There’s a lot going on right now. Maybe you’re protesting, maybe you’re donating, maybe you’re keeping tabs on the way your representatives are responding to the present moment. Keep doing that!
Our lives are not one thing, though, and you’re also probably looking to escape, however briefly, into a show or a book or an album that might help you shut out the world or understand it a little better. To get the wheels turning, here’s the stuff filling our queues at Portland Monthly this week, from the Valley of the Dolls to Jurassic Park.
Every once in a while I shake free of my self-imposed mandate to soak up the capital-I Important cinematic canon and remember how much I love Julia Roberts. By “Julia Roberts” I kind of mean “late 20th-century movie stars and the mid-budget studio fare they produced,” but I also kind of mean Julia Roberts. I’d never seen her in My Best Friend’s Wedding despite nudges from several friends, and earlier this week, as I watched my beloved roommate pack up and split for the Middle East, I figured firing it up on Hulu might soothe me. It did, and then some.
The basic premise, for my fellow delinquent twenty-somethings: Julia Roberts is a single food critic (this is established very conspicuously in the opening scene and not mentioned again for 74 minutes) who made a pact with her best friend Dermot Mulroney that, if they’re both unwed by 28, they’ll marry. With 28 fast approaching, he calls to let her know he’s met and fallen for a wealthy 20-year-old (Cameron Diaz) and the wedding is in a week. Roberts, confused and embittered, flies to Chicago to break them up.
My Best Friend’s Wedding is a fluffy movie, but it’s also kind of a mean one. Roberts does straight-up bad things over and over again, and she’s rarely punished—the darkness is weirdly compelling. There’s also enough there to read it as a queer allegory, and I love nothing more than making not-gay things gay: Roberts fawns over Mulroney in secret, never daring to voice her actual feelings, yearning in gender-neutral pantsuits and finding ultimate comfort in her chosen family. There’s a dash of actual queerness too, in Rupert Everett, who steals the movie as Roberts’s gay editor, and in a super-famous scene I had never heard of, he gives a monologue about meeting Dionne Warwick in the psych ward that erupts into a full-blown performance of “I Say a Little Prayer for You.”
This movie will not save your life, but it’s a little squirrelier and more interesting than I expected (it also features a Paul Giamatti cameo—he’s a bellhop who tells Julia Roberts “this, too, shall pass” while she smokes a cigarette in a hallway). It made me think about how men’s hair was better in the ’90s, it made me miss packed train stations and wild, tonally-inconsistent Hollywood fare for adults, and yes, in the end, it made me cry a little. —Conner Reed, arts & culture editor