I don’t cry a lot in real life. I don’t know why this is. I get angry a lot. I swear and stomp around and yes, I’ve been known to throw things (not when people are around, I live alone so the throwing is a private affair, no one but myself and the object being hurled are injured in the throwing, and I make sure the cats aren’t in the area, so don’t worry, nervous Nellies) but crying is a few-and-far-between occurrence. If it gets to the point I’m about to cry, say, at work, or when I’m out and about, I try to go somewhere private to do it. I don’t like people seeing me cry. I’m embarrassed by it. Which is strange, because I’m not in the least bit embarrassed by my other very large and loud emotions. Crying seems very raw and personal, somehow, more so than laughing or being furious, and I don’t feel the need to share it with others. Also, it makes people act like you’re about to break and use the “I’m scared of you” voice which I hate. And I hate sympathy. Even when I know the person means it, I hate it. I like being strong and in charge of myself and when I’m crying, it’s like I’ve lost control.
All bets are off, however, when it comes to movies.
I am a wreck in the movie theater. I mean, I’m not wailing and screaming “Why God why” at the screen or anything, and other than the sniffling, I’m pretty quiet about it. But movies make me weep. TV shows, sometimes, too, to some extent, depending on how emotionally invested I am in the characters, how good the writing is, and how heart-wrenching the plotline, and those goddamned Hallmark commercials always get me (they know how tear-jerking they are, too, they’re totally mean about it and sneaky) as well as Folgers commercials where people come home and make coffee all unexpected-like for their relatives. And let’s not even talk about the incident freshman year of college where that commercial with the Hershey Kisses ringing like bells set me off into a bout of weeping. I chalk that one up to homesickness. Or possibly an out-of-control craving for chocolate, I don’t know.
I was thinking about this after watching One Day this weekend. Don’t worry, no spoilers, unless you count “it made me cry pretty much from the opening credits until the lights came up” as a spoiler. It wasn’t a perfect movie – the book was better – but it was very good. And as I’d read the book, I knew what was coming, which made me cry even harder.
I LOVE a good cry in a movie theater. It’s dark. No one can see you clearly. It’s very cathartic. I don’t recommend you do it on your first date with someone, though. Because you look like a crazy person unless they know you a little better. Not that I’d know that from first-hand experience or anything. Ha! Not me.
Although I’ve teared up in a lot of movies, from comedies to cartoons, the ones that stand out the most for me, for various reasons, are (and yes, plenty of spoilers ahead, but most of these are old-ish movies, so if you haven’t seen them yet, you should have by now; but if you want to stay spoiler-free, bye, see you tomorrow, I hope!):
A huge group of my theater friends and I went to see this not long after it came out. Many of them had gone to see it the night before and wanted to see it again. They knew better than to spoil us for what was coming up (theater people are very good at not spoiling the end of things, among the other bazillion things they are good at.) I was (and remain) completely transfixed with this movie. The music. Nicole Kidman at the height of her beauty – still a redhead, still curvy (before she started to look brittle and translucent – she’s almost frightening-looking now, I think, like she’d break like a twig given the right pressure, and it’s sad because she was so luminous before!), Ewan McGregor so handsome, the sets – just a perfect, perfect movie. Then the ending. Ewan’s sob when he realizes Nicole has died in his arms is heartwrenching. I cried so hard I burst a blood vessel in my eye and my chest hurt the entire following day. I will always love Baz Luhrmann – for Moulin Rouge, but also for the insane, speed-addled beauty of Romeo & Juliet and the quirky fun of Simply Ballroom. The man knows how to put on a show.
