2:35 PM

After a long hoops-season hiatus, I brought back my "Movies" segment as part of my weekly appearance on The Chris Vernon Show (730 AM Fox Sports) yesterday. (Barring the occasional schedule change or additional drop-in, I join Verno each Thursday afternoon from 5 to 6 p.m.)

The deal with the "Movies" bit is that I recommend five films each week based on a different topic, usually — but not always — connected to something that's new in theaters or big at the box office. This week's comeback list was "Wedding Preparation" movies, based on two current box-office hits, The Hangover Part II and Bridesmaids.

In addition to bringing back the radio segment, I'm going to (attempt to) follow up each Friday by posting the lists here.

And so it goes:

5. The Best Man (1999): The writing here is a little too wooden at times, but this gives a generation of attractive, able young African-American actors (Nia Long, Terrence Howard, Sanaa Lathan, Taye Diggs, etc.) the grown-up showcase that's still too rare. A group of college-era friends reunite when two are getting married and various old issues erupt. Written and directed by Malcolm Lee. Produced by his cousin, some guy named Spike.


4. Father of the Bride (1950): Not the remake with Steve Martin and Diane Keaton, who didn't get the movie they deserved. The Vincente Minnelli original starring Spencer Tracy as the beleaguered title character suffering all manner of stress and insult in the lead-up to the wedding of his daughter, played by Elizabeth Taylor. A comedy that's darker than the you might think.


3. The Philadelphia Story (1940): Directed by George Cukor from a Philip Barry play, co-starring Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn, and only the second-best film that bears that description (after 1938's great Holiday). But still a classic. Hepburn is a divorced socialite preparing for her second marriage. Grant is her wisecracking ex. Jimmy Stewart is a reporter covering the prospective union who develops his own amorous aims. A light, enjoyable screwball comedy where Hepburn juggles three potential suitors.


2. Rachel Getting Married (2008): Jonathan Demme directs this dramatic feature with the intimacy, fluidity, and purpose that resemble his concert documentaries (Stop Making Sense and Neil Young: Heart of Gold). The tumultuous homecoming of Anne Hathaway's doe-eyed narcotics addict is shown as an oscillating series of awkward interactions and quiet retreats played out against gonzo pre- and post-wedding celebrations that turn indulgence into strength. It makes this particular list, more than anything, for that awesome, epic, admittedly love-it-or-hate-it rehearsal dinner sequence that culminates in Hathaway's painful toast. My original review.


1. Late Marriage (2001): My choice for the most overlooked film of the past decade (and, when I made this list, my 15th favorite of the decade overall). Set among a community of Georgian immigrants living in Israel, it concerns a single grad-student in his early thirties whose parents are attempting to arrange a "proper" marriage and keep him away from the older single mother whom he loves. At turns comic, intense, sweet, and devastatingly sad. Also features arguably the best "sex" scene in movie history. My original review.

This trailer doesn't do the film justice, but it's what I got:

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