Beers, books, braaaaains.
I am a 22-years-and-counting Navy veteran, long-distance runner, author, and practicing obsessive introvert. In between sharpening my stakes while waiting for the apocalypse in my basement, I try to come up with ideas that amuse myself.
A retort to the use of ‘Beaches’ and ‘Steel Magnolias’, from behind a veil of testosterone and beer. And yeah, spoilers and all that kind of jazz.
1. The Road (Viggo Mortensen)
Fathers and sons, right? Except in this one, both men exist at the jagged edge of an extinction event, a world broken and spoiled and burned down to its most basic elements. Having survived being hunted by cannibals, a horror-show cavalcade of mutilated people being kept for meals, the suicide-by-depression death of their wife/mother, and the entire Western hemisphere being destroyed, The Man finally succumbs to the illness that slowly consumes him—quietly and subtly—throughout the film. His last exchange with The Boy is the obligation to keep “the fire” going- not just life, but life with the kind of dignity and humanity that separated Man and Boy from the two-legged monsters all around them.
Tearjerker rating: 6 burnt baby skulls on sticks.
2. The Untouchables (Sean Connery)
At first, this might seem like your average action movie “cop dies on the last day of the job” death. But cast your mind back to 1987, when Sean Connery used The Untouchables to start digging out his career from a slight stall (much as I love Highlander and Name of the Rose, let’s face it, they weren’t exactly rousing successes at the time). Untouchables was a return to form for Connery, playing street cop Jimmy Malone, the Chicago mentor to Elliot Ness, essentially a blue-collar (and slightly racist) version of Connery’s younger characters. Malone swaggered through the first half of the film playing out one badass scene after another, and when we see him being stalked and confronted in his brownstone, it begins to play out like just another chance for Malone to bluff down a Mafia goon, only this time the Mafia has lured him into an ambush. The shock of seeing Sean Connery gunned down in such an obvious trap was shocking back then (as was Charles Martin Smith’s elevator death), a little like seeing your grandfather go out to get the newspaper and get mauled by a bear.
Tearjerker rating: 4 knives to a gunfight.
3. Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan (Leonard Nimoy)
I know, I know, it’s fascinating. But take your eyes off of Shatner’s white-boy afro hairpiece. Every male nerd old enough to see this in the theater bawled their eyes out at this one, because they grew up watching the original series on late afternoon reruns, and Spock was as a familiar character to them as any. He was for many the first scientist they ever saw on television, and he was a hero scientist, knocking people out with nerve pinches while the humans battered away at each other with haymakers. And Spock died like a scientist, too: he looked at the needs of the many versus the needs of the few, and realized that his life was an insignificant factor against what could be gained by capping off that jet of noxious radiation. What makes this heartbreaking for guys is the idea that your homie, your “bro”, as it were, could go out; that the guy you drank Romuan ale with and survived alien invasions with, could die in front of you, when by all rights you should have gone first.
Tearjerker rating: The needs of the many.
4. Last of the Mohicans (Wes Studi)
This movie veers dangerously close to being a chick flick, despite being a Michael Mann film and starring DDL. The last fifteen minutes saves the film, simply because it turns its attention to three men: Chingachgook (Russell Means), Ongewasgone (Dennis Means) and Magua (Wes Studi), the vengeful Huron chieftain whose actions set the entire narrative in motion. After a mournful, resigned speech by Ongewasgone about the future he sees for the Huron, Magua—driven by his enslavement to the Mohawks and loss of his wife—sets off to create a new settlement; in his wake, Chingachgook and his two sons (Uncas and DDR’s Hawkeye) pursue. Magua’s almost casual killing of Uncas drives Chingachgook into a righteous blood fury, and the two men fight it out on a beautiful Carolina cliff ledge. These two men know each other, and know that they are part of a dying people, and that no matter who dies, they have contributed to their own cultural extinguishing. But one sees hope in his remaining son, even though he is not true Mohawk; while Magua has surrendered himself to despair and rage, and sees even other non-whites as an existential threat to his survival.
Tearjerker rating: 11 tactical tomahawks.
5. Black Hawk Down (Randy Shughart and Gary Gordon)
Yeah, this might be cheating because this is based on true events. Good point; don’t care. I also listed the real men that died instead of the actors because, fuck you. The actors that portrayed Shughart and Gordon did a great job, but I’m going to bypass talking about the film directly there. If you’re a guy and watch this scene and don’t tear up a little bit, I’m not sure I want to know you. Gordon and Shughart were both posthumously awarded Medals of Honor for their decision to go on to the ground in Mogadishu and defend chopped pilot Mike Durant. They weren’t ordered to do so, the mission was already fucked into a cocked hat, and they were facing undeniably hostile odds with no support. They went anyway. Just watch Shughart’s last line: “Gordie’s gone, man. I’ll be outside.” No more is needed.
Tearjerker rating: Two Medals of Honor.