Field of Dreams
Apparently, this is a guy’s movie. Well, tell that to my tear ducts. It’s one of my top five movies of all time, actually. I know, I know, Kevin Costner kind of got embarrassing for a while there and then dropped off the radar, and it’s not a flawless movie – there’s a lot of foolishness here and there – but it’s pretty damn close. It’s one of those things I can’t not watch when I’m flipping channels. You know what makes me cry in this movie? Yes, of course, the ending, because if you don’t at least mist up a little over, “Hey Dad? Do you want to have a catch?” and “Why don’t you introduce him to his granddaughter,” there might be something essential missing from you – but also the magic, and Costner’s wide-eyed acceptance of it, and the added magic of the people around him coming to accept it as well. The look on James Earl Jones’s face when the Volkswagen bus’s headlights hit him and he says “Go the distance,” and Costner realizes that he heard the voice too. Frank Whaley’s face when he realizes saving the little girl means he can’t go back again, but that it’s the right thing to do. “People will come, Ray.” If I’m watching this movie, I’m watching it with a box of tissues and I’m one happy woman. This movie also is the reason I admire baseball. I don’t watch it; I don’t go out of my way to catch games, or anything. But this movie makes me understand people that do love baseball, and it makes baseball seem noble and fine.
I know, right about now, you’ve got on your what the hell face. I can’t really explain this. I have no idea why this movie gets to me. But it does. Every single time. This is the number one “if it’s on, I can’t stop watching” movie in the world for me. Is it my favorite movie of all time? No. But I can’t look away. I love westerns, and western culture, I guess, ever since I was young (I don’t know where that came from, exactly, but I remember reading – for fun! – histories of Billy the Kid and Doc Holliday when I was in junior high) and this movie hits all of the right chords with me. Family drama – check. Romance – check. (Although the romance is a little lame. I really enjoy Dana Delaney but she kind of annoys me in this movie. Except when she’s being an actress. I like her tough actress persona. It’s her personal life persona that bugs.) But here’s what gets me every time – Val Kilmer’s performance. I know that now, Val Kilmer’s kind of embarrassing and pudgy and pale and I read an interview a while ago where he was rambling on about being the mayor of New Mexico or something, I don’t know. But watch this movie and you will (I hope) understand why I will always love Val Kilmer, in the way I could never, even when he got old and weird, dislike Marlon Brando. Val Kilmer just lights up the screen in this movie. He hits every single note. And his performance brings me to tears every single time. The one exchange that turns me into a sobbing mess? The very solitary, legendarily prickly Doc Holliday discussing with another man why he’s going to stand up for Wyatt Earp in a fight: “Wyatt Earp is my friend.” “Hell, I got a lot of friends.” “I don’t.” Also, Val Kilmer’s last scene? I had no idea what was happening until it was explained to me that he was laughing at the irony of the mighty Doc Holliday dying without his boots on, so now that scene makes me cry, too. I’ve tried to explain my irrational love for this movie to people before and they look at me like I’m insane, and that’s fine. More young Val Kilmer for me. And if you hear me quote “I’m your huckleberry” or “You’re a daisy if you do,” well, you know why, now, don’t you.
House of Sand and Fog
I didn’t know much about this film going into it, other than the trailers made it look excellent. (I’ve since read the book and the film is equally as good, which doesn’t happen often.) However, we all know that trailers lie, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I did not expect to cry until I almost vomited. Seriously. This movie wrecked me. If you haven’t seen this, and you like to cry in movies as much as I do, you owe it to yourself to immediately stop reading this and rent it. Shoreh Aghdashloo was heartbreaking and I’ll watch her in anything she stars in, ever again, just based on this one movie alone. But Ben Kingsley was the one that did it. The scene where he’s chasing after the ambulance, screaming “I want only my son.” The scene where he’s praying in the hospital that he’ll do anything if God saves his son, he’ll give back the house, he’ll give away all that he owns, just please, only his son. I can bring myself to tears just repeating that to myself – “I want only my son. Please, I want only for my son.” And the scene where he tenderly kills his mourning wife, then himself, with the dignity of the soldier that he was – and his life flashing before his eyes as he struggles against his own instinct to keep the plastic bag over his head – ugh. Ben Kingsley won me over that year. I cried so hard I couldn’t see the screen. Just a brilliant, brilliant movie. I haven’t seen it since. I don’t want to. I’m afraid it won’t be as affecting and I want it to live up to the model of it I have in my head.
