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Posts Tagged ‘wedding’

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The Van Meter family are gathering at their New England island holiday home to celebrate the wedding of oldest daughter Daphne. Patriarch Winn Van Meter should be looking forward to a joyous weekend, but he is facing it all with a kind of dread. He feels age creeping up on him; discontented with his life, and harbouring a lust for an entirely inappropriate woman, the scene is set for a disastrous couple of days. Meanwhile his youngest daughter Livia is recovering after a relationship break-up, his wife Biddy is patiently trying to ignore her husband’s erratic behaviour – and just why won’t the Pequot gentlemans’ club accept him as a member?!

I am in two minds about this book. The things I liked were: Maggie Shipstead’s turn of phrase. She has an amusingly cynical turn of phrase which made me smile in places at the absurdity of the situations. And…nope, that’s actually about all I liked.

What I didn’t like was almost all of the characters. It’s not necessary for me to like a character in order to enjoy a book, but there has to be something about them that makes me want to read about them – if not likeable, then they should be interesting. This book is told mostly from Winn’s point of view (albeit in the third person) and quite frankly he is not likeable, not interesting and ultimately pretty pathetic. I don’t think he is meant to be a likeable character, but I don’t know whether he is meant to be quite so exasperating. I am not sure in fact why anyone in his family puts up with him; he’s basically a privileged, narrow minded, self-centred egotist, complaining about how hard done to he is. Nothing is his fault, it’s always someone else to blame.

Livia was probably the second most prominent character and she wasn’t much better, although her youth and heartbreak excuse her somewhat. Unfortunately the most likeable characters – Dominique, Greyson and Biddy – are never really explored, because they are the most level headed and decent among the party, and this book is not about level headed decent people!

I realise it’s meant to be satire, but despite the eloquence of the writing, it’s not really funny enough to work. It’s not awful – it certainly held my attention – but it’s just…meh! While I realise that money and privilege does not preclude people from being depressed and unhappy, the things that were causing Winn to be miserable were so ridiculous it was just hard to feel any sympathy at all. I can see that some people might love this book – regrettably I’m not one of them.

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When Marni Olsen (Kristen Bell) discovers that her brother Will (James Wolk) is marrying the girl who bullied and tormented Marni all through high school, she is determined to stop the marriage and make Will see what kind of person Joanna (Odette Yustman) really is.

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Year of release: 2010

Director: Andy Fickman

Writer: Moe Jelline

Main cast: Kristen Bell, Odette Yustman, Jamie Lee Curtis, Signourney Weaver, Betty White, Victor Garber, James Wolk

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Genre: Comedy

Highlights: The dance lesson! The stellar cast, lots of laughs throughout

Lowlights: None. Loved it

Overall: Thoroughly enjoyable and really funny

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In this British comedy, Rufus Hound plays Raif Moyle, who is returning home to Cheshire to be the best man at his brother Tim’s (Robert Webb) wedding to Saskia (Lucy Punch). He decides to film the wedding preparations and the few weeks before the big day as his wedding present to the happy couple, but instead ends up capturing events as they spiral out of control. From Saskia’s society-obsessed mother (Harriet Walter) taking over the arrangements and ignoring her daughter’s wishes, and Saskia and Tim’s constant disagreements, it starts to look like the wedding might not even go ahead at all….

After watching this film I read some reviews, and was surprised that they were so scathing. In truth, had I read the reviews beforehand, I probably wouldn’t have even bothered watching, but as it is I’m glad I did watch it, because I really liked the whole thing. All three of the leads were great, especially Lucy Punch. Harriet Walter was unsurprisingly brilliant, and Miriam Margolyes had a small but excellent part as Saskia’s grandmother.

If you like British comedies, I would suggest ignoring the reviews and giving this one a go. You might be pleasantly surprised.

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Year of release: 2012

Director: Nigel Cole

Writer: Tim Firth

Main cast: Lucy Punch, Rufus Hound, Tim Webb, Harriet Walter

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Made for TV rom-com, which is entirely predictable yet thoroughly enjoyable. Autumn Reeser plays Jaclyn Palmer, who is getting married to Peter (Antonio Cupo), but it’s clear that she has doubts about it, and his overbearing mother certainly doesn’t help. A few days before the wedding she meets a handsome stranger who turns out to be none other than Peter’s brother Max (Shawn Roberts).

The wedding day dawns…and then dawns again…and again…and again…this is basically Jaclyn’s Groundhog Day as every time she wakes up it’s the morning of her wedding day again. As she tries to work out what is happening she learns a little more about herself every day, and figures out what she is actually looking for in life.

If you don’t like romantic comedies, or you DO like to be surprised by your films, then this is not the movie for you! But if you occasionally just want something light, fluffy and to make you smile, then give it a whirl, you might love it.

