The Olympics are winding down, and NBC’s replacement programming is About a Boy, a series based on the Nick Hornby novel and subsequent film adaptation. This got us thinking about man-tears: the movie has Brandon’s number (more on that below), but does nothing for others. Still, every man has one movie that gets them blubbery in a totally embarrassing, justified way. So for the sake of your amusement, here’s what makes us weepy:
Wit. I already mentioned this one in the movies we’ll never watch again post, but here we go again. Directed by Mike Nichols, this is a dramedy where Emma Thompson plays a literature professor who finds out she’s going to die from cancer. She has a stiff upper lip until the disease get the better of her.
Most tear-jerky scene: Thompson’s character gets a visit from her old mentor. She’s at the point where words barely comfort her, so rather than read some serious literature, the mentor reads her a children’s book. The only soundtrack is Arvo Part’s “Spiegel im Spiegel.” This scene is literally the only time a movie has made me burst into tears. Here it is in its entirety. You’ve been warned.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mMaJET7mD0M
50/50. Notice a theme here? Nothing gets the proverbial dust in my eyes like a movie about cancer. In this one, Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays a mild-mannered reporter who finds out he has a half chance of survival. The rest of the movie is him dealing with the potential that his life could be cut short.
Most tear-jerky scene: JGL gets a ride to the hospital from his best friend (Seth Rogen). The surgery is about to happen, and while the friends plainly love each other, neither one knows what to say. It’s a heartbreaking scene because it’s wise about the real affection that underlies all genuine bromance. I’ve definitely had those inarticulate moments with a couple of dudes in my life (thankfully, it wasn’t because anyone was sick).
No End in Sight. This exposes my bias as a policy nerd, but bear with me. Directed by Charles Ferguson, this documentary is all about how the Bush administration’s failure of leadership in the war in Iraq. Rather than manipulate our emotions, Michael Moore style, Ferguson patiently lays out his case so that there’s only one conclusion to draw. It’s inexorable and frustrating.
Most tear-jerky scene: No End in Sight does not inspire tears of sadness, but of anger. The movie makes the case that the war is unnecessary, and shows the human cost for foreign policy that’s driven by little more than Dick Cheney’s innate evil. The war is over so this movie probably no longer provokes the same sense of anger, yet its power is undeniable.
The Best of Youth. Few Americans have seen this film because of the way it’s been presented. It was originally a miniseries on Italian television, divided into six clear one-hours parts, but for the US theatrical release there are two parts, each one three hours long (it’s ironic no one wants to make the time commitment since the film is shorter than most television series). The Best of Youth is on Netflix, and it’s one six hour movie instead of six episodes. It’s a tragedy, really, since this one of the best family sagas I’ve ever seen.
Most tear-jerky scene: Among other things, The Best of Youth is about two brothers and the wildly different paths they take. Towards the end, one brother has a chance at happiness and the other allows it to happen in a tender, affectionate way. Coupled with a dose of magic realism and long uninterrupted camera movement, the wordless scene is close to perfect.
Saving Private Ryan. Steven Spielberg’s World War 2 saga is a flat-out masterpiece. It looks at all facets of war, acknowledging that it can be harrowing, suspenseful, exhausting, and ugly.
Most tear-jerky scene: A German soldiers forces a Jewish soldier (Adam Goldberg) into hand-t0-hand combat. All that’s left is a knife, and Goldberg begs for his life as the knife slowly pierces his chest. Another American soldier (Jeremy Davies) listens with horror, yet he’s too petrified to do anything to help. I watch Saving Private Ryan regularly when it’s on TV, but I always have to switch the station for this scene.
City Lights. Charlie Chaplin’s Tramp character is always poor, but he’s never against putting others above himself. So when he falls for a blind girl who sells flowers on the street, he does everything in his power – from fighting in boxing matches to befriending drunks with a suicide wish – to pay for her operation to regain her eyesight.
Most tear-jerky scene: In what is one of the greatest finales in cinema history, The Tramp runs into the blind girl for the first time since she’s gone through the operation he paid for. She believes him to be rich, so she’s shocked when she finds out he’s even poorer than she is. Yet while her face is surprised, the camera focuses on his elation. He’s once again found the girl he tried so hard to make happy and this fills him with glee. Chaplin had said that he ended City Lights where he did because the next scene in reality would’ve likely had the girl rejecting him once she sees who he truly is. But as the viewer, we see The Tramp better than she ever could: 100% heart.
Clerks II. Twelve years after seeing Dante and Randall working at the Quick Stop and RST Video store, we find them working another dead-end job, this time at a Mooby’s fast food restaurant chain. Dante is finally moving on to a new life with his fiancé, while Randall will remain helping customers at a job that would be much better without them.
Most tear-jerky scene: With a third film on the way, Clerks has sort of turned Dante and Randall into the friendship version of Jesse and Celine. We know these two for breaking each other’s balls and calling each other on their shit, but near the end of Clerks II, we truly see how much this friendship of over a decade and a half means to them. In a desperate plea to not lose his best friend, Randall admits to his co-worker/hetero life mate Dante that he loves him and he doesn’t know what he’ll do without him. It’s a bold and touching moment from a film that only minutes before featured a donkey show at a fast-food restaurant.
Up. After the death of his wife, Carl Fredericksen uses balloons to fly his house to South American in order to go on the adventure he was never able to go on with his wife. He is reluctantly joined by Russell, a young wilderness explorer, and Dug, a dog that can talk.
Most tear-jerky scene: You know exactly the one. In only a few minutes, Pixar gives us a speechless montage on Carl’s life with his wife Ellie. In this very short period, we see more love, heartbreak, disappointments and care than in most entire films. Carl has lost his love, everything that he has lived his life for and the audience feels the pain with him as she slips away from him. It’s not only likely the most heartbreaking moment from an animated film, but one of the most touching scenes in movies, period.
About A Boy. Hugh Grant, playing Will Freeman, the role of what everyone thinks Hugh Grant is in real life claims to be a single parent to attract Rachel Weisz, quite possibly the most beautiful woman in the world when this movie was filmed. He ends up befriending a ‘Boy’ and learns a lesson.
Most tear-jerky scene: Marcus (the ‘Boy’) kills a duck. It’s the cutest way to possibly kill a duck. Then Will and a pretty mom Will just met brings Marcus home and Marcus’ mom is passed out from an attempted suicide. The viewer quickly transports from a sunny day, complete with upbeat Badly Drawn Boy music, to a jarring image of a very realistic looking near-death. The entire thing is over in 2-minutes, but it stays with you for the rest of the film. Later, when the music soars with hope and there’s a happy ending involving a conversation about McDonald’s, I cry. Take away the Badly Drawn Boy score and I feel nothing.
Dancer in the Dark. Lars von Trier’s Björk film. The one where she’s going blind and will do anything to give her son a better life. Since it’s a Lars von Trier picture that means she’ll die a horrible, horrible death.
Most tear-jerky scene: The six-minute execution scene. Shot on handheld cameras, we’re submitted to an uncomfortably realistic portrayal of a woman about to lose her life. There are tears. They sound like real tears. There’s no score. It’s rough. It’s almost unwatchable. Then Björk starts singing and you tear up and you fight back your tears and the singing stops and you can no longer stop the tears. Sadly, this is not what people remember from this remarkable achievement. People remember the swan dress. A song from the movie was nominated for Best Original Song and Björk wore a swan dress because SHE’S AN ARTIST and now her acting is forgotten. That’s another reason to cry.
WHAT MAKES YOU CRY MAN TEARS?