The Green Mile (Darabont, 1999)

The Green Mile Poster

“I have no illusions of immortality, but I will have wished for death… long before death finds me.”  The Green Mile is no ordinary film. It touches upon comedy, drama and most specially, the act of God. John Coffey (played by Michael Clarke Duncan) is a big, black man on death row in the 1930’s, yet he has a child-like personality. As black people still wasn’t appreciated, obviously the film has to have a prison guard who acts like Coffey is worse than dirt beneath his feet: Percy (played by Doug Hutchinson). As much as want to hit him through the screen as he is clearly not educated enough to work on Death Row, we cannot but eventually we know he gets his well-deserved comeuppance. Even then, John still has the faith in mankind to help those who are are hurting, whether physically or mentally.

Emotions running high

Emotions running high

“We found each other. We found each other in the dark.” It is always the end scene that can make or break a film. There is nothing worse than watching an entire film and the ending being so poor, you wished you never saw it. The Green Mile doesn’t exactly have a happy ending, more of a situation that has to be wrapped up and couldn’t be handled in any other way. We sympathise with Paul (played by Tom Hanks) as he has to make a decision that affects him in more ways than he imagined. The close-up shots of all the prison guards, especially Paul & John Coffey are just perfect, seeing so much emotion (in some cases, tears) from men will get some type of reaction from even the hardest of person. They understand that they are condemning an innocent guy to die, but it is their job at the end of the day. They have no say in who gets to die or not.

189 minutes of a powerful script that gains new followers every day. “Why did I kill one of his true miracles?” Trust me; everyone is wondering this thought by Paul by the end of The Green Mile.

Blue Valentine ( Cianfrance, 2010)

Blue Valentine Poster

“What do you think about love at first sight?” Whenever this line is uttered through a film, a cringe/shudder is often seen upon at least one person’s face when in a cinema. Most likely, it’s followed by a cringe-worthy showing where you know that there is going to be a happily ever after, the same ending in the majority of romance films. Not ‘Blue Valentine.’ Blue Valentine has a dramatic ending which shows what love is actually like, not Disney’s version. We get to see the hardship of Dean (played by Ryan Gosling) and Cindy’s (played by Michelle Williams) relationship from when they were young, up till the present. The flashbacks show the true state of how they got together and how their feelings have seemed to change for the worst through no fault of their own.

End Scene: Dean crying

End Scene: Dean crying

“How can you trust your feelings when they can just disappear like that?” Seeing a man cry is the ultimate test in a relationship. The audience is for once, made to feel for Dean as he has the bad end in the relationship. Short of being cheated on, he has to suffer through Cindy’s “bi-polar” tendencies, her dysfunctional family life with her parents from when she was younger and a child who he adores. Even though there isn’t someone talking every minute, the sounds of nature are always apparent. Whether it is the leaves rustling, the wind, or the heavy sounds of water pelting down in the shower; it adds a sense of realism to the entire film. We are forever wondering why Dean puts up with Cindy especially as it seems like she doesn’t appreciate him for what he is worth. She is always saying that he needs to get an actual job, rather than just helping to fix up people’s houses which he enjoys.

Dean

Dean

“Tell me how I should be. Just tell me. I’ll do it.” Throughout the whole film the audience sympathises with Dean as the love he has for Cindy is so powerful that it is too overwhelming. Cindy has never felt such a selfless feeling for such a long period of time that she somehow manages to turn it into hatred on her side. Frankie (played by Faith Wladyka) seems to have grown up in the environment where Dean is the playful, attentive dad and Cindy is the strict mother. By the end of the film, we see the break-up of what was once a blooming relationship and how the implications affect not just those two, but Frankie as well. The contrast of the fireworks which usually represents happy times seems out of place but somehow suits the scene as nothing is right with their marriage. The most shocking visual element however is the transformation of Dean from a dashing young man to an old-before-his-time man in the space of 3 years. Combined with the sharp, bright colours of the flashbacks and the dimmer, darker tones of the present, Blue Valentine is a feast for the eyes.

“Blue Valentine” tears up previous notions of how relationships are seen through the eyes of the media. “I think men are more romantic than women.” An 112 minutes of intense viewing that will leave you wondering whether you actually want to be in a relationship filled with violent longing & pain.

