August 29, 2013

Officiating A Wedding That's Devoid Of MELANCHOLIA

"Life is only on Earth.  And not for long."
Friday was wedding day and we had promised to help do a little setup earlier in the day, including some modest flower arranging.  I also helped organize the props for the makeshift photobooth, most of which I had purchased myself at my local Dollar Store.  I was particularly proud of this dinosaur hat:


And yes, the wedding had a hashtag.

The ceremony and reception were in Manhattan but since Jamie and I were staying in the Bronx we ended up spending lot of time riding the 2 train back and forth throughout the weekend.  Anticipating the hectic nature of the day, I decided it would probably be best to get my movie out of the way first thing.  I chose Melancholia for no other reason than the fact that it partially takes place at a wedding.

I'll admit that Lars von Trier is a filmmaker whose work should be much more familiar to me.  I saw Dogville years ago and I've had both Melancholia and Anti-Christ sitting in my Netflix queue for ages now, so I was happy to finally get around to the former.  (From what I understand, the latter will require a certain state of mind and viewing environment in order to properly digest the subject matter.)  I wish I had been able to see Melancholia in theaters, if only for the film's gorgeous opening sequence which might be one of the most beautiful collection of images I've ever seen in a film.  I know lots of people who strongly dislike this movie and I can see why, but I had totally the opposite reaction.  I was completely engrossed in both the twisted drama of Justine's trainwreck of a wedding reception as well as Claire's slow-motion freak out over the impending arrival of rogue planet Melancholia.

This wasn't my first introduction to Charlotte Gainsbourg, but it's been so long since I've seen her in anything that I was, for all intents and purposes, seeing her with fresh eyes.  She's absolutely superb and it's easy to see why she's starred in von Trier's last three films.  But even Gainsbourg pales in comparison to Kirsten Dunst, who simply must be seen to be believed.  Dunst gives an incredible performance that only solidifies my belief that she's clearly much happier working with auteur directors on more independent and artistic pictures.  People love to give her shit for mainstream stuff like Spider-Man and I'm generally not inclined to argue with them.  I'm certainly in the minority when I say that I absolutely love her in Cameron Crowe's Elizabethtown, but it's her work in stuff like Eternal Sunshine, Marie Antionette and Melancholia that I think gives us the clearest picture of the kinds of movies she'd prefer to be making.  She is so present and immersed as Justine that it's actually startling to watch; Justine's depression is wonderfully nuanced so that even when Dunst is smiling through her wedding reception you can see her heart crumbling behind her eyes.  It's devastating to see her reduced to an immobile husk of a woman in the second half, which makes her steely resolve in the film's closing moments all the more affecting.  Even if the rest of Melancholia isn't exactly your cup of tea, this is a career performance from Dunst.  Her talent here is simply undeniable.

Rob and Kristina's wedding went off without a hitch.  We had worked out my officiant script the week before, opting for something short and sweet rather than ornate and flowery.  The ceremony was held at the Manhattan Penthouse on 5th Avenue, with a beautiful view of the city as well as the new World Trade Center Tower visible through the large picture windows directly behind the bride and groom.  THe ceremony clocked in around twelve minutes long and as soon as it ended I ran off with the bridal party to take pictures in a cobblestone alley down the street before returning to catch the end of cocktail hour.  Kristina is a vegan so there was not a morsel of meat to be found on the premises.  I do like meat an awful lot, but I'll admit to going back for a second vegetarian burrito.  There was plenty of drinking and dancing throughout the night, eventually giving way to karaoke at a bar around the corner before Jamie and I eventually caught a 3 AM train back to the Bronx.

I'll say this for New York, I do appreciate subways that run all night.  Boston, take note.

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Title: Melancholia
Director: Lars von Trier
Starring: Kirsten Dunst, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Keifer Sutherland, Alexander Skarsgard, Stellan Skarsgard, Charlotte Rampling, John Hurt, Udo Kier
Year Of Release: 2011
Viewing Method: Netflix Instant (TV)