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Monday, June 29, 2009

Movies that Move You


So the other day I drove past the Hollywood Universalist Church on Franklin Blvd. in Hollywood and saw a sign describing upcoming sermons based on movies. I wish I could have slowed down to write down all the titles but we like me alive and with all limbs, right? The only one I remember is THE VISITOR. What a wonderful, appropriate idea.

I have read before that there are some therapists who use films as a form of therapy - an add-on if you will. A way for viewers/patients to connect with their deepest feelings through the emotionally and sensually immersive, transformative medium of film.

Recently, I (re)watched NORMA RAE and sure enough found myself reveling in the feeling that I was watching something important, something substantial, something that made me feel like a better person for having experienced it. I wanted to retroactively thank the DP, the writers and the director (Martin Ritt, who directed another favorite film of mine, THE FRONT, about the blacklist).

And Sally Field. I like her, I really like her. Jokes aside. It's a great performance. When the petite spitfire wrenches herself from the grasp of her burly escorts marching her out of the textile factory and instead climbs up on a machine and holds up the famous UNION sign, eyes round with determination, fear and an elegant sort of hopeful defeat...well...that's a movie moment you want to see, Wavers. It's transformative and beautiful and wrenching and glorious. And it makes you wish you had that much courage. And it reminds you that you do.

Not all movies hit that deep vein of emotion and catharsis for us and thank god, right? That would be a bit exhausting. Recently, I watched CLOVERFIELD and was thoroughly entertained (engrossed, really) and then promptly forgot about it until someone told me about the mysterious splash in the end. Movies are populist entertainment and the impact of film on a viewer can be anything from enormously cathartic to simple, gut-busting entertainment. But once in awhile, you see a movie that taps into that part of yourself that forgets anybody else is in the theater. Movies in which the main character is the person you wish you could be or someone you once were. Movies that tighten our throats with joy and appreciation and impact.

So I'm curious - what movies have you seen, Wavers, which left you flat on the seat, a puddle of cinemagasm and filmic adoration, wanting to write fan letters to every single name that flies by in the credits? What movie do you wish you had written that gave an audience member that same feeling?

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21 comments:

Papageiena said...

Every Pixar movie ever. My heart swelled when the balloons were unleashed in 'Up' and the last shot was perfection. I love my dark comedies and anti-heroes, but there is something wonderful about a movie that strives to make you happy. :)

Joshua James said...

The Wrestler made me feel like that. For real, it wrecked me.

Another film that did it for me was ONCE, which just truly moved me for days and days afterward.

Big movies, THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS wipes me out every time I see it, and I can't watch GOOD WILL HUNTING without getting messed up (I know people dump on that flick, but it works) at the end.

I gotta go see about a girl ...

Angela said...

I really couldn't relate to any of the characters, but "Lars and the Real Girl" really moved me. In our cynical world, it was refreshing to me to see a story where an entire town came together and accept a character's absolutely bonkers "reality" and come together in support of him. I was very touched and it refreshed my waning hope for humanity...some people out there really are still that kind and compassionate.

Chaia Milstein said...

You know, for all my love of the contemporary American dude comedy (40 YEAR-OLD VIRGIN, WEDDING CRASHERS, KNOCKED UP, HAROLD & KUMAR, THE HANGOVER, etc. etc.) and the contemporary American comedy in general (WET HOT AMERICAN SUMMER, GHOSTBUSTERS, FLETCH, CLUE, etc. etc.), SULLIVAN'S TRAVELS just really, really does it for me.

joeverkill said...

Mine is Gattaca, written and directed by Andrew Niccol and starring Ethan Hawke, Jude Law, and Uma Thurman. An amazing film, and an underappreciated one as well. But for whatever reason the message and the way it is presented strike me in some indescribably real way.

Julie Gray said...

@Papageiena - I agree about movies that strive to make you happy. I grin like a FOOL whenever I watch Singin' in the Rain! Or - The King and I. Wuh oh, my love of MGM musicals is gonna show in a minute.... :)

Nicholas said...

Slumdog Millionaire. I rode a high from that movie for at least a week after I saw it.

Jordan said...

Wall-E. I felt like I was on the verge of crying for most of the movie! LOL

Michael Brownlee said...

Aronosky's THE FOUNTAIN left me sitting in the theater long after the lights came back up. The soundtrack is the most listened to music on my iPod.