Dirty Dancing (Ardolino, 1986)

                                                                                         

“Nobody puts Baby in the corner.” The iconic line from one of the cheesiest dancing films made before Mamma Mia. Everyone knows that Dirty Dancing is the movie you put on when it’s a cold night and you want a film to make you laugh and get up to join along with some of the dance moves. Sadly, no tears are shed by Johnny (played by Patrick Swayze) as he falls in love with ‘Baby’ (played by Jennifer Grey) and realises his true potential and that there is someone out there who loves him for who he is: a summer dance instructor. If there was ever an ACTUAL sequel, not Dirty Dancing 2, maybe tears may arise then when he realises that it was just a summer romance and true love doesn’t conquer all.

“Go back to your playpen, Baby. ” Emile Ardolino has directed a good film in which you feel like you too are experiencing a summer romance and rebelling against Mommy and Daddy wishes. Baby is always wearing dresses in pastel colours and doesn’t seem to be noticed by her own generation to Johnny, who has the ever classic bad-boy persona who parents on a whole just seem to instantly dislike, seems to be an accurate portrayal of upper-class Americans in the 60’s. Near tears do come from Baby’s dad as he realises that his youngest daughter is growing up, falling in love and having a mind of her own. The POV shot where Baby sees “dirty dancing” for the first time as the camera focuses on couples around the room and the reaction shot that follows has to be the one of the best scenes shot throughout the film. We can literally feel Baby’s’ disgust and awkwardness as she wonders how much she has been missing out on life.

If anything is taken away from this film, let it be that we do not see a male actually cry. Dirty Dancing is a good film to watch with the girls or your boyfriend if you manage to persuade him as a smile is always guaranteed at the end.

Man On Fire (Scott, 2004)

  

“I love you, Creasy. And you love me too, don’t you?”  The words from a nine-year-old girl who ends up protecting a bodyguard – opposite roles surprisingly. Man on Fire is not your typical action/thriller movie where all the bad guys die for kidnapping a child & justice is served. The added touch to this is quite simple: Creasy (played by Denzel Washington) sheds a single tear that just brings the film to full circle. That lonesome tear speaks much louder than words. Some may go into depth explaining the full meaning, saying it represents Creasy finally opening up his soul to Pita (played by Dakota Fanning) or that he finally understands the true meaning of love. Maybe it is, maybe isn’t. I just think finally a guy is crying. It isn’t often you see a guy crying in a romance film, let along an action film. Usually they have to uphold their manliness, be the tough guy who ends up getting cried ON, not being the crier.

“Creasy’s art is death. He’s about to paint his masterpiece.” Tony Scott has managed to somehow create a dark, gritty atmosphere without overdoing it and turning the film into a predictable horror. There are many violent scenes with blood spurting out of cut-off fingers, car crashes, men being tortured practically to death. Scott has managed to slot these scenes in with many close-up shots at a choppy pace, in which I think keeps the audience in tune with what is being played on the screen. Many films have been switched off or fell asleep on because the pace is too slow, or too fast in which the audience cannot comprehend what is taking place. Too many close-up shots of eyes & mouths has been said to downgrade a film but technically, it showcases the skill of both the director & cameraman.

“Forgiveness is between them & God. It’s my job to arrange the meeting.” Personally, I think it is the music that gives Man on Fire a kickstart to your emotions. It heightens them, leaving you a little bit drained at the end of the viewing: drained, but still a sense of accomplishment remains. It propels the story forward.  Some may say that when a film is longer than 2 hours it seems to drag on, Man on Fire hits the right timeframe as there is never a point which leaves you thinking: ‘oh, I want it to end here.” This is by far one of my favourite films as every showing uncovers something I didn’t see in the first viewing. Both Denzel Washington and Dakota Fanning gives a performance of their lives which moves me in many emotional ways.

Teaching

Teaching

“She showed him it was alright to live again.” Happy endings. Most Hollywood films nowadays have to have a happy ending where everything is resolved & people go back to their normal original lives before any drama happened. Not Man on Fire. The kidnapping is resolved but not everyone goes back to their average lives: not Creasy, not Pita. The man who has shed the tear is the last scene literally has protected Pita with his life. In which he should as Pita was, let’s be fair: ‘his shining light throughout the darkness of his soul’. Best displayed in the scene where the bullet failed to put Creasy out of his misery and while he is outside in the rain, Pita is seen in the window of her bedroom with the light streaming out behind her. She is the hope that saves him and gives him the will to live to live another day.

A good film is hard to find in where the main male protagonist cries. Man on Fire definitely achieves that while giving the viewer a filled 146 minutes of action with a tinge of emotion.