Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Movie moments that make me cry

For those who know me, it will come as no surprise that I am very opinionated when it comes to things that I like or don't like. This is especially true when it comes to movies, television, or theatre. It basically stems from a weird cost-benefit scale: the amount of money that is spent on a production combined with the amount of money I have to spend to watch this production is proportional to how much I should expect to enjoy said production. I'll come up with the exact mathematical equation some time later, but the gist of it is this: if it's expensive, it better be good.
So if a movie or play has a high budget and sucks, it hurts me as an audience member, because I feel I've been cheated. Examples of this include: Pearl Harbor, Rush Hour 2, and Batman and Robin (and I saw that for free). Of course, a movie doesn't have to have a high budget and great effects to move me. It certainly helps, but it's not necessary.But when it comes to making me cry, it's got to be really powerful. Perhaps it's because I'm having my first child any day now, but I'm compelled to write this. The following is a list of movie moments where I always, always tear up. NOT on the list is anything from Beaches, The Notebook, or any Nora Ephron movie.

In no particular order:

E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial. There are two moments in this movie that make me tear up. The first is the speech that Elliot gives over E.T.'s frozen body that culminates with, "E.T., I love you." The second is at the end of the movie, when E.T. and Elliot say good-bye to each other and E.T. points to his heart and says, "Ouch."

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. Another movie with two moments. Both occur at the end of the movie, and they cannot be truly appreciated unless you have watched the previous nine-hour adventure. The first moment occurs after Aragorn receives his coronation and stops the four Hobbits from bowing with, "My friends! You bow to no one." And he and the entire population of Minas Tirith kneel before the Hobbits. The second occurs shortly thereafter, when Sam, with courage and confidence, leaves his friends at the drinking table to go talk to Rosie Cotton, cutting to their kiss at their wedding.

The Joy Luck Club. We've seen Ying-Ying's story, a sad one of how she had to drown her newborn son because it was the only way for her to escape a horribly abusive relationship. Flash-forward to years later, when her daughter, Lena, is in a safe yet passionless marriage in a "lopsided" house. After years of self-imposed emotional dormancy, Ying-Ying narrates how she will confront her daughter "like a tiger in the trees, now ready to leap out and cut her spirit loose." When she does confront Lena, Ying-Ying instructs her that if she wants "respect" and "tenderness" from her husband, then Lena should leave, and "not come back until he give you those things, with both hands open."

It's a Wonderful Life. Of course, it's when George receives donation after donation from all of the people he's touched and helped over the years, including his romantic rival Sam Wainwright who cabled money from England, and ending with the arrival of his younger brother in uniform, the war hero whom George saved when he was a little boy.

Rent. I don't particularly like the characters in Rent, but Jesse L. Martin's performance as Tom Collins at Angel's funeral singing the reprise of "I'll Cover You" (which, in my opinion, is one of the best love songs ever written) works every time.

Frequency. Frank Sullivan appears out of the shadows to kill his son John's would-be murderer, miraculously still alive thanks to John's warnings of death by fire and later by lung cancer. "I'm still here, Chief."

Field of Dreams. "Hey, Dad. You wanna have a catch?" And I hate baseball.

Schindler's List. Oskar Schindler is about to leave the Jewish workers he saved from extermination when he drops the ring they made for him. Schindler drops to his knees immediately to retrieve the only memento he could ever receive.

Finding Nemo. Marlin holds the unconcious body of his son and he briefly flashes to the memory of holding Nemo as his only survivng egg.

Saving Private Ryan. At the end, we see James Ryan at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial, now a grandfather, asking his wife, "Tell me I've led a good life...Tell me I'm a good man."

And last, but not least:

Predator. There are so many moments, from the time Dutch and Dillon arm wrestle to when Blain gets his chest blown away to the montage of Dutch getting ready for the final battle. OK, I'm kidding, but after getting emotional just writing this entry, I needed some levity!

Feel free to add your own moments, but try not to put "Bambi's mother getting shot," "Simba trying to wake Mufasa," "the destruction of Old Yeller," or anything involving pets, terminal illnesses, or pets with terminal illnesses. It's too easy.