NOBODY'S FOOL is, for me, the greatest Paul Newman movie. Even Melanie Griffith and Bruce Willis can't wreck it.

@Josh - Amen on ONCE. I would love to be able to throw back my head and sing with such abandon.

@Joeverkill - Love GATTACA. That scene in the ocean with them swimming - "I never saved anything for the swim back." - Damn.

Christian M. Howell said...

WALL-E. I hate that it's the best love story ever and it had two robots, but I just love that movie.

My most guilty pleasure would have to be "Death To Smoochy."

In terms of drama I'd have say "The Jane Austen Book Club." It's not a tear jerker or anything but it does star all women - a plus for any movie.

Trina0623 said...

I also was very moved by "Once" and every time I hear that song it just freezes me for a moment.

"The Wrestler" was another one -- truly wrecked me too. For days. I think it even made its way into my dreams.

I love comedies as well and I think they move us in a different way. We saw "The Hangover" weeks ago and sometimes still remember a scene or line and laugh again. We might even launch into "Remember when they ..." That is something special too.

Vic said...

Rudy, Dead Poets Society, The Shawshank Redemption, Calendar Girls, Harold and Maude... I could go on and on. One thing I just noticed - these films are old. Where are the new films that fill us with emotion? I was also knocked out by Once.

Kristy @ MSP said...

Match Point. Taking a metphor such as a tennis ball hitting the net and turning it into the basis for the ending as Woody Allen did is great. Makes ya think.

Joe Public said...

A friend handed me "The Joy Luck Club."

I thank God Almighty I watched it alone.

Lisa said...

I am mostly moved by pics focusing on the dynamics of family and sibling rivalry...
The Family Stone
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (stage play)
Home for the Holidays
Ordinary People
Dan in Real Life
The Savages
Lars and the Real Girl
Slums of Beverly Hills

More generally, if there's a protagonist that gets in there and kicks some ass against all odds, you've probably got me...Up was fantastic...the symbolism alone was intense...I choked on my lunch during the first act...we all feel like Carl lugging that house around sometimes...

And ONCE is probably the most inspiring film ever. Loved it.

DougJ said...

KING OF THE HILL, based on A.E. Hotchner's memoir. The story is sad yet uplifting and it makes me wish that I had as much character when I was a kid.

Sadly it's not available on DVD in the U.S.

Stan said...

For me, it's "Fiber: The Movie". Always works, never fails. Just kidding. Actually, Brokedown Palace & Return to Paradise. Heaven and Earth. Closet Land. Alan Rickman makes his own performance of Hans look like Bruce Willis' portrayal of McClane in the original and every Die Hard movie thereafter. Puts it to shame. Heck, even "the Notebook" got me where it counts. And there are so many others. Last but certainly not least, and it may sound silly, but "Red Dawn". Patrick Swayze and Charlie Sheen's finest work. The 'dying brothers scene' at the end. If that doesn't get you--you don't have a heart!

Hel said...

The Passion of Joan of Arc
City Lights
Shoe-Shine
Germany Year Zero
The Searchers
Nights of Cabiria
Mouchette
La Jetee
Soy Cuba
Stroszek
Road
Dead Poets Society
Hana-Bi
Breaking The Waves
Fresh
Immortal Beloved
Forrest Gump
Dancer In The Dark
I Stand Alone
Saving Private Ryan
La Commune
Good Will Hunting
Libertarias
Irreversible
Inland Empire
Into the Wild

And an unproduced screenplay that might fit into this category is Memoirs (and maybe The Oranges). But who knows how the film will turn out.

Hard Boiled Mysti said...

Brick stunned me. The writer/director captured my darkest feelings about Southern California on film, used dialog and story structure in an interesting way, and made me *care* about troubled, difficult characters.

Iron Giant, for its deep heart and simplicity (story & animation).

Every day would be a different answer though ;)

Hard Boiled Mysti said...

Oh! Oh! Truly, Madly, Deeply. I thought I'd never stop crying.

still have a crush on Rickman from that film.

mike dickens said...

Hotel Rwanda left me dizzy and deeply saddened. i haven't watched it since because i don't want to be taken back to that feeling.

there are few movies i've related to as well as i did to Garden State.

Closer slays me every time i see it. the power in the conversations is cringe-worthy.

Before Sunrise/Before Sunset is a series i think about weekly. the connection between them is intense and balanced and angular. i love every minute of both movies.