Sunday, August 23, 2009

Films that involuntarily drain out your tear ducts...

...that is, films that make you cry. Not out of boredom or hatred, or coincidentally getting something in your eye while watching a film, but those tip-of-the-iceberg moments where it all comes emotionally tumbling down.

For example, I watched Gran Torino earlier today (Clint Eastwood directed and starred in this film--I've cried in 3 out of 3 of his films I've seen...hmm...). Man, when the near to end scene comes (no spoilers, just in case) ...well I couldn't stop the tears. It was a 'nooo' crossed with 'awe-inspired' moment, I was unhappy but at the same time I felt the film couldn't have ended any other way. Clint Eastwood's character in this, Walt Kowalski, is one for the ages. I don't know if this is true, but I may have heard somewhere that he would retire as an actor after this (but please not his directing, he's only begun to reach his peak if you ask me), and boy you couldn't pick a better ending for an actor. Enough generalisations said.

As I mentioned, this isn't the first Eastwood film to get me blubbery. Before Gran Torino, there was Million Dollar Baby and Changeling, both interestingly about persevering women who won't give up no matter the odds. Even if these inspiring films perhaps reek of sentimentality, I'm not cynical enough of their bewitching powers to care. There's nothing like an extraordinary story to lift a person up.

Take for another example, After The Promise, which my friend Jezza made us watch one school holiday afternoon. That was a beginning till end tear-fest practically, mostly because it was so heart-breaking. But then when the indominable human spirit makes its entrance and shows that hope has not died, well that's life-affirming, wouldn't you say? If life isn't tough and rough, then there's nothing to really prove, nothing to demonstrate human strength.

Other all-time favourite crying sessions:

-- Camille (1936), before there was Moulin Rouge! there was this tale of a courtesan who falls for a younger, naive-ish man who can't promise her money, but he can promise her love. Unfortunately, there's more than the hurdle of her 'financial income' ( 'the other man') to prevent the two from being together...with all the tug and pull that this couple goes through, the ending feels cruel and oh so encouraging for the tears.

-- Titanic (1997),call it an over-blown, over-budgeted, over-rated film, but it's undeniable that when that iceberg hits, your breath catches in your throat. And when it becomes clearer and clearer that Jack isn't going to make it, well by then you're a goner.

-- Big Fish (2003), this had the added problem of some friends choosing to visit me while I was watching this; and it just so happened that the waterworks had begun by this stage. Needless to say, this film (or what I remember of it--I own it but I haven't watched it since) was heartfelt and it circulates somewhat around death and lack of belief when it's needed the most (i'm being quite vague), issues that tend to be teary.

-- Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), whether it's true or not, I'll remember this film as the first classic that I ever cried to.

-- Cheaper By the Dozen 2 (2005), this is an unusual choice for me, but I'm placing it here because amidst all the tears I've shed for sad and tragic moments, I've shed tears for joyous moments too. And for this film it happened when Tom and Kate Baker have their baby.

Award for least-expected film that I'd cry to: Click (2006). I say 'least-expected' because 1) it's an Adam Sandler film and 2) it's a crude-humour filled film, which means I should have been more likely to get grossed out or uncomfortably laugh, than to be moved. But alas, when the film takes its dramatic turn and you realise you actually care for Adam Sandler's character enough to cry over his predicament, well that's surprising (even more from a retrospective point of view).

And the award for most inspiring, fist-pumping in the air film...Rocky (1976). Hidden in the shadows of "Adrian!" parodies and the fact that this beat Taxi Driver (and I say this without having seen Taxi Driver) to the Oscar finish line, is a really good under-dog type film. "Gonna fly now"? Heck yeah!

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