I couldn’t make it through this book. I own it and I keep telling myself, especially having seen the movie, that I’m going to try again, dammit, but I read the first chapter and the writing was just so dense that I couldn’t struggle through it. So I went into it knowing nothing more than the book was almost incomprehensible. This movie was just brilliant. The score, with the typing in the background. The lush colors. The romance. And then that ending. Oh, my, that ending. When you realize that Vanessa Redgrave is the little girl, and that she wrote a book to give her sister and the man both she and her sister loved the happy ending they deserved. I didn’t see that coming, and for once, I’m actually glad I didn’t read the book first, because you see Vanessa Redgrave, and her haircut, and that level gaze, and you realize who she is, and she starts talking, and you realize the typing in the soundtrack is because much of the movie is a fiction created as an atonement, and I cried. I UGLY cried. It was winter, and I cried into the hood of my jacket to muffle the noise. My jacket was wet when I left. It was like Alice, crying herself an actual river in Alice in Wonderland.
I actually went back to the theater to see this three times, I loved it so much. I’d read the novella it was based on and that was very affecting, and went in with high hopes, which were exceeded. I’m pretty sure everyone who watched this was equally affected. This is just a beautiful movie, through and through. The audiences clapped at the end of it – that doesn’t happen much in the movie theater anymore. Although my heart will always belong to Jake Gyllenhaal, the movie belonged to Heath Ledger. Ennis’s quiet suffering through the movie, his desperation, his pain – Heath Ledger deserved an award for this performance. It was so subtle and so nuanced that I think people may have missed some of it. That’s all I can fathom. It was a joy to watch. A bittersweet one, of course, but a joy nonetheless. And I cried from the first time they parted pretty much through the end of the movie, because it was just so real and so raw and there was just so much longing in it, and so much beauty and so much pain. It physically pains me to watch it now that Heath Ledger has died, seeing all of that wasted potential on screen.
Harry Potter, movies 3-7
I didn’t cry at first, but once movie three hit? I bawled all the way through. It was actually kind of embarrassing because there were a lot of kids in the theater who I’m pretty sure thought I was unhinged. I wasn’t crying because it was sad (well, there were sad parts, I suppose, and I did cry over those – the death of some characters, for example) but, especially as the series came to a close, because it was the end of an era, for both me and for the characters. I felt like I’d grown up with them and I’d never see them again, and that was enough to set me off. Add to that the entire Snape backstory in the final movie, which made me cry so hard the children in front of me stopped watching the movie and turned around to watch me, who apparently was more interesting to them than the action on the screen, and you have a series full of waterworks.
The World According to Garp
The book is a million times better. But the movie is quite good. I hadn’t read the book yet when I watched the movie as a college freshman, and it was actually the first time I can remember openly weeping in a movie and not being ashamed of it (as my friends were doing the same thing.) I dare you to watch the scene where Garp’s young son dies in a car crash without a tear in your eye. Or his mother dies. Or he himself is shot by a vengeful woman from his past, and as he dies, he realized he’s getting to do something he always wanted to do, and he tells his weeping wife, “Helen! I’m flying!” as his eyes close one last time. I don’t like much of Robin Williams now, but in dramas (I feel this way about a lot of comedians who have highly physical comedy, actually) he’s wonderful. This was the role of a lifetime for him. The book is better. Read the book. But watch the movie afterward. It’s worth it, I promise.
Shut up. Just shut up. That’s her FATHER up there. HER FATHER. That is sad. And I cry EVERY GODDAMN TIME. His last thoughts are of his daughter on a swing. That’s all he wants to think about as he dies. I have a father. Therefore, I cry and cry at that part. STOP JUDGING ME.
Comment if you have a movie that made you weep uncontrollably that you think I should see – I’m always up for a good cry!