Never did a popular thing, couldn't sell out a telephone booth.
Monday, November 17, 2008
TV on the Radio on the silver screen...
Jonathan Demme may have seen the inevitability of post-Election Day 2008 America before anyone else, though it's hardly an original premonition. Watching Rachel Getting Married made think first how unimportant and boring this kind of dead-sibling-rehab-trainwreck-life narrative of familial salvation is, but how it can be set in a truly mesmerizing melting pot world.
It doesn't explode for Demme. The sticks of butter he drops into the crock don't just merge at the seams, they homogenize thoroughly and are poured back into wholy recognizable casts. There's no depth, though, just a pure surface meaning that is intent on legibility and first impression. Here's a movie that is post-class, post-race, post-taste, even; there is something that is good, and there is something that is bad, and further distinguishment isn't necessary. Campy but expensive. Personal but expansive. Wholly inclusive but wholly insular, too. This is a petri dish that you could say was a success, but you still leave confined to the lab.
Where else are you picked up from rehab in an dusty, old-money Mercedes to be ferried to the rustic throwback suburban family manner? To be a part of an Indian wedding of your white tri-state area shrink sister and her black, Hawaiian, probably musician-entrepreneur husband? It's all so perfectly crafted to feel like home, that you never consider that this weird place doesn't exist. Where two strange families actually fit into the puzzle, adoring musical toasts from rappers, indie rockers, old jazz hands, and a couple of kids who contort Hendrix's guitar burning sound from a national anthem to a wedding march.
It's only right that Tunde Adibempe, lead singer of TV on the Radio, masters of cultural elision, is the bridesgroom, and delivers the best performance. His presence alone imbues the whole scenario with some kind of credibility, and when he speaks, it's as if to say "I don't need to participate in this fiction." If only he could've shown how on to something Demme was, and gotten the yawnful narrative arc dropped for the strangeness of this dramatized home video for the perfect hipster-as-mainstream wedding.
Note: Almost forgot to mention how fucking cool Adibempe is, clearly. Dude is legit.