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Year of release: 2015

Director: Ron Oliver

Writer: Nancy Silvers

Main cast: Autumn Reeser, Antonio Cupo, Shawn Roberts, Ali Liebert

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Full disclosure: I was on a long flight and simply looking for an undemanding film to pass a couple of hours. I stumbled across Table 19, which I had never even heard of before; however, it featured Lisa Kudrow and Stephen Merchant and I thought it might be worth a watch. Also, I like films that play out in real time or at least over the course of one day or night, so I put this on, not sure what to expect.

The story opens with Eloise (Anna Kendrick) who has been ousted from her role as bridesmaid at her friend Francie’s wedding, due to being unceremoniously dumped by the best man Teddy – who is also Francie’s brother. Deliberating whether or not she should still attend the wedding at all, Eloise eventually decides to go and finds herself seated at Table 19. It soon dawns on everyone at the table that they are the people who nobody really wanted there, the people who were invited out of a sense of duty, the people who should have had the common sense to say they couldn’t attend.

As well as Eloise, there are Diner owners Bina and Jerry Kepp (Lisa Kudrow and Craig Robinson), Facebook friends with the groom’s father, who owns a chain of diners; Francie’s childhood nanny Jo (June Squibb), Renzo Eckberg (Tony Revolori), whose family are distantly acquainted with the wedding party and who has come to the wedding with the hope of finally getting a girlfriend; and Walter Thimble (Stephen Merchant) who is a nephew of the groom and currently on parole.

After an awkward first meeting, the group get to know each other – secrets are revealed, truths come to light – and they start to actually quite like each other. Eloise meets an enigmatic stranger named Huck, but he may not be all he seems…

This film was a very pleasant surprise, and I’m not sure how or why it slipped under the radar and is so little known. Of course I picked it because it was the sort of film I like, but I don’t think I expected to like it quite as much as I did. All of the characters were very well played, and I ended up liking and finding sympathy for each one of this mismatched crew of new friends.

It mixes comedy with poignancy very well and I liked the ending a lot too. Yes, it’s a bit quirky and certainly not the kind of thing everyone likes – if action movies are your thing, then this is probably not the film for you. But if you like a bit of human drama and characters who aren’t afraid to foul up sometimes and laugh at themselves, give it a try!

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Year of release: 2017

Director: Jeffrey Blitz

Writers: Jay Duplass, Mark Duplass, Jeffrey Blitz

Main cast: Anna Kendrick, Lisa Kudrow, Craig Robinson, June Squibb, Stephen Merchant, Tony Revolori, Wyatt Russell,

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This Shakespeare play revolves around two pairs of lovers – Claudio (Robert Sean Leonard) and Hero (Kate Beckinsale), who find that because of the deception of others, the path of true love does not always run smoothly; and Beatrice (Emma Thompson) and Benedick (Kenneth Branagh), who have an antagonistic relationship and fall in love almost against their own wills.

Kenneth Branagh directs, co-produces and stars in this adaptation, and what a truly wonderful adaptation it is.  It is full of colour and life, and left me with such a feeling of happiness afterwards, that it should be available to view on prescription!  Denzel Washington has never looked more handsome than he does here as the Spanish Prince Don Pedro, Richard Briers as Hero’s father Leonato and Brian Blessed as Leonato’s brother Antonio are both wonderful in their roles, and Kate Beckinsale is sweet and lovely as Hero.  It hardly needs to be said that Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson are both note-perfect as the squabbling Benedick and Beatrice, making perfect use of Shakespeare’s sharp and witty banter.  It’s worth mentioning Michael Keaton’s small but important part as police constable Dogberry, which he certainly makes the most of, stealing most of the scenes he is in.  The casting isn’t perfect – Keanu Reeves is an odd choice for the villain Don John, who leads Claudio into mistakenly believing that Hero has been unfaithful, and Robert Sean Leonard is rather wooden as Claudio.  However, there is so much to enjoy in this film that it hardly matters.

Although it does contain dark themes – the aborted first wedding of Claudio and Hero is upsetting, particularly as the viewer knows that Hero has been slandered – it is mainly cheerful with a happy tone throughout.  I’d recommend this to fans and non-fans of Shakespeare alike.  It is definitely one of my favourite Shakespeare adaptations.

Year of release: 1993

Director: Kenneth Branagh

Producers: Kenneth Branagh, Stephen Evans, David Parfitt

Writers: William Shakespeare (play), Kenneth Branagh (screenplay)

Main cast: Kenneth Branagh, Emma Thompson, Kate Beckinsale, Robert Sean Leonard, Denzel Washington, Keanu Reeves, Richard Briers, Brian Blessed, Michael Keaton

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Click here for my review of the televised live performance of Much Ado About Nothing at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre (2011)

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