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Once again we’re looking at masculinity through a pop-culture lens, attached to our eye as a steampunk monocle. This week: men crying in films!
So, you’re a dude in a movie and something emotional happens. Maybe your best friend has been killed, maybe you’ve just kissed your teacher for the first time. How do you deal with it? Normally for men they bundle up whatever feelings they have and channel them into murder or sex (or both if they’re in a David Fincher movie).
That shouldn’t be the norm though. We’re men and we have emotions, dammit!! And yet so rarely are we allowed to express them in case it makes repressed dudes uncomfortable to see you take the medicine they so desperately need.
Sometimes, though, the male characters in a movie are allowed to grab life by the balls and bawl. Let’s check out the top five instances of it happening and celebrate it!
Die Hard – Bruce Willis
Remember when Bruce Willis was an actor and not the human embodiment of hearing a faint echo after yelling into a canyon? I do! Die Hard is one of the greatest films ever made (it would’ve been the greatest if they’d been able to secure 73 year old Frank Sinatra as the lead like originally intended) and it’s a nuanced portrayal of a man separated from his wife who will kill anyone who gets in the way of him lecturing her about needing space from his clearly violent temperament.
It’s rare in film to see a man show pain doing something painful, whether it’s pulling glass from your foot or listening to a child tell you about their day. But Bruno is up to the task, perhaps because his scene partner is someone he truly respects…himself. Looking at his reflection while talking to Urkel’s neighbour on a walkie-talkie, he holds back tears and digs his bloody fingers into wounds to pull out the shards that have been embedded in his feet. Is it a Christ metaphor? It is now!
It’s a really powerful scene if you contrast it with Blain in Predator gritting his teeth and hissing “I ain’t got time to bleed”. Bro, you’ve got time to bleed. And breathe! If you don’t take time to do it now when will you ever? Exactly.
As Alan Rickman (RIP) says in it: “Schiess den Fenster”. It’s German for break out of your cage.
Igby Goes Down – Bill Pullman
We’ve never had a film version of JD Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye as he believed that Hollywood is full of phonies (I’m assuming). I used to like Catcher in the Rye before I found out that Salinger used it as some sort of angsty gingerbread house to lure young ladies who liked books to his cabin so he could “give them the time”. That’s what he called fucking in Catcher in the Rye anyway, presumably because he touched them all about the face with both hands.
Instead of Catcher in the Rye we have Igby Goes Down, a quasi-adaption where Rory Culkin deals with his insane family and thinks about his mentally troubled father a lot.
In a flashback we see Igby see his father (played by Bill Pullman) have a fully-clothed breakdown in a shower. His father cries and his father screams and finally his father hurts himself. Igby isn’t his father though, so who’s to say he’ll end up like that.
As someone who has intermittently spent time crying in the shower (not for never nude reasons, sadly) the scene meant a lot to me. Sometimes you’ll be down and you don’t know how to be up because the brain is a weird organ made up of fat and chemicals, like a burger from Supermacs.
Today is not tomorrow, fellow dudes. Step outside if you can, try medication if you’re able, cry in the shower if you need it. Whatever you need to do to see tomorrow.
Blade Runner – Rutger Hauer
Blade Runner is about Deckard, a man (maybe robot?) played by Harrison Ford who spends his days eating noodles and killing migrant workers who are also computers. During his adventures he falls in love with a female robot, shoves her into some venetian blinds with his crotch and acts blasé as he drives his flying car around the city.
The Tears In The Rain speech from the film is, like our last entry, a good example of crying while being wet. In it automaton sexer/shooter Deckard tracks down the final cyborg needed to get his next noodle-purchasing paycheck. Instead he finds himself outmatched by the bionic Aryan known as Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer). Even though Deckard has killed his friends and put on weird voices to perve on a stripper, Roy Batty spares Deckard’s life. Who was the real man, in the end?
Recall your memories, grieve for things lost, accept something ending. We all lose, in the end.
Sleepless In Seattle – Tom Hanks
Tom Hanks plays the nicest man in the world (ie, himself) looking for love after getting away with murdering his wife. PS I’m vague on the details of this film as I saw it once around 1995.
The bit I do remember is him crying at the table talking about the ending of The Dirty Dozen (spoilers if you haven’t seen The Dirty Dozen)(which is also the name for my crowdfunded remake of The Brady Bunch). Nothing makes a man cry faster than throwing grenades down an airshaft.
But what a scene! If you ignore how it’s men crying about an act of valour after dismissing a woman for showing emotions, even though that’s a template for how a lot of guys deal with things. I mean, they’ll break down in tears at a football match but remain stoic through a marathon of funerals.
Unless someone died after throwing grenades down an airshaft, then it’s bring on the waterworks, baybee.
Brick – Joseph Gordon-Levitt
I couldn’t find a clip of the scene in question so this will have to do.
I rewatched Brick recently as I was attempting to infiltrate a high school in an attempt to finally get my first kiss (shout out to Skeevy Adams the Janitor for helping me break my dry streak btw).
It’s a great film filled with gobbledygook detective slang and cool shots of alarm clocks. Towards the end JGL collapses on to a bed, exhausted, beat to shit, finally unable to hold his grief and sadness and head trauma at bay and he just fucking breaks down. Sobbing, crying, much like how I do whenever I cook pasta for too long.
You’re allowed to cry, dudes. Sometimes things are tough. Sometimes the tortellini breaks apart while it’s still boiling. Things will be okay. You’ll figure out who killed her. There’s always Just-Eat deliveries from your local chipper. Rest up. Things will be okay.
John Cusack – Say Anything
Chow Yun Fat – The Killer
Ben Stiller – There’s Something About Mary when he gets his dick caught in the zipper.
And that’s our top five scenes of men crying in a film! I say: more men should cry in films, whether it’s on an IMAX screen or a Snapchat sent by the weird lad who works in the local butcher.
Emotions are weird and acceptable if you accept them. Next week we’ll be getting a bunch of single dads together and have them do a Beyonce medley. What a meme that’ll be, huh. See you then.