Well, I had a thoroughly awful so-called-festive-my-arse period, thankyou very much. Yes, there’s nothing quite like crying and pleading with your cat to get better and knowing all the time that it’s not happening and watching as he loses his appetite, then his bowel control, then the use of his back legs; staring into his eyes as he stares vacantly back, and reluctantly calling the vet to do what you know has to be done, you know is the best thing for him, and you know you’re going to beat yourself up about for days afterwards convincing yourself you killed him. I’d recommend that experience to anyone.
Still, how are you?
But enough of the depressing reality of the past few weeks; we have the depressing fantasy of the future to look forward to and what could start the year after a loved pet’s death better than a quick rundown of movies almost very nearly guaranteed to make you cry? Or me cry, to be more accurate. Yes, I’m a man but I’ve got tearducts and I’m not afraid to use them. But wait! There’s more! For added bonus gratis entertainment why not try some of the movie trivia questions I’ve dotted around this post as well? That’s a $29.99 value extra absolutely free!
Star Trek 2: The Wrath Of Khan
Widely regarded by me (as I’m fairly wide (but New Year’s Resolution etc.)) as the best Star Trek movie thanks to its perfect mix of action, humour, plus-four trousers, Kirstie Alley quotient, A Flock Of Seagulls turbolift music, and baddie who looks like Zelda from Terrahawks, this particular big screen outing from the cast of the original Star Trek series sees Captain Kirk realise that actions have consequences in the form of a son via promiscuous sexual naughtiness who doesn’t know him and a once-beaten foe who’ll stop at nothing to wreak his (w)revenge in a wrathful way.
The film throws death and despair our way at several opportunities but many miss the mark of hitting the heartstrings and instead impact harmlessly on the top edge of the colon. For example, the silver-suited burns victim who "stayed at his post while the trainees ran" could have presented the now also-dead James Doohan (Oh God! Why do the obese die so young! Curse you God!) with a great opportunity to invoke torrents of grief but the fact that the engineering chief thought that carrying a crispy and bloody mess to the bridge was a better idea than taking him straight to see the doctor or Major Maudlin in charge of the makeshift morgue more-or-less ruins the moment. Uhura’s diagnosis of ear cancer two scenes later is ruined by Sulu pulling faces in the background too.
The climax of the film, though, produces a truly emotional experience during a moment between the truly unemotional Mr Spock and the surprisingly well-acted-for-a-second Captain Kirk. No, it’s not the bit where the blinded Spock walks into the perspex and you can see his nose bend sideways although that is rumoured to make Barbra Streisand bawl uncontrollably. It’s one word, uttered by William Shatner after Spock has finally slid to the ground and stopped: "no". Gets me every. Single. Time. The touching scene is sadly ruined seconds later by the bloody bagpipes at the nice Christian send-off for Mr Spock which you would have hoped would have been hit by at least one photon torpedo in the battle. Two for good measure.
Trivia Question 1: Everyone knows that Khan’s relationship to Kirk in Star Trek 2 and Picard’s relationship to the Borg in Star Trek: First Contact borrow and quote heavily from the classic work of boredom "Moby Dick" by Herman Melville, but which Star Trek movie is based on "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" by Eric Carle?
Matthew Broderick is famous for a number of things – playing global thermonuclear war, Ferris Bueller, amazing ability to drive rented cars in Northern Ireland, really, really tiny wife Sarah Jessica Parker – and you can now see him at the cinema or on DVD in yet another pointless remake of a classic film, The Producers. But in 1989 he appeared in the American Civil War movie, Glory.
A film about the warlike nature of Americans is always going to be emotional and this is no exception. Broderick leads the North’s first all-black unit against the South and faces up to racism on both sides in the war. Eventually they are able to overcome the prejudices of their own people by volunteering to soak up all the ammunition the hirsute Southern army has to offer in a suicidal beach assault to rousing cheers.
As emotional as the final scene is, wherein you see every single person you’ve been following in the movie get shot to pieces, the real kick-in-the-stomach, eye-watering, lip-quivering moment of the film occurs a little before when the flock, sitting around a fire, take turns at singing and praying. Led by Morgan Freeman it is, nevertheless, Denzel Washington (playing Denzel Washington) who delivers the blubber-inducing statement that "Y’all’s the onlyest family I got. I love the 54th." Such terrible grammar always sets me off.
Trivia Question 2: The film version of the cartoon Inspector Gadget, starring Matthew Broderick, was rated PG and not R thanks to some last minute editing to remove the scene starting with the words "Go Go Gadget …" what?
A film about a simple-minded country boy (Jon Voight) who moves to the city to become a male prostitute and ends up befriending a crippled con artist (Dustin Hoffman) after a series of degrading experiences? See, now that’s the sort of original storylining we don’t see these days. There are moments of laughter and moments of ickiness but as the bad living environment starts to affect the sick condition of Hoffman’s character ‘Ratso’ Rizzo we see his gigolo room-mate Joe Buck do all he can to make his friend’s dream come true and save up enough money so they can move to the warmth and healing properties of Florida. Obviously, this is pre-Jeb Bush-era Florida.
As the bus reaches the Sunshine State we see Rizzo’s crumpled body which has died on the bus trip being cuddled by his friend Joe. With such an upbeat ending to a film you simply can’t help but whip out the tissues and pretend a flock of moths have flown under your eyelids in case anyone thinks you’re a girl.
Trivia Question 3: Jon Voight’s daughter Angelina Jolie gets her good looks from her part-Native American mother Marcheline Bertrand but where does she get off by not even acknowledging the series of undraped photos I sent her? What’s wrong with that woman?
Watership Down – based on the book by Richard Adams – is a cartoon about rabbits looking for a new home and is packed full of religious imagery from visions of impending death to visions that lead to amazing rescues from impending death. The life of a rabbit is packed to the brim with impending death.
As the story progresses we learn to love these rabbit pioneers as they tackle the dangers of dogs, traffic, birds of prey, myxomatosis, a foul-mouthed German gull, and another flock of rabbits run in a military fashion by the vicious General Woundwort. The film and book finish with a great battle between our merry rabbit heroes and Woundwort’s stormtroopers. Our heroes win. What a great ending!
At least, that’s where the film and book should end. Unfortunately, at the time he wrote the story’s finale Richard Adams had his greenhouse smashed by some young hooligans down the road. As vengeance against all children and people of an emotional disposition he then added in the extra special "that’s far too open-ended. I know, let’s fast forward a few years and describe Hazel lying on the hillside and then dying. That’ll tie up some loose ends or something" ending. Thanks Dick.
Trivia Question 4: Watership Down theme music singer Art Garfunkel’s hairstyle was copied by Sean Penn for his role in the movie Carlito’s Way. Discuss.
I’m open to any other tearjerking suggestions.