Barry Mendel has great taste.
The longtime producer’s filmography runs the gamut, from Academy Award best-picture nominees (‘The Sixth Sense,’ ‘Munich’) to comedies (‘Rushmore,’ ‘Bridesmaids’) to sci-fi (‘Serenity,’ ‘Unbreakable’). Last month, he reteamed with writer-director Judd Apatow, whom he worked with on ‘Funny People,’ for ‘This Is 40.’ The sorta-sequel to ‘Knocked Up’ follows Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann’s characters five years later as they navigate the complexities of being husband and wife.
So Mendel was nice enough to choose five of his favourite films about marriage. Here he is, in his own words:
— ‘A Star Is Born’ (1954): The inspiration for ‘The Artist’ and the Streisand/Kristofferson remake, though it is based itself on the Janet Gaynor version from 1934. Now this is marriage. Falling in love. Shifting sands. Judy Garland’s career triumph opposite the unsung James Mason in a role so complex Cary Grant turned it down because he knew no one would buy him in it. I hereby nominate the final speech from Judy Garland for Most Romantic Sentence Ever Uttered On Film.
— ‘Shoot The Moon’ (1982): Written by ‘One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest’ screenwriter Bo Goldman and directed by the great Alan Parker, it tells the story of a marriage crumbling but captures it with an intimacy and honesty that may not have been equalled since. Diane Keaton and Albert Finney are unforgettable as husband and wife pondering moving on without one another.
— ‘Iris’ (2001): Most Americans skipped ‘Iris,’ based on Iris Murdoch’s beautiful book. It stars Judi Dench and Jim Broadbent who both won awards for their performances, and their more youthful selves were played by Kate Winslet and Hugh Bonneville. An honest, heartbreakingly lovely portrait of an entire lifetime together.
— ‘Modern Romance’ (1981): Albert Brooks’ masterpiece isn’t just one of my favourite films about (spoiler alert) marriage, it’s one of my favourite films of any sort ever made. It’s honest, sweet and one of the flat-out funniest films there is. I could quote the entire script right here and now! In a recent interview in Vanity Fair, Brooks revealed that on seeing the film, the late, great Stanley Kubrick called him and described it as the best movie about jealousy ever made. Ah, but here, jealousy is code for love.
— ‘A Separation’ (2011): If you do not like foreign films, ‘A Separation’ will change your mind. A story about a middle-class couple in Iran ... separating. Done with an ease and grace and reality level to which I and all of the people I’ve ever worked with making films aspire. It’s a simple story, no fireworks, yet you will never forget it. It’s that good.