Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Ultimate Christmas Crying List

Some of us are criers. Some of us can’t look at firework spectaculars or watch old people dance without getting choked up. You know what I mean.  Like how when you were in middle school and you would invite all your friends over to watch Steel Magnolias and then you would compete to see who could cry the hardest? No? Just me-ok. The Greeks had a word for this vicarious getting out of your ya-yas: catharsis. The side benefits of this emotional outpouring are numerous. For example, to this very day, I can recite (verbatim) Sally Field’s cemetery monologue, complete with hand gestures and accent. But, more than that, catharsis allows the audience to express, embrace, and release emotion.

Now, where does Christmas come in? Well, this year I have been struggling to find the holiday spirit and this is pretty unusual for me. In fact, lately I’ve been more than a little Scrooge-esque.  So, I am going on a self-imposed crash diet of Christmas catharsis. I am going to re-watch every holiday film that has ever made me cry. If you are likewise struggling to get in the spirit of the season, I strongly recommend the following "So it's the Holidays and I Need to Cry” List.

Sob Inducing Scene #1
Directed by George Seton
Santa Claus (as played by the superb Edmund Gwynn) shows the true magic of Christmas when he is able to communicate with a Dutch orphan. The look on the little girl’s face and then her adoptive mother’s face...Let’s simplify this equation: 
Holocaust survivor + Santa Clause = How am I even typing this I’m crying so hard

Sob Inducing Scene #2
Directed by Henry Koster
Cary Grant plays an angel, sent from heaven, to help a bishop (David Niven) realize that instead of building a big, ol’ honking cathedral, he should just focus on the people in his life. Loretta Young plays the, you guessed it, bishop’s wife.  In this scene, angel and wife visit the bishop’s old parish to watch a performance by a group of intercity choir boys. I love how Cary-angel knows everyone’s names, directs musical traffic, and is so gosh darn charming. The moment where the boys rise angelically- cue the musically timed tears.

Sob Inducing Scene #3
Directed by Michael Curtiz
"What do you do with a general, when he stops being a general?" I love this movie. I have loved White Christmas forever. I love the singing, the dancing, the costumes, Bing Crosby's ears, and Danny Kaye's infectious giggle, but most of all I love Dean Jagger's portrayal of General Waverly. Without him, this movie just wouldn't work. He is the heart of the film. Make sure to also watch the ending scene which parallels this one. You will cry.

Sob Inducing Scene #4
Directed by Brian Henson
It's no secret that I love everything having to do with the Muppets and Michael Caine (aka the best Ebenezer Scrooge ever). But, this next film is more than just muppetry or men with British accents. Jim Henson (the creator of the Muppets) died shortly before the movie was made and many believed, at the time, that his death also marked the end of the Muppets. Muppet Christmas Carol isn't just a beautiful tribute to Jim Henson, it is also proof that what he created would carry on. His son Brian actually directed this film and I can't help but feel that it truly is a love letter to his father.

Sob Inducing Scene #5
Directed by Vincente Minnelli
Meet Me in St. Louis is not only one of the greatest Christmas movies ever made, it is also one of the greatest movies ever made- period! In this scene, Esther Smith (Judy Garland) is explaining to her younger sister Tootie (Margaret O'Brien) that although they have to move they will still be together. Recognize the song? This film also debuted the song "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas." Originally, the lyrics were so depressing that Garland refused to sing them to sweet little Margaret O'Brien. Words were changed and now here we have one of the sweetest scenes ever captured on film.

Sob Inducing Scene #6
Directed by Frank Capra 
One of my biggest pet peeves is when people say that they hate a movie that they've never really seen. There are so many people who make fun of this film for being corny, sappy, and yes even schmaltzy. But, this film is nothing short of miraculous in my eyes. It was not a big hit upon its initial release. People went into theaters expecting slapstick and what they got was a man contemplating suicide. This movie is funny and sad, silly and serious, because guess what- that's what life is actually like. The final scene where George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart) decides he wants to live and then that bell rings...all I can say is happy Catharsis Christmas everyone!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Being a person...

        And then one day you’ll decide to be a person...
Not a model
Not a face
Not a quote
Not a catchphrase
Not a relationship
Not a shoe size
Not a measurement
Not a GPA
Not a haircut
Not a status update
Not a picture
Not a dream job
Not a house
Not a formula
Not an everyone
       And that is a good day-