I am Failing to Break Your Heart
Kriston and I took a breather from our hard-living, jet-setting lifestyle this weekend to rent a bevy of movies, about which I have a few pertinent, and many impertinent, comments.
We rented Disc 1 of the Freaks and Geeks oeuvre, which I highly recommend to all of you, because if you are reading this, odds are statistically 100% that you fell into one of the two categories in high school and thus could purge some bad memories by watching this fine show.
I also rented In America, which I have wanted to see for some time, having a soft spot as I do for Irish immigrants. It wasn't bad - not overly maudlin or saccharine as it very easily could have been. The worst you can say is it was completely predictable.
We also finally rented Cold Mountain, haver of many stars, and beneficiary of many adulations. I was sorely disappointed by this particular flick - not that it was so bad, but it had such high praise that I feel was a bit unearned. And I say this as a devout disciple of the Holy Church of Nicole.
I hate when movies condescend, and this one decided to take a particular gamble that didn't pay off in spades. Specifically, they were banking on the fact that I'd be so distracted by Jude Law's gorgeousness, that I wouldn't notice the shoddy story editing, and the lazy inattention to any sort of character develoment. Not a bad gamble, because the gorgeousness is a formidable force, but the English Major in me had a permanent raised eyebrow when confronted with a protaganist who was the Strong Silent Country Boy Who Was Kind to Animals and Loyal to His Woman (and asexual to a truly alarming degree! I'm sorry, but when you haven't had any relief for 3 years, and Natalie Portman beckons you to her boudoir, you don't say "no" out of loyalty to some woman you spoke with like 3 times and made goo-goo eyes at, I don't care if it is Our Lady of the Kidman. Because if you do, you seriously missed a chance to appear like an ACTUAL HUMAN BEING with, you know, failings and desires and all that muck.)
Really, they could have taken a page out of Wilco's book and just named the film "I am Trying to Break Your Heart." When the violin strings swell and the bottom lips flutter, and the hero and heroine are reunited 30 minutes before the end of the movie, and they vow eternal love and walk away with an off-handed, "I'll see you tonight," I know perfectly well what will happen, and I instantly steel my sentiment against this ham-handed attempt to make me sniffle. Movies like that never get a drop from my eye, because that emotional manipulation just makes me angry and annoyed. Show me Beaches all you want, toss Terms of Endearment in my face, oh and just TRY plugging in City of Angels, and you'll get nothing but snide remarks and scoffing.
I tried to remember what movies have caused me to really cry. Not just a sniffle and a dewy eye, but really truly, honest-to-god, nose-honking boo-hoos. I can't think of them all, but there are 3 that stand out.
First, and let's just get it out of the way, because it complete contradicts all my sophisticated posturing in the preceding paragraph. I cried at Armageddon. No, I wept. I like to think that this unexpected cry-fest caught me off-guard because I came into the movie with such cynicism and such scoffing, that the slightest pierce in my armor ("Daddy!" says Liv) caused me to lose it. But really, I think it's because I was in the theater escaping second-degree burns from spending 3 days on the beach without sunscreen and I was just hysterical with pain.
Next - a Russian film called "The Thief." It's a gorgeous movie, and would have won the Best Foreign Film Oscar if it hadn't been up against "Life is Beautiful" that year. It's a Stalin-era flick, and there's this absolutely heartbreaking scene where the men who've been shipped off to Siberian prison camps are being transported from one camp to another. They have to run, one-by-one, from the prison gates into the back of the transport vehicle, while fanged guard dogs chase at their heels. The women - the mothers and sisters and daughters - are gathered in a crowd because it's their only chance to see their men. As one runs by, a woman will recognize him and scream, "Sasha! Yana had a baby! Boy!" then another will run by and a woman will yell "Kostya, Kostya! Your father has died!" One of the men stops when he hears the news, and the dogs are upon him. The scene was such a wretched example of humanity trying to persist in the most brutal conditions, in the most unforgiving environment; it was unexpected, and it rang true, and it was devastating. That was worth a good, hard cry.
Finally. A Leage of Their Own. Don't even make me tell you which scene, because you know which one, and I know all of you cried too. Oh my God. That telegram. That long walk down the benches. War is Hell!!!