As much as I love film, there are several reasons I do not like going to the cinema: overpriced tickets, uncomfortable seating, annoying patrons, and interminable previews that are much too loud. Yet there is a feeling I get when watching a movie on the big screen. It’s sort of ineffable, but I’ll try to explain. I feel as if I’m in kind of a meta-state of existence and I’m able to see the big picture (no pun intended) of, well, everything. This is especially so when viewing certain types of film. Bond movies, for instance, evoke a sense of lucid enormity, as if I’m floating above everything and suddenly I can think clearly and observe the world in perfect understanding. No, I do not drop acid before seeing a film. But it’s not just that. It’s not only this feeling of expansiveness and clarity; it’s something else as well. There is also this heady feeling of success, or potential success. And by that I mean personal success. Maybe it’s the content of the film –great wealth and the cosmopolitan lifestyle filled with all sorts of risks– that prompts such emotions.
I am overcome with this feeling also when I drive or fly home from a visit with my family. There is this overwhelming sense of potential, of great possibilities. The sad thing is, it fades as the miles pass. By the time I get home, the rush is gone and I generally do not act on the passing inspiration.
Here’s a clip from another Mike Leigh film, Secrets and Lies. Again, it was difficult to choose which scene to post here, but I think this one is pretty poignant. In case you have not seen the movie, here’s a brief setup:
The young woman’s adoptive parents passed away and she had recently become curious about her birth mother. After some brief counseling and lots of paperwork, she identifies the woman who gave birth to her some thirty years prior. She finally works up the courage to call Cynthia (Brenda Blethyn) and they agree to meet in a diner. Cynthia sees that the woman claiming to be her daughter is black and assumes it’s all a bad mistake.
You can take it from there. Watch this clip at least up to the 1:06 mark. And give that woman an Oscar!
David Lynch’s The Elephant Man is a beautiful film. It captures with grace, compassion and pathos the tortured life of Joseph (John) Merrick. There are a number of scenes throughout the film that are deeply moving, but the one below is my favorite. It’s not so much the things that John Merrick says, but the reaction of Dr. Treves’ wife. Just watch.
I thought about posting my top five favorite emotional movie scenes in one post, but I will post one at a time instead. This is probably my all-time favorite. It’s from Mike Leigh’s Life is Sweet starring Alison Steadman, Jane Horrocks, Jim Broadbent, and Timothy Spall. Unfortunately, this video begins in medias res, so if you want more scene context, watch the end of part 8, which is probably somewhere in the related links on YouTube. However, you’ll quickly get the gist of what’s going on in this scene. It runs up to the 3:32 mark.
This is some of the finest acting I’ve seen, and it’s heart-wrenching. Mum Wendy (Steadman) finally confronts her bitter and cynical daughter Nicola (Horrocks):