This is just a segment that won’t die quickly enough. Nothing better than stringing a series out for the long haul. Any who, there’s four endings that are spoiled here, so move forward with caution my friends.
Kissing Uncensored: Cinema Paradiso
There is a great level of nostalgia and love that emanates from the Italian film Cinema Paradiso. With its narrative jumping back and forth between past and present, a rush of memories come running to the forefront as our protagonist, Toto, remembers the moments that have fulfilled his professional life and the moments that leave a crushing void deep down inside. Both the good and bad converge in a finale that finds Toto watching over a string of film clips in his private theater. The scenes are entirely built around intimacy (kissing, hugging, etc.) and are book marks of a time in Toto’s village where the warm embrace of humans were edited out of films. The rarity and significance of these clips hits harder when one takes into account they were saved and assembled by Toto’s old friend, Alfredo, who had just recently passed away. The scene itself does wonders on its own, but Ennio Morricone has to go and seal the deal with an unbelievably moving score.
Peace Amidst War: Children of Men
The whole run of Children of Men feels like a continuous race towards an unhappy ending. With a collection of poor souls getting destroyed in the hopes of saving the human race, the film has an undeniable grim feel to it. In death though, we are afforded the opportunity to see the birth of hope and presumably, the rebirth of a planet. In the waning moments, Clive Owen’s character drags himself through a war-torn land with bullets and rockets whizzing past his head. What’s the significance of his daring trek? A baby and her mother, who are the new life blood of a world that ceases to produce babies, are caught in crossfire. The scene’s visceral approach is awe inspiring, but it gains an immeasurable level of emotional weight when all the carnage comes to a halt when a miracle comes to fruition.
What Are Friends For?: 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days
Where Children of Men gave us an uplifting moment after it drained us emotionally for two hours, 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days doesn’t offer us such a luxury. Director Cristian Mungiu engulfs in a quiet intensity, one that slowly builds as we follow Gabita and the dangerous path she walks to help her friend get an abortion in communist Romania. From dealing with a shady abortion practitioner, one that seemingly operates out of his beat up car and uses abortions as leverage for sex, to actually hiding an aborted fetus, Gabita is deserving of an ending that heralds her unwavering friendship. She doesn’t get it. Instead, she gets a moment built from pure devastation. Her illegal and perilous efforts go unnoticed as the true weight of her friendship with Otilia is devoid of anything meaningful.
Walking Through a Wall: The Truman Show
The moment Jim Carrey’s Truman finds his exit from reality TV, we know it’s well deserved. Buoyed by a tremendous performance from Jim Carrey, The Truman Show delivers a character so achingly sincere that it’s hard not to get caught up in his moment of liberation. Despite all of his fears and the chances of living the perfect life within a bubble, perhaps a notion some of us couldn’t resist if handed to us, Truman accepts a reality that doesn’t promise him happiness nor a lack of fear. He merrily walks into the great unknown. It may be a moment of fiction, but everything about it feels real. It’s a moment of inspiration, a moment to accept and walk through a minefield of imperfections.
Loving Teasing: Pride of the Yankees
If there was ever a scene that demonstrated the alluring nature of Cooper and Wright’s on screen relationship in Pride of the Yankees it would be the moment where their characters (Lou and Eleanor Gehrig) find themselves in a glitzy restaurant, sizing up their playful relationship. The scene opens on the gorgeous Bettye Avery singing Irvin Berlin’s “Always”, a song that seismically acts as a precursor to the lasting love that would give Lou and Eleanor the strength to battle an unknown disease. At once romantic, funny, and endearing, Cooper and Wright dance and banter amidst timeless music. Cooper is funny as his boyish innocence and barely controllable glee give the scene an earnest charm that is irresistible. Playing off of Cooper’s attempted restraint is Wright, whose delightful teasing and prodding gives the scene most of its playfulness. Wright’s beautiful and flirtatious glow is only matched by the irreplaceable grin that finds its way to Cooper’s face. The two leads dance and talk intimately in a way that only lovers can, as each one plays off the other’s affection. It’s a scene that only old Hollywood can deliver.