Tuesday, January 4, 2011

So good I could cry


So my wife and I were stuck at home for New Year's Eve, which should not be much of a surprise, considering that we have a four-month-old son. In our five previous New Year's Eves together, we've been pretty active on the night of December 31st, so we wanted to at least create a special experience in our home. We went out for some appetizers and a cocktail at a fancy hotel restaurant earlier in the evening, before our son's bedtime, and then I made a prosciutto pasta dish that's a favorite of ours, with some homemade Caesar's salad that just didn't turn out quite right. We then wanted a movie to take us up to the hour before midnight.

My wife came up with the idea: Run Lola Run. The countdown theme -- Manni and Lola counting down to 12 noon, us counting down to 12 midnight -- was only part of her inspiration. We'd been talking about re-watching Run Lola Run for a long time, now that I'd gotten the disc back from a friend who'd borrowed it. Plus, we figured the up-tempo techno music would keep us awake until midnight, even though the wine we'd consumed had the opposite agenda.

My only concern was, I didn't know if I wanted to get all weepy on New Year's Eve.

See, Run Lola Run makes me cry. Maybe not cry proper, but it definitely makes my upper cheeks feel like a dam working overtime to stem the flood.

I first discovered this on my last screening, which was probably something like eight years ago. (Has it been that long?) Several times in the narrative, I felt the welling up of emotion you usually associate with the end of a good tear-jerker.

But it wasn't the times you might think, like (SPOILER ALERT) when Lola gets shot at the end of the first act, or when Manni gets hit by an ambulance at the end of the second. No, I feel like I want to cry simply because this movie is so awesome.

Do you ever get that? Do you ever love a movie so much that you feel like you want to cry when you're watching it?

It's Tom Tykwer's filmmaking techniques, combined with the score he helped compose (with buddies Johnny Klimek and Reinhold Heil), that really "get me." I am naturally a fan of techno music, so when you hear the opening strains of the soundtrack and see that gargoyle pendulum swinging back and forth, you know you're in for something special. That's the first time I have to start suppressing in order to keep it together. Then the pendulum stops, and you travel through the face of the clock. Following this is the opening narration on fate, and the bustling crowd with its occasional spotlighting of characters we are just about to meet. When the bank guard kicks the soccer ball straight up in the air, and the camera follows it, ultimately to look back down on the crowd forming the words LOLA RENNT (the film's actual German title) -- whoa. The outside-the-box thinking only continues with the listing of the cast, who appear next to character mug shots, accompanied by the clanking sounds of prison doors.

This whole time I'm suppressing, mind you.

The next touch-and-go moment comes when Lola hangs up with Manni and tries to think of all the people who could help her score 100,000 marks in the next 20 minutes. "Wer? Wer? Wer? Wer?" Lola asks herself -- "Who? Who? Who? Who?" -- in rapid-fire succession as we get a collage of close-ups of her addled face. We see images of her various acquaintances, as she runs through them, whispering their names as she slowly starts to focus in on the most likely candidate to help her. "Papa" she narrows it down to, and runs off. Her father looks to the left, in the direction she just departed, and shakes his head. This ain't going to turn out well.

Oh shit. Talk amongst yourselves.

Moment of near blubbering #3: Lola runs past a woman pushing a baby in a stroller, who curses her for their near miss. Cue the sound of a Polaroid camera warming up, and then cue a dozen quick photos of where this woman's life will go after her brush with Lola. It ends up with her losing her baby and stealing another person's baby from an unattended carriage. I remember that when I saw this for the first time, my mind was blown.

There may be a couple other moments, but those are the ones that stand out for their impact on me -- for the kind of outside-the-box filmmaking that Tykwer introduced us to with this brilliant film.

I held it together during my New Year's Eve viewing -- but just barely. If I hadn't wanted to, that would have been fine too. My wife knows I love the movie, and I've told her that its sheer awesomeness makes me emotional. She thinks that's cute.

I love it when a film touches me, and I like to go with it. But usually, it's that scene in The Sixth Sense where Haley Joel Osment tells Toni Collette that her mother came to her performance when she was a kid, or when Liam Neeson says he could have done more at the end of Schindler's List, or when Demi Moore says goodbye to Patrick Swayze at the end of Ghost.

Run Lola Run brings me to the brink of tears not because it tells me something about how good humans can be, how they can move us. It's because it tells me something about how good films can be, and creates in me an almost religious kind of rapture, the kind that leaves me powerless.

Okay, I've told you mine. What's yours?

6 comments:

Nathan said...

The end of "Mr. Holland's Opus". Waterworks.

Don Handsome said...

Chinatown - the scene where Noah Cross tells Jake that "most people never have to face the fact that at the right time and the right place, they're capable of ANYTHING". Its Houston's delivery that makes it. In that one line, emboldened by false ego, he goes from creepy to sinister to diabolical. And then that last word...its the best delivery of any word in any film.

Sometimes I can't stand how good this scene is, and I weep.

moviesandsongs365 said...

Good question.

I'm with you about Liam Neeson in Schindlers list List, really emotional stuff. Run Lola Run is undeniably good, I can't say I cry when watching it.

Others films that make me cry? The end of blade runner on the roof. Or closing scene of Terminator 2, In The Name Of The Father, also. Or end of Paris Je T'aime, About Schmidt. End of The Color Of Paradise is a personal favourite.

I'm trying to think of scenes in the middle of a movie, tricky. A documentary I will review soon on my blog is Home (2009), which I consider a very tear-inducing experience due to the vulnerable voice-over by glenn close.

Ikiru (1952) from Japan has several scenes that can bring a tear or two. As does 'Riding Alone For Thousands Of Miles' from China. Magnolia of course, the 'tom cruise with his father scene' comes to mind.

Talking of Spielberg, I've heard people talk about how the end of E.T (1982) can bring them to tears.

Adrian Mendizabal said...

I love this film! its poppy, its serious, it offers fresh insight to the the film form!

Vancetastic said...

@Nathan - Have not seen that. Always feel like that's a movie I should have seen.

@Don - I want to watch Chinatown again right now to know what you're talking about. Only seen it once. (Hides head in shame.)

@MAS - Curious about that Paris Je T'Aime reference. I saw that movie and didn't think they really pulled it off like I wanted them to. However, what seems strangest is that it doesn't have an "ending" per se, because it's a bunch of different shorts -- which makes it all the more curious that they left you with the undeniably emotional punch you wanted them to. Makes me want to see it again. Was the last short the Alexander Payne short?

That ending scene in Blade Runner was one of the first times in my young life that I became acquainted with an emotional ending to a film -- I remember being blown away by the fact that this evil replicant who had gouged out his creator's eyes was actually this deep-thinking, contemplative character.

@Adrian - Nice to hear from a fellow Lola Rennter!

moviesandsongs365 said...

Yes, the A . Payne short, the park bench scene.